So what's the apartment like?” Lucy asked, glancing up from her knitting. This morning was the first chance she'd had to start the sweater for James, and she was casting on stitches for the back.
“Big,” Kathleen said.
“What is it with you and big?” Sari asked. She lived in a tiny one-bedroom fourth-floor walk-up near Westwood Village and could barely afford the rent. Right now, the three of them were crammed around the one small round table that functioned as both her kitchen table and her desk-she'd had to move her computer and a bunch of papers onto the floor before setting up for brunch. Plates of half-eaten muffins and cups of tepid coffee were jammed in with knitting magazines and uncurling coils of measuring tape. Sari gestured around her. “How come you keep getting to live in these big beautiful places, and I’m stuck here?”
“I don't know,” Kathleen said. “Maybe I was nice to cows in a previous life and earned a lot of good karma.”
“I was a cow in a previous life,” Lucy said with a smirk. “Back in high school.”
“You weren't fat.” Sari squinted at her row counter and flicked another number forward. “You just thought you were. Is it furnished, Kath?”
“Shit,” Lucy said, throwing down her needle with the cast-on stitches. “I’ve counted this three times and I’ve gotten a different number each time. I feel like I’m losing my mind.”
“Here.” Sari rested her own knitting on her lap and held out her hand. “Let me try.”
“Thanks.” Lucy handed it to her and watched as Sari slid the stitches along, one by one, her lips moving silently. “So when are you going furniture shopping, Kathleen?”
“I already bought a couple of airbeds and a few odds and ends. But I’m not going to buy any real furniture or anything. I mean, the guy could kick me out at any minute. No point getting too settled. Plus I’m short on cash.”
“How long can you live like that, though?” Lucy said. “It sounds like you'll have this place for at least a few months. You can rent furniture, you know.”
“Too much work.”
“Well, at least buy some kind of bed frame, so you're not sleeping on the floor with all the bugs.”
“There aren't any bugs in that place,” Kathleen said. “They can't afford the rent.”
“I got sixty-four,” Sari said, handing the needle and yarn back to Lucy.
“Good,” Lucy said. “I got that once, too.” She took her knitting back to her own seat. “You'll need a table and at least three chairs, Kath, for when it's your turn to host.”
“Can't we just sit on the floor?” Kathleen said. “Have we gotten so old we need to sit in chairs all the time?”
“I have,” Lucy said. “It's one thing to be all bohemian and stuff in college, but we're years out of college now. I’m over being uncomfortable.”
“But I like having the empty floor space,” Kathleen said. “I can run laps in my own apartment. And do push-ups and play soccer-”
“Play soccer?” Sari said. “Your neighbors must love the sound of balls thwacking against their walls night and day.”
“No one's complained yet. Except for one old lady but she's the type who'd complain about anything.” Kathleen stopped knitting to pull at a couple of strands of yarn that were all tangled up. “Hey, did I tell you guys I’ve got a job interview tomorrow?”
“You're kidding,” Sari said, searching through her bag. “That was fast.” She pulled out a skein of white wool, frowned at it, and shoved it back. “What's the job?”
“Nothing exciting. I’d be the assistant to some real estate guy. That's all I know.” She reached for her coffee mug and took a sip.
“What's his name?”
“Rats-Sam told me, but I don't remember. Something Porter, I think. Johnson Porter? Jackson Porter? Something like that.” She put the mug back down.
“You should probably try to get it right in the interview,” Lucy said.
Sari said, “Is he the Porter in those Porter and Wachtell signs you always see on big construction sites? That Porter?”
“I don't know. Maybe.”
“If he is, that's a huge company,” Sari said. “I see those signs everywhere. How did you get the interview?”
“Through the same guy who got me the apartment. Sam Kaplan.” She squinted down at the pattern she was using. “Does anyone know how to do a yarn-over at the beginning of a row? I can't figure it out. It doesn't make sense, does it? Doesn't it have to be in the middle of a row to work?”
“Hold on, let me take a look.” Sari put down her own knitting and came over to kneel in front of Kathleen. “Well, first of all, you've gotten it all tangled up,” she said.
“Like everything in my life,” Kathleen said, watching Sari's hands sort through the tangle. “But you'll fix it, won't you, Sari?
That's what you do-you fix everyone's messes.”
“This is the slipperiest yarn I’ve ever seen,” Sari said.
“Slipperiest?” Lucy repeated. “Is that even a word?” She looked over. “But I see what you mean. It's all shiny. You might even say blinding. What are you making, Kathleen?”
Kathleen held up her Vogue Knitting so they could see the picture. “A tank top.”
“A bright gold tank top,” Lucy said, shaking her head. “Subtle you're not.”
