by Katherine Schulman
“Cameron, just eat your fucking chocolate cake, man. It’s French,” J.D. all but whispered. He finished inhaling his slice for a moment to take a swig of wine. It was crisp and from the finest vineyard in Napa.
“It’s not even that good. Just because it’s French doesn’t mean it’s worth shit, J.D.,” Cameron explained with a huff of annoyance. He stabbed his fork into the thickly layered slice of cake, not bothering to eat any of it. J.D. rolled his eyes.
“Jesus Christ, Cam. Won’t you just get your head out of your ass already? You were lucky to even be invited, y’know,” he grumbled at Cameron through a mouthful of mousse. It was true, though; Cameron was lucky to be invited. He stabbed his cake thoughtfully.
“I mean, they could’ve at least left a table with party favors for the guests…” Cameron trailed off, not daring to look at J.D., whose silverware fell to the floor with a clatter.
“God damn it,” he groaned. “Look, Cam,” he sighed, setting his plate nicely again. “Just because you both love KC and the Sunshine Band doesn’t mean you’re gonna, I dunno, ride off into the sunset together living happily ever after with a condo in Seattle.” Cameron looked down into his lap, his cheeks developing a light red coloring in the process. Why not? He thought.
“This is her WEDDING, for crying out loud! Be happy for her! Hank is a pretty cool guy. Didn’t he get you a box set of The West Wing for your birthday?”
“Yeah,” Cameron mumbled. And it was true; Hank was, by all means, a pretty cool guy. He owned a hedge fund, which meant that he lived the life of leisure. And to Cameron, this meant that he was a jerk. And a part of corporate America. He didn’t understand why Ingrid decided to marry him.
Ingrid was, in a word, amazing. Sometimes she was dark and daring, and other times she was light and airy. At least to Cameron she was. A painter by day and a ballet teacher by night, Cameron couldn’t think of a better combination of a woman to associate himself with.
She and Cameron used to drop everything and drive to the first place they saw on the map. They used to have a regularly scheduled “bad movie night” and would stage student protests back at Kenyon. J.D. would join too, sometimes. But he was mostly consumed by his need for speed. Literally. He did drugs and was the all-star on the track team. But he was clean now and spent his free time alternating between being a personal trainer and spending time with his four-year-old bastard daughter.
Cameron, on the other hand, was still finding himself. At age twenty-nine. He worked as a paraprofessional in an elementary school, but had no plans to stay in that brightly colored glorified prison. As he one day hoped to be the new face of freedom, Cameron spent every minute away from Sackett Avenue Elementary spending time with young Berkeley students peacefully protesting Jamba Juices and chain drugstores.
“Look, buddy —” J.D. put his hand on Cameron’s shoulder in a half-assed attempt to comfort him, jostling him out of his dreamlike state in the process. “All I’m sayin’ is that you need to move on. And you need to move on now. You were friends, and then you were more than that, and now you’ve been just friends again for some time now. This is not some kind of movie where on the way to the glittering island getaway, she realizes that you were the one for her all along. I mean, look at you compared to him! He knows how to iron a shirt. They love each other, man. I mean, just look at ‘em.” J.D. pointed to the happy couple at the long mahogany table in the middle of the hall. Hank was whispering something in Ingrid’s ear, to which she responded with a wide smile and a bony hand over her giggling mouth.
But he would get her. One day he would. One day Cameron would be able to achieve something that topped everything Hank had ever done. Forget about hurricane relief work. Try stopping hurricanes. Hank’s measly recycling bin in the kitchen? Cameron would create a neighborhood composting station. Essentially, Ingrid would become Cameron’s. Not now, but in the near future.
In the meantime, Cameron would learn how to iron a shirt.