Somehow, in a turn of events she couldn’t even begin to explain, Sybil had ended up agreeing to go on a double date with Chris and his girlfriend Savannah and her own boyfriend Tobias. Sybil was refusing to call it a double date. She was instead choosing to live in blissful delusion, pretending that it was just a group of people going out for dinner together, despite the fact that Tobias kept referring to it as a double date. On the one hand, Sybil would’ve given a kidney to get out of it. It seemed exactly like the kind of awkward disaster that would be waiting for her in hell when she died. On the other hand, she did really want to meet Savannah. She had kind of moved past her crush on Chris. Not totally, but mostly. She still thought his cheekbones were ridiculous, but she had Tobias and that was fine.
Priscilla was less convinced of this fact.
“Christ, what a terrible double date scenario you’ve managed to rope yourself into,” she remarked when Sybil explained her plans for the upcoming weekend. They were lounging in Priscilla’s living room, having just returned from the jazzercise class Priscilla ran in the basement of Jacklyn’s building. Suze, Jemima, and Helen were also with them. Sybil had brought Suze with her since she was still living on Sybil’s couch in search of her own apartment. And Sybil was beginning to suspect that neither Helen nor Jemima spent very much time at their respective homes.
“Well, it isn’t a double date,” Sybil protested dismissively, waving a hand. “Chris’ cousin will be there.”
“Oh my God, that’s so much worse,” Priscilla returned. Internally, Sybil agreed with her. However, that was something she would never, ever admit so long as she lived.
“I thought you had a crush on Chris,” Jemima piped up. She was lying on her back on the living room floor with her feet propped up against the couch where Sybil and Suze were sitting. Priscilla was sprawled in an armchair, intermittently drinking from her water bottle and trying to flick tiny droplets of water in Helen’s face, who was sitting in the chair next to hers.
“I did at one point,” Sybil conceded. “But now I’m dating Tobias.”
“The bald guy,” Suze added. She did that every time Sybil talked about him. In Suze’s defense, she was trying to learn everybody’s names quite quickly. When Sybil brought up Priscilla, Suze tacked on “your vaguely unsettling friend from university”. For Tallulah, she said “your vaguely unsettling friend’s even more unsettling sister”.
“He’s not that bald,” Sybil rolled her eyes.
“So he’s just partially bald?” Helen asked, raising an eyebrow skeptically. “I feel like that’s worse.”
“Um, first of all, you’re dating someone whose front teeth are fully on the left side of his mouth. And gap-toothed,” Priscilla pointed to Helen, defending Sybil. “And secondly, Tobias is the single baldest man I’ve ever seen in real life. There is not a single hair on his scalp.”
She addressed this last part to Sybil, finger pointed at her instead. Sybil wasn’t sure if Priscilla really cared whose point she was arguing; she just wanted to argue.
“Wow, he must be very aerodynamic,” Jemima chimed in from the floor. Sybil rolled her eyes at all of them indiscriminately.
On Friday, Sybil and Tobias met Chris, his girlfriend Savannah, and his random, unknown cousin for dinner at a Mexican place that Chris loved. Chris loved burritos. Chris applied more emotion to burritos than he did to literally anything else in his life. Sybil was fairly convinced that he liked burritos more than his girlfriend of two years. She, at least, had heard him talk prolifically about burritos before; Savannah was still a total mystery. As was his cousin. Sybil had offered to bring a friend for him. She figured at least one of her friends wouldn’t mind spending a dinner talking to him if things got weird. Of course, when she brought it up, every single one of her friends turned her down. She didn’t tell Chris that part. He said it was fine anyway, because his cousin had a girlfriend. Apparently he had just moved to Roehampton quite recently and Chris was trying to help him meet people. Sybil wasn’t sure how she felt about her already horrendous double date being used as a pity social gathering for Chris’ friendless cousin. At the same time, she was really hanging onto his cousin as a reason why it wasn’t a double date. It was very complicated.
When Tobias and Sybil arrived at the restaurant, Chris and his add-ons were already seated in the far back corner of the restaurant. They were directly beside the kitchen and the lightbulb hanging over the table had burnt out, casting them in dark shadows. Chris had called ahead to make a reservation. Sybil wondered what kind of restaurant gave the shittiest tables to people who made reservations. It did not so much as buoy her hopes for the upcoming meal.
