Chapter Fifty-One: “Your Aunt Carol looks like present-day Rod Stewart”

Gord had begun dating a woman he’d met at church. Her name was Myrtle, which had lead to a lot of confusion when he’d tried to explain the situation to Finch, Gavin, and Amare.

“So she’s a hundred years old,” Gavin said.

“No, she’s twenty-three,” Gord returned. “She just has the name of someone who’s hundred years old.”

“You go to this church,” Amare said to Finch, drawing him into the conversation he’d quite clearly been trying to avoid. “Tell us how old this woman is.”

“I don’t know,” Finch shrugged. “You think I catalogue members of the congregation based on how old their name makes them seem?”

“Just to be clear, do you catalogue them at all?” Gavin checked. Finch pushed him off his seat on the couch. The four of them were sitting in the living room of Gord’s shared apartment with Gavin and Finch. Amare had come over because he spent most of his free time in their apartment, despite his many, many protestations that he was too successful an adult to have roommates. As he claimed, he was a proper adult with his own apartment that he could afford all by himself. Gord had been to Amare’s apartment two times since he’d moved to it the previous fall and twice was two times too many. It was minuscule and it smelled like cabbage and stale cigarette smoke.

“Anyway, the point is that she’s a young woman and also that she looks exactly like Cameron Diaz used to so she’s fun and likes to surf,” Gord said loudly, getting the conversation back on track. All three of his friends stared at him blankly for a long minute.

“Do you know that she’s actually fun and likes to surf?” Amare asked. “Or are you basing this solely on the fact that she looks like Cameron Diaz?”

“Well, you know,” Gord shrugged.

“So the latter,” Amare answered his own question, rolling his eyes.

“It makes sense,” Gord shrugged again.

“No it doesn’t,” Gavin argued immediately. “It literally makes no sense at all. Just because they look similar doesn’t mean that they are similar. My Aunt Judy looks exactly like Elton John, but that in no way makes them the same person.”

“Your Aunt Lorie looks like Sylvester Stallone circa Rocky IV,” Finch interjected unhelpfully and unnecessarily. “Actually, a lot of your aunts look like male celebrities. Your Aunt Carol looks like present-day Rod Stewart.”

“Doesn’t your Uncle Ted look like Seal?” Amare joined in and Gord cursed his friend’s short attention spans.

“No, dumbass, he looks like a seal,” Finch rolled his eyes. Gord could tell he was’t going to get anywhere else with the conversation at that point so he ignored them and grabbed his book from the coffee table.

He and Myrtle went out two days later. It was a lovely time really. They went for dinner and spent quite a long time talking about all of their many shared interests. As it turned out, she did not in fact know how to surf, but she was fun and she still looked like Cameron Diaz had in the early 2000s. She explained that she went to church every Sunday so that her elderly grandmother would have a ride, which was very kind and altruistic. She was beautiful, fun, and charismatic. They had a great time, tonnes in common, and Gord was never going to see her again. He always did that. Every time he met someone great, or really just anyone at all, he ended it before it had a chance to become something more. He didn’t understand why he did it, but he did it nonetheless and he was going to do it to Myrtle. Sweet Myrtle who laughed like Cameron Diaz and drove her elderly, invalid grandmother to church every week.

“So you’re going to see her again?” Amare asked two days after Gord’s date. He had come over after work, despite his small, bad smelling apartment that he lived in by himself. Gord had spent the past twenty minutes telling him and Finch how his date with Myrtle had been. Gavin was out at the gym, taking an aerobics class to help him prepare for jazzercise, but Finch had Robin over. Gord was amazed that he couldn’t get through two dates with the same person, but Finch, who scowled at strangers on the subway and had once literally bitten someone in a fight as an adult, had managed to attract a man who had previously thought he was only interested in women with little more than baked goods and approximately four genuine smiles.

“No,” Gord answered.

“Of course not,” Amare said, clearly having been expecting the answer. Finch barked out a laugh from his spot on the couch.

“But she looks like Cameron Diaz,” Robin protested. Gord couldn’t tell if he was being serious or not, but the way Finch laughed at that as well lead him to believe it was closer to the sarcastic end of the spectrum.

“She smells like she’s hiding something,” Gord said in explanation.

“What?! What the hell does that mean?” Amare demanded at the same time Robin choked on his beer. Gord took a lot of vindictive pleasure in that.

“She smelled like a bakery had exploded,” Gord replied calmly. “Why would she smell that strongly if she wasn’t trying to cover something up?”

“What could she possibly be hiding with her vanilla-scented hand cream?” Amare asked immediately. He folded his arms over his chest and stared down Gord like he thought he was being ridiculous. Gord was being ridiculous. He was also aware that he was being ridiculous. But at the same time, he also wasn’t going to do anything about how ridiculous he was being.

“Maybe the smell’s a distraction from something else, like, you know, syphilis,” Gord offered casually.

“Why is it always syphilis with you?” Finch cut in. “You make it sound like you’re always hanging around in opium dens and brothels in the late 1800s. It’s not that common.”

“Is this a real thing?” Robin interjected. “Sorry, but it’s hard to tell. Do you actually think her overuse of perfume is a rouse to distract from venereal disease?”

“I mean, not really,” Gord answered. “But I’m still not going to see her again.”

“No, you know what?” Amare said sternly, pointing at Gord. “You are going to see her again. You liked her and you had a good time and she doesn’t have syphilis. You’re going to ask her out again.”

Gord agreed, but mostly because Amare was a lot bigger than him. And he only agreed under the condition that they all come with him on a bizarre triple date that Gavin protested loudly and frequently on the grounds of being excluded from dinner because of his loneliness. He claimed they were rubbing salt in the wound. All this was made worse by the fact that neither Finch nor Robin wanted to come, but were being forced by Amare. Gavin called it a social injustice. Finch once again pushed him off the couch.

Amare turned up to dinner with his girlfriend of the month. Her name was Nikki. She was petite, blonde, and had blindingly white teeth. She smiled a lot, but not in a nice way, and told a story about how her ex-best friend Megan had gotten fat in university. As a whole, Nikki did not go over well with either Finch or Robin, the former of who openly glared at her and the latter of who observed her like she was carrying some kind of horribly infectious disease. Myrtle was far better than Nikki. She was sweet and she didn’t once mock anybody for being fat. Dinner went really well, despite Nikki, and Myrtle hugged them all good-bye, even Finch. And even in spite of all that, Gord decided not to see her again.

“You have got to be kidding me!” Amare protested when Gord told him and his roommates the following evening. “Why? What reason could you possibly have this time? And don’t give me some bullshit answer about the way she smells.”

“What does she smell like?” Gavin cut in, looking both horrified and fascinated, having missed the initial discussion about her scent. He was clearly imagining her to smell like something awful or noteworthy and not merely like baked goods.

“I swear to God, if you say she smells like she’s hiding something, I’ll punch you in the mouth,” Amare told Gord through gritted teeth.

“I wasn’t going to say that,” Gord said, holding up his hands. “But I’m still not going to see her again.”

“You’re hopeless,” Amare shook his head. Gord didn’t bother arguing.

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