“I like bright colors,” Kathleen said. “We can't all be elegant and boring like you.”
“I’ll accept that as a compliment coming from a girl with bright green toenails.”
“They're not green,” Kathleen said, stretching out her bare feet so they could all see. “They're chartreuse. It's my new favorite color. When I finish this tank, I want to make a chartreuse tube top. Don't you think that would be cool?”
“If you wear a handknit tube top, don't your nipples poke through?” Lucy said.
“Not if you use a small enough needle and a really fine yarn,” Sari said. “I think I got it straightened out, Kath. Let me see the instructions.”
“Anyway,” Kathleen said, handing them to her. “What's wrong with a little nipple showing? Give ‘em what they want, I always say.
“And do, from what I’ve heard,” Lucy said.
“Plus I can always wear it over a T-shirt or tank top.”
Lucy wrinkled her nose. “That would look weird.”
“You need to experiment more,” Kathleen said. “In all kinds of ways.”
“I spend my life doing experiments,” Lucy said. “It's my job.”
“That's so not what I mean.”
“I think I’ve figured this out, Kath,” Sari said and, while she explained how to do the stitch to Kathleen, Lucy found her thoughts wandering to her rats and then on to her recent fight with James.
“Hey, Sar?” she said after a moment.
“What?” Sari stood up, took a bite of muffin, then wiped her fingers on a napkin and sat back down to her own knitting.
“Who was Daisy?” Kathleen asked.
“Oh, just this incredible bitch we used to know,” Lucy said, and Sari laughed.
“You going to let me in on the joke?” Kathleen curled her feet up under her ass and attacked her knitting with renewed determination.
“She was my dog,” Lucy said. “When I was in middle and high school. She died like five years ago. She was a great dog, wasn't she, Sari?”
“Yeah, she was sweet,” Sari said.
“What kind of dog?” Kathleen asked.
“She was a mix. I think she had some Labrador in her, but she was smaller and furrier than a Lab. I used to pin her ears to the side of her head and say she was an otter.” Lucy finished a row and turned her knitting over. “I could do anything I wanted to that dog and she never got mad, just licked me harder.”
“Wish I could find a guy like that,” Sari said.
“You ever have a dog?” Kathleen asked her.
“For like four weeks. Some therapist told my mother that a pet would help Charlie connect emotionally. So she went out to the pound and brought back the first dog she could find. She didn't even know what sex it was. I totally loved it-just because it was warm and soft and therefore much better company than any other member of my family-but then it bit my father, and after that they kept it in the garage. And a few weeks later my mother said that thing that parents say-you know, how they had taken it to a ‘farm’ where it could run free and be happy. Even at the age of seven, I knew it was bullshit and that dog was a goner.”
“Wouldn't it be funny if all this time parents have been telling the truth?” Kathleen said. “And there's really some big doggy Eden somewhere?”
“I should get a dog,” Lucy said. “It would be nice to have a friendly face to come home to at the end of a hard day.”
“You work long hours and then you go out at night,” Sari said. She flicked at the row counter again. “Don't you think a dog might get a little lonely?”
“I could hire someone to walk it.”
“Then what's the point?” Kathleen said. “Someone else plays with the dog you bought. And it would still be alone too much. You'd feel guilty and stressed and-”
“Okay, okay,” Lucy said. “So maybe it's not the right time. Someday, though, I’m going to get one.”
“When you grow up,” Kathleen said. “I like that color green, Lucy. What are you making?”
“Really? I thought sweaters took too long.”
“You haven't heard the best part,” Sari said. “It's for James.”
“You're making a sweater for your boyfriend? Kathleen said. “You're nuts.”
“Why is that nuts?”
“You should only ever knit for yourself,” Kathleen said. “That's the first rule of the single girl's knitting handbook. It's the only rule.” She put down her work and held up her hand. “You try to knit a guy a sweater, then one of two things will happen”-she raised her index finger-”either he'll break up with you just as you're finishing it, which means you have to destroy all your work or spend the rest of your life trying to find another guy exacdy the p-”even ifsame size, or”-another finger went up-“even if you do get to give it to him, he won't like it or ever wear it and it'll make you so mad, you'll end up breaking up with him. And some future girlfriend of his will find it one day and tear it to pieces. Trust me, you only want to knit stuff for yourself.” She picked up her knitting and waved it at them. “Slinky gold tank tops, girls. That's where it's at. Follow my lead.”
“Yeah,” Lucy said. “Let's follow the lead of the girl who sleeps on an airbed in someone else's empty apartment. She's obviously going places.”
“I am,” Kathleen said calmly. “Just you wait and see.”