Like everyone, I believe that my friends are the most fearsomely attractive group of people to walk the earth. Their beautiful eyes, their perfect noses, their amazing hands and feet. Their shoes and their hair. Their sweet little personalities and their sweet faces behind the wheels of their cars. Stunning angels. Everyone thinks this about their own friends. It is just what happens when you stare a lot at people you love. There are probably some unsound theories about why this occurs, like millions of years ago you had to think your friends were beautiful so that you would feel compelled to save them from being trampled by mammoths. Who cares. The main thing is, all of our friends are magnificent, and we are so lucky.
Having got that out the way, it is important to clarify that I am a person who has always had at least one famously hot friend. I am partially blinded by love at all times, but I can still make out an objective showstopper through the mist. I have always had at least one close friend who, when I bring them up, everyone else goes, “Is she that unbelievably hot one,” and then I say yes and smile like I am her gloating mom. I am aware that all of this casts me in an odd and/or unflattering light, although I am not sure why that is the case. I just know that you are not meant to be unabashedly proud of your hot friends, or really even think about that very very very immediately obvious and prominent feature of their existence. Well, tough. I think about it all the time. If we are being specific, I think about a conversation I had with my one wildly beautiful friend’s husband, many years ago.
We were walking to the shops, me and him, and we walked past this guy who said something gross, to me. Not gross enough for me to remember anything about it even two minutes later, but enough at least for my friend’s husband to go quiet for a short bit and to then say, “It’s fucking far out to be a woman.” I said yes, and he said, “Men saying shit to you all the time.” I said yes and he said, “Men shouting at you in the road in front of their children.” I said yes and he said, “Men getting out of their cars to propose marriage to you once a week at least.” I said nothing. He said, “A man coming up to you in a bar and asking if you are interested in experiencing life in a harem in the Royal House of Saud.” I said a louder version of nothing. He went on a little bit more about how insane it was to be a woman and to walk through this world with just about every heterosexual man falling completely in love the minute they clap eyes on you, and although I was generally sympathetic to his overall point that it was occasionally bizarre to be a woman, I had to cut him off. With regret, I had to tell him that this was not what it was like, not really. Men did sometimes say awful shit to me and every woman I knew, but had any of them ever come up to me and asked if I would like to be paid 2000 euros to go hang out for a month at a harem in the Royal House of Saud? No. I had to tell him that the experience he was describing was only familiar to a relatively small handful of women. He thought it was like that for everyone.
I have never known what to do with this story, but I think about it all, all the time. Most recently, I thought about it because of the expression on my boyfriend’s face when I told him that I was dying of heartburn. He looked at me with sincere bafflement and said that he had thought that heartburn was only an affliction of the very, very elderly. He asked me if I needed to maybe go see a doctor about having heartburn, at my age, because again, it was only a thing that happened to you when you had at least one wizened foot in the grave. I told him NO. Everyone gets heartburn! It happens around the same time as when people get their wisdom teeth removed!
Long “story” short: I eventually worked out that I thought every single person my age had heartburn because when I first started dying of it, ages ago, I was dating someone similarly afflicted. We used to walk around moaning about it all day long. I thought it was like that for everyone.
What am I supposed to do with this story? I am desperate for it to mean something huge, to be a story that explains our collective global failure to understand each other, or really even to achieve consensus reality. But maybe it’s just a story about my beautiful friends, and about heartburn.