Jeff's smile returned, he tossed his arm around my shoulders and then pulled me into the shopping centre. It was mostly empty inside apart from the retail workers shutting up shop. Every once in a while we'd pass one with a serious case of the glazed eyes, probably still thinking about whatever shovel of verbal shit had been dumped on them that day.
"Christmas lights, eurgh." Jeff said. Wires dotted with gaudy lights hung from the ceiling, giving off a rainbow-coloured glow.
"What's wrong with that?" I said absentmindedly.
"It's like October." He replied.
Sometimes I wondered if growing up was just a slow process by which we get more cynical, like the shrivelling up of an old fruit. Or maybe it's something different. Maybe we just know too much. I'm at the point where I know that these lights are more of a prelude to a massive marketing campaign than any present-giving magic. But why can't we let ourselves forget every once in a while. Why can't we just shut up and enjoy the lights?
"Hey! Stop! Are you overthinking something?!"
"No!" My eyes met his for a second and then darted away. "Maybe."
"Well, don't, you might have an epiphany or something." Then he stopped, eyes widening. "We're here."
In front of us was a frozen yogurt place called 'yo yos', its logo featured a frozen yoyo coincidentally. Marketing and stuff. I followed Jeff inside and into a flood of people. We squeezed past, swimming uphill until we found ourselves at a small two person booth.
"Why a frozen yogurt place? Why not an ice cream joint?"
"Ice cream is for fat people. I need to keep my figure." He pointed down at the trim torso underneath layers he began to take off. Jeff bought clothes that looked expensively inexpensive, while I mostly just looked for things that fit and weren’t too brightly coloured.
"That's a really mean thing to say."
"I’m being honest, it’s my new thing. I was wrong anyway, fat people don't go to ice cream parlours. Shame issues and whatnot." Before I could rebuttal him a waitress appeared and handed out menus, she then started talking to him. I guess he knew her mother or brother or something, because he's Jeffrey Heller and he knows everyone. In the meantime my eyes flitted from flavour to flavour before glazing over.
"And you'll be having." My eyes rocketed up to her and then crash landed back onto the menu. My mouth opened to an 'err', but Jeff interrupted.
"He'll have a small vanilla, no sprinkles."
I stared at him slack jawed as the waitress took our menus and then left. "What? You love vanilla, like stuff plain and like small portions because you feel ashamed when you don't finish your food. It's my job to know things about people." Jeff said.
The frozen yogurt came. I dug in ravenously while Jeff slowly studied his, almost sussing out its weak points before carefully attacking it.
"How's the university then?" I said in-between mouthfuls.
"You know, same deal. They're expecting something big from us."
My eyebrows raised "Still?"
"Yep, but can you blame them after Three Dead People." He said still engrossed by his desert.
Three Dead People was the movie we made in our first year. I wrote it, Jeff directed it and she was our lead. My ex. It was successful, almost too successful. The internet had its way with us, turned us viral as the cool kids say.
"No, not really."
"So, is this another one of those?" Jeff said, finally finished.
"Yes, of course." I stopped a second. "Well I think so. I did feel really shitty when I wrote it, isn't that like the source of all good writing?"
"That, drugs and alcohol I guess."
"Drug dealers and wilderness sabbaticals don't normally go hand in hand, so I didn't do any drugs, but I did drink a bunch."
"There's always next time." He glanced down at my bag. "Let me see it."