17: “Like a completely hairless walrus”

Bobby was dieting. It was something she tried every three months or so. It was like a hobby more than anything else. As always, it could’ve been going better. Sometimes she tried a specific program, but other times she just tried to eat healthier. That was what she was attempting this time around and it was proving rather difficult. For one thing, she’d been eating chocolate quite often prior to the start of her diet and it had been more challenging to stop eating chocolate than she’d anticipated.

“I think I’m addicted to chocolate, Mona Lisa,” she whined to Mo two nights after the start of her diet, sprawled on the couch with Madge sitting on her chest, a minimal comfort to her woes. “This is terrible. I might as well have done meth.”

“Nope,” was Mo’s immediate response.

“You don’t understand my suffering, Mona Lisa Smile,” Bobby continued to whine.

“I offered to do this with you,” Mo replied loftily.

“Yeah, but what good does that do me?” Bobby retorted. “You’re already barely bigger than an Olsen twin.”

“I can’t help my genetics,” Mo sniffed in response. “I don’t even know my own genetics.”

“If you tell me about your adoption again, I will throw something at you,” Bobby told her firmly, cutting her off before she could really get started. Bobby had heard about Mo’s “traumatic” adoption far too many times for her to count. It hadn’t been traumatic at all. Her birth mother, a grad student doing her doctorate in the philosophy of economics, had gotten pregnant by accident with her boyfriend of three months, another grad student doing his doctorate in theoretical physics, and had decided rationally and calmly to give her baby up for adoption to a lovely gay couple, both of whom had loved and supported Mo throughout her entire life.

On the third day of her diet, Bobby felt certain she was going to starve to death and wither away to nothingness at her desk at work. Someone had brought chocolates in and left them at the empty desk two cubicles away from Bobby’s. She spent more time than she was willing to admit talking herself into eating a chocolate and then immediately talking herself out of eating a chocolate. She dedicated more of her time to one chocolate than she did to choosing a university at which to do her undergrad. She could feel herself growing more and more irritable as time passed and she grew hungrier. It wasn’t good news for Caleb, who was annoying at the best of times, but unbearable while Bobby was having an increasingly angry inner monologue about chocolate.

“It’ll be a fucking miracle if he survives the day,” Bobby hissed to Mo over the office phone. “Because I’m going to murder him. How is he possibly this irritating? Why does he make so much noise?”

Caleb had a cold. He was sniffling and coughing. Bobby could hear his laboured breathing from everywhere in the office. At this point, she was hoping he would choke on his own breath and die. That would really help her out.

“This is worse than when he spent months on the phone trying to work out where his hydro bill was being sent,” Bobby continued into the phone.

“Or when he was trying to buy people’s gym memberships online,” Mo added.

“Or when he told literally every single person who called him about his cousin’s baby,” Bobby replied. “I saw a photo of that baby. Ugly.”

“Like a pale Shrek,” Mo agreed.

“Like a completely hairless walrus,” Bobby replied.

“Like a ridiculously smooth egg,” Mo added.

“Really, stupidly ugly,” Bobby concluded.

By the time the afternoon rolled around, Bobby was fully prepared to strangle Caleb with the cord on her phone and call it a day. She was fairly certain she’d never been so hungry in her life and her patience, minimal as it already was, had waned even thinner. She was going to do something she regretted quite quickly if one of two things didn’t happen imminently; either she needed to eat something or Caleb needed to stop breathing. Either would’ve been acceptable. Just as she was on the cusp of lashing out, Mo sidled over to her desk with a banana.

“For you,” she said, holding the banana out to Bobby, who took it feeling more grateful than she had in her entire life.

“God bless you, Mosephine,” Bobby accepted the banana. She began to peel it immediately.

“So things are going well then,” Mo said shrewdly.

“Things are going fine for me,” Bobby replied haughtily. “But they could be going better for Caleb, who is about to find out what it feels like to be kicked in the face by a pair of Doc Martens.”

Mo looked down at Bobby’s feet. Bobby wiggled her black Doc Martens in response.

“Gracious,” Mo replied.

Three days later, Bobby gave up on her diet. The chocolates were still sitting in the empty cubicle and, if possible, Caleb had become even more irritating. His cold had peaked. He was strutting around the office like some sort of hero for showing up to work while he was on the brink of death. As far as Bobby could tell, all he was accomplishing by being there was spreading his germs to as many of his unsuspecting co-workers as possible. He didn’t seem to be getting much actual work done. Mostly, he’d spent the past week wandering around moaning and intermittently taking phone calls from his mother to update her on his health progress. Bobby kind of wanted to intercept one of those phone calls to inform his mother that she had raised the most annoying human being in the world and should therefore be ashamed of herself, but she suspected that his mother already knew that and likely carried the burden of that shame with her always. Bobby would never speak to her child again if they turned out the way Caleb had. She said as much to Mo over lunch.

“Part of me thought that you might be nicer when you started eating pizza again, but I now see how foolish that was,” Mo said in return.

“Very foolish indeed, Mo Man Mo Cry,” Bobby agreed.

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