Two best friends experience different lives.
I slide into the slinky black dress I bought yesterday and think that I should call Jasmine and let her come with me. Honestly, I go to this club every week, or try to, and I don't think she will fit in. But, when I called her this morning, all she could talk about was the new church she's attending and how wonderful she feels. Maybe you should give it another chance, she said, you'll like it.
So, I have decided that what was truly missing from my life was not God or Jesus or even a weekend retreat or a day of ogling naked men at a beach, but was a man, naked or clothed, in my life that was decent. Decent...
Sometimes, when I am out with one of the guys I meet and choose to date, they end up wanting the same thing. Sex. It ultimately comes down to this simple three letter word that is actually a very complicated act that always ruins a relationship. I have noticed the few men that I have let into my bed have lost interest in me soon afterward. They claim to need space, need to move on. The only time I cried when this was said to me was the first guy I let in. And, I don't even remember his name now.
Most conventional folks would call me easy but I sleep with the guys I'm serious about, the ones I've dated for at least four months. Needless to say, my relationships to last past seven.
Tonight, I'm going to the club to get laid. Tomorrow, I will find my decent guy. I walk over to the beside table and pick up the phone.
The phone rings and I put down the orange I am peeling. "Hello?"
"Oh! What's up, Beck?" my annoyance with my friend has officially lost its sting. How could I be annoyed with her when she was so lost in the cares and desires of the world?
"I'm going to the club tonight..." she says, her voice tapering off as if she just realized who it was she was calling. I smile.
"Do you want to come?" she asks.
The question takes me by surprise and I hesitate a moment. Why would Rebecca, who is all about image, want me to go to the club with her?
"Just come with me. I don't know what I'll do tonight and I need you to keep me on the straight and narrow." she says and I can imagine her looking at her nails in intense boredom.
"Please, you have never needed a babysitter," I laugh.
"Tonight I do." she takes a deep breath. "Please, just this once. If you don't like it, I'll never ask you to go again. Please...please."
"Fine, all right, whatever," I say as I feel my heart begin to pound. The light inside of me tells me not to go, not to be where "the action is" but to stay home.
"Great!" she shouts in my ear. "I'll be at your place in fifteen minutes. I'll even loan you a dress."
"Fine," I say. "Bye." But she's already hung up.
I have to admit that Jasmine looks good in the green dress I lent her. I figured it would go good with her brown hair but when she put it on, I discovered that her hair is auburn.
"Ready?" I ask, my smile bright.
"I don't know..."
"Hey, don't you dare back out on me. I need you there tonight to keep me from being...well...me!"
In truth, I fully intend to remove Jasmine's virginal fears and purity. She needs to realize that what she is truly missing is a guy and not Jesus. All she says to me is Jesus this and Jesus that and I can't bear to hear it anymore.
"Okay," she says at last, biting her lower lip. What is she so afraid of? It's just a night out.
The guy talking to me is actually on the extreme side of the hottie meter and I can barely wait until I can 'ditch' my friend into the care of an equally deserving male and make good my goal to have a one night stand.
But, unfortunately, Jasmine isn't appearing all that willing to be a pawn in my game of sex and lies. I smile sweetly at the guy before me and shoot daggers at my friend.
Three guys surround her and she seems to be hedging their conversations with ease that frustrates and bewilders me. Honestly, girl, get with it!
"So, you want to go?" hottie asks and I feel great annoyance rise within me. If I have to tell him I'm babysitting my virgin friend, I'll kill her.
Jasmine looks at me. I smile at hottie and excuse myself before approaching her.
"So, what kind of babysitting am I doing, exactly?" she asks as she breaks away from her 'admirers' and meets me halfway.
"I think I'm going to go with contestant number three," I say.
"Am I supposed to stop you?" she asks in a bored way that sets my teeth on edge. I immediately regret my lie for getting her to the club.
"No," I say as I look to the dance floor, at the swaying bodies and pulsing lights. "You're supposed to find some hottie and take him home."
"What?" her tone reaches through my calm and rises up my irritation many great degrees.
"Look, just go home, you born again goody-goody freak of nature! I'm out of here." I shout but as I turn she takes hold of my shoulder. I face her again and am shocked at the compassion in her eyes.
"Hey, just don't be stupid, best friend, okay? Don't do something you'll regret because you're empty. Please,"
I stare at her, unable to understand why she would even dare to speak to me in that manner. I look down at her hand, my eyes cold, my tone frosty.
