Chapter Two: “Potato, potato”

Miles was dating a girl named Marly. He had met her at a bar when he had been quite drunk and fairly desperate. According to his friend Oscar, this was alright because she too was clearly desperate. Oscar wasn’t a particularly kind man. His girlfriend of five years, Katy, had very recently dumped him, leaving him heartbroken, sulky, and brutally honest. He already wasn’t a very sympathetic man to begin with and this recent development had done nothing to improve upon that fact. Miles was willing to overlook it to a certain point because Oscar was crushed and emotionally devastated. That having been said, Miles’ own sympathy only extended so far so Oscar would have to learn how to curb some of his honesty fairly soon.

Marly was admittedly different from the women that Miles usually dated, or as Oscar said, threw himself at. Marly was bubbly and cute and used emojis in real life verbal conversation. She would be in the middle of telling a story and then suddenly start saying things such as “so I was like OMG cringe emoji, but my friend Kayla was all like preach emoji”. That was another thing about Marly: she had about fourteen friends named Kayla or some variation of Kayla. She had invited him to one of her friend’s birthdays once and he’d been introduced to a string of Kaylas, Kylas, Mikaylas, Karlys, and Kylies that he couldn’t keep track of for the life of him. They all looked vaguely similar, which was made all the worse by the fact that they even dressed the same. The entire evening was like partying with expensively-dressed, well-groomed, petite pod people. He’d actually lost track of Marly in the sea of blonde heads at one point and, for a few worrying moments, he’d been afraid he’d never be able to distinguish her from the others again.

Marly was also a fair bit younger than Miles. Technically, she was only four years younger than he was. That wasn’t a very big difference, which he told to most of his friends at almost every given opportunity. It was usually met with a derisive snort from Oscar, a reproachful, yet sad headshake from David, and a blank, vaguely threatening stare from Ramsay, but that was mostly just Ramsay’s constant facial expression. The issue was that Miles was twenty-four and Marly was just twenty. She and her friends got drunk on weeknights and skipped their ten o’clock morning sociology classes without any thought for the repercussions. Miles went to bed sharply at ten each night so that he could be reasonably well-rested for his eight o’clock start day job. Most of the time, their schedules didn’t match, which made it difficult for them to see each other. Miles worked long hours, sometimes he even stayed late. Marly took a lot of midday naps and stayed out until three in the morning.

“But how do you even keep up with her?” Miles’ friend David asked once. David and his wife Melly, high school sweethearts, had just had their first child five months ago and he had trouble staying up past seven in the evening now.

“I’m a young man, David,” Miles scoffed in return, despite the fact that he was finding it increasingly difficult to stay awake for the duration of the phone calls she always made to him in the early hours of the weekend mornings while she was drunk.

“I just don’t know how you think this is going to work in the long run,” David said, pairing it with yet another disappointed headshake. “Don’t you want to settle down soon?”

David expected everybody to want to settle down because he had wanted to settle down. Miles truthfully wouldn’t have minded settling down, but not to the extent that David had. He was in no rush to get married and he certainly wasn’t in any rush to have children. He still was a child. His father still did his taxes. Miles still assumed that people his age having children were having them by accident.

“I don’t know, maybe,” Miles shrugged.

“You should really just think about dating Iggy,” David said for what might’ve been the hundredth time that month. It was a new development, bourn of Melly’s near incessant nagging Miles was sure. Miles liked Melly a lot, but he could’ve done without her meddling. She had decided that she and David needed couple friends, people they could play cards and charades with on Friday evenings now that they were past the point in their lives where getting drunk on cheap tequila shots and hitting on strangers at dark bars was appealing. They only had one other couple to do this with so far, Danielle and Jake, and as far as Miles was concerned, Danielle and Jake were two of the worst people in the world. Jake was boring as hell and Danielle was shrill, judgemental, and annoying, the trifecta of awfulness. Miles didn’t blame Melly and David for wanting better couples to hang out with, but he could pretty much guarantee that he and Iggy would not ever be one of them.

In high school, Miles and Iggy had notoriously not gotten along, despite their best friends’ budding relationship. And even now that Melly and David were married with a child, Iggy and Miles still didn’t get along. Iggy hated his guts and Miles thought Iggy was a dumb name for an adult human who wasn’t Iggy Pop. He didn’t even like the name for Iggy Pop.

“Thought about it,” Miles told David. “Still not going to do it.”

Miles had assumed he would have more support for his relationship with Marly from his other friends, Oscar and Ramsay. At the very least, he assumed that neither of them would care anywhere near enough to say or do anything in protest. But that was before Oscar’s devastating break-up and subsequent bitter outlook on life. He didn’t support any form of happiness anymore. Ramsay, though, simply didn’t give a shit as predicted. In both cases, the fact that neither of them were actively trying to set Miles up with his high school nemesis seemed like a win. He was counting it as a win at least. David would probably just shake his head if he knew. He was possibly even more upset about Oscar and Katy’s break-up than Oscar was. Now Oscar was just yet another friend who wouldn’t be settling down any time soon.

