pandora's ice box 

"just let me in."

through the door she heard a muffled, "all right."

the moment she opened the door, she regretted it.

he was standing in the shower with a towel over his head and over his dripping body. his arms lay limp at his sides as if he were an unhappy nude model, reluctantly posing as he stood crying in front of the camera. she immediately averted her eyes and quietly thanked god that the towel was long enough to cover his--

"i'm an ass. i'm a fuckin' ass."

she automatically responded with "no, you're not" and "don't be silly" while she tried to focus her eyes on everything else in the small bathroom. the window. the sink. the "oh, is that a new hand towel?" she took a seat on the toilet and stared at the floor rug creeping in between her bare toes. from what she could hear, he still had not made any motions to towel off and get out of the tub. instead, he continued to sniffle and gasp.

"now, you're being an ass." tough love, she thought. tough love. love is tough.

she was irritated. he was her best friend, yes, but she did not think that it was necessary for the terms of their friendship that she see him in his naked, wet, pathetic condition.

and he was crying.

had she ever seen him cry before? never. since she was not looking at him at that moment, she figured she could still say that she never had seen him cry. she was just hearing him. he was not crying. he was weeping.

two conflicting voices were battling it out in her head:

"remember that time he picked you up at 3am after mr. asshole x dumped you on the street downtown? stay with him," said the good samaritan.

"you gotta be kidding. leave before he feels even more of an ass that you're seeing him like this. no man wants a woman to be a witness to this!" shouted back tough love.

perhaps he was not a man. he was just an idiot--an idiot with ridiculous taste in women. what could she say? she wished that she had access to the limited catalogue of canned condolences written up by corporate-but-wholesome card companies.

with every dusk there follows a new day...

could she use that? is that something they would actually say? was dusk the end or the beginning of a day?

"aw, hell!" she gave up, "you gotta bathrobe or something in here? why don't you dry yourself off and meet me outside?"

she sat fuming in the living room. she wanted to call his new ex-girlfriend and curse at her.

"what the hell did you say to him?" she wanted to ask. was this woman even worth it? had she no conscience? could she not smell how fragile anthony's ego was? she began to doubt her ability to help him. her friends would agree that she was smart... sharp, more like it. but, nurturing? she envisioned herself a cool and detached ice queen. no one cries on the shoulders of an ice queen. this was her ice age and anthony needed to just chill...

"wuh wuh whoa! what the hell ya doing?" she saw anthony's half-naked body walk across the living room to the kitchen. the towel that had once resided on his weeping head had just been relocated to hang around his waist.

"i need a drink," came the voice from the kitchen.

"dude, tone--"

"don't call me that!"

"call you what?"

"my name's anthony. nothing more nothing less."

"whatever you say. what the hell you doin' in the kitchen? don't you own any clothes?"

"i need a drink."

she looked at her watch. it was 11:18 in the morning.

"that better be o.j. without the vodka!"

now really, she thought. could his drink not wait for at least a pair of undergarments and some shorts?

"can i have some water?" as long as he was in the kitchen...

"with or without the vodka?"

"with some ice, please." she was going to stay on her campaign. no sympathies here.