"Take your hand off me," I growl. "And consider this friendship over!" And I storm away, leaving her by the bar with the loud music and the anxious guys and I leave with my first one night stand.
Getting out of the club was far easier than going in and I could breathe again. Unfortunately, Rebecca's harsh farewell made my chest bind horribly in pain.
How could our friendship be over? Honestly, I am not the greatest person and I may have spoken out of turn. Actually, I did speak out of turn. I sigh and run my fingers through my hair. I chased her away.
I was just trying to help her, to give her options she didn't realize existed to her. I was giving her an easy out.
Did I even have the right to give her that? I was exactly what she said, a virgin with no experience and no need to gain any.
What was I going to do now? I sit on my couch and wonder if I should leave her a message at home. No, I decide and I frown. What can I do with this mess I've created?
The cause of the problem was painfully clear. I never should have gone to the club.
Chad or Greg or Barney for all I know or care, rolls over and groans. I feel dirty, like a fool, a loser. How could I have ever decided to do this? And, how can I even look at Jasmine again?
I get out of his single bed and slip into my clothes. He turned out to be a disappointment anyway. Doubly disappointed and for a measly revenge tactic.
Okay, I think as I dress in the dimness of his room, I know God exists but why must I follow His rules when I am me? Does He honestly expect us to follow every letter, every guideline and still be happy? No thanks. Jesus may work for weak willed, lonely people like Jasmine but He doesn't work for me.
I slip out of his apartment and sigh. Sick is how I feel. I want to get home and vomit, shower and sleep, in that order. I want to get home...
The phone rings and I run to answer it.
"Rebecca?" I ask, breathless.
"No, this is Beth, from church," comes the sweet voice over the line.
"Oh...hi, this is Jasmine," I say, for lack of better conversation.
"Yes," she replies with a ease that transmits to me. "I'm going shopping this afternoon...care to join me?"
I feel a rush of thoughts invade the solitude. Rebecca might call. What am I going to do with Beth? Did someone actually call me to go hang out? I am not that great company. Should I make an excuse, get out of it? Suddenly, all is silent and I hear my voice loud and clear.
"Sure. I'll meet you at the mall."
I sit across from my father and wonder why this meal is so different from all the other once a month Friday meals. Then, in the piercing silence that reigned over this meal, I realize it. Jasmine isn't here.
Jasmine had been my buffer, the person I took to these mandatory allowance meetings with my father that he insisted I be loyal to, that I keep my word on. If I would get a job, Heaven forbid, I wouldn't have to grovel before my father every month to get the five thousand dollar allowance he grants me.
Oh, I still would, but I wouldn't have to. Pride is a great thing. Unfortunately, during these dinners, pride left me in the dust. Much like I left Jasmine.
"Where's that friend of yours?" he asks, not looking at me, looking at the nearly empty plate of caviar.
"Jasmine?" I ask, daring him to look at me, even if it is with annoyance.
I sigh. I am now staring at his checkbook, placed at his right hand, patiently waiting for the master to hand out his great gift of wealth. I hated the third Friday of every month.
"She and I had a falling out," I say, praying that the time would speed fast in a blur of Hollywood filming and I could have the check in my hand, ready and willing to spend every last cent.
"A falling out?" he looks at me, his green eyes showing surprise. "What did you do?"
I snarl. "How can you automatically assume that I was the cause of the falling out?" I demand.
"Can I go?"
"Do you want your allowance?" I don't answer. Need it, is more like it. "Were you the cause of the falling out?"
"Why are you so concerned with Jasmine and my relationship suddenly?" I ask as I sip my water to quench my ever growing thirst.
"Her parents and I do a great deal of business together," he states.
"You didn't even remember her name at the beginning of this conversation!" I practically shout.
He lifts an eyebrow at me and gives me the look that I remember so well from my childhood. I was trying his patience.
"Jasmine has been the greatest influence on you,"
"All right, Father," I say with as much disdain as I could manage without making him angrier. "Yes, it was my fault. Yes, Jasmine is the greatest woman in the world and I should never have slept with that guy she was trying to save me from. Is that what you want to hear?"
"Take your check and go," he says after the silence falls heavy between us. He rips the prewritten check out of his book and tosses it at me. "Remember, Rebecca, that I am your father. If I hear anything snide like that out of you again, you will meet with your mother and I and the outcome won't be pleasant."
