Chapter Seven: “She looks exactly like the former ruler of North Korea, Kim Jung-Il”

Melly invited Iggy to a dinner party at her and David’s house one Friday evening. Iggy didn’t really want to go because Melly’s dinner parties almost always involved chilli and charades, but Melly was still slightly annoyed with her for being late for her baby Madison’s baptism so she didn’t really have a choice. It was even more unfortunate than usual though because it was going to be a couples’ thing. Melly had invited her and David’s couple friends, Jake and Danielle. Jake was alright, despite the fact that he had peaked in high school and was forever talking about  “the glory days”, as if failing grade ten math was the highlight of his life.

Danielle, on the other hand, was the most grating person Iggy had ever had the great misfortune of meeting. She was shrill and abrasive. She talked down to Iggy every time she saw her because Iggy never had a boyfriend and Danielle considered that an immense failure. Iggy maintained that she would much rather be single than be with Jake, but she would never say that out loud. Melly would never forgive her for ruining her dinner party.

Iggy showed up to Melly and David’s tiny townhouse reluctantly. The idea of fifth-wheeling a game of charades was not appealing in the slightest. Charades were bad enough when her perpetual singleness wasn’t being shoved in her face constantly. Danielle always went on and one about the uneven team numbers. Iggy thought she needed to relax. It was fucking charades, not the Olympics.

But then Iggy discovered that it was much, much worse because Miles had been invited as well. He was clearly meant to be her date for the evening. Melly had recently decided that the two of them would be perfect for each other. This was clearly an attempt to set them up without either of them knowing to make them fall desperately in love. It wasn’t the first time she’d tried it and it wouldn’t be the last. So far it had yet to work, likely because Iggy thought Miles was the worst.

“Ugh,” Iggy said when she bumped into Miles at the door. “Miles.”

“Hello, Janine,” Miles returned.

“You know that’s not my name,” Iggy told him flatly.

“Yes, but as I have said many times before, Iggy is a stupid name for someone who isn’t a punk-rocker from the 70s,” Miles began to respond. “Or a child’s pet iguana.”

Iggy glared at him. She tried to come up with something extremely scathing to say in return, but her efforts were interrupted by Melly.

“Hey, why don’t you guys go up and see Madison?” She suggested before walking back into the kitchen, leaving no room for rejection. So Iggy traipsed upstairs to the nursery behind Miles where she stood next to him and looked at a sleeping Madison in her yellow crib. She was snoring softly, which Iggy supposed was adorable, but she couldn’t help but think that she spent an inordinate amount of time just staring at the kid. Melly was forever telling her guests to go look at the baby, like she was some sort of glorious party trick. She didn’t really do anything.

“Do you sometimes feel like you spend a lot of time just looking at this baby?” Miles asked after a moment.

“Oh God, yes,” Iggy returned, glad that someone else felt the same way as she did, even if it was only Miles.

“She doesn’t do a hell of a lot, does she?” Miles commented.

“I mean, she can barely hold up her own head,” Iggy said, even though she had just had the same thought. “What do you want her to be doing? Rhythmic gymnastics?”

“You have to admit that that would be impressive,” Miles retorted. Iggy said nothing for a long moment, continuing to stare at Madison as she slept. It was beginning to feel creepy. On the other hand, she could hear Danielle’s shrill cackle of a laugh emanating from downstairs and she wasn’t eager to join that conversation. She’d only seen Danielle for a brief thirty seconds as they crossed paths at the foot of the stairs and yet Danielle had still managed to shoot her a pitying look.

“This is how I feel at art galleries,” Miles broke the silence after a while. “How long am I meant to stand here looking at this? What am I supposed to be feeling? At least at art galleries you get those little plaques that tell you the history of the painting or whatever. This kid’s only six months old so there’s not a whole lot of history and I think I’ve spent more time looking at her than I have my own face.”

“I know babies are cute, like, in general,” Iggy began to respond. “But do you ever think Madison looks a bit strange?”

“Strange how?” Miles asked, turning to raise an eyebrow at Iggy.

