Rachel was wrong. Mac was perfect. Mac was perfect because I’d invented him—all six two of him, with his full head of dark hair, his humble upbringing, his self-made career. What was his career again? Did he have one? I wasn’t sure. Oops. But more important than any career was that Mac was devoted to me. Of course he was. He was my cyber version of Weird Science.
Mac had appeared just in the nick of time, on a Saturday morning in October. Amber and Bruce had shown up at Noah’s soccer game in matching Temple Owls sweatshirts. Stupid matching sweatshirts. The blatant coupledom punched me in the gut. I had always wanted to be a matchy-matchy couple, but not Bruce. I had bought us matching Phillies T-shirts and caps one Hanukkah, but he refused to wear his when I wore mine. The Hanna Andersson striped pajamas I ordered for us and Noah, the ones in which I imagined we’d look like a catalog family, stayed folded and bagged. Then Noah grew, Bruce moved out, and I got a full refund.
Bruce and Amber’s sweatshirts, in Temple’s official cherry and white, were crisp and new, yet worn. Nonrefundable.
They sat in front of me, our usual effort to appear united. We exchanged our tactical greeting: Bruce took Noah’s duffel bag; I reminded him about the cosmic bowling party that afternoon, and decorating the sukkah at the synagogue the next day.
“I know. We’ll be there,” Bruce said. Amber nodded. They refocused on the field and leaned into each other’s shoulder.
We’ll be there? Since when were they a we?
“I’ll be there, too,” I said. “But now, I’ve got to go. I have plans with . . .” Who on earth did I have plans with? “My boyfriend.”
I could have said I had a report to finish or that I was having lunch with Rachel. I could have offered nothing more than good-bye. But I didn’t because it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t a we. I was a me. A me, myself, and I. And I was alone, laden with inadequacy. Embarrassment filled me. The matching sweatshirts had been my tipping point and I’d invented a boyfriend. So what?