Dick wasn’t entirely certain what events in his life had led to him attending High School Tim’s coming out party. It wasn’t as if he and High School Tim were close friends, and happy though he was that High School Tim was now free to live his life openly and honestly, Dick had no idea why that meant he should be there for the party. For one thing, Dick really want to be at a place that was filled with nearly everyone he’d gone to high school with. He didn’t feel that was a thing that needed to happen in his life. He was fine with most of his high school peers. To be perfectly frank, he’d ignored most of them even while they were still at high school; why should this party be any different? But there were a select few that he had been very purposefully cutting from his life slowly over time, making it seem like they were merely drifting apart. It was incredibly tactical and well thought out. And now it was all for nothing because he was being forced to “reconnect” as it were.
When Dick had begun high school, he came from a feeder middle school with his two best friends from elementary school, Miles and David. Then David had befriended Oscar and that had been fine because Oscar tended to give as few shits as Dick did. But then David and Miles had made friends with a whole bunch of other people Dick had no interest in being friends with, namely Jake and Taylor, but also Dan, who Dick felt was astoundingly boring. Since high school, their friend group had expanded even further to include their spouses and partners and Dick hated that even more because there were very few people in the world that he disliked as much as Danielle and Jana was even more boring than Dan was.
“Man, it is good to see you!” Taylor told Dick exuberantly, throwing an arm around his shoulder and pulling him toward him. Dick resisted as much as possible without it appearing as such and prayed for a swift death.
“Yeah, hey,” was Dick’s lacklustre response. He wondered if other people could tell that he didn’t like his so-called friends. Oscar snorted from a few feet away, observing the interaction. It was likely he could tell. Taylor didn’t seem bothered, though.
“So you’re back in the city, eh? What’s your new job?” Taylor asked in a booming voice that Dick could feel reverberating through his own ribcage.
“I’m doing video editing,” Dick answered.
“For what kinds of things?” Dan asked, jumping in. He was wearing khaki pants and a powder blue polo shirt. It very accurately represented who he was as a human being; boring, drab, unexciting.
“Porn mostly,” Dick replied. There was a beat between all of them wherein no one said a word. Taylor broke the silence, laughing excitedly.
“You’re kidding!” He accused and, when Dick failed to confirm this, he began laughing even more excitedly. “Dude, that’s amazing!”
“Sure, if you like watching the same gay pornos for hours in a day,” Dick returned. There was more silence.
“You’re editing gay porn?” Dan checked uncertainly. He probably thought Dick was pulling his leg.
“Yup,” Dick nodded.
“Well, that’s still not the worst thing in the world,” Miles interjected when no one else said anything.
“I mean, I edit the lighting and colouring of close-up butt shots most of the time,” Dick replied. “So it’s not the best thing in the world. I think I would rather do something that didn’t involve staring at the assholes of strange men, but at least I can pay to go to the dentist.”
Oscar raised his glass to him.
“It’s the little things,” he said. Dick tipped his own glass back at him in return and they both drank in what was surely the world’s saddest toast.
Forty minutes later, Dick and Oscar were standing at the bar together, having managed to escape the others. Dick wasn’t a hundred per cent certain that was Oscar’s intention, but it absolutely was his. He’d been waiting for an opportunity to get away from Danielle and Taylor since the very first moment he’d seen them.
“Do you sometimes wonder how we ended up friends with these people?” Dick asked Oscar quite bluntly, looking over to wear Jake was struggling to dance along to Beyonce. It was as if he’d had a very recent hip replacement and was attempting to move without a cane for the first time in a decade.
“Almost all the time,” was Oscar’s very honest and immediate response. “I think Danielle might be the worst person I have ever had the misfortune of knowing. And I know a lot of jerks. I think I, like, attract them or something. I’m alluring to assholes. Assholes and fruit flies.”
“Depressing,” Dick commented.
“Yes,” Oscar agreed, nodding once. They lapsed into silence for a moment, the pair of them watching Jake and Danielle try to dance together without much success. Dick hoped they’d considered dancing lessons for their upcoming wedding because it would be an unmitigated disaster if not.
“How do we, you know, stop being friends with them?” Dick asked eventually. He’d been trying to accomplish that goal since he’d left high school. He’d come pretty close when he moved out of the city and it consequently became easier for him to blame the growing emotional distance between them on the literal distance between them. But now he was back in Roehampton and he was spending time with Oscar and Miles, both of whom he liked very much, but it opened up so many possibilities for him to spend time with Jake, Dan, and Taylor, none of whom he liked barely at all.
“I don’t know,” Oscar answered, sighing deeply. “It’s something I’ve considered many times, but short of breaking up with them, I don’t see a way to do it. I don’t know about you, but that’s not exactly a conversation I want to have, least of all with Danielle. Miles very nearly accomplished it. Melly and David had him on embargo for a solid four months.”
“Well, I don’t want to stop being friends with David,” Dick returned.
“Sure, you say that now, but that’s only because you haven’t been back here for very long and his wife hasn’t made you play charades or stare at their child for an excessive length of time,” Oscar said. Dick just stared at him. “That’s a real thing that happens all the time.”
“She makes you stare at their child?” Dick asked, one eyebrow raised. “Are you sure? Because that sounds made up.”
“It does, doesn’t it?” Oscar retorted. “Give it some time, man.”