Jacklyn had taken a renewed interest in Amare. She had already been interested in him, based on the fact that he was incredibly good-looking, but now it had turned serious. Gord could tell because she now spent a lot of time at his apartment door, telling him to be quiet when he wasn’t being loud, chastising him about her cat, which he didn’t have, and, most bizarrely, just popping over to “chat”. She was using him as a means to get to Amare, which he didn’t appreciate for numerous reasons. First of all, he had spent a lot of his life already up to that point being used as a way to get to Amare, which was a tough cross to bear at the tender and generally insecure age of seventeen. And, perhaps more importantly, it was beginning to cut into his personal time.
“You cannot date my neighbour,” Gord told Amare firmly one night when he was over. Jacklyn had already stopped by twice; once to tell him to be quiet, another to ask him how his day had been. In truth, Gord’s day had not been good. He’d had an early morning choir practice for the upcoming Sunday church service and one of his altos, Ethel, had pitched a fit about not getting the solo in “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”.
“Sure I can,” was Amare’s unhelpful response.
“Oh, this is going to be good,” Gavin remarked in a stage whisper to Finch, settling down on the couch next to Finch and Eartha Kitten. Both of them watched as Gord struggled to maintain his composure.
“No, you cannot,” he said again, more forcefully this time. Amare remained pleasantly unperturbed.
“She’s clearly interested,” he said in response. “What if I want to date her as well?”
“Are you going to date her for longer than a month?” Gord retorted.
“Probably not,” Amare shrugged, unbothered. It was his pattern and they all knew it. Even the women he really liked, Amare seemed unable to date for longer than a month. He blamed it on his parents’ divorce, but Finch said it was because he was just a dick.
“Then you can’t date her,” Gord said for the third time.
“That seems bold from the world’s biggest committaphob,” Amare pointed out, leaning back in his chair. On the couch, Gavin and Finch were literally eating popcorn as they watched the conversation unfold. Granted, Finch had made it before he knew there was even going to be a conversation, but still.
“I’m not making a dig at your commitment issues,” Gord said, exasperated. “If you date her, and then dump her, she’ll be pissed at me forever. She already hates my guts. She’s scary as fuck, man. She’ll probably light the apartment on fire.”
“She is actually terrifying,” Gavin chimed in from the couch. Gord was marginally grateful.
“Alright,” Amare said thoughtfully after a long moment and that was the end of the conversation. Nobody said anything else about it until Amare had gone home for the evening, back to his small and terrible smelling apartment.
“He’s definitely still going to go out with her,” Finch informed Gord bluntly when Amare had been gone for about twenty minutes.
“Oh, I know,” Gord sighed in response.
He came up with a plan. He would just have to derail any attempt Amare made to date Jacklyn. For the most part, this meant loitering by the front door so he could look out the peephole and check whenever Amare came over to make sure he didn’t go to Jacklyn’s first. The first couple times it happened, he merely opened the door with very “convenient” timing and struck up a conversation between the three of them so that neither Amare nor Jacklyn would have a chance to ask the other out. But then Amare began to pick up on what he was doing and just ignored Gord, steamrolling anything he said with his own conversation. Jacklyn watched all of this unfold, looking very confused, not that Gord particularly blamed her.
One evening, as he was staring out the peephole into the hallway, Gord saw Amare stop in front of Jacklyn’s door and knock. Just as she was opening it, he wrenched open his own door to derail any romantic funny business. Regrettably, his “convenient” timing coincided with OBG’s convenient timing and he ended up nearly toppling over OBG and his tightie-whities in his haste to get to Amare and Jacklyn.
“Bah!” Gord shouted in surprise, directly into OBG’s face. He did not seem nearly as startled as Gord would’ve expected. It was if he’d been anticipating Gord hurling himself at him, which he very well may have been.
“Good evening,” OBG greeted him sombrely. Gord struggled to come up with the Spanish words for “get out of my fucking way, you nutcase”.
“Hola,” he said instead, rolling his eyes at himself.
“I hope I am finding you well,” OBG continued in his strange formal way of speaking. Both of his eyes were wandering in opposite directions. He probably had the most amazing peripheral vision, like a shark. Gord looked over his shoulder to check what was happening with Amare and Jacklyn. She was tossing her head about, giggling madly. It was likely meant to be alluring. It looked like she was having a fit. Amare was hitting on her, which he knew because, sadly, he knew the facial expression that Amare employed when he was picking up women. And from the looks of things, he was having success.
“Ah, scusi,” Gord said, trying to wriggle his way past OBG. It wasn’t even a word in any recognizable language. He had started making things up now. He needed to find a way to shake OBG, in that particular moment, but also in life.
“Hush, my sweet, sweet cherub,” OBG said to him softly as Gord brushed past his terrycloth bathrobe. Gord gagged. He wondered if OBG would still be saying such weird and uncomfortable things if he knew Gord actually spoke English. Probably.