"Please," I say as I roll my eyes, grabbing the check quickly and pocketing it.
"You may be an adult in age, Rebecca, but it is time for you to act like it. If you refuse to grow up, then the allowance will stop and you'll be forced to get a job and work for a living. How will your social life handle that?"
"Jasmine's parents never treat her like you and Mom treat me," I grumble.
"Jasmine is a mature adult who works and refuses to leech off her parents."
"Is that what I do? Leech off of you? Is your only child such a great burden?" I demand, fighting tears.
"You should leave now, Rebecca. Your mother will be here next month and we will be having a serious discussion about you and your choices."
"I can't wait," I say sarcastically as I stand.
"Frankly, neither can I." he says and I feel a deep sense of foreboding in my soul. Granted, my father and mother are wealthy people who never taught me good habits...okay, well that's how I look at it. They were too concerned with making money when I was growing up.
Now, he dares threaten me with a meeting with both of them! Of all the nerve! He and Mom haven't been in the same country for the last eight years. It's wonderfully inspiring to know their daughter's temper tantrum is the one thing that can bring them together again.
As I storm out of the restaurant and hail a cab, I never drive to the visits with my father, I think of Jasmine. She's going to get a very nasty phone call when I get home.
"What?" I ask and laugh hysterically at Beth's expression. Beth is a 'all-American' looking girl with curly blond hair and blue eyes. She happens to be Brian's twin sister and was the first one to talk to me Sunday morning.
The church feels like family, everyone making sure that I feel welcome and appreciated, even though I am new there. I have been invited to hang out after services and a lot of the women my age have called me to talk. Beth is actually three years older than me but we might as well be the same age for how well we get along.
"That's right," she says with a small, crooked smile. "Directly into the pool. All my clothes were on."
"I'm sorry," I say as I try to quell my laughter.
"Well, that's what I get for showing off. They tease me about it all the time. It was my first church picnic, after all."
I take a sip of my Sprite and decide, at long last, that I can confide in Beth.
"Can I be serious for a moment? There's something I want to talk to you about." I say.
"Well, I have this friend. She's been my best friend for most of my life. Anyway, we had a, well, I guess you could call it a falling out, of sorts. Well, should I call her and seek out our friendship or should I wait for her to call me?"
"Well, we are supposed to be forgiving so I would call her," Beth says. "But there has to be more to this problem than that."
"Actually, I need to ask you a favor," I say as I lean back in the plastic chair at the food court. Our shopping day was only half completed and here I was dumping this huge weight on Beth.
"Go for it,"
Her enthusiasm helps me loosen up slightly and I decide I should give her some background information before jumping right into the favor.
"My parents and I haven't truly spoken in four years. They were trying to run my life, or so I felt, and I wanted to be my own person. So, I disowned them, in a way. Just stopped calling and returning calls, switched jobs without telling them, that sort of thing.
"Looking back I see how foolish and selfish I was being. All they wanted me to do was work under my father in the family business, learn my way so that I could take it over years from now. I don't know why I got so stubborn and ungrateful.
"Anyway, God having cleansed me and opened my eyes to things I was blind to, I'm going to go see them and do what is expected of me, as their daughter. I'm going to go work for them.
"But, I need a buffer, as it were. I'm also planning on telling them about my salvation. I was wondering if you would go with me."
I pause and try not to hold my breath in an obvious way. My parents were upset with me when I stormed out of their house and rapidly made myself unavailable to them. They sent me letters and even came to the apartment but I ignored both entreaties. I don't know why I was so foolish, so full of myself, that I couldn't understand their point of view.
Now, I was going to be returning to them, meeting them on their ground, and I was going to be going there seeking forgiveness.
"Sure," Beth says and I flash back to the immediate moment.
"Yes," she says with a smile. "What are friends for?"
"Jasmine, you are ungrateful and are seriously pissing me off! You know, last night was dinner with my father as usual and where were you? Off killing some animal for a religious ritual or something? Look, I'm really getting sick of playing second fiddle to God and your church. You need to choose: Him or me because you left me hanging. Did you even remember? Oh, it would be so like you to remember and miss out of spite! And where are you today? I hate you!"
I guess I should call her but I'll wait till Sunday afternoon. She doesn't need to know about Beth and my parents meeting soon because Rebecca is obviously feeling pain I can't even comprehend.
She shouldn't get mad at me for not waiting by the phone for her call anymore.
I sigh and delete the angry message. I pick up the phone and dial her number.