10: “No one is making homemade crop tops in honour of Jeremy”

With Tom the weepy folk singer’s album complete and ready to be released, Sybil and Chris began working on Five Party’s next album in earnest. They were ready to go. They’d booked studio and rehearsal time. Sybil had mentally prepared herself to be part of the creative force behind what would undoubtedly be a massive pop culture monster of a record.

And then half of Five Party failed to show up on a regular basis.

“I hate those two little jackasses,” Sybil complained bitterly to Chris on the subway as they made their way home after yet another failed attempt at meeting. Harry and Conor had shown up on time and prepared, with notebooks full of lyrics and music and guitars. Loathe as she was to admit it, Sybil found Harry and Conor charming. They were funny and precious and respectful enough not to waste other people’s time. The other two members of the misnomer band, however, could go die in a ditch for all she cared. Even their handlers, their tour manager and head of security and PR representative, seemed irritated. They called and texted and even tried to fetch the other two from their hotel, but never with any success. So Sybil and Chris spent a lot of time sitting in a rehearsal space with Harry and Conor, tentatively putting together music and editing lyrics.

“I can’t even remember their names,” Chris admitted in return. “Is one of them named Kevin?”

“Who the fuck cares?” Was Sybil’s bitter response. “Can’t we just record an album with Harry and Conor? That would be pretty sick, actually. And then you wouldn’t ever have to learn the other two’s names.”

“At this point, it seems unlikely that I ever will, if I’m being honest,” Chris returned. Sybil checked her phone and he lost her attention for a moment. He continued to talk about what he thought their names were. Sybil vaguely heard him guess Archibald as she read her newest text. It was from Wes. She’d gotten quite a few from Wes lately. This one said he’d seen a squirrel in the park trying to eat a hot dog and it had made him think of her. She was just thinking about how unflattering that was when she read a follow-up text explaining that it had only made him think of her because it was funny and something he thought she would’ve liked to have seen. She wasn’t sure that was actually much more flattering either, but ultimately true because she did find herself thinking she would’ve liked to have seen that.

“Jeremy maybe,” Chris was musing when Sybil came back to the present moment and its reality. She shot him a skeptical look.

“No one has ever swooned over a dude named Jeremy,” she said. “No one is making homemade crop tops in honour of Jeremy.”

“I think Jeremy is probably more alluring than, say, Greg,” Chris returned. “No one competent has ever been named Greg.”

“And is that what’s appealing to you? Competency?” Sybil asked, laughing. Chris shrugged.

“It isn’t not what’s appealing to me,” he said.

By the time she got back to her apartment, Wes had sent another two texts about the squirrel and how much he wished she had been there with him. He texted her again over dinner and then once more while she was watching TV with Suze, who saw Sybil’s phone screen before Sybil had a chance to hide it from her.

“Not to seem like a nosy creep, but I have noticed that Kanye Wes has messaged you quite a bit as of late,” Suze said loftily. Sybil sighed deeply. She didn’t want to have this conversation. It was true, Wes had been texting her quite a bit. She never replied. She got the impression that he wanted them to get back together, but as he was the one who dumped her and for no reason, she felt he could go jump in a river.

“Yeah,” Sybil answered with a one-shouldered shrug.

“How do we feel about this?” Suze asked tentatively.

“I don’t feel anything,” Sybil replied. “I’m secretly a robot without any emotions at all.”

“Not much of a secret now,” Suze pointed out.

“Well I can tell you because you’re part of the inner circle,” Sybil explained. “Congratulations.”

“Oh thank you,” Suze said graciously, bringing a hand to her chest. “Yes, it’s quite an honour.”

“It is,” Sybil nodded.

The next day, Sybil and Chris met with Harry and Conor again. She took it as a bad sign that no one was even bothering to pretend that the other two would show up anymore. No one even made excuses for them.

“I think we should just keep whittling down Five Party until there’s only the two of you left,” Sybil said to the group.

“That’s basically what we’re already at,” Conor returned, strumming his guitar.

“Who even needs Tad and Hank?” Chris asked, waving a hand dismissively. Harry frowned at him.

“You know those aren’t their names, right?” He checked with Chris.

“Doesn’t matter,” he answered. “The point is that you two could have a real Simon and Garfunkel thing going.”

“Kriss Kross,” Sybil offered another idea.

“Sonny and Cher. Oh no, that’s not great,” Chris continued. “Ike and Tina. You know, also not great.”

“Tony Bennet and Lady Gaga,” Sybil added. “Harry as Gaga obviously.”

“Obviously,” Harry agreed, nodding solemnly. Sybil’s phone chimed in her bag. It was the fifth time it had done that since they’d arrived at the studio. She pulled it out to silence it, briefly glancing at the screen to see that it was Wes sending her yet another text message, possibly about squirrels.

“Popular lady,” Conor observed.

“Yeah, sorry, it’s just my ex-boyfriend,” Sybil answered without really thinking, quickly dropping her phone back in her bag.

“The really bald one?” Harry asked, referring to Tobias, who was in fact Sybil’s very bald ex-boyfriend.

“Oh. Uh, no,” she answered. 

“Kanye Wes?” Chris asked. Sybil looked to him in surprise. It was odd for him to take an interest in something that wasn’t sudoku or a taco.

“Yeah,” she nodded.

“I can’t believe I never heard you were dating Kanye West,” Harry told her. She couldn’t tell if he was joking or not. It seemed too outrageous for him not be joking, but at the same time, he was so sincere. Conor interrupted before she could get a chance to ask, though. He began strumming his guitar in earnest.

“This is a little tune I’ve been working on,” he explained to the group, who all nodded encouragingly, even Chris. “Waffle cone, oh waffle cone! Why are you so much better than a regular cone? I’m just one man, standing in an ice cream parlour, wondering why anyone would buy ice cream in a cup. Waffle cones were invented specifically to hold ice cream. What else would you put in a waffle cone? Maybe some chocolate pudding!”

He stopped singing, putting a hand over the front of his guitar to stop the strings from vibrating. Chris, Harry, and Sybil stared at him for a long moment.

“I like it!” Harry applauded, eventually breaking the silence.

“I guess this is why they can’t just be a duo,” Harry said to Sybil.

“Just a whole album dedicated to food items,” she replied. “Track Two will be about pineapples.”

“Yellow and fun, pineapples grow in the sun!” Harry belted out abruptly at the top of his lungs. Then he turned to Sybil and Chris with a delighted expression on his face. “It basically writes itself!”

Not for the first time, Sybil wondered at the fact that Chris and Harry were supposedly related by blood. Although, with the way things were going, it seemed entirely possible that Harry’s latest single would be about tacos and then she would be able to see the similarities.


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