“I was Barney,” Chris blurted out as I slid into the passenger seat of his car. We were on our way to a Christmas party that one of his colleagues had invited him to. He had recently broken up with his girlfriend, so my wife convinced me that if I didn’t go with him I would be a bad friend.
“What?” I replied, swinging my left leg into the car.
“You’re wearing a purple shirt,” Chris explained, pinching the sleeve of my shirt. “It reminded me that I was Barney the Dinosaur.”
“Firstly,” I said sternly, brushing his hand away from my shirt. “My shirt isn’t purple. It’s smokey mulberry, a very masculine colour.”
Chris forced air out of his nose dismissively. Dismissively of me, not the air. I doubted he even noticed the air in his nose.
“Secondly,” I said, “What? Barney the Dinosaur… what?”
“You asked me what I did during varsity to earn some extra money,” Chris replied.
“Okay,” I said slowly, as a frown formed on my face.
“And your purple shirt — ” he continued.
“Smokey mulberry,” I interjected.
Chris ignored me. “Your purple shirt reminded me that I used to be Barney the Dinosaur for kids’ parties.”
“Chris, I asked you that question on Tuesday. It’s now Friday.”
He shrugged the shrug of a man who was used to ending conversations with a shrug. His shrug was powerless against me, though.
“You’re very scatterbrained,” I said, tapping my head for effect. Because that’s where one’s brain usually is.
“No, I’m not!” Chris protested as he adjusted the back of his seat.
“You’re 40 minutes late.” I held up my wrist to show him the time but realised I wasn’t wearing a watch. So to save face, I flapped my hand around in faux frustration.
“I couldn’t find your place,” he replied lamely.
“You lived next door for three years!”
“A lot has changed since I moved,” Chris said, now flat on his back, still fiddling with his seat.
“You moved a month ago. What has changed?” I said, tugging the back of his seat, trying to help him up.
Chris flew forward, slamming his chest into the steering wheel. This gave the hooter a loud honk, startling the dozing cat that was perched on top of my letter box. It sprang with such force that it dislodged my letterbox causing it to fall to the ground.
Chris pushed himself and his seat back while squinting out the window for signs of change.
“Your letter box! That used to be in a different place,” he pointed out proudly.
I shook my head. “We should probably get going. We’re already late.”
Twenty minutes of awkward silence later, we arrived at the Christmas party.
“I’m really not, you know!” Chris said suddenly, presumably picking up where we had left off.
“It’s not a criticism, Chris. I’m just pointing it out,” I placed my hand on his shoulder a little condescendingly, because obviously it was a criticism.
“Oh, it’s not a criticism. Okay, that makes it so much better.”
I assumed Chris was being sarcastic, but I wasn’t sure. He could be quite gullible, so he often took what I’d say in jest, seriously.
Like a few months ago, Chris and I popped down to the Waterfront for a catch-up. They had recently automated the glass doors that you previously had to pull to open. They were obviously still a bit glitchy because they didn’t immediately open when you approached them. Chris pulled on the handle unsuccessfully and, out of frustration, shouted at them to open. Coincidently, they then opened.
“What the heck?” he said, confused.
“It must be voice activated.” I knew it wasn’t.
“Oh, wow!” he said, impressed at this marvel of technology.
Chris now loudly and confidently commands the doors at the Waterfront to open every time he goes. So you can understand the need to check whether he was being sarcastic.
“Are you being sarcastic?”
“Me? Sarcastic? Never,” he said, aggressively unbuckling his seat belt.
“I see I’ve upset you,” I replied, putting on my best apologetic voice. I’m getting much better at it. I get a lot of practice with my wife.
“Let’s just drop it. You’re not scatterbrained, okay?” I realized I was talking to an empty car because Chris had already exited. What a waste of a great apologetic voice.
As I got out of the car, I noticed a couple walking towards the party. They were dressed as pirates. Chris’s colleague greeted them near the door wearing a Spider-Man costume. Oh no.
“Is this a fancy dress party, Chris?” I scowled a scowl that an Olympic scowler would applaud.
“No,” Chris replied unconvincingly.
I turned to face Chris, hoping my scowl would frighten the truth out of him. My scowl deepened as I caught him pulling a Father Christmas hat down onto his head to go with the Father Christmas coat and pants he was taking out of the boot.
“Then why are you dressed as Father Christmas?”
“I’m not.” He avoided eye contact.
“Did you forget to tell me that this is a fancy dress party?” I said, moving about trying to get into his eyeline. He will feel the wrath of my scowl, I thought.
“See? You are a scatterbrain, Chris!” I hissed.
“Just tell them you’re Barney the Dinosaur!” he hissed back.
“That’s a great idea,” I retorted sarcastically.
“I know! You’re welcome,” he replied proudly.