“Hola!” Gord practically shouted when he reached Amare and Jacklyn. He had opened his mouth to start some banal conversation that mattered to no one, but remembered at the last second that OBG would be able to hear and that he was supposedly not able to speak English so he ended up sounding like Dora the Explorer’s overexcited, slightly unhinged older brother. Jacklyn looked at him like he had two heads and one of them was on fire. Amare grinned.
“Hola, Senor Gord,” he returned, looking very smug. “Senorita and I were just discussing our Friday night date plans.”
Jacklyn blushed immediately. Gord glared at Amare, unable to respond because he could barely string together conversational Spanish at the best of times, least of all when he wanted to tell someone to fuck themselves royally on a bed of nails. He hoped his glare was intense enough to shame Amare. Judging by the way he continued to smile brightly, Gord assumed it wasn’t.
Gord’s only remaining option became to derail the date before it could happen. He did this largely by begging Finch for help. Finch was the master of undermining people. Gord gathered it was because he was generally terrifying at most times. Amare sometimes pretended to be immune to Finch’s fear mongering, but Gord knew better. He had known Finch since they were seven years old and even then Finch had been terrifying. Finch’s plan was to attacked Amare’s vanity because, as Gord said, he was so vain, Carly Simon could write a song about him.
“Stop that,” had been Finch’s response.
Amare showed up at their apartment on the Friday of his date with Jacklyn two hours early. He had come, Gord suspected, to gloat. Unbeknownst to him, however, he was playing right into Gord and Finch’s devious hands. Finch gave him a long, appraising look from his place at the kitchen table. He and Gord were eating dinner together. Gord had made them a nourishing pot of Kraft Dinner. Gavin was working the happy hour shift at the shitty bar where he worked, most likely hating his life.
“Have you ever noticed how many pink shirts you own?” Finch asked after a long moment. Amare frowned at him.
“Uh, no?” He returned.
“Really? I have,” Gord chimed in. Amare looked down at his chest to find that he was in fact wearing a pink shirt.
“This is salmon,” he countered.
“Calling it salmon doesn’t change the fact that all of your shirts are the same colour,” Finch pointed out. Amare’s frown deepened.
“I own more than just salmon coloured shirts,” he protested.
“It’s okay, you look good in salmon,” Gord assured him.
“Well he fucking better,” Finch snorted. Amare was beginning to look suspicious, but also a little worried. Gord was inordinately pleased with himself.
“I’ll be back,” Amare told them after another moment of silent contemplation before darting out the door, presumably on his way back to his apartment to change his shirt. Gord held up his hand for a high-five.
“No,” Finch said bluntly.
Thirty-nine minutes later, which Gord counted, Amare called Finch’s cell phone. Finch put it on speakerphone.
“Fuck!” Was the first thing Amare said. “I have three salmon sweaters alone! How did this happen?!”
“I’ve literally been wondering that for months,” Finch replied. Gord wondered if that was true.
“I’m having a really hard time finding something to wear now that I know practically every shirt I own is salmon-coloured,” Amare continued his frustrated rant.
“Pink,” Finch corrected unhelpfully.
“Why? You managed to dress yourself before,” Gord said, shooting a grin at Finch across the table.
“Yeah, but that was before I knew all of my shirts were the same damn colour!”
“If anything, it should be easier now. At least everything matches,” Gord offered.
“Fuck both of you,” Amare said before hanging up vengefully. Gord laughed and tried to high-five Finch a second time.
“No,” he said again.
Amare and Jacklyn’s date was supposed to begin at seven. She showed up at the apartment at seven-forty. Amare still hadn’t returned from his apartment. Gord wouldn’t have been certain he was planning on coming back if he hadn’t sent an extremely profane and aggressive mass text to him and Finch telling them he would be there shortly.
“Hola,” Gord greeted Jacklyn smugly at the door. Jacklyn already looked angry with him.
“Where’s your friend?” She demanded. She was surprisingly aggressive for a woman who probably thought she’d been stood up. Gord gave her credit for being such a confident powerhouse.
“He’s on his way,” Gord answered. Even as he said it, he could see Amare sprinting down the hall from the elevators toward the apartment. Much to Gord’s amusement, he was wearing a blue shirt that still had the tag on it and he was holding a shopping bag in one hand.
“He’s late,” Jacklyn pointed out, still glaring at Gord like it was somehow his fault.
“Yes,” Gord nodded. “He had to buy a new shirt because he’s uncomfortable with the number of pink shirts he owns.”
“They’re not pink, they’re salmon,” Amare protested, coming to stop next to Jacklyn. He was frustratingly not out of breath even though he had been running.
“Shut up, they’re pink,” Gord returned. Finch, who had come to join them as well, laughed darkly. Amare chucked his shopping bag at them, in which was his original salmon shirt, and then flipped them off as he began to lead Jacklyn down the hall. She looked wary though, like she wasn’t so sure she wanted to be going with him after all. Gord held his hand out for a high-five from Finch for a third time. Finch sighed deeply.
“Fine,” he said. Then he hit Gord’s proffered hand so hard it ricocheted and he ended up smacking himself in the face, which Finch found very, very funny.