Four Friends Find Love in the Bathroom


Illustration by Verónica Grech.


Mandy has been battling the blues, but she became particularly rattled when she started fantasizing about her funeral. She assured me she’d never actually kill herself, but was simply curious to imagine who would show up. She confessed she’d want Ellie to order the flowers—preferably white Calla lilies since her aesthetic is impeccable—and thought I could write a eulogy about her unrealized potential. Mostly, she wondered whether her boyfriend, Sam, would cry.

Mandy’s psychiatrist added Wellbutrin to her cocktail of mood elevators and strongly advised her to explore her anger instead of turning it against herself. He also recommended lowering her prodigious alcohol consumption.

The other night at our friend Milton’s apartment, Mandy throws back whiskey and puts on a show. Ellie, Milton and I lean against a claw-footed bathtub in the master bathroom and watch her pontificate.

“If I were a man,” she slurs, lighting a Marlboro Red, “I’d be the ultimate asshole.”

“Don’t say that about yourself,” Ellie implores.

“Oh, you’re drunk on Oxytocin,” Mandy shoots back (Ellie has been seeing Derek, a hot bartender she met at Happy Ending and she hasn’t stopped talking about the sex since).

Mandy hikes herself onto the broad sink, her long legs swinging. ‘I’d find a girl just like me,’ she vows, ‘and, at first, I’d be sweet, encourage her to start that jewelry line she’s always wanted. I’d get her to rely on me, have my driver pick her up all the time so she’d start to feel entitled to what’s mine.’

Mandy hikes herself onto the broad sink, her long legs swinging. “I’d find a girl just like me,” she continues, “and, at first, I’d be sweet, encourage her to start that jewelry line she’s always wanted. I’d get her to rely on me, have my driver pick her up all the time so she’d start to feel entitled to what’s mine.”

“Uber wouldn’t cut it?” asks a puckish Milton.

Mandy dismisses him with a wave, “We’d have drinks at Omar’s and when she’d get soft and sloppy, I’d place my hands on her hips to let her know she was mine. She’d melt.”

Ellie giggles. I watch the red soles of her Louboutins, which she rhythmically kicks in the air.

“I haven’t even told you how I’d fuck her yet.”

“How?” Milton awakens from his half-slumber.

“I’d get a suite at The Regency or The Mercer or The Whatever to make the dining/fucking experience convenient.”

“Is that what Sam did?” I wonder.

Mandy ignores me and goes on. “I’d tell her she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. Not to lose any weight. Not to gain any weight. And then I’d take her.”

Milton wants to know, “Would you have like a really big dick too?”

Mandy glares at him. “She’d worry we’d have slept together too soon. I’d assure her just enough to fuck her again, turn her around and bend her over like a soba noodle. That’s when she’d give me that vulnerable, clingy look and say something vulgar like, “it hurts to be apart” even though her cheek was pressed flat against my chest. A few months later, and this bitch would be on the cusp of what she believes is love. Filled with fear of disappointment and pawing at hope.”

“Geez,” Ellie says, “you sound evil.”

Mandy hops off the sink, loses her balance and catches herself on the toilet. She flushes for affect.

“That’s when I’d turn my back on her,” Mandy sneers, “Watch her fall to her proverbial knees and beg for love.”

She saunters to the sink, turns on the faucet and tilts her head to drink.

Wiping her mouth with back of her hand, she grins, “But mostly, I’d just want to be there when it registers across her pretty little face that she must once again curl into her old, wounded self.”

Milton shakes his head.

“This is so sad,” I say, thinking of both Mandy’s sadomasochism and my recent romantic let down with Jerry.

“Isn’t it?” Mandy says. “What’s funny is she’d cling to the good, remember the little things, like our laughter or the way I’d gently place my hand on her head as we slept.”

Milton stands up and drapes his arm around Mandy, “If this bitch was smart, she’d see him as a catalyst and realize that the only person not giving her love is herself.”

Mandy slumps to the floor and sits with her audience. I refrain from asking her details about her relationship with Sam, as I can only assume they’re not good.

“Well, I can’t get laid,” Milton announces to make Mandy feel better. “I go to all these parties with desirable women and it’s like I’m psychically castrated. And when I finally go on a date, it’s with the most deprived and damaged of the bunch.”

Ellie tries to lighten the mood: “Guess what? I discovered the most amazing new sex position with Derek.”

She describes some Twister move where your hands are on the floor, your butt’s in the air and your legs are—I can’t follow. So I think about Mandy’s theoretical, invincible man and her false perception of power. She has confused love with pain and thinks she needs to suffer to feel alive. She concocted this impenetrable, robotic man she believes will protect her only to crush her. In the midst of it all, love is forgotten.

I had a conversation the other day with an old man on a park bench in Union Square. When you’re lonely, he counseled, talk to the clouds. When you are sad, welcome the sadness and hug yourself. When you are burdened, breathe deeply to become light like a butterfly. When you miss someone, remember what you loved about yourself when you were with that person. Joy does not come from others; it comes from you.

“Shall we talk to the clouds?” I suggest.

My friends look at me like I’m crazy.

Once I fill them in on the park bench sage, they’re curious. Milton opens the bathroom window and all four of us poke our heads out.

“Hello!” I howl, “What do you have to tell us?”

The gray clouds, lit by the city lights, slowly shift and open.

“When will I get laid?” Milton yells across West 12th St.

We laugh.

Mandy squeezes my hand.

We shout our love out to the sky, to the budding trees, and to the parts of ourselves we’ve been missing.

Four Friends Find Love in the Bathroom