Miles worked at a juice company with Oscar and Ramsay. That was how they’d met Ramsay. The three of them worked in the sales department. When Miles had first started, hired just shortly after Oscar, he’d originally assumed that Ramsay very, very vehemently hated him. Ramsay was not friendly. He wasn’t kind either. He was grumpy and factual and hard to please. Eventually, Miles realized that Ramsay didn’t in fact hate him. Or he at least didn’t hate him completely, which was a considerable achievement where Ramsay was concerned.

“Marly invited me to her friend Kayla’s glow party tomorrow,” Miles informed Oscar and Ramsay one day at work. It was a Wednesday. “It starts at two in the afternoon and both of you are more than welcome to come. A lot of her friends are single.”

Oscar snorted, but didn’t look up from his computer screen. Ramsay did, turning slowly in his desk chair until he was facing Miles, lazily waving a pen in the air next to his head.

“Do you know where I don’t want to be at two in the afternoon on a weekday?” Ramsay asked in return, not leaving any space for Miles to answer. “At a rave.”

“It’s not a rave,” Miles corrected. “It’s a glow party.”

“Potato, potato,” Oscar interjected, not saying either word any differently than the other. He still hadn’t even looked over.

“It’ll be fun,” Miles tried again. Truth be told, he didn’t want to go alone. He wanted someone else there with him to help him identify and keep track of all the Kaylas.

“No it won’t,” Oscar snorted again. Miles turned to Ramsay hopefully instead, fully prepared to give up on Oscar. He hadn’t really thought he’d come anyway. Oscar hadn’t done anything fun since he’d been dumped. Mostly he spent a lot of his free time laying various places in the apartment he shared with Ramsay and grumbling about fruit flies. It was depressing.

“Dude, I am not taking time off work to go to your child bride’s rave with her tiny friends,” Ramsay told Miles.

“Fine,” Miles sighed. “I’ll find someone else to go with me.”

“You won’t, but good luck,” Ramsay said before turning back around in his chair.

Miles did end up finding people to come with him. He found two people in fact. One was his friend Robin, who he knew from summer camp. He and Robin had spent almost every summer together at Camp St. Paul’s. It was a Christian camp and roughly no fun at all, but they’d bonded through their shared hatred of skits. And Robin brought along his co-worker Evan from the record store where they both worked. The minute the three of them arrived at the warehouse where the glow party was being held, Miles could tell that Evan had been the absolute wrong choice for the event at hand. For one thing, Evan was the kind of person who began to resemble their pet over time and Evan owned a pitbull. His forearms were larger than Miles’ calves and he spit when he talked literally all the time.

To say it did not go well would be a gross understatement. Beyond Evan being a terrible choice of companion, Robin wasn’t much better. He was incredibly apathetic, but also oddly elitist and found most of Marly’s friends stupid. This was largely because most of Marly’s friends were in fact stupid. To top it all off, Robin didn’t even really like Evan. He’d only invited him because Evan kept strongly suggesting that they hang out sometime outside of work hours and Robin had clearly seen an opportunity to do that without sacrificing much of his own free time.

For the first hour or so, Miles left Robin and Evan together to go off with Marly. She wanted them to dance. In general, Miles disliked dancing, but he especially disliked dancing to the rabid techno music blaring throughout the warehouse. It felt like the kind of music that would be much easier to dance to if he had taken ecstasy before showing up. But Marly pouted and looked adorable and said the words “praying hands emoji” to convince him. The minute they were joined by Kayla, Kayla, and Karly, however, he bolted in the direction of the place where he’d last seen Robin. It took some careful manoeuvering and he had to dodge two Kylies, but Miles eventually found Robin and Evan standing together on the periphery of the party. Robin was casually drinking a beer and, a little ways away, Evan was rubbing at his jeans with a wad of paper towel.

“How’s it going?” Miles asked, shouting a little to be heard above the pounding bassline.

“Well, one of Marly’s friends just spent forty minutes talking to me about her manicure, which was soul-crushing,” Robin answered, rolling his eyes. “On the other hand, one of the others threw up on Evan’s legs.”

It was Miles’ turn to roll his eyes. Before he had a chance to say anything else, Evan stormed over to them, looking down at the damp patch on the shin of his jeans.

“What I don’t get is where all this fucking glitter is coming from,” he announced angrily, spitting and looking more like a pitbull than ever. “I think they’re producing it. Even that one’s vomit was glittery.”

Miles had to concede that many of Marly’s friends, Marly included, appeared to be covered in glitter. They were like a horde of dazzling pod people now.

“You could be right,” Robin told Evan, sounding very much like he didn’t actually believe that. “Of course, it’s also possible that she’s eating glitter. To be quite frank, she does seem like that kind of idiot.”

Miles should’ve gone alone.

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