My Friend Barcelona

I don’t throw the word “crazy” around lightly. It’s a word people don’t use much these days, but I think it often is the just right word, le mot juste (as the French would say) to describe people. People such as my friend Barcelona.

She’s the only friend I have who is named after a city, though I do have a friend named Brooklyn, but that’s a borough, not a whole city. I suppose other cities would make good first names, Venezia, for example. Venice, not so much, but the Italian name of that remarkable, watery city would work. Oh, and Barcelona has a daughter, Cluny, also named after a town. At least she wasn’t named Minneapolis.

One thing about Barcelona is that you never know how she is going to react to something. Let me dredge up some examples.

Barcelona: Do you like my new dress?

Me: Yes. It’s lovely. Just your color. It brings out the blueness of your eyes.

Barcelona: I hate it. My eyes are green. It’s not my color. I look hideous in it.

Me: So why are you wearing it then?

Barcelona: Well, I see that you agree with me.

Me: About what?

Barcelona: That it’s hideous. That it’s not lovely. So, do you want me to look ugly? Is that why you said it was lovely?

Me: Listen, Barcelona, I think you look fine in that dress. Really.

Barcelona: Just fine? That’s not much of a compliment.

You see what I mean? It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to answer a question she poses. What do you think would have happened if I had said I didn’t like her dress? Wait! That actually happened. Allow me to give you a taste, a smidgen, of what happened.

Barcelona: How do you like my dress, Charlotte?

Me: Well, I don’t think that puce color is really you. It seems a bit tight, as well.

Barcelona: I thought you were my friend! This is my new favorite dress. Puce brings out the inner beauty of my complexion. The dress fits perfectly. You’re just saying it’s tight because you’re flat-chested.

Me: I’m not flat-chested. Take a look.

Barcelona: Stop preening. It’s disgusting. You’re just jealous because I have this fabulous puce dress that shows off my curves.

Are you beginning to see what I’m talking about? If I compliment her, I’m wrong. If I critique her, I’m even more wrong. And don’t get me started on family relationships. Oh, you want me to start? OK. There are so many stories, and so little time, so let me begin here.

Barcelona: My daughter Cluny was named salutatorian of her graduating class.

Me: That’s great. Congratulations to her. And to you, of course, since you inspired your daughter and guided her for all those years.

Barcelona: Are you trying to insult me for my failure?

Me: I thought I was complimenting you. That’s a great honor, to have a daughter who’s the salutatorian. My daughter barely made it to the National Honor Society.

Barcelona: Yes, well, we didn’t expect much from your daughter. But Cluny was meant to be the valedictorian of her class, not the salutatorian. That stupid Rodney Akersfield is the valedictorian. It was Cluny’s destiny to be in first place.

Me: Maybe Rodney had a higher grade point average? Or maybe he was in a few more clubs?

Barcelona: Or maybe his father is on the school board!

Me: Really? Is he?

Barcelona: I have no idea. But I wouldn’t be surprised. Some finagling has been going on. And I’ll bet Rodney’s parents are in cahoots with the school principal or the school board or the mayor. Maybe Rodney’s parents know where the bodies are buried.

Me: What bodies? Is the Ashleyville Cemetery somehow involved in this escapade?

Barcelona: Are you making fun of me, Charlotte?

Me: Me? You are the last person I would ever make fun of, Barcelona.

Barcelona: Really? And why would that be?

Me: Because.

Barcelona: Because why? Don’t hedge, Charlotte. You know we’re very good friends.

Me: Because I never know how you’re going to react to whatever I say.

Barcelona: What are you talking about?

Me: Whatever I say, it’s the wrong thing. If I ask a question, I’m being rude. If I answer a question, I’m making fun of you. If I compliment you, I’m wrong. If I critique you, I’m wrong. Whatever I do, it’s wrong.

Barcelona: Well, you have that right.

Me: I do?

For a moment I thought we were getting somewhere. Barcelona was beginning to see the light, possibly the light on the coast of northeastern Spain. But I was wrong.

Barcelona: Charlotte, you are wrong most of the time, perhaps all of the time, because you lack judgment, experience, intelligence, life skills, and tact.

Me: Then why are you my friend?

Barcelona: I like being right, and when I talk to you, I always am.

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