A/N: REWORKED! To those of you who have this story Favourited/Alerted, thanks so much for hanging with me! I have firm plans to finish this story, but before I can continue it, it needs some reworking. Not much is different about this chapter, just the way things are phrased and a couple of spelling errors.
Some would argue that I was too drunk to know what I was thinking. That would be a perfectly rational assumption. I mean, they've seen the glass from which I am practically inseparable. Most of them have some vague clue as to why I drink so much. And everyone and his dog has heard my incessant digs at Grace Adler's appearance.
But what, exactly, was I thinking? They didn't know that, did they? Nor did they know that with all the alcohol I'd been imbibing for the past who-knows-how-long, I didn't even feel a buzz from the occasional sip throughout a day at the office. And though maybe a few people have a clue, they don't know the full story.
Hell, sometimes I don't even know the full story.
Finally, of course, nobody was ever around when I let my weak spot for Gracie show. That was the only reason I ever let it show in the first place.
Don't get me wrong, I can't help it if Grace's fashion sense is as hopeless as her undying love for Will(ma). I can't help it if my common sense is a little off after a lifelong hangover, so that my words are…well, they're sharper than people are used to hearing. Or if I often feel the need to cover up for certain aforementioned weak spots with misleading commentary.
I can't help it that I lo—I have a soft spot for Grace.
My, that was close. I almost admitted it.
Funny, I can think through my reasoning over and over—with the occasional allowance for a missing memory or one doused in gin—and still, I can't say the words. If I say the words, the feeling becomes real. Reality leads to wrinkles. Wrinkles lead to aging. Aging leads to more reality; one I don't even want to think about.
Thinking about it, I'm probably a lot older than Gracie. She's . . . what? Thirty-five, at most. And I? Through all the facelifts, all the jokes, all the lies, all the dirty looks at the mere mention of the number, I can only just remember my age. And I am most certainly not thirty-five.
I don't even know how old Stanley was. He always said he was older than I was, but that's all relative to how old he thought I was.
Come to think of it, I don't know how old any of my husbands were, really. I can't even remember the first three-anything about them. I think I've drunk them away into oblivion. I only know that they existed and that I have no children to remember them by. That's fine with me. Because the older children grow, the older I grow.
You could say that Jackie is my best friend. I mean, we're together every waking moment, we share every secret, we . . . well, we share almost every secret. There's something about my heterosexuality that makes Jackie feel good. Not that he dislikes lesbians; after all, that wouldn't be quite fair, would it? But he, being the quintessential gay man, believes in the quintessential everything. The quintessential gay man, the quintessential lesbian, the quintessential straight man who just doesn't know he's gay yet, and of course, the quintessential fag hag. And I've been nothing but that for his sake.
Jack and I share every secret because we don't have any real secrets to share.
Once upon a time, in the way of many quintessential fag hags before me, I was jealous of Jack's boyfriends. I wanted him to love me, instead. After all, weren't we the perfect pair? Designer style, mooching off of others for a living, beautiful and ageless . . . but of course that wasn't real. It's just pathetic. I'm not in love with my gay best friend like some lost, lovesick puppy! I'm not Grace!
Astoundingly, and somewhat dissociatively, I'm not jealous of Will. Not even for having Gracie's undying affection. No, the love Wilma has from Grace isn't what I want from her. It's a sort of settled-for fondness and a joy in the closeness they share. What I want from Gracie is passion. And that makes it even more unsatisfying, for wanting passion makes it even more unlikely.
Especially since Leo trounced into the picture.
Oh, my hatred for Leo is deadly.
It started off innocently enough, or as innocent as anything is in our tangled little world. Gracie met Leo Jewdoctor when she and Will were thinking about a baby. She came into work all torn up over it.
"Honey, what is the problem? It was just a kiss!" I told her flippantly, taking a big sip of vodka to emphasize the point in my mind.
"No, no, no," Grace argued, "You don't understand! It was a really good kiss."
In a drunken state of confidence, I scoffed, "Show me."
She gawked at me, "No!"
"C'mon! We're both stoned!"
"Shut up and show me!"
It might have been considered manipulative if I had really known what I was doing. But since I didn't, remembering the passion with which she kissed me is all the more intoxicating. God, where were my jokes and insults then?
We broke apart and somehow, through my, to put it lightly, hazy state, I remembered to hide my revealing facial expression and recovered with, "Yep, you're screwed."
She didn't catch on.
The whole incident that followed was during a time of heavy drinking. I guess I sensed something…well, something serious about Leo's presence in Grace's life, and it triggered all kinds of unwelcome responses. Thus, a few days later, I had yet another revealing conversation.
"I have to tell Will the truth-the whole truth!"
"Well, maybe it's for the best," I sighed, "Then you and I can move on with our lives. Out in the open to love freely."
"Karen," Grace looked at me strangely, as though over imaginary spectacles, "We're not a couple."
"Well," I began to slink past her, "All I know is, when I woke up this morning, there was red hair on my pillow and lesbian porn in the VCR." I grabbed a strand of Grace's hair lightly and strutted out of the room smacking my rear end.
Again, she didn't catch onto the sentiment behind my bizarre non-sequitors.
How did she never catch on?
Well, no matter. Grace married Leo. And much as I hated the creep, I guess it was better that Gracie was happy.
Aww, who am I kidding? Gracie's an idiot with poor taste in men, as well as clothes. Thank God the poor sap's in Zimbabwe or Colombia or wherever so I don't have to see that lousy excuse for a human being anywhere near her.
"Karen! You're here!" Grace exclaimed with sarcastic gusto as she entered the office.
"Yeah, of course I am, honey!" I replied innocently, taking another sip from the glass of whatever I had poured in it this morning. Honestly, much like the numerous pills I often popped, the taste or the side effects didn't matter. It was the drug that took away the sting of reality.
After the initial witticisms about my lackadaisical work habits, the idea that I existed seemed to slip from her mind, and with an equal amount of fervour, she slammed her head against her work table in despair.
"Well, what's the matter, Gracie?"
As I suspected, even after a few moments' time, she was surprised to see me there. All the same, she answered, "I miss Leo."
It took a large gulp of the stuff in the glass to muster the reply, "Oh."
Quite predictably, Grace went into the musty details of exactly how, why, and when she missed the guy who was probably down in Whatsis having a fantastic time with someone else. Not that I doubted he thought himself lucky to have Gracie, but he probably also felt lucky to have someone who was gullible and forgiving.
He didn't know that Grace Adler was, while gullible, the most unforgiving, self-absorbed person since myself.
So as she was ranting and raving and emoting, I was smiling as my inner monologue whirled on. No wonder she thought I was too drunk to think gay.