Way back in the summer, when Ashley, Nina, and I were all in a better place, we had one of these hangover Sundays in my apartment where every meal was takeout and the TV was permanently tuned to Lifetime. A League of Their Own came on right as we were ordering our third meal of the day (there would be four), and someone mentioned what a great costume a Rockford Peach would make. And so our Halloween costumes of 2013 were born. Nina as ‘All the Way’ Mae, Ashley as Dottie, and me as her little sister, Kit (I’m shorter than Ashley by a lot).
The way things have been going the last few weeks, I assumed Ashley would not be celebrating Halloween with us. So I was tres surprised when I got a text from her asking if I got the Facebook invite to a costume party one of our guy friends was throwing.
I told her I would meet her and Nina there, because first, I was planning on stopping by this other costume party that Has invited me to. I was hoping that my cute costume would soften the blow of The Truth: This Rockford Peach was not a lawyer with a heart of gold, but a media chick with a Twitter addiction. But! Just like a lawyer, injustice gets me all riled up, so sometimes I tweet change.org petitions. Practically the same thing.
Saturday night I suited up and hopped on the subway. The physical proof that light years separate twenty-something entry levelers and thirty-something doctors is in the location of their respective costume parties: Twenty somethings in sticky-floored bars, thirty-somethings in spectacular lofts in Tribeca.
Has was sporting a white headband, fake scratches on his face, and a rumpled suit. “What are you?” I asked.
“Mayhem,” he said. “From the insurance commercials.”
I snapped my fingers and nodded my head in approval. “Good one.”
“And this,” Has gestured at my uniform, which was not only adorable but the most comfortable thing I’ve ever worn out on a Saturday night. “This is amazing. I love Tom Hanks in that movie.”
Has led me to the kitchen and asked me what I wanted to drink. I spotted a bottle of Veuve in an ice bucket and nodded at it. I’d get my nourishment now, before it was on to lukewarm Bud Lites.
Has poured me a glass and I took a sip. The little bubbles set off a flare of courage inside of me. “So, there’s something I need to tell you. I should have mentioned this before but I was just so caught off guard that I think I got tongue tied or something. But I’m not a—”
“Has, my man!” Before I could finish, a guy dressed as a Thundercat swooped in.
“Beauman!”Has grabbed his hand and pulled him in for one of those chest-bump hug things that guys do.
Has introduced me. “Beauman was my roommate freshman year.”
“Nice to meet you,” I said, hoping he would go away so I had a chance to talk to Has alone again. Instead, the two started chatting.
“It’s been forever,” Has said. “How’s Rachel?”
Has put his arm around my shoulders, presumably so I didn’t feel left out as the two caught up. As they chattered away about ‘Rachel’, I let my eyes wander around the room. There were some pretty good costumes—a girl dressed in a red tube dress as a Solo cup, a guy as the Leg Lamp from A Christmas Story. There was a guy dressed in shades of grey, his hair spray painted to match, who caught my eye. Is he an old person? I wondered. When he turned around, I almost dropped my glass of champagne, which would have been bad because this was grown up party with crystal champagne flutes. The guy in grey was Justin.
He spotted me too, and gave a little wave. I waved back, praying he would stay where he was. But no, no, no! He started to make his way over to me. Okay, this would be fine, there was no reason for my occupation to come up. I’d just keep the conversation work-free! Oh, who am I kidding? All New Yorkers do is talk about their damn jobs, it’s their favorite!
“What’s up?” Justin said, once he reached our little group. Has and Beauman’s conversation came to a halt. “I’d give you a hug but I don’t want to get paint all over you.”
“How are you?” I asked, tightly. “Um, Has, this is Justin. Justin this is Has.”
“Hey, man.” Justin nodded at Has and Has nodded back.
“So, what are you?” I asked.
“Josie, come on,” Justin said. “You of all people should get this.”
“A decaying zombie?”
“Noooo,” Justin said. “Think about your little side writing job, and then you should get it.”
Oh my god, just shut up Justin. “He’s 50 Shades of Grey!” Beauman said.
Justin pointed at him, like thank you, and shook his head at me. “And you call yourself a writer.”
