Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Friday, January 21, 2005


Health Care, Chapter Two, Part 1

“Okay. I’ll see you in a bit.”

Joan put the phone back in the cradle and took a giant slug of her coffee. She hung her head between her legs and let her spine stretch out for a moment before sitting back up. This was not going to be an easy day. Months. For months, she’d been waiting anxiously for the day when Claire finally got here.

Long-distance relationships were, in Joan’s opinion, a lot like bisexuality: they existed solely in the heads of people who were trying to kid themselves. This whole, I like you a lot, but I’m living on the other side of the country shit was a joke. If Claire had taken a month, a week, hell, even a day longer to finally extricate herself from Otter Creek, Joan might very well have just taken up with any one of the dozens of women in the Wild Rose who’d offered to buy her a drink in the last year. She was so horny that the fifty year-old cashier lady at QFC with neon green eye-shadow and a moustache was starting to look good.

But now this little shithead Simone was ruining what should have been a fantastic day.

Ruining it because it now fell to Joan to tell her favorite little intellectually-challenged breeder that his two-faced twat of a girlfriend had skipped town with his best friend. The poor little dimwit was going to be crushed, which was almost enough to make Joan wish she hadn’t encouraged him to come to the coast.

It hadn’t been an entirely altruistic act, her steering Ben to make the move. She’d known that Claire needed additional prodding. Claire always needed additional prodding. Which raised the question of whether or not Claire was worth the months of celibacy and the additional tsuris. But…anyway, Ben. The big problem had been, Claire wasn't going to leave town without someone to split the drive and the cost, so Ben’s evacuation from Otter Creek was almost entirely Joan’s doing. God knows, the boy didn’t have the ability to break out of a rut on his own. He worked at fucking IGA for six years. In a conversation when she’d first suggested moving, he actually made reference to the prestige of his head bagboy job. No, once Ben got comfortable, it took a team of mules and a dynamite enema to get him going. Joan hadn’t had any dynamite, so she made use of Simone, Buddha forgive her.

Simone had led the poor wretch around by his dong through the last two years of high school and for about eight months afterward. Claire, Joan, Clive…hell, almost everyone who knew Ben was sick about how she had him wrapped around her middle finger. Claire was fairly certain the phrase was actually little finger, but she couldn’t think of Simone at the present moment without also thinking of the middle finger, so there you have it. When she took off for San Fransisco, Ben’s friends didn’t tell him he was better off without her just to ease his pain, they said it because it was the obvious fucking truth. He was a better person without her. The world was a better world if she wasn’t nearby. Okay, that maybe was a little exaggeration.

So why, in her quest to cajole Claire into a westward haul, did Joan sink so low, when she learned Simone had moved to Seattle, as to make certain that Ben “bumped into” her when he and Claire came for a visit? Because Joan was desperate, dammit. She hadn’t reached the decision to deliver Ben into the hands of that Gorgon lightly. She reached the decision only after a three-hour phone-sex-less call from Claire during which she (Joan) had consumed four Red Hooks. Her girlfriend-moving mania amped to new volumes by the talk and the beer, she’d called Simone about thirty-seven seconds after Claire hung up, telling her that Ben would be in town next weekend and, hey! they should all get together at the Comet for a beer.

They had. They’d gotten together and had beer and by the end of the night, Ben was once again completely ensconced in Simone’s sheets. So great was the ill-advised passion of that weekend that Ben left for home with the Great Plan already in motion. Clive would come out as soon as possible (because he had some of the same cash that Joan had gotten from their Grandma Mortimer’s untimely passing) and he would start putting together the band. Then, when Ben and Claire had saved enough from their grocering, they’d follow. Joan would have her gal; Ben would have his band and his sex panther—or whatever the hell she was to him—and everyone would be happy.

Except that Clive, who Joan had known was a prick since their mother had given him Joan’s favorite blanky twenty years ago, was a little too successful at the band stuff. After a few weeks of practicing, they’d gotten a gig—using a “temporary” bass player who was a friend of the drummer and would piss off as soon as Ben got there—which turned into a string of gigs, which inflated everyone’s ego and prompted a move to L.A.

Which would have been bad enough by itself. Unfortunately, Clive’s new status as lead singer for a group that people clapped for while binge-drinking proved irresistible to Simone, who blew him backstage after a show and then went to L.A. with him, presumably so she could keep blowing him.

And this was the Welcome to Seattle present that Joan had to lay on poor Ben. Truly, life was often a mile-high pile of rat turds.