5: “There’s an uncomfortable amount of snot”

Gord had begun seeing this woman named Janine. He had met her at a children’s birthday party.

“You can’t continue to explain it that way,” Gavin told him after overhearing Gord tell Robin about his new love interest. “You’ll get arrested.”

“Well, she’s an adult,” Gord rolled his eyes in response.

“That’s key,” Robin replied.

Janine was a lot of things, but primarily cuckoo-bananas, as Gord quickly learned. She cried a lot and very powerfully.

“She cries powerfully?” Gavin had returned skeptically when Gord told him.

“Yes, it’s actually amazing,” Gord returned. “Yesterday, the force of her crying startled her pet dog.”

Janine’s dog was a pug named Ralph. He was skittish, but clumsy and his incredibly laboured breathing could be heard from literally anywhere inside her apartment. He was even more wall-eyed than most other pugs Gord had encountered in his life, to the point that he had witnessed Ralph walking into walls on numerous occasions. One particular time, he had hit a wall with such force that he had ricocheted off only to land ass-down in his water dish.

Janine cried for many varied and faintly alarming reasons. One time she had cried because her soup was too hot. One time she had cried because she had missed Gord so much, despite the fact that she had seen him earlier that same day. One time she had cried because he had forgotten to text her goodnight.

“Of all the women you have given up on for no good reason, how is this the woman you’ve chosen to continue dating?” Amare asked one evening after Gord told him about the soup incident. Gord was sitting in the living room of his apartment with Amare, Finch, and Robin. Gavin was at work at the bar, most likely hating every second or, just as likely, unhooking drunk people by their facial piercings.

“To be perfectly honest, at this point I’m just afraid of what will happen if I do break up with her,” Gord admitted.

“Well, she’ll definitely cry,” Robin replied. “I think we can be absolutely certain of that. You can take comfort in her overwhelming predictability.”

“Great,” Gord returned resignedly.

Janine grew clingier as their relationship progressed, which Gord hadn’t thought possible previously, but was incredibly alarmed by. And he wasn’t the only one. Janine spent an inordinate amount of time at his apartment, even while he wasn’t there. It wasn’t as if he had given her a key; he wasn’t insane. In the beginning, she took to hanging out in the hallway outside the apartment until someone let her in. But then Finch and Gavin, and even Amare, who was over always, grew wise to her game. They began checking the peephole before answering the door every time someone knocked. It was something Gord had adopted in an effort to avoid OBG, but neither Gavin nor Finch had bothered doing the same because they thought OBG and his many, many visits were funny. Specifically, they thought Gord struggling his way through broken Spanish in an effort to get rid of OBG was hilarious. It seemed, however, that they didn’t find Janine nearly as amusing.

For the most part, they were successful in ignoring Janine. When she knocked, someone would creep to the front door, check the peephole as silently as possible, and then creep back to their room and pretend they weren’t home. Gord even did this on several occasions. He found Janine’s mere presence exhausting. Watching her cry had become an accidental hobby of his and he hated every moment.

But then, alarmingly, Janine began letting her into their apartment unannounced.

“You gave this crazy woman a key to our home?” Gavin hissed at Gord in the kitchen the first time Janine let herself in. She had just waltzed into the living room like she was meant to be there, whistling herself a gentle tune before launching into a story about how hectic her day had been while Gord sat in stunned silence on his couch with his two roommates. He and Gavin had gone to the kitchen under the pretense of gathering snacks, thereby abandoning Janine to Finch. Gord assumed it would end terribly, likely with Janine in tears. On the other hand, he was kind of hoping that would happen and that Finch would be successful in driving her away for good.

“Of course I didn’t!” Gord hissed back. “I have no idea where she got that. She must’ve copied it without me knowing.”

“Oh Jesus, that’s not terrifying in the slightest,” Gavin breathed sarcastically. Gord didn’t bother responding because he couldn’t find it in himself to disagree. It was the single most alarming thing that had ever happened to him.

When they returned to the living room, Janine was in tears as predicted. When Gord asked Finch about it, he shrugged.

“I don’t know, I wasn’t paying attention,” was his helpful response.

Gord asked Janine instead.

“He didn’t even listen to me talk about my day,” she sniffed. Janine didn’t think Finch was a very nice man. Gord didn’t bother telling her what Finch thought of her.

Janine showed up one Friday evening during guys’ night. Gord had told her the night before that he was spending time with his guy friends and that he wouldn’t be able to see her until Saturday afternoon. She had wept openly. He had begun to fear that she was constantly dehydrated. The only reason he had warned her about guys’ night was because of her penchant for turning up unexpected and unwanted at mostly inconvenient times. It was the first time, since the skunk incident, that Gord, Gavin, and Finch were hanging out with Robin’s friends. He didn’t want any of them to judge him based solely on Janine. He could only imagine how off-putting her tears would be to Ramsay, who was the human equivalent of tree bark.

She let herself into the apartment two hours into guys’ night. They were listening to records and playing board games while drinking copiously. Joey was there, so the drinking was obvious. They were playing Guess Who? in teams, which was proving somewhat difficult, and not only because Robin always wanted to start each game by eliminating people based on the size of their chin dimple.

“If you suggest that one more time, I’ll stuff one of the Life cars up your fucking nose,” Finch told Robin as Janine walked into the living room.

“You two are so cute,” Bear remarked mildly. Frighteningly, it seemed to Gord like he was being serious.

“You’re the second cutest couple here,” Janine cooed, fluttering her eyelashes at Gord, who tried not to grimace. Everybody looked over at Janine, most startled to find her there all of a sudden, clearly not having noticed when she’d walked in. Gavin, meanwhile, looked very displeased to find her there, as did Finch, but as his facial expression was always one of faint disdain and aggression, it was hard to tell if it was Janine-specific.

“Who’s the first?” Joey asked, looking around the room. It looked a little bit like he was searching for someone he had accidentally been roped into a relationship with, as if the minute he made eye contact with Oscar, he’d realize they were soulmates.

“Gord and I!” Janine crowed, like Joey was being silly. “I’m his girlfriend Janine. I’m sure he talks about me all the time.”

Gord hadn’t said a single word about her to almost anyone. The only reason Gavin, Finch, and Amare knew anything about her was because he had wanted their advice on how to dump her without causing her extreme emotional anguish. He had begun to suspect that wouldn’t be possible. In fact, he was pretty sure the only way out now was for one of them to die. It would have to be her. He could only imagine how poorly she’d take his death. She’d probably hurl herself into the depths of a canal from a moor or something equally as dramatic. The only reason Robin knew was because he was basically an extension of Finch, like a spare limb.

“Oh,” Oscar said with little enthusiasm mustered, which was not at all convincing.

Janine burst into tears.

“Oh,” Oscar said for an entirely different reason.

Janine stayed for the reminder of guys’ night. Gord couldn’t very well send her home after she had been sobbing inconsolably for almost no reason at all. She kept accusing him of not loving her. While technically true, it didn’t seem like the kind of split hairs that would make the situation any better. In fact, it seemed like the quickest way to make sure Janine never stopped crying again.

“She is a very forceful crier,” Gavin conceded to him in a whisper an hour after Janine had arrived. They were getting more beer from the kitchen while Janine lounged on the couch and complained about Robin’s Sorry! strategy. So far, it seemed his strategy mostly consisted of him trying to send her back to start as many times as humanly possible. Finch thought it was hilarious.

“That’s what I said,” Gord grumbled, though secretly very pleased someone had vindicated him.

“There’s an uncomfortable amount of snot,” Gavin continued. Gord was less pleased with that.

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