The Triple Pinch
A chilly, fickle friendship is the best kind of friendship!
This time of year, a wind blows along the harbor that is straight-up spiteful. It chews through my sexy jaunty scarf, sure, but also my very soul? So I feel exposed both physically and spiritually? Like, more than usual?
Anyway, I had big plans to go brood at the ocean for a spell, but then this ill wind knocked me right into Sal’s Crab House, there at the end of Malus Pier. Which was fine—I go there pretty regularly for the Triple Pinch, the innovation that put Sal’s on the map.
(It goes like this: Sal catches a crab, chops off one claw to cook, then pitches the maimed crab back into the sea. Time passes, clouds move across the sky real quick, and then he catches that very same crab, now with a newly grown replacement claw. [Sal is maybe the friendliest proprietor in town, but let me tell you he gets quite squirrelly if you ask him how he finds that crab again.] And that second-generation claw is where the real flavor is, seeing as it’s been through so many trials and tribulations.)
Sal’s was busier than usual for that time of day, but then I scanned the specials board (crab turkey, crab stuffing, crab-berry sauce) and realized it was Thanksgiving. I’d totally forgotten, and that made me even more broody. But whatever, I spied an empty seat at the counter and made a beeline, only noticing at the last second that it was taken by my friend Voletta.
“Oh hey,” I said, or words to that effect. “Didn’t see you there.”
“I know,” she said.
Because here’s the thing about Voletta: she’s small, lithe, and adept at contorting her body and face in such a way that she vanishes from sight. I’m not saying she literally turns invisible, but she becomes so thoroughly anonymous that your attention bends away from her, refracted toward something else more interesting.
(Did she learn this technique as a teenager, when she wanted nothing more than to disappear from the face of Planet Earth, to not be perceived, to not exist as a human being? Yes. Did this systematic erasure of herself affect her self-esteem for years? Sure. But did she eventually discover how to give herself permission to take up space in the world, in people’s lives, in her own life, in a way that felt healthy and powerful? No, she actually veered way off in the other direction, becoming deliberately intrusive and disruptive and cruel to her loved ones, as if the only way she could truly be seen was by inflicting pain and sowing chaos. OK, but did she eventually move past that phase and make amends for the emotional wreckage she caused and build stronger, closer relationships? Um that’s still a work in progress. Well, did she at least figure out how to turn her skills in manipulating attention into a financially stable career as a Fort Hook courier, running illicit goods between various criminal syndicates? Yes! Yeah. I mean, sort of?)
I said happy thanksgiving and she said likewise. I said, “So just solo takeout today? No big family dinner?”
“Ha, no. Not a lot of families on the docks, pallie. Anyway I’m on call.”
“You still freelancing?”
“Nah I joined up with a salary crew, six seven months ago.”
“Oh nice, which one?”
She looked me up and down but not in a good way. “This going in your newsletter?”
“Is our private conversation going in my newsletter? How dare you even.”
“Uh huh. Imma keep mum nonetheless.”
“OK then why don’t we go around the table and everybody say what we’re thankful for. I’ll go first. I’m thankful my newsletter already has a reputation.”
“For having a big mouth.”
“That’s right. Now you go.”
She put her chin on her hand and thought it over. Then: “I’m thankful I got a place to sleep that’s out of that shitty wind. And I’m thankful I finally have some friends who know who I am, and who don’t get mad when I am who I am. But mostly I’m thankful for this crab pumpkin pie with crab whip cream.”
That pie did look pretty good so I tried to catch Sal’s eye and place an order. When I turned back, Voletta had already vanished. I wasn’t mad.
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