36: “Kanye Wes”

Sybil had found herself becoming a somewhat begrudging friend to Jacklyn, who, as it appeared, had quite abruptly decided to no longer dislike Sybil and in fact, as it would also seem, cherish her deeply. It was bizarre. One minute, Jacklyn was avoiding Sybil at all costs and the next she was inviting her to hang out. She asked Sybil to go shopping three times over the course of one week. The first time, Sybil had been legitimately busy. The second, she had made an excuse not to go because she didn’t want to. And the third she actually went because she couldn’t think of a viable reason not to and she hadn’t really been expecting a third invitation. She helped Jacklyn pick out work trousers in what she’d decided was the single most bizarre moment of her life, including the time Noel kissed her in a sticky bar and the very first time Tom the weepy folk singer serenaded her with a song that was almost definitely about cancer.

“She used to hate me and now she’s inviting me to board game cafes,” Sybil vented one Sunday afternoon to Chris, Suze, and her new boyfriend, Wes. “What the hell are we going to play just the two of us? Guess Who? Battleship?”

“It could be fun,” Wes shrugged, picking an apple from the fruit bowl on the kitchen table and biting into it.

“No,” Chris refuted almost immediately, rather imitating Sybil’s own thoughts. “It sounds horrible.”

He was being even grumpier than usual. Sybil was hesitant to ask, partially because she thought it might have something to do with his girlfriend, but mostly because she didn’t care to get involved in his life or emotions. He would also probably despise that. He probably despised the fact that he even had emotions. He was the most apathetic man in the world.

“We’ll all come with you,” Wes offered, gesturing to himself, Suze, and Chris.

“No,” Chris said again. “Sounds horrible.”

Wes was still gesturing to the three of them. Sybil shot Suze a very pointed look. She was wearing pyjamas and she had spilled something down the front. Her hair was in a messy bun. She looked like every cartoon slob ever drawn. She very clearly didn’t want to go out, possibly ever again if she could help it, but definitely not later that same day. She was sending out very strong hostile vibes.

“Uh…,” Sybil stalled.

“Come on, it’ll be alright,” Wes shrugged with one shoulder. “And if it blows, we can steal game pieces and bolt.”

So Sybil, Wes, and Chris met Jacklyn at a board game café close to Jacklyn’s apartment. They left Suze at the apartment because she wasn’t fit to do anything but wallow in her own misery on Sybil’s very comfortable sectional. Sybil hadn’t even bothered inviting her to come.

“It’s for the best,” Chris said as they entered the café. “She’s beginning to smell.”

Sybil didn’t bother responding because she had noticed the same thing. They sat down at the small, circular table Jacklyn was already occupying.

“You look nice,” Jacklyn greeted her with a smile. Sybil felt like she was being courted in early 20th century England. She half-expected Jacklyn to have made her a needlepoint of her face.

“Oh thanks, you do too,” Sybil stiltedly returned. Chris shot her a wry look and Sybil kicked him under the table, which was hard to do because it was a small space.

The four of them played Balderdash and then a very lively game of Scrabble. Sybil could see Jacklyn getting worked up, but amazingly managed to restrain herself from lashing out as she so clearly wanted to. In Jacklyn’s defense, both Chris and Wes were being ridiculous.

“Fring is not a word,” she told Chris flatly after he’d laid down his tiles.

“It’s both a fry and an onion ring,” he replied. “It’s a deep-fried onion shaped like a fry. And if fring isn’t a word, neither is radworthy.”

He pointed to the word Wes had played a couple rounds earlier that had sparked controversy. Incidentally, it was also the reason Jacklyn’s forehead vein was visibly throbbing.

“Oh Jesus, don’t bring that up again,” Sybil groaned, letting her head roll back.

“Radworthy,” Wes said overtop of her. “Something that is worthy of being radical.”

“If I can’t have fring, a five-letter word, then you can’t have radworthy and flibberty,” Chris countered. “Neither of those things are real words, no matter how long your mother has been telling you not to be a ‘flibberty-jibbet’. Jibbet, by the way, also not a word. I can sense that’ll be coming later.”

“It’s not my fault the dictionary hasn’t caught up to my brilliance yet,” Wes returned coolly. By this point, it looked as if Jacklyn’s entire head might explode soon.

“Jesus, who are you, Kanye West?” Chris snorted derisively.

“Kanye Wes,” Wes returned smoothly. Sybil laughed, Jacklyn flinched, and Chris glared at him.

“Give me fring or give me death,” he said, gripping the edge of the table with both hands.

“I’m sorry I brought them,” Sybil said to Jacklyn, rolling her eyes. “Idiots, the pair of them.”

That seemed to soothe the vein. Jacklyn smiled at her and they finished the game with relative ease, despite Wes trying to persuade the table that dopable was a word. In the next round, Chris played the word asswipe and stared at Wes quite pointedly as he laid the tiles on the board. Both Sybil and Jacklyn found that deeply amusing.

The following weekend, Sybil and Suze moved into their new home. Sybil had recruited all kinds of help for them. Priscilla had told her to embrace gender stereotypes and only ask her male friends, which was undoubtedly because Priscilla didn’t want to move any of her shit. In the end, it didn’t really matter because Sybil still asked Priscilla to help her move. To appease her, however, she also asked more of her guy friends and told them in no uncertain terms that they would have to do all of the heavy lifting. Priscilla willingly volunteered to move the throw pillows. In her defense, a lot of it had to be moved on the subway because they were only able to rent a small truck and for a very short window of time. They had two cars available, Gord’s and Robin’s, but even that wasn’t very much. Fortunately, Suze had barely unpacked since coming back from Vancouver.

“How many fucking books do you own?” Gord demanded, breathing heavily as he entered Sybil and Suze’s new apartment, carrying his fourth box of books. “Jesus Christ, what is this, Beauty and the Beast?”

“What an unexpectedly specific reference,” Priscilla commented. She was eating a granola bar in the middle of Sybil’s partially unpacked kitchen, not at all bothering to hide the fact that she was no longer helping.

“Those are my reference texts,” Sybil said, pointing to the label on the side of the box, scrawled in Suze’s messy handwriting.

“Reference texts?!” Gord repeated, outraged. “You’re not a doctor! Use the internet!”

Sybil and Suze paid their helpers in pizza, which was actually kind of expensive, especially considering how much pizza Chris was capable of consuming in one sitting.

“He’s so thin,” Suze whispered to Sybil in shock, watching Chris grab his fifth slice. “Where does he put it? If I ate that much pizza, you’d have to roll me through doorways.”

Suze was quite a petite woman. Sybil shot her a shrewd look.

“Isn’t this pizza radworthy?” Wes asked Chris with a mischievous grin.

“Fuck off, Kanye Wes,” Chris returned immediately. Everybody called Wes Kanye Wes for the rest of the evening. Sybil strongly suspected it was a nickname that would stand the test of time, especially with Priscilla involved.

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