I stopped walking, feeling like someone had shoved their fist down my throat.
“Yeah, my friend who was with me had to apologize to them and explain to them how I had just had too much beer.”
She laughed, as if she was recounting a story about accidentally passing gas in front of a boyfriend’s parents or something. I continued on with the walk in silence. She asked me what was wrong. In retrospect, it shouldn't have been difficult to state quite clearly what was wrong, but in the moment, it was. Instead, I bravely blamed my silence on an upset stomach.
The mind can perform some impressive mental gymnastics when you don't want to believe something. I once wrote off a full guilty confession of a girlfriend’s infidelity as a miscommunication. So, given my previously established lonely state, my mind flipped around like a damned Olympian. I told myself that she would never knowingly say that kind of slur out loud, let alone in such a targeted, malicious fashion. I told myself that she had simply been intoxicated and wasn’t thinking clearly. I told myself she felt compelled to share said story with me because... well, I didn't have a great answer for that one, but I forged ahead anyway.