He was married now. Not to Blaise or any other girl he went around with when Ru knew him. His wife was a high school teacher, blonde and pleasant enough. Older than Ru, certainly not as pretty; Ru at forty looked like Tate’s wife when she was twenty-nine. Ru’s seventy would look like Tate’s wife’s fifty. Ru would hit seventy in thirty years; Tate’s wife would hit fifty in just five.
She looks so old had indeed been Ru’s first thought when Tate had introduced Elaine to her that night he’d told her to have a nice life.
Have it with me, she wanted to say, but what came out was, “You, too.” Perhaps he’d taken it as “You two,” because the person he was having his nice life with was the not-as-pretty-as-Ru Elaine Fenton, who on that evening he’d introduced as his “friend.” Ru had simply been Ru, as in, “Ru, this is my friend Elaine. Elaine, this is Ru.” Ru had no title. She didn’t need one. She was prettier.
Sometimes she goes on Elaine’s Facebook page to look at her profile picture to make herself feel better. Most times she can avoid it, but sometimes the spiteful “Married to Tate Pearson” trumpet on the left side of the screen, just above her eighty-two friends (Ru has two hundred and twelve, ha) creeps into Ru’s line of vision. Then she realizes just how stupid she is. Because what was the prize for being prettier? Certainly not Tate Pearson. Have fun changing your wife’s diapers.
Tate had a Facebook page, too. It was the only place in the world where Ru could consider them friends. In case she forgot, there was his name under “Friends.” She went on his page less than Elaine’s. She couldn’t go on his page. It hurt to see what he was doing, the life he was living without her.
Sometimes she flirted with the guy who lived next door to her. Not because she found him attractive (she did) but because she wanted to prove to herself she could like someone else. Someone current. Someone real. Because Tate wasn’t real. He may as well be Alex O’Loughlin from Hawaii Five-O, that’s how much right she had to fantasize about him.
Her neighbor’s name was Zane Blaze, which she thought was absolutely hysterical. Because it sounded so porno, so like a name a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race would give herself. He was built sturdy, thick but solid, with dark hair than needed a good taming. He was on his law firm’s baseball team. Sometimes they would cross each other when he was leaving for a game and she was coming home from work and he would invite her to tag along. She liked him in his baseball pants, even if the Blaze jersey kind of mocked her. Maybe someday she’d tell him the story.
Once she went to the field by herself to surprise him. She was the one surprised when she saw him go over to some red-headed chick in between innings and kiss her cheek, stand close to her, his arm draped around her shoulders as he drank a Gatorade. He eventually noticed Ru and came over to say hi.
“Good to see you here,” he said, and she nodded, feeling like a stupid fan.
“I’m here for the other team,” she told him, and he laughed. He had a very nice smile, an easy laugh.
“Your girlfriend?” she asked, referring to the redhead.
“Nah. She’s here for the other team, too.”
Nice deflection. Ru was impressed.
He told her a bunch of them were going to the bar down the road after the game, invited her along. She said okay, which was just an acknowledgement of the invitation, not an acceptance.
There was no way she was going to sit there and watch a man she might be interested in succumb to another redhead.