It is the fake kind. Not black, not even green. Herbal. Fake. She is a tea snob, and though I am not, her definitions have sunk into me, etched into my skin. The current skin. If the past is any indication, it’ll flake off eventually. Before too long.
She tells me that she just wants to be friends. She and her boyfriend are looking for a third party, if the spinning rumor mill wheel is to be believed. Why don’t they pick me? What’s wrong with me?
When we watch the sky together on the roof, she tells me she can’t see any stars. They’re everywhere, I tell her, and she says she can’t see them. I look at her, and her eyes are shut. This is the kind of shit she does.
The teacup in my hand is only cardboard. White, with a brown sleeve, it gave under the hot water and I thought it was going to collapse into my hand and burn me. But it held up in the end, sturdier than it looks. She always says she’s not vulnerable, that she doesn’t get hurt so easily. She says her eyes just get wet sometimes, that she hasn’t cried in years, that I’m projecting.
Maybe I’m projecting. Maybe I didn’t grow a new skin last time.
Ginger and lemon taste like nothing else in the world. Nothing tastes like anything else, though, so I’m not sure why that’s supposed to be a compliment. When I told her she tasted like herself, unique, she rolled her eyes at me and I could tell she’d been hoping for me to come up with something less cliche, less used up. I tried to tell her how I felt, though, and she couldn’t stand to hear it. What else was I supposed to do, then? Cliches are a great trampoline to fall onto, they make you bounce up again.
The man with the gray hair who’s always hanging around her is just a friend, she says. But this is where her boyfriend and I agree: she should stop having friends who sell her cocaine for the price of a blowjob. I’m not sure who I want to punch more, the dealer or her boyfriend. Maybe they’ll take each other out for me, leave the field clear.
The night she touched my skin without prompting on my part wasn’t delirious. It was pretty underwhelming, in the end. Maybe that’s because I was expecting more than a drunk bear hug. She’s not so attractive when she’s sloppy. I guess I’m more shallow than I thought I was.
My skin is itching. I break out in hives every time someone says hashtag in order to emphasize their commentary on the world. It’s cold. Hashtag. She’s such a bitch. Hashtag. Love you, babes. Hashtag.
Hotels are really depressing when you’re there alone. Nothing is complementary anymore. The minibar is an invitation to expensive sinning, but even the water and coffee have little price marks on them. You don’t get anything for free, she always tells me this, but I never listen. It’s funny, though, because I don’t have faith in people either. I guess I have faith in corporations.
Corporations are people too. Her parents raised her conservative. She explains how she can believe in bad economic practices and in women’s right to choose not to have abortions, and I wonder how we haven’t stopped talking yet. I don’t take this kind of shit from anyone. I don’t think I can be friends with her.
I don’t want to be friends with her.
I never wanted to be, though. Some things you don’t really get a choice in.
When her boyfriend dumps her, she comes over to my house and asks if I have tea. I tell her I do, regular tea, Lipton. She picks up the back of a chair and slams it down. She yells at me that Lipton isn’t real tea. Haven’t I learned anything? She says I’m useless and leaves. I see her already pulling her cellphone out of her back pocket. She’ll call the grey haired man and end up in a skeezy motel with him.
I have another business trip to make. She still hasn’t called me back.
My suits are getting wrinkled. I need to pack better. I need to get a new skin. I need to get some new taste buds. I need to learn to discriminate in my tea choices. Maybe I should be a colonist, a racist, find somewhere new where tea is conquered. Then she’ll really like me.