Keith and Erin broke up at the beginning of February and Bernie was honestly relieved.
“I know that’s not nice to say, but it’s true,” she said to Lawrence the night they found out. They were making dinner together. Lawrence was cooking salmon, because Bernie absolutely could not be trusted with that, and she was chopping vegetables for a salad. Keith had called Lawrence to tell him the bad news and then, minutes later, Erin had called Bernie to tell her the same bad news. Bernie gathered the two of them were working their way through the list.
“Oh God, I am so relieved,” Lawrence admitted in return. “I’m relieved for a lot of reasons, but I’m sorry to say that I’m most relieved that I won’t have to wear a bolo tie.”
On the phone, Erin had been crying. She told Bernie that she and Keith had had an argument about table runners and whether or not his mother should wear a cocktail-length dress. The problem, Erin had explained, was that his mother wanted to wear a pantsuit, but Erin didn’t want her to wear a pantsuit. She was aiming for a rustic, charming, lace and ivory filled wedding theme. She had even investigated getting married in a barn. Erin didn’t think a pantsuit would fit into a rustic, charming barn wedding. Bernie mostly agreed. His mother would look like Hillary Clinton attending a wedding in a barn. But at the same time, Bernie wasn’t sure his mother’s hypothetical pantsuit was a strong enough reason to call off their wedding. She thought there were many other reasons for them to have called off the wedding instead. She was certain a lot of them were the real reasons and that the pantsuit was merely a front. And yet, it was the reason Bernie had been given so it was the reason that she had to tell others.
“I’m sorry,” Priscilla interrupted Bernie mid-sentence when Bernie told the rest of her friends the following day over drinks. “You are trying to tell me that Erin legitimately called off her entire wedding because of the possibility that someone might wear a pantsuit?”
She looked completely flabbergasted.
“Yes,” Bernie answered.
“That seems right,” Priscilla nodded and settled back in her seat.
“Jesus,” Sybil exhaled. “What kind of pantsuit is this? Like, is it patterned in swastikas? Who cares?”
“Well, clearly Erin,” Iggy pointed out. “Erin cares very, very much.”
“I think there were other underlying problems,” Jemima piped up.
“I sure as fuck hope so,” Sybil retorted. “Christ, what a reason to call off your wedding.”
“Do you think one of the other underlying issues was Keith?” Tallulah asked. “Because that seems like a pretty good reason to call off the wedding, in my opinion.”
Jemima tsked reproachfully, but Bernie couldn’t help but agree. Keith was a bit of a dud. Although, in fairness, she had begun to suspect that Erin was as well. It would certainly explain why it had taken her several months to pick out a table runner and, in fact, still hadn’t managed to make the decision. On a scale from one to ten, one being the least important and ten being the most, Bernie ranked table runners at a solid negative fifteen. No one had ever put so much thought and energy into table runners. People who made table runners didn’t even care that much about table runners.
For some reason, Bernie had thought, perhaps wishfully, that the end of Erin and Keith’s relationship would in turn mean the end of Bernie and Erin’s friendship. The only reason Bernie had been asked to be a bridesmaid in the first place was because Erin and Keith had had uneven parties and Bernie was engaged to Lawrence. At least that’s what Bernie had assumed. As it turned out, however, Erin had asked Bernie to be her bridesmaid because Erin considered them genuine friends. Bernie felt slightly bad that she had not felt the same way. Slightly. Mostly she felt annoyed that she now had to spend precious moments of her life listening to Erin bemoan the failure of hers and Keith’s relationship. And just as Erin had turned to Bernie in her time of need when trying to pick out table runners, she turned to Bernie now because Bernie, she claimed, was the only one of her friends to know what it felt like to be in the same kind of serious relationship. Bernie was disinclined to consider Erin and Keith’s brief and doomed engagement remotely similar to hers and Lawrence’s mature, solid relationship. Nevertheless, Erin invited her out for countless coffee dates so that they could dissect what felt like Erin’s entire romantic past. Bernie complained to Lawrence about it to very little sympathy as Lawrence was enduring a similar thing with Keith.
“He’s now told me that he thinks Oscar is to blame for it,” Lawrence told Bernie one night as they were getting ready for bed. “He genuinely thinks that Oscar punching him in the face at that wedding has led him to this moment.”
“Why are you friends with him?” Bernie asked bluntly, putting toothpaste on her toothbrush.
“Honestly, who knows?” Lawrence returned quite candidly. “He tried to make me wear a bolo tie. He doesn’t deserve my friendship.”
Lawrence, it seemed, felt very strongly about bolo ties.
“You know, I’m going to be real honest with you for a moment,” Bernie said to him, holding her toothbrush out from her body. “A lot of your friends are kind of not the best.”
She had been planning on telling him that they were shit, but she chickened out at the last second. Lawrence sighed, deep and long-suffering.
“I know,” he said resignedly. “It seems impossible to me that the guy who accidentally punched Keith at a wedding after spending large amounts of time on the floor of the ballroom is better than some of my own friends. That doesn’t make sense, does it? And yet, here we are.”
“Yes,” Bernie nodded before reaching over to turn on the tap. “Here we are.”