“You’re a writer?” Has asked. A few lines collected between his eyebrows.
“Just a little something I do on the side,” I said, quickly.
“I’ll tell you, this girl is amazing,” Has said, “head of the Pro Bono Program at her law firm, and a writer on the side.” It was like watching your hairstylist chop off five inches of hair when you only asked for a trim, and suddenly you have a bob (and you cannot pull off a bob), and it’s so terrible you can’t even process what just happened.
I closed my eyes, waiting for Justin to blow my cover. But he just said, “Oh yeah, she’s something alright.”
I opened one eye. Justin had a huge, knowing smile on his face.
After a few minutes of chit-chat, Has and Beauman returned to their conversation, and Justin and I stepped off to the side. “A lawyer?” he whispered.
“Shut up,” I said. “It was an honest screw-up.”
“Sure,” Justin laughed. He took a swig of his beer. “So how long are you going to keep this up?”
“I’m planning on telling him tonight,” I said. “I just haven’t had the chance.”
“You’re like the kookiest girl I’ve ever met,” Justin said. “Always something weird going on with you.”
I rolled my eyes. “Whatever. What are you doing here anyway?”
Justin nodded across the room to his older brother. “Some of my brother’s friends. Nothing else really going on tonight. Rick’s gotten all lame now that he’s engaged.” Rick is Justin’s roommate.
“How dare he.” I grinned.
Justin and I chatted for a few minutes more. “I gotta take a leak,” Justin said. “Good luck with…” he laughed, “this.”
“Thanks for not blowing my cover,” I said, and Justin winked at me. Sometimes it takes just a little distance to see that your exes aren’t bad people, they just aren’t right for you. Justin is such a bro, and I can’t believe I tried to turn him into a boyfriend. The guy will be the last of his friends to get married, (and it will be to a twenty-eight year old bombshell who all the forty-something wives will hate), and until then, he’s going to live it up.
After another few minutes, I finally had Has all to myself, and I seized the opportunity. “So I was trying to tell you something before,” I said. “It’s a little embarrassing.”
“You’re a Republican,” Has said.
I laughed. “No.” I took a deep breath. “I’m not a lawyer. I don’t know why you thought that. I think maybe there was another girl at the hospital who looked like me who told you she was a lawyer the same night I was there. Anyway, I didn’t correct you when you assumed, because you made a dig about media girls and…” I winced, “that is actually what I do.”
Has just looked at me for a while, like he was trying to process everything I’d said. “So you…lied. About being a lawyer?’
“Well, I didn’t correct you when you assumed. So I prefer to call it…unmeditated deceit.”
“Whatever it is,” Has said, “it’s pretty weird.”
“I know,” I said. “I’m sorry, I just felt embarrassed because you had such a low opinion of what I really do.”
“And what is it you really do, exactly?”
“In a nut shell? I’m an editorial assistant at a publishing house that publishes famous people’s memoirs.”
“See,” Has said. “That’s actually a job to be proud of. I wish you told me that from the get-go.”
“I do too,” I said.
There was an awkward moment where neither of us spoke. Finally, Has said, “Didn’t you say you had another party to go to tonight?”
Well, that was a hint if I ever heard one. I thanked Has for inviting me and said goodnight, fully aware that I would probably never see him again.
It’s like the goddamn Hunger Games trying to get a cab the Saturday night before Halloween. I would have taken the subway, but I’d checked the MTA app and the train I needed to take wasn’t running.
I finally saw a cab with its light on, and I have never been so grateful that I was wearing sneakers as I chased it down. I was just a few steps away when some Miley Cyrus girl rounded the corner. Her eyes lit up at the empty cab in front of her that I had hailed.
“That’s mine!” I called, but she was closer than I was, and she got there first.
“Sorry!” she said, and slammed the door shut. And let me tell you, that bitch did not sound sorry at all.
Just as I was about to shed my Peach costume as my anger turned me into the Incredible Hulk, I heard someone yelling my name. It was Justin, climbing into an open cab. I jogged across the street.
“Where are you going?” Justin asked.
“Lower east side,” I said.
