Jake's really going native I met up with him this afternoon, since he'd invited me and Ray to some Halloween thing that he'd been given free tickets for and I didn't have any sort of costume picked out. I had stuff I wanted to pick his brain about, anyway, and he's really the only one I talk to these days - even Vinny is tough to get hold of. It's quite disappointing, actually - one would think that we'd have a sort of support group going, but if any of us talk aside from me and Jake, I haven't heard any of it.
We met up just outside Bartley's in Harvard Square, which is a pretty darn good burger place. I'd been poking around the Harvard Book Store (which is apparently different from the Harvard school bookstore; that's called "The Coop") when he gave me a buzz on the cell phone to say he'd gotten off the T. So I went out in the chilly air and waited. I didn't quite spot him by the heads turning, but I couldn't help but find my head turn when he got there. Jake was wearing a white sweater that covered everything while leaving nothing to the imagination, shoes with a kind of blade for a heel, and perfect make-up; his hair seemed to flow just so. I swear, I almost had phantom limb syndrome going on in my panties when he walked up to me and asked where the burgers were. I pointed, we walked, we sat, we ordered.
"So," he says, "this is what I'm thinking of." He puts a few drawings down on the table in front of me, and I'm kind of taken aback. For one thing, they're really good. A little rough, but you can easily tell its supposed to be the two of us, Ray, and I guess this Josh guy in them. I tend to forget that Jake was a "real" artist before getting involved in computer animation, and like I think most people do, I have a hard time recognizing that computer work does actually take artistic ability.
But, of course, that wasn't the first thing I commented on. "Jake--"
"You should probably call me Ashlyn out in public, Liz; wouldn't want people thinking we're some sort of weird transvestites."
"Yeah, well, no-one would be able think that with these costumes, would they? I mean, ours are practically underwear!"
"I suppose, but it's not like we're going to have that many chances to flaunt what we've been given before next summer."
"I'm not looking to flaunt."
"Oh, come on! You wouldn't believe how much fun it is! You get the whole Pygmalion vibe while getting ready, and having people look at you in admiration is a real rush. You really ought to get out of those baggy sweatshirts and sneakers sometime and give it a shot."
I told him I had enough troubles with people being attracted to me as it was, and saw no need to encourage strangers.
"Oh. Well, okay. Still, I'm going to go with something like this - the station's sponsoring it, and I got passes with the understanding that I'd be a little eye candy--"
"And you're just such a hard worker."
"Hey, don't mock the work ethic."
Our food came then, and we dug in. It almost hurt to only get halfway through that delicious burger before feeling full (more than full, really), but they boxed it up and I figured I'd have something to reheat after work (I'm eating the other half right now, actually).
After that, we took a walk over to Hootenanny, in the Garage mall. Evidently "Ashlyn" had been there with lady friends and noticed they sold Halloween costumes as well as ridiculously overpriced clothing. Jake showed me the one he thought would be good for me, but there was no way I was doing the schoolgirl skirt and knee socks thing. I almost considered it for half a second, but then I came to my senses. I said I'd just go to the City Sports across the street and pick up matching football jerseys for me and Ray. Or a Raiders one for me and a Pats for him, just because I can. He seemed a bit disappointed, saying I should at least go for basketball because I had really great legs. Uh, thanks, but Ray kind of doesn't.
We charged our respective purchases (I made him promise to save his receipt, because that looked like a pretty costly one-time-use outfit on a waitress's salary and it could potentially be construed as a business expense) and wandered into the square. We had a couple hours before we had to get to our respective jobs, so we found a spot to sit in down by the river where we could talk.
I had a hard time starting. "So," I said, "you know that letter I got from Liz? There's something I didn't put in the blog."
"She... she said she was planning to leave Ray for Stewart. That they'd been little more than glorified roommates for over a year, and she hated sneaking around, but that when she was with Stewart..."
"Yeah. And since she's looking for any way she can to get her life back..."
I couldn't finish the thought, and I don't think Jake could either, at first. As much as he seems to enjoy playing dress-up, the fact was, all we really knew about Liz's relationship with Stewart was that it was physical, and that's... a big step, to say the least.
"So what are you going to do?"
"I don't know! I don't exactly feel like I have the right to screw up her life, but at the same time, how can she ask that of me. Not that she does, nowhere in the letter does it say 'please fuck my boyfriends until I get back', but the meaning is pretty clear."
"Well, if you're going to live her life, that's part of what you've got to do."
"Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you? You throwing your boobs around and working as hard at looking pretty as you ever have at a real job--"
"Hey, you're the one that said we should try to live out these girls' lives without making waves until we figured out how to fix this! And you knew Liz had one boyfriend - you had to know this was a possibility all along!"
That stung. "I... I thought I'd been let off the hook. If Ray had started getting romantic a couple months ago, I might have done it, but now..."
"Maybe it's time to let go of the idea that we're ever going to be ourselves again. The new Jake seems pretty comfortable, and have you heard from the new you lately?"
"Not for a couple weeks, but that doesn't mean anything. We don't hear from 'Marie' and 'Jean-Michel' very often, but we know they want their lives back."
"You can want all you want... You know what? This is stupid. You're my best friend, the only person I can talk to about this, and I'm not going to ruin that. Whatever you decide, I won't think any less of you."
That's nice to hear, but no help whatsoever when you're trying to make a difficult decision.