Gord had only been at Joey’s birthday party for roughly forty-five minutes and already he’d found his soulmate. He’d actually met her before; at the record store where Finch worked, at jazzercise, at Halloween. But he’d never realized before how much he liked her. She was literally the perfect woman for him. He said as much to Finch.
“Tallulah is my soulmate,” he informed him matter-of-factly.
“Oh Christ,” was Finch’s lacklustre response.
Gord had always been attracted to her. He was also, at times, slightly afraid of her. At the same time, however, she had never once cried in front of him and that had begun to become increasingly appealing as time passed and he struggled to handle Janine’s constantly precarious emotional state. He felt like people shouldn’t have the capacity to cry all the time. If he cried that much, he’d be legitimately dehydrated. He wondered if Janine was just always chugging Gateroade and other electrolyte-packed beverages when he wasn’t looking. If that was the case, the amount of money she was spending on sports drinks must’ve been exorbitant.
“She’d date me, right?” Gord checked with Finch.
“Probably not,” Finch shrugged. It was not the helpful, uplifting show of friendly support and encouragement he had been looking for. It was in fact very much the opposite.
“What?” Gord asked, startled.
“Barely anybody dates you,” Finch clarified, continuing to be a dick. “Except for Myrtle and Janine. Myrtle’s alight I guess. Janine has tear ducts like Sailor Moon.”
“Hey, remember when you dated that motivational speaker?” Gord asked to get his own back. “And he used to say that you had a little ray of sunshine tucked away in your chest for only the most special people?”
Finch immediately soured.
“He was wrong. Also, don’t cross me,” Gord warned him, narrowing his eyes and jabbing Finch in the chest with his index finger. “I have the patience and understanding of a public transit official during music festival season.”
Gord spent a lot of the evening brainstorming ways to break up with Janine. Any way he swung it, she ended up in tears, though that had a lot to do with the fact that she usually ended up in tears. She had once asked him how she looked in her new dress and he had said she looked nice, which had triggered uncontrollable sobbing. Apparently nice was not the answer she’d been hoping for. Nice was, according to Janine, what people said to their mothers. She was hoping he’d say she looked hot, beautiful, sexy beyond all reasons.
“It just seems like a lot to ask for me to know to say all of that,” Gord had said to Gavin.
“Tell me about it,” Gavin agreed. “This is the exact reason Carly dumped me.”
It was not in fact the exact reason Carly had dumped Gavin and Gord knew that. Gavin’s ex-girlfriend Carly had dumped him so that she could date her third cousin. His name was Brock and he was in the navy. He had forearms like Popeye and he was technically a blood relative of hers. Naturally, Gavin didn’t like to tell people the real story because he didn’t come off particularly well in it. Gord loved the story, though. He may have had a lot of questionable personality traits and he was forced to sing Taylor Swift songs at children’s birthday parties on the regular, not to mention that he was being casually stalked by a man with a lazy eye and a perpetually open bathrobe, but he had never once been dumped by someone so that they could date one of their relatives.
“It sets the bar real low, but it’s nice to have standards,” Finch told Gord the first time he’d admitted this.
Gord ran into Jacklyn outside the bathrooms partway into the evening. They literally collided. Jacklyn actually nearly knocked him over, which he would not be admitting to anyone ever so long as he lived. She looked up at him like she was startled to find him there. He supposed she must’ve been or else she wouldn’t have tried to walk through him.
“You look nice,” he told her, just to see how she would react. She blinked up at him, possibly even more startled than she had been just moments before.
“Uh, thanks,” she returned eventually. Internally, Gord triumphed. He was pleased to find a normal response to telling a woman she looked nice was a thank you and not hours of hysterics.
“So you’re dating Joey now then,” he said. It was a statement and not a question. They’d heard about it from Robin. Gord was delighted. After coming home from her friend’s wedding, Amare had been pretty amped up about the future of their relationship, not that it would’ve been long. Amare would be done with her in another month of so. But then she’d stopped speaking to him or messaging him or dropping by Gord’s apartment to “catch up”. It became increasingly obvious that she was ghosting him and that Amare was perhaps not as irresistible as they’d all imagined.
“Maybe it’s the pink shirts,” Finch had offered unhelpfully. The look Amare had given him could’ve made lesser men wet themselves. Fortunately, Finch was frightened of nothing and, as such, remained unbothered.
“Oh,” Jacklyn said, looking a little sheepish. “Yeah.”
“How’s that going?” Gord asked. He hoped it was going well if only so he could rub it in Amare’s face. He wasn’t usually a very petty man, but he had explicitly told Amare not to date her and he’d done it anyway. He’d gone out of his way to do it, in fact, simply to bother Gord. Plus, it didn’t hurt that Gord had spent the better part of two decades playing a much littler second fiddle to Amare where most romantic endeavours were concerned. It was a plight shared by Gavin as well. The only one of them able to match Amare in garnering female interest was Finch and it was entirely useless to him.
“Good,” Jacklyn answered, though she didn’t seem certain. She looked at Gord like she wanted to say something else, opening and closing her mouth a few times. She seemed to have decided not to say anything at all when Joey raced past. He winked at Jacklyn before launching himself unceremoniously on top of Finch, whose knees buckled slightly under the sudden weight, but otherwise managed to hold himself. Gord was impressed. He would’ve hit the floor instantly.
“Do you think Joey likes Finch?” Jacklyn asked, chewing on her bottom lip. Gord shot a look at Joey’s tangled limbs wrapped around Finch pointedly.
“Perhaps a little,” he answered. Jacklyn nodded and continued to chew on her lip. Gord left her like that, continuing on his way to the bathroom to come up with more ways to break up with Janine.
“Maybe I could tell her I’m moving to Tanzania or something,” Gord said to Gavin when he’d returned from the washroom.
“She would follow you,” Gavin returned. “She loves you too much. I’m pretty sure she would crawl over my dead body to get to you.”
“But why does she love me so much?” Gord demanded. “I’m not that great.”
“No, you’re not,” Gavin agreed, which wasn’t quite the helpful response Gord had been looking for.