Farfel and Toenail have known each other for nine years. They live on the same block and used to be friends, until the first annual Neighborhood Lights challenge was conceived. Now every year they vow to outdo the other in terms of hokiest Christmas display. Farfel won this past year by having a real live baby pose as Jesus in his Nativity scene. He said it was his cousin, but really he found it in a Dumpster outside of a crack shack.
At block parties, it is not unusual for Toenail to purposely shoulder past Farfel, leaving his lapel smeared with a strata of spinach dip, mustard and Mudslide. And once, Toenail “accidentally” pushed him into a pool just as he was about to get Sharon Semenshower’s number, and then proceeded to go home with Farfel’s brother, Rufus, who was a gynecologist and kept a bag of shiny apparati in his trunk.
Farfel’s mama raised him to never lay a hand on a girl, but Toenail made him want to eschew his mama’s sage words.
Last summer, Farfel and his current girlfriend, FlyStrip, were having a picnic in his front yard. He fed her grapes and oysters while she giggled and made vapid attempts at conversation.
She said things in rapid and random succession, like: “There is a sale at Macy’s! I like toast with jam. Say, I wonder why the sky is blue? If your crotch itches, you should just scratch it. Oh, a birdie!” Farfel was always one to include intellect near the top of his list of standards, but the way FlyStrip’s gelatinous jugs bounced around like two buoys in a sea of spray-tanned flesh kept him distracted long enough to not care. It also didn’t hurt that she was wearing a bikini top.
Toenail was walking her dog when she spied the two of them, splayed out on a blanket, twirling delicate-stemmed glasses in their hands. She couldn’t explain it, but her heart began to race and she could feel the blood rolling to a boil beneath her cheeks. Full of disgust, and some terribly uncomfortable feeling she’d never felt before — she hoped she wasn’t developing pockets in her colon — Toenail stormed over to the lounging couple and kicked mud in FlyStrip’s face. Clumps of sod and possibly some dog shit dripped down FlyStrip’s chin and coated her silicone accessories. Without her secret weapon, FlyStrip’s spell on Farfel was broken and he remembered that she was little more than a bleached blond beach bimbo who drove a Pinto and made bank by slopping under-spiced chili in a diner.
Rising from the blanket, he got real close to Toenail’s clenched jaw. He got so close he thought for sure that this would be the day that he broke mama’s rule and coldcocked that broad right upside her head. But instead, the two of them stood there, breathing all heavy, panting in anger, hands curled in taut fists at their sides.
And that’s when it occurred to Farfel that maybe they didn’t hate each other as much as they thought.
“Hey,” Farfel grabbed Toenail hard around the elbow, and she waited for him to cuss her out. But Farfel goes instead, “Let’s be in love.”
And Toenail, her belly shook like a bowlful of chicken fat, that’s how hard she laughed. “Are you kidding me?” she gasped between peals of laughter. “I hate your guts!”
Maybe it just might take Toenail a little longer to figure it out.