“I’ll give Jim a call and see if they have any plans tonight. I think you just need a night out to take your mind off of everything,” Carter tells me as I watch him walk out of the room giving Gavin a few tickles and blowing a zerbert on his cheek.
He’s probably right. I just need a night out with friends, particularly my best friend. Liz and I haven’t had any alone time since she’s been home. She has told me more than once to just say the word and she’ll drop everything so we can sit down and talk, but I feel bad about imposing on her. She's a newlywed with her own business to worry about. I don’t want to bring her down with my insecurities. If I don’t talk to someone, though, I'm going to explode. I can feel it.
Or maybe throw up. I suddenly have an image in my mind of a person literally being blown to bits with blood and gore and body parts splattering against a wall. With my hand to my mouth I race to the bathroom to throw up the small amount of coffee I consumed.
“Seriously, Claire? How is it that we’ve been friends all these months and I didn’t know that you’ve never been to one?” Jenny asks with a shocked expression on her face.
“What are we discussing here, ladies? Donkey shows? Midget and donkey shows? Ping pong shooting vaginas in Tijuana?” Drew asks as he gets back from the bathroom and takes his seat at the table.
Carter calls everyone earlier in the day and demands they clear their schedules for a night out. It really isn’t too hard to convince anyone to do this, but I still appreciate the fact that he's organized it for me and knows how much I need it. We are just finishing up dinner at Lorenzo’s, our favorite local pizza place that's famous for not only good food but cheap draft beers. My stomach still isn’t feeling one hundred percent better after that morning so while everyone around me enjoys their drafts, I stick to 7 Up in the hopes of settling things down.
“Claire has never been to a sex toy shop,” Jenny informs him.
“Wait, I’m confused. Liz owns a sex toy shop, and it’s right next door to Claire’s,” Drew tells her, turning his attention on me. “Dude, you’ve never walked over to the shop that’s connected to yours? That’s a little weird.”
“Of course I’ve been to Liz’s store. I’ve just never been to any other store. And I don’t really think her store counts since it’s not like it’s full of sex toys right out in front,” I explain.
“True. My store is like a mullet. Business in the front, party in the back,” Liz states.
“Or like anal,” Drew says with a laugh.
Everyone stares at him.
“What? It’s totally like anal. Business in the front, party in the back. Hello? Why is that not funny?”
Jenny pats his arm for comfort and we all resume our discussion.
“If you guys will remember, I never even owned a vibrator until Liz conned me into doing one of her at-home parties,” I remind them.
“Ahhhh yes, the infamous dinner where we talked about your vagina and sex toys all night long,” Jim says with a laugh.
That night still goes down in history as one of the most mortifying nights of my life. It had been the night after I saw Carter again for the first time since our one-night-stand. I walked into Liz and Jim’s house, talking nonsense about my vagina and how I’d never had an orgasm with another human being when I turned around and saw Carter and Drew sitting on the couch listening to every word. Jim met them earlier in the day and unbeknownst to Liz or I, invited them over for dinner. The rest of the night had been spent discussing how many sex toys I received at the party earlier that evening and the fact I only had sex one and a half times in my life.
“Anyway,” I say with a glare to Jim, bringing the conversation back around. “No, I’ve never been inside a real, live sex toy store.”
Drew pushes his chair back and stands up, placing his hands on his hips.
“Grab your keys, folks. We’re going to pop Claire’s toy store cherry!”
Everyone pays their bills and Liz announces to the guys that the girls need some alone time. The men all pile into Drew’s car and Jenny and I get into Liz’s car to head to the Adult Mart a few towns over.
“Okay, spill it bitch. What’s going on with you?” Liz asks as she pulls out of the parking lot and follows Drew’s car.
That’s all it takes for the dam to break. I immediately start crying.
God dammit, what the f**k is wrong with me?
Jenny leans forward from the back seat and hands me a kleenex. I take it and blow my nose, taking deep breaths to calm myself down.
“I don’t think Carter wants to marry me,” I say between sniffles.
“Whoa, wait a minute. Did he say that to you? I will kick his f**king ass,” Liz threatens as she turns on her blinker and gets onto the ramp for the highway.
“No! No, he didn’t say those exact words. It’s just little things that have happened the past few weeks,” I tell her.
“Okay, what little things? And why is this news to me that you even care about getting married? You have always been a staunch supporter of living in sin because of your parents. Why the sudden change of heart?”
This is where I feel stupid. Does it sound dumb that my change of heart came from being jealous of her and Jim? That seeing them so happy and pledging their love to one another has made me realize how much I want that for myself?
“I know that’s what I’ve always said, and I guess part of me really believed that. I mean come on, my parents don’t exactly have the best track record. What makes me think I would be any good at that kind of thing?” I ask.