“It’s a bit dark,” Tobias said as they approached. That was a gross understatement. Sybil chose not to reply however and merely accepted the seat Tobias pulled out for her. She ended up sitting beside Chris and across from Savannah with Chris’ cousin in front of Chris, Tobias sitting at the head of the table between Sybil and Savannah. It was a bit cramped and it was incredibly dim, but she could see enough to know that Savannah was very beautiful. Her smile was also very white. She introduced herself to Sybil and Tobias, who then shook hands with Chris, which was awkward because it happened directly in front of Sybil’s chest. And then Sybil turned to introduce herself to Chris’ cousin and she lost the ability to form words.
“Hi, I’m Harry,” Chris’ cousin said cheerily and entirely unnecessarily. As it turned out, Chris’ cousin Harry was Harry Everett from wildly popular British boy band Five Party. He and his four other bandmates had won numerous awards, one Grammy included, they had travelled the world on five sold out tours for five platinum records, and Harry was dating supermodel It girl Kayla Murphy.
“Sorry we’re in darkness,” Chris said. “We have to eat in shadows so that people don’t take photos of Harry with burrito sauce on his face.”
“I would be okay with that,” Harry cut immediately. “But the world would immediately assume I’m dating all of you.”
It was a fair point. Sybil had read many tabloid magazine covers that proclaimed he was dating some various supermodel or actress he was spotted in public with.
“Even me?” Tobias asked with a chuckle.
“Especially you,” Harry replied with a wink and a grin. Sybil wasn’t really sure what that meant or if Harry even knew, but everybody let it go with small, but uncertain laughter.
Throughout dinner, Sybil came to the conclusion that she hated Savannah. There was absolutely no reason for it at all. She was funny, smart, kind, beautiful, and she her laugh was a tinkle. She had the whitest teeth, Sybil was pretty sure she saw her eyes literally twinkle in the dimness, and she was beyond charming. There was absolutely nothing wrong with her. She had no idea what Savannah saw in Chris. They didn’t seem at all evenly matched. In fact, prior to actually spending time with Harry, Sybil would’ve assumed that Savannah belonged with him instead of Chris. But then she actually got to know Harry and she learned that he was bonkers.
At one point, while Tobias went to the washroom just before dessert, Chris turned to Sybil. It was a little difficult to make eye contact with him because they were sitting so closely together. She kept going cross-eyed.
“That man is so bald,” Chris commented, sounding a little awed.
“Oh,” Savannah tsked from across the table, lobbing a sugar packet at Chris’ head to get him to be nicer. Sybil thought about telling her not to waste her breath or arm strength.
“He could not be more bald,” Chris continued, unashamed and undeterred. “His scalp is casting reflections onto the walls.”
“How bald is the rest of him?” Harry asked, leaning forward in his seat, before Sybil had a chance to respond to Chris. She was going to tell him to fuck off, but seeing as she didn’t know Harry very well and he was a famous popstar, she changed tactics.
“Do you really want to know the answer to that?” She asked dubiously, one eyebrow raised.
“Honestly?” Harry returned thoughtfully. “Yes. Yes I do.”
Sybil didn’t answer. Savannah threw a sugar packet at Harry too, laughing her tinkling laugh the whole time. She tossed her head back so her hair swayed like a shampoo commercial. She looked as if she was photo-ready at all times. It was irritating.
Sybil went to visit Priscilla the following morning to talk about how her double date had been. She was fully prepared to accept it for what it was now. In the cold light of the morning, Harry had done absolutely nothing to alter that aspect. All he’d done was eat a burrito and hum Phil Collins’ songs to himself while Savannah had fed Chris part of her churro. She even did it in a way so as not to make herself look like a tool.
“The worst part is that I think I now relate to Jacklyn on a deeper level,” Sybil grumbled.
“If it makes you feel better, I don’t think there’s any way you could possibly dislike Savannah more than Jacklyn dislikes even Gord’s mustache,” Priscilla returned. It did make her feel better.