49: “Nothing but Shaggy and Springsteen”

Suze had changed her relationship status on Facebook and she felt it had really begun to negatively impact her life. Not only did that result in her getting several distraught messages from her Aunts Carol and Lorraine about her rapidly approaching spinsterhood, but she had begun getting weirdly specific ads popping up on her Facebook sidebar. It used to be that she got bridal store suggestions. Now she was getting a very different kind of advertisement.

“I don’t like the person Facebook has me pegged as,” she complained to Sybil and Chris one evening, scrolling through the increasingly distressed messages from her aunts. “All of these ads are for single, fat people. I am not so lonely that I am willing to stoop to dating sites designed specifically for men with fat fetishes. Also, and I cannot stress this enough, I am not fat.”

“That’s got to feel nice,” Chris remarked, not looking up from the novel he was reading. Gladys had managed to master “Champagne Supernova” and now Chris was being subjected to rounds and rounds of “Sweet Caroline”. He had developed a compulsion to sing along whenever her heard the song, which had become a very fun game for Sybil and herself. Sybil had gone so far as to set it as her ringtone, which was especially cruel considering how much time they spent together on a daily basis.

“I don’t know, maybe I should try dating,” Suze said, reading a particularly hopeless message from her Aunt Carol about needing to have her eggs cryogenically frozen in order to bare children when she finally managed to land a husband decades down the road. It was a cautionary tale that read like the kind of bleak narrative Dickens would try to write if he was alive in the twenty-first century.

“If you think you’re ready,” Sybil replied, sounding very much like she thought Suze was not in fact ready. Suze considered that and then considered it alongside her Aunt Carol’s message and decided that she would need to be ready even if she wasn’t actually ready.

She and Frank had started something new at work for Fridays. It pissed Piper off to no end so Suze was obviously very fond. Piper liked it because it featured Frank heavily, so she was pleased that he was getting some time in the spotlight, but she hated it because Suze clearly loved it. Piper hated everything Suze liked solely out of spite. Suze rather thought that would quickly become something of a problem for Piper because Suze was growing fonder of Frank with each passing day. The closer Suze and Frank grew, the angrier Piper became. Suze wasn’t befriending him to be spiteful, as she genuinely enjoyed his company, but she almost wished that she was.

Suze’s former producer, Tim, had not returned from his stress leave. In fact, he was not going to be returning from his stress leave. According to Suze’s boss Angela, Tim couldn’t handle the pressure and was resigning so that he could farm alpacas just outside of the city.

“Is there a large market for alpacas here?” Suze asked Frank after Angela had left them to begin their show, one eyebrow raised.

“I don’t fucking care,” was Frank’s very candid response. “I’m just glad I don’t have to be nocturnal anymore.”

It was fair. Naturally, Frank had taken over Tim’s job. It just made sense. He and Suze had built a really good dynamic and he was excellent at his job. Again, Piper was pleased because he hadn’t gotten a significant promotion, but she was pissed because it meant that he would be continuing to work with Suze. Suze was sure Piper laid awake at night, festering in bitter anger as she thought about all the joint shows she and Frank could’ve been running if she had gotten the job instead of Suze as she’d so wanted. Suze found that particularly amusing.

“Today is Frank Friday!” Suze exclaimed into the mic at the beginning of their show. “The day of the week when Frank gets absolute control over the music selection and I force him to publicly defend his choices. It’s fun for everyone! What’s on for today, Frank?”

“Nothing but Shaggy and Springsteen,” Frank answered proudly.

“Damn, are you kidding?” Suze returned.

“I am not.”

“This is going to be a long morning,” Suze decided.

Suze met someone at the grocery store. His name was Adam and he was very handsome. They’d reached for the same package of frozen chicken cutlets at the same time.

“Lord, what a meet-cute,” Sybil said when Suze told her.

Adam was very smart. He was getting his Phd in theoretical math.

“What the hell does that mean?” Sybil asked when Suze had told her that.

“I have no idea,” Suze shrugged. She and Adam had abandoned the frozen chicken cutlets and gone for coffee instead. He had told her all about his program, but she’d retained very little. She’d stopped taking math in grade eleven after she’d learned that she wouldn’t need it to get into the university program that she was hoping to be accepted to.

She learned a lot of other very interesting things about Adam that afternoon. He liked comic books and green tea. He lived with three other people, all of them his closest friends from his program. Apparently they had very long debates about fractions on the regular, which sounded like a special kind of hell to Suze, but she refrained from mentioning that. She also learned that he had a pet fish, that he thought snakes were cool, and that he had once vacationed in China for three weeks. She told all of this to Frank the following Monday before they were set to go to air.

“He also wears sunglasses all the time, even indoors,” Suze added. Frank frowned at her for a long moment.

“Because he’s blind?” He asked after a while.

“I’m not actually sure…,” Suze answered thoughtfully, thinking back to whether or not there were any other signs.

“That feels like something you should be able to tell,” Frank pointed out shrewdly, but Suze waved it away dismissively.

“If he is blind, then I’ll never have to do my hair again,” she said, thinking of the positives.

“And if he isn’t, he’s just a tool who wears sunglasses indoors,” Frank added.

“You’re just jealous,” Suze said because she couldn’t think of anything else to say and that’s what she always said when she was mock-arguing with Sybil. It was never true and she never really meant it. It was, however, the first time she’d ever said it to Frank, who looked very puzzled indeed.

“Of what?” He asked in return. Suze didn’t answer because she didn’t actually have an answer.

Suze went out with Adam again on Thursday night. He didn’t appear to be blind, even though he wore sunglasses to dinner, because he complimented her hair. On the other hand, Suze’s hair didn’t look particularly nice. She hadn’t bothered to do anything with it on the off chance that Adam was in fact blind.

“He told me my hair looked nice, which was patently untrue because I haven’t washed it in four days and it looks like I put my head in a vacuum filled with olive oil,” Suze told Frank on Friday morning.

“Maybe he is blind after all,” Frank replied thoughtfully, giving Suze’s head a once-over.

They started the show a few minutes later, Suze introducing them both and getting right to the point.

“It’s Frank Friday yet again,” she said. “Because that’s how linear time works. What’re we listing to today, Frank?”

“Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons,” Frank answered succinctly.

“Because you hate me?” Suze checked.

“You don’t like Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons?” Frank returned, genuinely shocked and outraged.

“Well, no, because I’m not fifty-five years old,” Suze pointed out.

“You’re a little bit dead to me,” Frank told her.

“How can I be a little bit dead to you?”

“You’re dead, but I can still see your ghost and sometimes we chat,” Frank explained, as though it should’ve been obvious.

“Hey, I wonder if Tim has room for you on that alpaca farm of his,” Suze said. Frank flipped her off. Suze only laughed at him, but he got his own back when he put on “Sherry” and then fourteen other Frankie Valli songs after that. Suze made a mental note never to tell him how greatly she disliked Neil Diamond.

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