Chapter Thirteen: “Princess Mosquito Mango-Eater”

Since Miles’ mildly upsetting and wholly embarrassing break-up with Marly, David’s instances that he give love a chance with Iggy had grown even more pressing and invasive. He complained about it to Oscar and Ramsay at work one day only to have Ramsay ignore him and Oscar snort at him.

“I don’t really think you can call that a break-up,” was Oscar’s irrelevant and irritating response. Miles got the impression that Oscar thought he had a monopoly on break-ups because his had been so spectacularly bad. He glared at the side of Oscar’s head, but didn’t say anything else about it. There was very little chance he’d come away a winner in that argument. Oscar was just so sad. He turned to face Ramsay specifically, trying his luck there instead.

“David has called me every day for the past four days to talk to me about Iggy,” he continued.

“Doesn’t this man have a job?” Ramsay returned. “And a newborn? How is he finding the time for this shit?”

It still wasn’t very helpful, but it was closer to the realm.

“I don’t know,” Miles answered dismissively. “The problem is less the calling and more that he’s calling about Iggy.”

Ramsay stared at him for a moment.

“I think you’re wrong,” he eventually replied.

“What?” Miles frowned at him.

“I think the issue is the calling,” Ramsay explained. “I would hate that.”

Miles gave up.

He tried his best to ignore David and most of his calls, but David was still miffed that Oscar had begun ignoring his phone calls and his hurt puppy face was too much for Miles to bear. He finally relented to a double date of sorts when David started calling more than once a day. He refused to have a good time, however, so he dragged David, Melly, and Iggy to the shitty Irish pub where Oscar was playing a gig with Skankhole. Nothing ruined a moment quite like Skankhole, which was ironic because most of their songs were love ballads. It also had the dual purpose of embarrassing Oscar, who was horrified to be a part of Skankhole, even a temporary one.

“This is awful,” Iggy said after the four of them had been sitting at a booth together. “Like, honestly and truly spectacularly horrible. I feel like I might pierce my eardrums with a fork soon. It’ll be excruciating, but ultimately worth it.”

Miles wanted to disagree just for the sake of being contrary, but he couldn’t. On stage, Oscar’s stupid friend Trent was strutting about stage, wailing into the microphone about broken hearts and cheating girlfriends. Behind the drum kit, Oscar looked seconds away from just giving up entirely and shoving his own head through his kick drum.

“It’s so sad about Oscar and Katy,” Melly said, not for the first time that evening. “I really like Katy.”

“So does Oscar,” Miles pointed out because it seemed like Melly may have lost sight of that fact. Oscar may have been an ass, but Miles could at least concede that he definitely had it the worst in that break-up. Katy had gotten to keep all their shared friends and her dignity. All Oscar had was an apartment full of bugs.

The four of them continued to listen to Skankhole play terribly until the band finally stopped their set for a fifteen minute break. Miles could see people in the bar literally sigh with relief. He excused himself from the table and went to see Oscar, who looked like he was contemplating lying face down on the stage next to his drum kit. Miles hauled himself up onto the stage and sat down beside Oscar, who had moved to the floor to sit, but thankfully wasn’t lying down yet. They sat in silence for a while until Oscar sighed deeply and turned to look at Miles.

“How’s your double date going?” He asked. Miles shrugged.

“Enh,” he said flippantly. “I mean, she’s the not the worst person I’ve ever met.”

“So super well then,” Oscar cut in sarcastically, rolling his eyes.

“But she’s still Iggy, you know?” Miles returned.

“I know,” Oscar agreed.

“She has the same name as several small pet reptiles,” Miles continued, making a face. “I don’t think I even know what her real name is.”

“Pamela,” Oscar said.

“No, it’s not that,” Miles returned slowly.

“Deb,” Oscar tried again. “Hannah. Claire. Mildred. Winnifred. Antelope. Jennifer. Princess Mosquito Mango-Eater. Sasha.”

“You’re a moron,” was Miles’ response.

“You say that now, but you’re going to be singing a different tune when her real name turns out to be Princess Mosquito Mango-Eater. Or Deb,” Oscar returned. Miles shoved him.

When he returned to the table with Melly, David, and Iggy, he sat back down in his seat next to Iggy and gave her a considering look. He was trying to work out what he felt for her. She really was alright. That didn’t seem like a particularly strong enough sentiment or reason to start dating someone, though. Especially since, if they ever did date, it would be incredibly awkward if or when they broke up. Melly and David clearly hadn’t thought this out fully. He continued to look at her. After a while, she glared back at him.

“What?” She demanded.

“What’s your name?” He asked thoughtfully.

“What?” She said again. “Are you suffering some sort of brain failure? It’s Iggy.”

“No, your real name,” he prompted.

“How do you know that’s not my real name?” She demanded. He’d managed to annoy her, which was pretty much par for the course at this point. It had been like that ever since they’d started high school together. It was just yet another reason in the ever-growing list as to why they would not make the perfect couple Melly and David were hoping for.

