Bobby puts the phone down and returns to the shag carpet. He lies down again. He wonders if he’s going to make another drink, if he’s going to sink into this carpet and never get up. He wonders if he should go up and talk to his daughter. He wonders if his son is home. He wonders if he should order Chinese for dinner. He wonders if he really wants to see his old friends, if he’s in a good place to talk about the past, to reminisce, to bathe in the kind of nostalgia the evening promises. A simple night out for drinks has turned into a reunion. He doesn’t feel like he’s putting his best face forward, not now, not unemployed. He’s become a househusband. How is he going to spin that?
And how did this become a reunion? He’s seen Jonathan. He’s maintained a friendship with him. Through Jonathan he’s kept up with Jeffrey and Stu and Barry. But the rest are tangential; he’s not sure he was close to them in high school. They were Jonathan’s friends. They were Bobby’s acquaintances. Bobby has never been good about making friends, and then maintaining friendships. He finds the energy keeping up with people he’s never liked a kind of inefficiency, a cosmic joke, a rule imposed on everyone, the result of the fear everyone has of being alone.
Bobby grew up with an inability to make small talk. He saw that as a quality. He lies on the rug, rubbing his hand over shag, becoming mesmorized by the feeling, acknowledging what he is, what he’s become, who he is, a husband and father, anti-social, with perhaps one close friend in the world, and even at that he doesn’t keep up, he can’t be bothered, or he couldn’t, but now that he’s home, he wonders, he thinks about Zederbaum, about how close he is to Eitan Zederbaum, a thought that surprises him, because Zerderbaum’s otherness is there, always, laid out before like the distinct form of his shadow.