Jemima came back from her friend Amanda’s engagement party with some interesting news. Well, she claimed all of it was interesting, such as how the pulled pork sandwiches they’d had for dinner tasted like salami, but Priscilla felt that the only truly interesting thing she said was about her friend Erin’s date for the evening.
“Did you guys know that Oscar is dating my friend Erin?” Jemima asked. Priscilla had not in fact known that. Neither, it seemed, had anybody else. She was curious to know when exactly Oscar had begun dating Erin and specifically how the beginning of his relationship with her coincided with the time he had kissed Priscilla on a subway platform. Needless to say, she was suspicious.
Priscilla had come to the horrifying realization that she was in fact interested in Oscar. This was bad for several reasons. One, he clearly wasn’t interested in her because he had gently and awkwardly tried to let her down easy after kissing her on a subway platform. Two, he was now dating someone else, someone she happened to know. Erin was similar to Katy in appearance. They were both slight, blonde, tanned women who wore crop tops and artfully ripped jeans. Priscilla looked almost nothing like either of them. She had long, black hair and she was pale. She dressed almost entirely in black, usually band t-shirts or muscle shirts with stupid prints on them, like her Moonraker one. And her jeans started out artfully ripped until the holes slowly expanded over time until her entire knee and half of her thigh was exposed. And three, her parents disliked him a lot, ever since he had thrown up in Iggy’s mother’s front garden at a party in high school.
She commiserated with Sybil, taking minimal solace in the fact that she wasn’t the only one interested in someone wholly unavailable to her.
“I used to like Erin,” Priscilla said one evening, sprawled on her bed next to Sybil, who had come over in the hopes of avoiding Chris. “Now I hate her guts.”
They were eating nachos, which Priscilla had made and then set carelessly on her bed between the two of them. If either of them spilled, there would be melted cheese on her duvet, but she didn’t care. Tallulah was hosting a board game night with her boyfriend Chad, Rosalyn, their friend Doug, and Robin and Finch from the record store. She had invited Priscilla and Sybil to join as well, but Priscilla knew better. She had spent many years of her young life having board game pieces hurled at her with alarming force by her younger sister. It was best not to even be in the same room. The others would soon learn their lesson. She was slightly surprised Rosalyn and Doug didn’t already know better, but she also suspected Rosalyn was the only one scary enough to combat Tallulah’s own special brand of hellishness. Although, to be fair, if there was anybody in the world capable of being more menacing at Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit than Rosalyn and Tallulah combined, it would definitely be Finch.
“I mean, I already hate Savannah and I’ve never even met her,” Sybil replied, drawing out the name Savannah to make it sound really posh. Priscilla sighed deeply, grabbing a particularly loaded nacho from the dish in front of her and shoving the whole thing unceremoniously in her mouth.
“This is sad,” she announced after a moment, mouth still full.
“Well, you’re sad,” Sybil agreed, wrinkling her nose at the sight of Priscilla chewing.
“Let’s just date a lot to get over our hatred of Erin and Savannah,” Priscilla suggested.
“Do you have a lot of people you could be dating?” Sybil asked skeptically, one eyebrow raised.
“I know a few people,” Priscilla answered evasively. “Here, I’ll find some double dates for us, you find some. It’ll be fun.”
“Yes, fun,” Sybil replied, looking very much like she didn’t think it would be fun at all. Priscilla chose to ignore that.
The first date Priscilla set up for them was with Lawrence’s friend Keith and one of his friends. When she had texted Lawrence to ask for Keith’s number, he had been beyond delighted. Priscilla felt a little bad about it because she wasn’t sure she and Keith were going to have the grandiose romance Lawrence seemed to be hoping for. She had chosen him largely because the pool of eligible men she knew was extremely limited. Keith was nice enough though and he didn’t seem to have any truly horrible and irreversible qualities. It was for that reason that she kept Keith for herself instead of hedging her bets with his friend.
The four of them met at a Mexican restaurant not close to any of their homes. Keith’s friend turned out to be his roommate Tobias. Tobias was a tall, beautiful, bald man with an almost unbelievably toned body. Apparently he was Swedish. He also worked at a bicycle shop. Priscilla slightly regretted taking the safe bet with Keith. Sybil, on the other hand, was delighted. Priscilla wondered if Keith ever regretted surrounding himself with some of the world’s most good-looking people. He seemed happy enough. Both of them were quite funny and smart. Priscilla didn’t feel like they had made a horrible mistake.
