And she put her phone into her purse and said something both unnecessary and untrue,
“That was nobody.”
“I didn’t ask if it was anybody in particular.”
“Well…” she said. She pulled out a pack of cigarettes and matches from the purse and placed them on the table, “…it wasn’t anybody.”
“Don’t you think that’s a strange thing to say to somebody?”
She chose a cigarette and fumbled with the matches, taking her time, and placed undue attention on the act, making sure I was aware that I deserved only a small piece of her attention. I was irritated.
“If you had decided to continue talking about work, like you were before you pulled out your phone, I really wouldn’t have even noticed that you looked at your phone, while you were talking about work… which was the highlight of my day, by the way.”
Kate pulled a long drag from the smoke, and slouched back in the chair. She tilted her head down and looked up at me. The half-roll of her eyes emphasized her shitty attitude.
“What?” She said, “I wasn’t listening.”
“Nobody gives a fuck if you look at your phone, do you know how many times a day people pull out their phone in the middle of having a conversation with another person?”
“No,” she said, “but I bet you’re going to tell me.”
“I’m guessing hundreds.”
“Okay, so what?”
“So, when they do, they say things like, ‘excuse me’ or ‘just a sec.’”
“And…” she took another drag.
“And they don’t mention who it is, unless it’s a mutual friend or family member, or someone who has some fucking importance to their current situation, like, ‘Tom’s not coming to the bar tonight,’ or, ‘that was mom.’”
“Who’s, Tom?” she asked.
“What? No. Fuck Tom. Tom’s nobody, he’s a part of the larger thing that I’m trying to explain to you.”
“Which was what?” she said.
“That people rarely feel the need to justify to other people who they are talking to on the phone or who the text message is from, and that, certainly, if it’s unimportant they would choose to not say anything over the borderline idiotic choice of, ‘That was nobody.”
She stared at me.
“Well, it was nobody.”
“That’s exactly my point, Kate, why the fuck would you even bring it up if it didn’t matter.”
“I thought you were going to ask me, so I decided to tell you up front that the text message I just got was from nobody important, saying nothing,” she said.
I waved our server, Angela, over. I frequent this coffee shop. I’m a regular – although I’ve always hated that description. The coffee is practically free, and the bagels are fresh, and these days that’s a commodity.
“Hi, Honey” Angela said, “refill?”
Angela walked away, and I glanced at her. Aside from enjoying a good look at Angela’s tour de force, I wanted to annoy Kate. This is, in lieu of all the evidence that has been submitted for the court, an unhealthy relationship, or whatever it is.
“What the fuck was that?” Kate said.
“That was nobody,” I said, “I mean nothing. It’s not important.”
“Look, I’m not the jealous type, but checking out other women when you’re sitting here with me makes you look like a fucking asshole.”
I smiled. Kate placed another cigarette to her lips. The afternoon sun peaked through the buildings across the street onto the patio. I knew where our conversation was headed.