In which the reader is introduced to the chirping of Cricket
Cricket was lying as usual about the girls he’d slept with. Maybe he wasn’t lying. With Cricket you could never really tell. He was tall, sloop shouldered, and gangly with a kind of muted green light about him that reminded one of how glow-in-the-dark toys look in broad daylight. He had freckly, sallow, salty skin peppered with freckles and unruly red hairs popping out of it like sick weeds. He always wore douchebag glasses with lenses that were small and round like the bottoms of old soda bottles and held together by a thin black wire frame. He wore a seersucker jacket over a purple t-shirt and bright orange corduroy shorts that were factory fringed on the edges.
“She’s fucking beautiful, like you can’t believe beautiful, and she, I can tell from the moment I say ‘hi’, is completely into me. She give me this look when we shake hands, like this, but then spends the whole rest of the night ignoring me and refusing any kind of move I make. So after a certain point I’m just like, ‘whatever’ and start talking up a few prospects, for girls and work¾this is a work thing after all¾ but, you know, anyway, an hour or so later I go up stairs to pee and as I’m leaving the bathroom I see her in the doorway with those ‘fuck me’ eyes and, I swear to God, she pushes me back into the bathroom, locks the door, and we start fucking right there on Roger’s twenty thousand dollar sink . I don’t know how but she somehow knew I would love this whole scenario, not just because it’s a lovely fuck you to Roger, but also because I can see her face in the mirror and her cleavage jiggling in her dress as she writhes forward and back¾which I have to say, in this case anyway, is actually hotter than if her tits had been full on out. The whole goddamn thing is just so perfectly hot to me: a tight, fucking, Chinese girl bent over the sink and me, behind her, pulling her shiny black hair with one hand, muffling her soft little mouth with the other while she says dirty shit in Chinese and English that I can feel, literally feel, vibrating on my palm.”
Though nobody believed Cricket entirely, nobody entirely disbelieved him either. Cricket ended the story, as always, with a picture of the girl fully clothed and she was almost too beautiful to believe in. At this point, when he could see the disbelief on people’s faces, Cricket bought another round of drinks and food.
He remembered what Cricket always says when people call bullshit on him.
“Women aren’t really turned on by looks or personality. The truth is women are turned on by success. Physical beauty is a sign of genetic success and personality is a sign of social success. But the most important signs of success are the abilities to make money, keep making money, and influence the people around you. It’s Darwinian. With money and influence you are always good looking. And, no, I’m not discounting love or that whole thing, but love is good for long-term relationships and that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about attraction, magnetism: the thing that draws one person to another. That, my friends, is success”.
Of his two highly successful friends he understood Cricket’s interest in him less than he did Micah’s. He and Micah had grown up together and though they had a substantial amount of class distance between them now, Micah kept seeing him at regular intervals because Micah liked watering that part of his personality just enough to keep it barely alive.
Cricket, on the other hand, was a very different sort of rich. Whereas Micah had schemed his way into success, Cricket had instead bent the world to fit his brilliance. Cricket never had to gamble his personality in the way Micah did and, therefore, the need to cultivate a ‘true’ self apart from society didn’t exist in Cricket. Cricket was still, largely, the same arrogant freshman who’d believed that college was beneath him and who’d dropped out halfway through sophomore year to become an incredibly work in tech. The only difference between then and now was that Cricket had convinced the world to agree with his arrogance.
He was unclear what he gave Cricket, but he was even more unclear on what Cricket gave him. They had not even been great friends in college for the short year and a half they lived together. The only semi-intimate moment they shared was one night when Cricket had drunk a bottle of vodka by himself. He spent the entire night beside Cricket making sure he didn’t die.
In spite of this lack of real friendship, though, each time Cricket hopped into town for some purposefully vague reason, Cricket sent out a personal text inviting him to some group thing at some hip place. He always went, even though he didn’t much like Cricket, because he believed Cricket would be somebody good to continue knowing: somebody who could maybe do something for him one day. But over the last few years even though he’d had a few such moments, mostly career related, in which Cricket could have done something for him, he’d decided each time against asking for help. At the time he felt it was about saving Cricket for a rainy day that hadn’t come yet, but, truthfully, this was just a reason invented to fit an instinct.
Cricket generally invited him out to these things on work nights when he was unable to stay out much later than ten. He never knew whether this was intentional or not. On the one had he didn’t know why Cricket invited him in the first place. But, on the other hand, Cricket didn’t operate on the week schedule. Cricket had time fit around his needs for the day and had the luxury of generally not needing to be anywhere at any point in time that might become inconvenient. Still, he didn’t really like the bars Cricket went to or the clubs and parties they went to after the bars, so work was generally a good excuse.
Usually Cricket gave him a firm hug as he left, as though they were the closest buddies, but tonight Cricket, for the first time ever, asked him to stay.
“Come on, man, just call in sick tomorrow. Tonight is going to be a hell of a lot better than whatever meetings you have to go to.”
He explained he couldn’t, inventing some crucial task that only he was capable of doing. Cricket, with an unbelieving eyebrow, let him off the hook.
“Next time, though, I’m gonna hold you to it, you gotta come out next time. I’ve got some things I wanna discuss.”
On the train ride home he thought about the ‘things’ Cricket would want to discuss, but couldn’t decide on anything that seemed even halfway realistic. Ultimately, Cricket was something in life he didn’t quite understand.