“Because no one would name their child Iggy,” he answered matter-of-factly.

“Uh, lots of people name their children way worse things that Iggy,” Iggy protested. “For example, Priscilla Cherry.”

He had to admit it was a fairly good point. He would never admit that to her though.

“Sharon?” He asked after a moment.

“What?” She repeated for a third time. Melly and David, who had previously been engrossed in their own conversation, very likely pitying Oscar, had turned to watch them bicker.

“Kelly? Jean? Diana? Maureen?”

“Jesus, it’s Elizabeth,” she muttered darkly. “My real name is Elizabeth.”

“Huh,” he said. It was a nice name. It didn’t suit her though.

“Huh what?” She demanded. She had her arms crossed over her chest and everything.

“Huh nothing,” he replied. She looked like she wanted to hit him. She probably did. Both Melly and David were eyeing them with careful hopefulness, as if this particular breakdown in communication would be the one to finally bring them together in the torrid love affair of the ages. That, of course, didn’t happen. Instead, they went back to watching Skankhole play shitty love ballads and generally ignored each other for the remainder of the evening.

Three days later, Miles ran into Iggy at the gym. She looked annoyed with him even before he’d even noticed she was there. She was getting off one of the treadmills, blonde hair tied up high on her head and sweating profusely. She was wearing a tiny pair of spandex shorts and an oversized t-shirt professing her to be a member of “Amy’s Bridal Security”. She had nice legs. Miles realized he was staring when she cleared her throat loudly and “accidentally” sprayed him with water from her water bottle.

“Ugh,” she said when she greeted him. “Miles.”

“Bernice,” was his response as he wiped water from his left cheek. She narrowed her eyes at him. He couldn’t tell if it was better or worse that he hadn’t called her Elizabeth. He had thought about it, but decided against it at the last second. For some reason, it felt like he’d be crossing a line that he would never be able to step back from.

“You’re the worst,” she said, but with no more heat than usual. It was then that Miles saw Marly approaching from the other side of the gym. He’d forgotten that she went to his gym as well. That was actually why he had hit on her at the bar where they first met, because he recognized her from the gym. Now he was standing across from a glaring Iggy in his laundry day gym clothes, which was essentially a pair of basketball shorts he’d owned since he was sixteen and an excessively stained t-shirt. Marly looked great because she always looked great. She had nice legs too. Miles fought the urge to duck behind the treadmill Iggy had just left. He clearly needed to find a different gym.

“What’s wrong with your face?” Iggy asked after a moment, wrinkling her nose at him. “You look like you just ate a live cockroach by accident.”

Miles shot her a disgusted look before he turned back to where Marly had nearly reached them. She was looking between him and Iggy and frowning, like she was working on a challenging algebra equation. She definitely thought he and Iggy were together, which was possibly even more embarrassing than her seeing him in his ratty, ill-fitting basketball shorts. Iggy looked like she’d dunked her entire head in a swamp. But Marly didn’t seem nearly as gleeful or pitying as he expected, which made him wonder if she’d noticed Iggy’s legs as well. He had a weird urge to compliment Iggy on her treadmill use, but managed to quell it before he said something disastrous.

“Hey, Miles,” Marly said, finally reaching them. “How are you?”

He was instantly irritated. How did she think he was? She had used him to make some dude jealous. He wasn’t good. He was wearing eight year old basketball shorts.

“Fine, you?” He replied. Iggy was looking back and forth between the two of them with her brow furrowed. Marly turned to her with a pleasant and slightly judgemental smile on her face.

“Hi, I’m Marly,” she introduced herself, holding out her hand for Iggy to shake. “I’m a friend of Miles.”

Miles was sure his expression soured at that.

“Oh, yeah me too,” Iggy replied, shaking Marly’s hand reluctantly. “I’m Iggy.”

“What a unique name,” Marly remarked. Iggy shot Miles a dark look, like she thought he had somehow prepped Marly to make that comment. He stuck his tongue out at her. She stuck hers out at him. Marly watched them. She seemed confused, which was fair.

“You guys are a cute couple,” Marly told them. It had clearly pained her to say it out loud. She looked like she’d swallowed a whole lemon. Iggy shot Miles a quick glance before turning back to face Marly. Miles braced himself for the humiliating explanation that would follow, the one that would no doubt list in great detail all of the many reasons that Iggy and Miles were not in fact a couple, cute or otherwise.

“Thanks,” Iggy said instead. Miles felt his jaw drop open, but snapped it shut before Marly noticed. She hung around a little while later, making increasingly awkward small talk, before walking off in the direction of the change rooms. Miles turned to Iggy with a weirdly fond feeling blooming in his chest.

“Thanks for the pity,” he said to her.

“Anytime,” she replied dismissively. And then she walked off in the direction of the change rooms as well leaving Miles alone in his eight year old basketball shorts.


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