Photo by Jacob Culp via Unsplash

Photo by Jacob Culp via Unsplash

“Aw, man,” the young man says, practically jumping into the car. “I love these cars! I’ve always wanted to ride in one.”

“Thanks,” I say, smiling. “How’s your day going?”

The people back home where I grew up would be tempted to look at this kid in his sagging jeans, basketball jersey, and straight-brimmed ball cap and label him “thug.” I know, because not too long ago I would have been tempted to do the same. But only a few minutes into our conversation, and I can easily see how wrong we all would have been.

“I’m finishing up culinary school,” he says matter-of-factly, as if that is nothing special, as if I should have expected such things of him. “My girlfriend is starting her own bakery. That’s why I’m heading up there tonight. To celebrate. I’m not a fan of late nights, but she was all over me.”

This launches him into a long monologue about the nature of relationships.

“She wants me to move in with her!” he says, shaking his head. “I’m too young for that. She sends me pictures of wedding dresses!” This last one is said with complete disbelief. “Wedding dresses!”

He laughs and laughs and laughs, as if I am the one telling the stories and he can’t believe what he’s hearing.

“Man, I need alone time. I’m not ready for a wedding. What do you think I should do?”

I smile. “I’ve been married for 17 years,” I say. “I made that decision so long ago, I can’t even remember. You’re going to have make this call on your own.”

He laughs again. We arrive on his street and I pull up to the sidewalk.

“Oh, man,” he hisses at me before laughing again. He is loud and joyous and we have been friends for decades. “There she is! She’s waving at me from the door. From the door! What should I do about this, man?”

I laugh with him and shake my head, unwilling to put my oar in. He shakes his head in disbelief again, goes to close the door, then peeks his head back in and says it one more time, in an urgent kind of whisper.

“Wedding dresses, man! She’s sending me pictures of wedding dresses!”

Then, he slams the door and walks towards the porch light. I can hear him laughing to himself.

My first novel comes out this fall! You can find out more and preorder it HERE.