To celebrate the third anniversary of Outdated’s publication, and the especially happy day of Tu b’Av, Nathan Wolff has graciously offered, starting from now, to release chapters of Outdated every two weeks. Thank him by dropping him a message at nathanwolff.com!
Around 7 PM on Wednesday night, Sharon found herself in her apartment very bored. She had done little that day, really for the last few days, and needed a change of scenery. Sure, there was the increasing pile of clothing in her bedroom to organize, but with no particular plans for tomorrow she pushed it off. Even escaping into cyberspace provided little release. She checked her friends’ Facebook pages, commented on a few posts, and uploaded some photos. Even Joe, who she wanted to be sure wasn’t throwing in the towel on women, hadn’t yet answered her calls all week. Just as Sharon was about to forage her cabinets for snack foods, she received a Whatsapp message from Esther:
Esther Jacob: Hey Sharon, it’s Esther. Wanna come out? Buncha ppl.
Sharon: What doing?
Esther Jacob: Mayb sushi…don’ no. Come here.
Sharon didn’t need too much convincing. She quickly threw on a skirt and her vintage T-shirt over a half-sleeve. She went to the bathroom and washed her face, sprayed her neck and wrists with perfume and put on just enough make-up to appear both spontaneous but together. Grabbing her ‘out’ bag from behind her door, she looked at the unfinished piles of papers on the vanity and her clothes from Shabbat still draped on the back of her desk chair and sighed. Tomorrow she thought as she stuffed the bag with her lip gloss and keys and debit card, as she could find no real money. She’d go to an ATM on the way.
Stepping outdoors for the first time in more than a day, the coolness of the evening excited her and she walked jauntily. Still, she was cautious enough to call someone so that she wouldn’t be walking alone. She tried Joe.
“Hello Sharon,” she heard him say after a sigh.
“Hey Joey. Where’ve you been all week?” she inquired.
He was slow to answer. “I’ve been busy. Work, you know.”
“Too busy to answer? Or even to call back?”
“I think I saw your voice mails. I was underground when you called and only saw them after. What’s up?”
A doctor who lived on her floor was passing, with whom she exchanged a slight nod. “I’m going out for sushi and didn’t want to walk alone.”
“Where is there to get sushi?”
“Everywhere. They probably have sushi at Dunkin Donuts.”
“Murray’s doesn’t make sushi…neither does the bagel place, to tell the truth.”
“You’re funny. I don’t know; if we’re staying local then we’ll probably end up at Estihana.”
“Didn’t we go there once?”
Sharon rolled her eyes. “I tried to take you there once, but you bounced when you looked at the menu.”
“Oh right. Who pays $15 for sushi?”
“It wasn’t that much,” she countered. “Whatever, my friend Esther invited me. It’s going to be a bunch of people…I don’t know.”
“Well, I’m making dinner, so can I play you a recording of my voice?”
“Making dinner at this hour?” she exclaimed. “At this hour? Where’d you go after work?”
“Out,” he replied quickly. “Food shopping, then learning.”
“I see,” she said blankly. She didn’t believe him. “Are you still angry from Shabbat?”
“What? Oh, no. I’m over it.”
“Good. You didn’t seem so happy when we hung up Saturday night.”
“I’ll be fine,” he said unconvincingly. “Don’t worry.”
She had reached the well-lit ATM of the HSBC bank. She took out her card and opened the door with her phone held only by her shoulder. “But I do worry. That’s what friends are for.”
He coughed. “I think I read a Hallmark card like that.”
“Ha ha. Seriously though…”
“It’s fine,” he said quickly. “I got some sleep that night and calmed down.”
Something was strange about the way Joe was answering so tersely. She put in her PIN and withdrew $100. “Well, I’m home for Shabbat this week. You can sort yourself out?”
“What do you think?” he exclaimed suddenly. “Why do you think I’m so helpless?”
Sharon clenched her teeth. “I don’t. I was just asking.”
He coughed. “I’m sorry. It’s not you.”
“OK,” she said slowly. “Look, I’m finished at the ATM, and Esther’s building is only a block away. I’ll let you go.”
“Thank you,” he said in a scratchy voice. “Bye.”
She hung up and wrinkled her nose. This wasn’t the Joe she knew, to be all hysterical and tense. She didn’t dwell on it, though. He was hungry and perhaps really was overworked. Before she left the bank she called Esther, who said she was already coming down.
They greeted with a big hug. “Hey, great to see you,” Esther said. She was wearing a red plaid blouse and a knee skirt, much more casual than the evening gown from Shabbat.
“We’re meeting the guys at Estihana, but we’ll see if we stay there. You remember Andy? He suggested that I call you…” Hearing that, Sharon smiled slyly, inwardly congratulating herself on wearing her vintage T.
For more on Whatsapp, vintage Ts, or kosher restaurants in Manhattan to find sushi, copy/paste these subjects into Google. But to find out before anyone else what Joe was doing that Wednesday night, go to nathanwolff.com or Amazon and get your copy or Ebook of Outdated NOW!