“I’m going to the East Village,” Justin said. “Get in, I’ll drop you.”
I didn’t hesitate. It was fucking freezing out and I was wearing a skirt and knee high socks.
“Your boyfriend bust you?” Justin asked.
“He’s not my boyfriend,” I said. “And I busted myself.”
Justin laughed. “You don’t want to date a doctor any way. They have the worst schedules.”
“Speaking from experience?” I asked.
We passed underneath a street light and Justin’s face lit up for a moment. He was giving me one of his cocky half-smiles and goddamn him, my stomach did a flip flop. “Maybe.”
“Where are you going anyway?” I asked, trying to steer the topic into safer ground.
“Co-worker’s party,” Justin said. Then he raised his eyebrows. “Hey, speaking of co-workers. I saw you on TV.” He snapped his fingers, trying to remember. “What was it called?”
“Social Media,” I said. The show had two episodes left, but my plotline had been over for a while now.
“That’s it!” Justin said. “Pretty cool. You going to do more TV?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. William is all for it. He said you have to be able to put TV experience on your resume these days if this is the industry you want to be in. But he’s not my boss anymore.”
“What happened?” Justin asked, and I told him about the changes at Literatti.
“Shit,” Justin said. “That sucks. But good for you for making the cut.”
“We’ll see,” I said. “My new boss starts this week.”
Justin picked up the hem of my skirt and rubbed it between his fingers. “You warm enough in this?”
“No.” I laughed.
“Well,” Justin said, “you look pretty cute in it.”
I smiled. “That’s the point.”
The cab caught a pothole in the road and it jostled Justin and I closer together. Justin had been holding onto the hem of my skirt, but now he set it down, smoothing his fingers over my thigh. He leaned in and I did too. Our noses brushed, and then we were kissing. Justin’s hand was curled around the back of my neck, and tugged at one of my braided pigtails. “I like these,” he grinned.
“Miss!” The cab driver yelled. “We’re here.”
I pulled away from Justin and looked out the window. We were on Essex and Grand. I found my purse and dug around in it, located a ten, and handed it to Justin.
“How about you keep that and we just head back to my place?” Justin suggested.
It was tempting the way eating an entire birthday cake is tempting. Yeah, you want it, but you somehow find the strength to stop after a few slices. If you ate the whole thing you’d be mad at yourself. “I have to meet my friends,” I said. I pushed the ten at him.
“You sure?” Justin said. “’cause I’m in a particularly freaky mood and you’re one of my favorite people to get weird with.”
“You’re ridiculous.” I laughed. I leaned in and gave him one last kiss. “Good seeing you.” I slid to the right and pushed the door open.
“You too,” Justin said, right before I shut the door.
I spotted one of my fellow Peaches as soon as I walked in the door of the bar. Nina had stenciled a fake mole on her face and was wearing a pointy-cone bra underneath her uniform, her nod to Madonna, I guess.
“Josie!” Nina said. “Why do you have silver paint all over your face?”
I touched my fingers to my cheek. “Shit,” I said. “Help me get this off.”
“What is this from?” Nina asked.
“Justin,” I said.
“Justin?” Nina repeated, incredulously.
I nodded slyly.
“Listen, I want to hear the whole story, but there’s something you should—”
Before Nina could finish, Ashley zig-zagged over. She knocked into some guy in a unicorn costume, causing him to spill half his beer on himself. “Hey!” he said, but Ashley either didn’t hear or chose to ignore him. “Josie!” Ashley stumbled into me and gave me a hug. “Best friend,” she said into my hair.
“Whoa,” I said. “Maybe let’s order you some water?”
“Gross, I hate water,” Ashley slurred. She must have noticed the paint on my face, because she licked her fingers and tried to rub it off. And that’s when I realized—Ashley wasn’t wearing her engagement ring.
“Ashley!” I said, and grabbed her hand. “Where’s your ring? Did you lose it?”
Ashley looked at her naked finger like she was just realizing the diamond was gone. Then suddenly, her eyes welled up with tears. “He broke up with me,” she wailed.
I looked at Nina. “That’s what I was trying to tell you,” she said. “Happy Halloween!”