Jemima met a guy. His name was Trent and she met him in line to get a burrito. He was very sweet. He told her he liked her boots and then spent the rest of the wait in the line chatting to her until he finally asked her for her number. Jemima normally didn’t give her number out to people she met like that, but she was making a decided and conscious effort to continue moving on from Noel. She’d wavered slightly after their misadventures at the Santa Claus Parade, but she had come to the firm decision to move on for good. It was her New Year’s resolution. Well, it was one of her New Year’s resolutions. She had also resolved to work out more and to floss and to eat healthier, but she made those resolutions every single year and they never stuck so she wasn’t sure how much they counted at this point.
Trent was very interested in Jemima. It was nice. She had never been with someone who was as into her as Trent was. Part of her assumed that was actually kind of a sad thing. Unfortunately, it was true. She hadn’t had many boyfriends; most of her romantic history was made up of dating Steve on and off for a regrettably long period of time. Her high school boyfriend had been this dopy guy named Todd from her grade eleven music class. He’d been alright. He certainly wasn’t the love of her life as she had professed several times in her high school diary. They’d broken up two months after graduation. Jemima could recall thinking he was being noble at the time, setting her free before they both went off to university, but now she realized that it was only just so that he could sleep with other people guilt-free. She didn’t mind as much now though because she was well aware that she would never have ended up married to Todd.
Trent was some kind of investment banker. Sometimes she didn’t pay attention when he talked about his job because it sounded incredibly dull, but she always remembered to smile and nod when he talked about his workdays. In return, Trent was very supportive of Jemima. He was constantly praising her and giving her nice complements that made her feel great about herself. Having spent a lot of time romantically attached to a man who had chosen to cheat on her with a glitter-covered teenager, it was a very nice change of pace. Jemima felt as though she was maturing. She had learned to make better choices. She was no longer chasing after mean men or men who clearly weren’t interested in her. It gave her hope that she might be able to follow through with the rest of her New Year’s resolutions. Maybe she could join a gym. She would wait until February though, so that she wasn’t like the thousands of other people who misguidedly joined a gym in January based on promises they’d made to themselves that they ultimately wouldn’t keep.
She made plans to introduce Trent to her friends a couple weeks into their relationship. She invited him over for casual drinks so that they could all, as she put it, meet organically.
“It’s not organic at all though, yeah?” Tallulah pointed out. “Because you literally organized it. You made it happen. That’s not, like, how frogs are made in the rainforest. Nobody sits them down and tells them to make tiny frog babies.”
“I mean, that is what happens with pandas,” Iggy pointed out, mouth full of the cheese pastry appetizers Jemima had spent several hours slaving away on. It was possible it had taken her longer to roll bits of cheese in puff pastry than she was willing to admit to. Cooking hadn’t been one of her New Year’s resolutions, but maybe it should’ve been.
“Just because pandas occur in nature, it doesn’t make everything about them organic,” Tallulah argued. “Barn cats also occur in nature, but you can still train them to piss in toilets.”
Iggy blinked at her a few times, chewing slowly.
“I’ve now completely lost sight of what we’re arguing about,” she admitted.
“You know, me too,” Tallulah said. Then the two of them continued to eat cheese pastries and Jemima waited anxiously for Trent to arrive.
She felt they had a lovely evening with her friends when he did turn up. He was particularly interested in Bernie and Lawrence’s recent engagement. He asked a lot of questions about their wedding plans and whether or not they would stay in the city to raise their family. Bernie looked slightly panicked at that, but she tended to panic when people asked her grand future life plans. Bernie needed to focus on small daily details that would inevitably lead to something larger or she became very anxious. But other than that one slightly uncomfortable conversation, Jemima felt the evening went quite well. Until, that is, the following morning when she went for breakfast with Priscilla, Sybil, and Bernie.
“So,” she said, smiling at the three of them. “What did you think of Trent?”
She was met with a very unpromising silence.
“He’s very nice,” Priscilla offered after a moment.
“He was very interested in the wedding,” Bernie added. Jemima wasn’t quite sure if she meant it as a positive.
“He’s keen,” Sybil said. Jemima wasn’t sure that was a positive either. Sybil would likely hate someone keen, given how opposed to attention she was, but Jemima was finding it quite nice. It was rather soothing to know exactly where she stood with Trent. She didn’t have to worry whether or not he was interested in her because he made it plain. She didn’t have to ask herself if he was actually cheating on her with a small glittery person. He would probably just tell her.
“He said I was his favourite part of himself,” she said, looking down at her plate of scrambled eggs and hash browns to hide her blush. Sybil snorted.
“Well that can’t be true,” she refuted immediately. Jemima looked up at her in surprise.
“Why not?” She demanded.
“He must have terrible self-esteem,” Sybil pointed out. “He can’t think of a single thing he likes better than a woman he’s dated for a week and a half?”
“It’s been three weeks,” Jemima corrected.
“Three weeks and already he likes you more than his sense of humour or his own face,” Priscilla said flatly. Jemima hadn’t really thought it over before.
“It’s still a nice thing for him to say,” Bernie cut in. She said it somewhat weakly, but Jemima appreciated the effort.
“No it isn’t,” Priscilla retorted instantly, pointing her fork at Bernie. “It’s like the time that ginger dude with the knuckle tattoos told you that you’re pretty when you cry. It’s weird and it shouldn’t have been said at all.”
Jemima gave it some thought over the rest of breakfast. After they had paid their bills and were getting up to leave, she announced what conclusion she had drawn.
“I still think Trent is really nice,” she told them. “He treats me super well and I’m going to continue to see him even if his self-esteem is really low.”
“Well that’s good then,” Sybil nodded at her.
“Hey! Maybe you can give him some nice complements!” Priscilla suggested as they began to leave. “Then you can be, like, the third best thing about him, after his own face and his thorough understanding of Latin derivatives or something.”
It was actually sort of a nice thought.