Things were quiet for a moment as everyone decided it was too depressing to talk about jobs and money.“Bartholomew, could you pass me the fries?” asked Topping.Topping noticed a tattoo on Bartholomew’s arm as he handed him the plate of french fries.“Nice tat!” said Topping.Bartholomew was a little embarrassed but held out his arm to show everyone the moon tattoo on the tender underside of his right wrist. Then he showed them the sun tattoo on his left wrist.“Cooool,” said Ned.“Wow, I like how intricate they are,” said Claire. “Did you design them yourself?”“Sort of. I worked off of some designs I liked. They were originally drawn by Aristotle. But I did change them quite a bit,” said Bartholomew“What do they mean?” asked Ned.“Day and night,” said Bartholomew.“Well, duh!” said Topping with a mouth full of fries.“Why is the moon on your right wrist? Is there some meaning to that?” asked Claire.“Well, actually, yeah.” Bartholomew wasn’t sure how much he should tell them. He hadn’t really explained the tattoos to anyone before except to Uncle Jeffrey, Aunt Josephine, and Oliver his cat. Uncle Jeffrey and Aunt Josephine did not approve of tattoos, and especially of these tattoos.“Uh, the moon is on my right wrist because I am right handed and… at the time I got them… uh…my life seemed more dark than sunny,” Bartholomew said not looking at anyone.“Why was that?” asked Claire with a sympathetic look in her brown eyes.“Well…I got them soon after I lost both my parents.”The other three wrappers sat stunned for a moment. Everyone heard the sound of a half-chewed french frie hitting the floor as Ned opened his mouth in disbelief.“Oh, I’m sorry,” said Claire as her face blushed red for having asked earlier if Bartholomew lived with his parents.The room got quiet again.The Butler walked in and began to remove empty plates and glasses from the table. He disappeared through a swinging door, returned promptly, and waited to the side of the table for Bartholomew to finish his lunch.The four wrappers talked about a few recent movies they had seen. When Bartholomew had indicated he had finished eating The Butler grabbed his plate and announced, “Lunch is over. You may continue wrapping.”The sound of chairs scraping on the floor reverberated throughout the room and Bartholomew, Claire, Ned and Topping filed out the door.
Lunch Rap is the second story dealing with Bartholomew's experience wrapping Christmas presents for Gerald's kids and meeting his new friends: Topping, Ned and Claire. I originally wrote the two stories as one, but found it was getting too long. I determined to make the first story about Gerald's children and how horrible they are. This second story is about the process of making friends. How do we talk to each other? How do we ask questions? At what point do you determine that an acquaintance is worthy of the investment of friendship? What do you do then? How does your communication change at this point? I find this all fascinating and explore this in several of the stories in The Book of Bartholomew.
Even in my forties I find making friends an interesting endeavor. It is much more complex, often with children and partners involved. How does one man in his forties say to another man who is in his thirties, forties or fifties, "I like you. Let's hang out." I still haven't decided if it is even more awkward making a friendship with a woman, with all the possible sexual thoughts or feelings cropping up for both. Either way, a true friendship, one where you freely share yourself, can lead to awkward moments. But, it is worth it to muddle through in order to find a friend with whom you feel completely comfortable. I have a few of them in my life and lean on them when I am confused or unsure about things. They may not have answers for me, but they have an uncritical ear. Most of the times that is all I need. They are also the people with whom I laugh most freely. It is sweet.
Lunch Rap will be published on December 28, 2012 at: www.bookofbartholomew.com