Going out on a double date when you have a girlfriend is awkward.
“But she said she would only come if she could bring her friend,” Q protests.
I sigh, “Come on man, it will just be weird.”
“I need you, as a friend.”
I shake my head, “I love my girlfriend.”
He frowns, “I’m not asking you not to–plus, friendship is more important than love.”
“Uh-huh, how so?” I sigh, starting to put my jacket on.
He smiles, standing up, “who are you going to talk to when the person you love drives you crazy?”
I don’t reply, but I follow him to the door mumbling something about “one hour, max.”
The bar is a ten minute walk from my place, which is a relief. It’s got bubble letters for a sign.
“H to O”
I look inside, it is well lit–too well lit, like a frozen yogurt factory.
“This is a bar?” I ask Q. I turn. He is waving at someone. Two girls come walking toward us. One is in a trench-coat jean jacket, half her hair is blue. The other is wearing glasses I could spit through and striped pants that make her legs look comically long. I groan.
“C’mon Q,” I say, “how old are these girls?”
He looks at me. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, no self-respecting adult would dress that way.”
“And I suppose you consider yourself a self-respecting adult?”
I glare at him, “I consider myself un-advertised.”
Q rolls his eyes and the girls get within earshot. There is hand shaking and introductions. Their names fall directly into the dead-leaves pile in my brain. I hold the door and follow them in. The menu is all in Russian.
“Just get me a beer,” I tell Q, heading for the bathroom. It isn’t a large place. I find the bathroom beside a surfboard and hammock display. There are bamboo plants and spa music playing as I stand in the bathroom.
When I get back to the table, Q is chatting away with the girl in the jean jacket trench coat. She’s removed it to reveal a sleeveless dress shirt covered in cat faces. I turn to the girl in the fake glasses, she smiles.
“Why did you come to Russia?” she asks.
I look at Q, look up, look back at her. “No idea, I just like it here.”
“I like it here, too!” the girl with the cat-faced-shirt jumps in. She goes on, “did you know they fly the water in from all over the world. I got the South African–Peruvian blend!”
I take in what she is saying, I look at Q, he looks down at his own hands.
“What the fu–” I start, but I am interrupted by the waitress placing four clear glasses down on the table. I look at my glass, then back up at Q.
“You said this was a bar,” I ask, tense.
“A water bar!” cat-faced-shirt chimes in.
I look down at my glass, close my eyes, trying not to listen.
“It’s new! They started in LA and then London. They fly water in from all over the world. You can even get water from America, if you want.”
When I open my eyes, I just look at Q. He won’t meet my gaze. I look back at the girl across from me, through her fake glasses.
“Do you think friendship is more important than love?” I ask her.
She looks at me, timid, then at Q, then back. “I–I think they’re the same thing, really.”
I take a breath, lean back, and can’t help but smile.
“Huh, alright,” I decide, taking a sip of my water.
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