“This is good,” she said to Sybil in the bathroom, feeling positive. “I’m at least ninety-five per cent certain neither one of them is going to murder us.”
“Right?!” Sybil agreed enthusiastically. They high-fived.
The next date they went on was with a couple of guys Sybil had met through work. They played in a band together. The date with Keith and Tobias had gone so well so they were in high spirits when they showed up for drinks with Alex and Mark. Within three minutes, Priscilla regretted every decision she had ever made that had led to that exact moment in her life. When she and Sybil took their break to discuss how things were going in the bathroom, neither was anywhere close to as optimistic as before.
“Oh my God, I hate them,” Sybil said at once. “I am so sorry. Megan, the receptionist at the recording studio, could not stop talking about hot they are. I don’t think they’re that hot. I think Alex looks like Scandinavian Jesus. And Mark is the single most boring person I’ve ever met. He’s a lead singer in a band, how is that even possible?”
“He’s wearing khakis,” Priscilla pointed out. “It’s a Saturday night and we’re at a martini bar.”
“Khaki pants, khaki life,” Sybil said sagely.
They tried to get out early in the evening, but didn’t quite manage to escape before Khaki Pants and Scandinavian Jesus took to the stage, as most conveniently it was open mic night, to play them a song. It was an original song and it was, to put it succinctly, terrible. It was about a man’s romantic love for his female friend, who wasn’t interested in him and all the suffering that caused him. The song ended with him never speaking to her again because she would never love him the same way he loved her. It was rather upbeat and Priscilla got the impression it was meant to be uplifting. It was titled “Friendzone”.
“Well Khaki Pants and Scandinavian Jesus have written the bro anthem of the ages,” she commented as the song mercifully came to an end, met with tepid applause from the patrons of the lounge. “And it’s terrible.”
“Did we honestly expect anything good from either of them?” Sybil returned shrewdly. They had spent an inordinately long period of time listening to Scandinavian Jesus relay his weightlifting regimen.
“Their follow-up hit can just be titled ‘In Case You Didn’t Know, I’m a Dick’,” Priscilla said dryly.
Their third date was with Desmond of The Wicked Nuns. Priscilla accosted him at the coffee shop where Iggy worked and he was part of the house band and asked him out. He promised to bring the most amazing friend he could find for Sybil. What he came up with was the bassist of The Wicked Nuns, Angus, who was quite short, redheaded, and winked at literally every woman who passed him. Angus further didn’t help his case by getting spectacularly loaded quite early on in the evening. Sybil was less than impressed.
“He’s barely coherent when he’s sober,” she told Priscilla darkly when Desmond and Angus had gone to the bar to get more drinks for the table. “Right now it’s like he’s speaking Swahili.”
“So he’s not the greatest,” Priscilla agreed, trying to be pacifying and finding it difficult to come up with something half-decent to say about Angus. “But he’s not that bad.”
Sybil wasn’t sold with that half-assed response.
“I think we can afford to hold ourselves to a higher standard,” she began to protest. “‘Not that bad’ is just a slightly more optimistic way of saying ‘still shit, but maybe not totally shit’. This, I presume, is how people trick themselves into dating men with sharks shaved into their back hair.”
It was hard to argue with that kind of logic.
Despite Sybil’s many, many issues with Angus, Priscilla had a fairly decent time with Desmond. He was exceptionally charming. Plus, when she told Iggy that they had gone out, she was beyond supportive. She still found Desmond extremely attractive. As she said, if she had to be saddled with Miles, she at least wanted one of her friends to be able to date Desmond.
“I don’t think you have to be saddled with Miles,” was Priscilla’s response. “I think maybe you just like him.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Iggy shrugged dismissively, but she was blushing so Priscilla knew she was right.
The first time Priscilla saw Oscar and Erin together, they were at a pub downtown and it was an accident. Oscar looked a little sheepish. Priscilla assumed it was either because he had been apparently seeing Erin for some time and hadn’t bothered to tell Priscilla about it or because he had kissed her quite shortly before he’d begun dating Erin. Either way, Priscilla found she didn’t mind as she thought she might’ve because she was with Keith at the time. Away from Lawrence and Tobias, Keith was really good-looking. He was scruffy and broad and could still afford to buy her whiskey sours even though he was unemployed. He was also quite a bit taller than Oscar and Priscilla took a weird amount of pleasure in that. Oscar seemed surprised to find her with Keith and that gave her even more vindictive pleasure. Plus, Desmond had been texting her for most of the previous day. Priscilla found she was genuinely pleased to see Erin again.