I stood in front of the mirror, talking to myself.
I do this a lot. Well, a lot when I’m drunk. Well, drunk or tipsy. If I’ve had a drink. Or am considering having one. And by ‘drink’, I’m including ‘coke zero vanilla’.
My one-on-one bathroom chats are usually brief but practical. I tell myself to have a glass of water, to remember that I’ve already had dinner and don’t need a bowl of fries and a pizza, and to stop talking about Emma Stone’s voice in such glowing terms, because people are no longer making eye contact with me.
In these mirror discussions I become my own mother, essentially—but in an exemplary parent/child relationship, one where both parties agree unanimously on every issue.
Yes. It’s weird. I know.
Years ago, I was practicing my over-the-shoulder duckface in my bedroom (in my defence, it was after an America’s Next Top Model marathon, also, I am not a cool or hip person) and one of my male friends walked in. I’m not sure what it was that horrified him – the activity itself or my reaction to being caught, which was so dripping in embarrassment and shame that it planted the action in the same camp as something truly damaging. Like being caught stroking a picture of your own face. While masturbating.
Regardless of what shocked him, he turned purple from the shame of it and started apologising profusely as backed out of the room, eyes cast downward.
I distinctly remember thinking, “well, that’s done. I guess there’s no way we’re ever getting married”. Before this moment I hadn’t even considered marriage with him, a man with whom I shared little in common. But it’s a weird feeling, knowing a door has closed, even if it’s a door you didn’t care to open. I don’t like knowing that someone’s opinion of you has permanently changed. Maybe prior to this he’d considered me a woman of some mild mystery and intrigue, what with my almost-complete-collection of Buffy on VHS and my insider knowledge of local haunts such as Mr Bun and the Readings foodcourt. Maybe he’d just been waiting to make his move.
But after this? No. I was firmly in the friendszone. This left me feeling petulant, and for weeks after I considered that maybe I DID want a relationship with him. Well, sort of. In my fantasies it was a relationship built on vague amiability, with no romantic or sexual elements, where I had thought ahead to our divorce and how lovely it’d be to have space to myself again without him breathing down my neck all the goddamn time.
This is why I am delighted that no one has ever caught me in my restroom repartee. Goodness, an innocent posing session led to such embarrassment! Imagine someone witnessing the strange Jekyll/Hyde display of me saying “only two more tequilas, Katiepie, then you probs should stop”, giggling in agreement with myself, then fumbling through an “ooh, you” hand flap.
A few Saturdays back, I stood in front of the mirror, washing my hands and baring my teeth like a wild dog to check if they were clean. I questioned if I should have more to drink. With the question, mumbled aloud, I noticed my facial expressions switch from an imploring beggar to a admonishing schoolteacher. The absurdity struck me as I saw my forehead change, and I realised I was at a crossroads.
Do I put an end to this ridiculous display?
Or do I commit to it?
We could split into two Kates. The disciplinarian would go by Katherine, and she’d speak with perfect elocution while maintaining rigid posture. She would frown upon alcohol and would figure out what a multivitamin is and where to buy one. She would understand how to make pivot tables in Excel. The other Kate would be known as Katie, but would pronounce it ‘Kyay-eh’, as she would develop an arbitrary cockney accent almost immediately. She would be constantly searching for places to lie down for naps and would throw full-body tantrums when things didn’t go her way.
The idea seemed appealing. For a moment I considered it, eyes wide with the possibilities. I would never be lonely or bored again. Plants vs Zombies would no longer be necessary to keep myself entertained, as now I’d have a guaranteed friend for always. This would mean I might as well sell my iPhone—and just think of the money I’d save on international calls! (Sometimes after a few beers I call my sister in Brisbane and sing her the New Zealand national anthem, because I enjoy her bewildered reaction to this practice. It is not a cheap hobby.)
After some consideration of this plan, I realised that my brain was attempting to find ways to assure its own destruction, justifying it under the devilish guises of “friendship” and “cost-effectiveness”. Surely, despite the positive side effects, brain-self-destruction is a bad thing? Surely I should stop this ridiculous mirror madness? Surely I should move on, be a grown up?
Luckily, Katherine stopped Kyay-eh throwing a tantrum about it, and as we left the bathroom together, myselves agreed – one more drink? Yeah, it’d probably be fine.