“She looks exactly like the former ruler of North Korea, Kim Jung-Il,” Iggy answered bluntly. “They have the same hair and everything. I cried when I first saw her, that’s how hard I was laughing. I think I was able to play it off as tears of joy fairly convincingly, though.”

“Thanks for that,” Miles said after a moment. “Now I’m not going to be able to look at this kid without thinking of North Korean dictators.”

“Well, now you know how I feel then,” Iggy returned.

During dinner, Iggy was treated to a lengthy lecture from Danielle about how to meet men. Apparently, online dating wasn’t just for the sad and pathetic anymore, which was good to hear, not that Iggy had thought that in the first place. Danielle was very encouraging and also remarkably condescending. It was an almost impressive combination.

“You know, Miles is also single,” Melly said with no small amount of implication. David was beaming at Iggy and Miles, who had been forced to sit next to each other on one side of Melly and David’s comically small dining table. They were so close together that Miles had laid his forearm on her thigh to rest at one point by accident.

“Oh, is he really? What a coincidence,” Iggy replied flatly. Melly rolled her eyes and Iggy braced herself for the pre-prepared speech Melly definitely had about why Iggy and Miles would actually be great together, complete with a bulleted list.

They did end up playing charades, which Iggy had really been hoping to avoid just once. At least she wasn’t responsible for uneven teams. She listened to the speech Melly had prepared about the merits of dating Miles in the kitchen as they cleaned up the dishes. Then she had to go see Madison once more at the strong suggestion of Melly. She was sent on her way with leftover chilli in Miles’ car because Melly had told them both that he would be happy to give Iggy a ride home.

“Just so we’re clear, Denise, I’m not actually happy to give you a ride home,” Miles said as soon as they were backing out of the driveway.

“Yeah, yeah,” Iggy muttered in return. “I’m not happy either.”

Iggy went over to Tallulah, Bernie, and Priscilla’s apartment the next morning after the gym. She was mostly trying to put off going to her own apartment where she knew her roommates Karl and Mona were holding a rehearsal for their joint performance art piece. Iggy didn’t really know what it was about and she doubted she ever would because she honestly didn’t care enough to find out. Besides, she was reasonably confident that it involved nudity and that was not something she ever needed to witness. Mona and Karl were always so clothed, what with the black ribbed turtlenecks they both wore every single day, that any displayed skin usually seemed like too much. Full-frontal nudity would be emotionally traumatizing.

Tallulah was watching Murdoch Mysteries when Iggy got into their apartment. Bernie was technically also watching, but it looked more like she was being held hostage. She was sitting next to Tallulah on the couch, eating her cereal angrily, glaring at the side of Tallulah’s head every so often. Priscilla was nowhere to be seen, probably sleeping in her room and avoiding Murdoch Mysteries like Bernie wished she could.

“Jesus, how old are you?” Iggy asked Tallulah, coming over to join them in the living room, sitting down on the purple and gold floral armchair Tallulah had inherited from her crazy Aunt Beth.

“Oh my God, don’t even get me started,” Bernie groaned, rolling her eyes. “I feel like I’ve aged about forty years. We have to do this every Saturday morning, too. I’ve accidentally kept up with this entire season. I’m more on top of this than my sixty-five year old mother.”

Bernie rolled her eyes again for good measure.

“Excuse you,” Tallulah said to both of them. “This show is a Canadian institution, like Degrassi.”

“I can’t help but think that was a bad example,” Iggy told Tallulah dryly.

“One word,” Tallulah began to respond. “Drake.”

Iggy waited to say anything else until Tallulah had paused her episode. She kept giving Iggy increasingly dirty looks for interrupting. Bernie continued to eat her cereal looking furious.

“I need to find someone to date so that Melly will stop trying to set me up with Miles,” Iggy announced when Tallulah had reluctantly paused the show.

“What a magical and romantic reason to want to date someone,” Tallulah returned shrewdly.

“Do either of you guys know any eligible men?” Iggy asked, mostly ignoring Tallulah’s comment.

“Well, let’s see,” Tallulah began. “There’s Miles.”

Iggy stuck her tongue out at her and Tallulah grinned back before unpausing her episode of Murdoch Mysteries.

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