The Wishbones

Free The Wishbones by Tom Perrotta

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Authors: Tom Perrotta
did; it just seemed important to remind people that they hadn't actually been seeing each other for fifteen years without interruption. Some of the gaps in their relationship were minor and forgettable, but others were of a different order of magnitude—-Julie's last two years of college, for example, which she'd spent practically living with this jerk who dumped her when he got accepted to law school, and theten-month affair Dave had had a few years back with a married woman whose husband traveled a lot. In Dave's mind, these two episodes divided up his history with Julie into three separate eras —in effect, three separate relationships: Young Love, The Post-Brendan Reconciliation, and Everything after Maryanne. That was what he meant by on and off.
    They were halfway to the exit when someone called his name. He turned toward the line of Trekkies—it had nearly doubled in size during their time in the jewelry store—unsuccessfully scanning the crowd for a familiar face.
    “Over here.” A hand waved through the air. “Dave.”
    Once he spotted Ian, Dave wondered how he'd missed him. Surrounded by people not particularly distinguished by their good looks or the care they'd devoted to choosing their clothes that morning, he stood out like a swan among the pigeons. Tall and always well dressed, Ian had the kind of physical presence that often led strangers to mistake him for some kind of minor celebrity—a bit player on soap operas, or maybe a second-string professional athlete.
    “Hey,” he said. “Talk about coincidences. What are you guys doing here?”
    “Engagement ring,” said Dave.
    Ian looked at Julie's hand. Julie shook her head.
    “We just picked out the stone. The actual ring won't be ready for a week or so.”
    “Well, congratulations,” he told her. “You're marrying one of the finest rock trivia minds in the Tri-State area.”
    “I know,” Julie said. “All the other girls are jealous.”
    “What about you?” asked Dave. “Since when are you such a big
Star Trek
    “I'm not. I was just shopping for some summer clothes. But then I saw the line and thought, what the hell? Might as well meet Scotty.”
    “He's not showing up for another couple of hours,” Julie warned him. “That's a long time to wait.”
    Ian shrugged. “I didn't really have anything planned for this afternoon anyway. It's either this or help my dad clean out the gutters.”
    “It's a beautiful day,” she told him. “We're thinking of having a picnic up at Watchung.”
    She said this as though extending a tacit, no-pressure invitation for Ian to tag along, but he didn't seem to notice the offer.
    “I've got to get out of that house,” he said, more to himself than to Dave or Julie. “My parents are driving me nuts.”
    “Join the club,” said Dave.
    “Tell me about it,” said Julie.
    “Yeah,” said Ian, “but you guys can at least see the light at the end of the tunnel. I don't even think I'm inside the tunnel yet.”
    Dave patted him on the arm and said he'd see him at the wedding that night.
    “Five o'clock at the Westview, right?”
    Dave nodded.
    “See you then,” said Ian. “Have a good picnic.”
    “Say hi to Scotty,” Julie told him.
    On the way out of the mall, Dave saw that Mr. Spock had been knocked over and trampled, probably by some unruly teenagers. He lay flat on his back, still smiling gamely despite the waffles of dirt that covered his face and body with a thoroughness that could only have been intentional. Dave thought about propping him up, but decided it was none of his business.
    “Do you think he's gay?” Julie asked, as they exited the parking lot, merging with the traffic on Route 1.
    For a split second, he thought she was referring to LeonardNimoy, who seemed more asexual than anything else, at least on
Star Trek.
But then the fog cleared.
    “Who?” he said. “Ian?”
    “No.” She rolled her eyes. “Leonard Nimoy.”
    Dave ignored her sarcasm and pondered the

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