“Slow down, Speed Racer!” Holly demanded in response, as she held up her hand like a stop sign from her bench across the path.
“No titles have been awarded at this time,” she advised. “Things are still very early. We’re in that getting to know each other phase.”
It was another cold morning down by the river, and the best friends had the path all to themselves. However, as mandated by Aaron’s strict social distancing code, they sat on separate benches on opposite sides of the path.
Aaron nodded in understanding. “So what’s this one’s name?”
“Tim. No, Jim. I get confused, but I know it rhymes with him,” Holly confessed as she lowered her mask to reveal a sheepish grin before taking a long drink of her coffee.
“I see,” he replied with a sly grin that she could not see because of his mask. “So I take it the getting to know each other phase hasn’t quite gotten to the first name part?”
Holly flipped him the bird.
“Can’t I show an interest in my best friend’s life?” Aaron replied defensively.
“Do you want to try a more honest answer?” Holly countered. “Remember, I know you better than anyone else in the world.”
Aaron let out a heavy sigh. “I’ve been reviewing the data from our recent Sunday chats, and it’s been brought to my attention that we always talk about me, and you’re relegated to straight man status, left to feed me questions while I rant and rave about my life.”
Holly looked as befuddled as one can when one’s face is half covered by a mask.
“What data?” she questioned in utter confusion. “I’m the only one who’s here for these talks, and I haven’t brought anything to your attention.”
Holly was amazed by Aaron’s uncanny ability to constantly find new ways to surprise her. Say what you will about the guy, but life with him was never boring.
“Oh I just like to play things back in my head,” he explained. “Unlike you, I don’t have a parade of dates marching in and out of my home to keep me distracted. I’m often just left alone with my thoughts, and I’m sure you can imagine how disturbing that can be.”
“I would like the clarify something,” she stated. “A parade implies marching bands, floats, and sometimes even large balloons. I might date frequently, but it hasn’t reached parade status.”
Aaron nodded that he conceded the point.
“So your mental playback of our Sunday chats down by the river revealed that they’re mostly all about you, huh?” Holly nudged him back to his point.
“Yeah,” he shrugged. “Normally, I wouldn’t let such a thing bother me because I know I’m a delight to listen to, but then I got to thinking that I don’t really have many friends. And maybe that’s because I’m so wrapped up in myself that I don’t allow room for anyone else.”
Holly took a long sip of coffee to kill the chill of the Maine morning, but also to give herself some time to ponder Aaron’s statement.
“I agree that you are a delight to listen to, and if I wanted to talk more about myself, I would. It’s not like you’ve put duct tape over my mouth and forbidden me to speak,” she pointed out. “Besides, you’ve got me. Why do you need any other friends?”
“You’re not always going to be around,” he replied without hesitation. “What if you and Slim Jim hit it off and decide to spend more time together?”
Holly chuckled. “You’re in no danger of being abandoned for a guy whose name I can’t remember, Adam.”
Aaron shook his head and rolled his eyes. “Leave the jokes to me. Remember, my data reveals that you’re best at playing the straight man, who listens to my tales of lament, and eggs me on to ramble about the bizarre thoughts that crash around in my brain, but I’m too afraid to let out in mixed company, lest I be shunned by those who truly don’t understand me.”
“You know, I’m starting to think his name might be Kim…”
Aaron groaned at her remark. “Don’t even get me started on parents who give their children gender fluid names that are certain to get them picked on by close-minded bullies!”
Under her mask, Holly smiled, and prepared for another of Aaron’s rants that she loved so much.