Mesh and Lace
Sitting across the pink melamine table from me, she has a new laugh about her that isn’t quite as nervous as I remember. You can still hear a hint of that please laugh with me, please laugh with me when she says being a lesbian has liberated me. She says this within the first ten minutes of coming in, the way some people advise you that they’re blind or deaf right away to avoid any mistakes or hesitancies on your part. I nod and look over the list of names, all the people still missing, still in alphabetical order. I look at some of the names already checked off—names of people I don’t quite remember and names of people I often think about; most of them girlfriends who stopped knowing me months after graduation. I wonder how I’m supposed to tell Miriam I know quite well where she can find Tony, how we married after he got me pregnant on prom night, because condoms were a sin that didn’t even feel good.
I suppose finding me wasn’t all that hard, since most of the people who still worked at Our Lady of Charity came in to lunch at the diner where I had been working since graduation almost every day. I don’t ask Miriam if that’s how she found me.
“I knew all my life, of course,” she says, still talking about this lesbian thing. “Only you remember what it was like going to that school. Lord, having the wrong color eyeshadow was enough to get you excommunicated.”
She lifts her carefully drawn eyebrow at me, as if I knew. I wonder if she ever had the hots for me and remember a pair of red plastic earrings she gave me once for Christmas. I still have them.
“Going to college was just the most incredible experience for me,” she continues. “I just needed to get away . . .” here she trails off. “So. Do you know what’s become of any of these people?” she asks with a smile. Her smile is quite dazzling, bright Colgate and Maybelline.
I adjust my little white cap. The diner has a fifties theme and we have to wear little caps with nylon mesh hair nets and pink-and-white checkered uniforms with lace-trimmed aprons. “No one but Tony,” I say.