We are gathered, six of us, around a small, scarred table at The Cantina—one of those Mexican restaurants that promises an exotic foray into a foreign culture, but take away the chili pepper lights and maraca shaking waiters and it’s just another mall eatery. This table was probably meant for two, but most of us arrived late and we just keep pulling over more chairs until we’re elbow to elbow. The margaritas are flowing and a platter of quesadillas, the oozing cheese congealing, sits mostly uneaten.
“You know Rick cheated on you, right?” my friend, Brooke, asks this, slurring her words ever so slightly. I shake my head no quickly, completely blindsided. The lights at The Cantina are low and I can’t quite tell if her face wears a mask of sympathy or simply disgust at my ignorance. “Oops, sorry,” Brooke covers her mouth with her hand dramatically. “I was sure you knew,” she continues. “He was a bouncer. He slept with all the waitresses. Sorry.”
“Wait, you were a waitress. Does that mean you slept with him too?” I try to get my mind around this new fact and just can’t. Then, I try to figure out how the conversation landed here. I can’t find the thread, so I wonder if Brooke has been saving this tidbit since we met at Mommy and Me five years ago and realized that we went to the same university and she knew my ex-boyfriend. At least I realized it then—maybe she knew who I was all along. The other woman always knows the girlfriend or wife.
“It was almost twenty years ago. Why do you care?” Brooke shrugs her shoulders, noncommittal.
The other side conversations have stopped. Nothing else is this interesting. Birth control. Boy toys. Botox. The three Bs that have made up the majority of our conversation fall away. We are in our forties, or for a couple of us just close enough to taste forty, and these are the topics—not who hooked up with a bouncer at the after-hours party—but here we are, talking about the stuff of our twenties.