Chris and Sybil had been working unsuccessfully on Five Party’s upcoming album for a couple months. Consistently, Harry and Conor were the only two of the four band members that showed up to any of their work sessions. It was very frustrating. On the plus side, Chris was essentially being paid to make fun of his young cousin’s hairstyle choices. It was quite boring, though. Chris was lazy, but there was a fine line between choosing to do almost nothing and being forced to do nothing for an eternity.
“Yeah, it hasn’t been an eternity,” Sybil said when he complained to her on the way home from work one afternoon. “It’s been, like, two months.”
“Two months still isn’t great, though,” Chris pointed out, swaying with the rocking of the subway car. “Do you know what I could’ve accomplished in two months? I bet I could’ve mastered ice sculpting.”
“Based on that truly terrible drawing of a sheep you attempted yesterday, I’m almost positive that you could not have done that,” Sybil told him bluntly. He scoffed, affronted.
“That sheep was a masterpiece,” Chris said indignantly.
“It had five legs,” Sybil retorted flatly.
“That doesn’t mean it was drawn poorly,” Chris countered. “That just means it had five legs.”
“Oh, sorry,” she nodded. “What I meant to say was that it was drawn poorly and also it had five legs.”
“That’s better,” Chris replied with a curt nod and she rolled her eyes.
Two days later, Chris and Sybil arrived at work for a studio session with Five Party to find the studio empty save for their boss Angry Ron, who was stewing angrily by the doorway. He beckoned them over to him and Chris led the way.
“Five Party pulled out of their remaining recording sessions,” Angry Ron informed them, frowning. “Apparently the band is going on hiatus, which I think we all know is boy band speak for ‘breaking up until they’re all fat and poor enough for a reunion tour in twenty years’.”
Chris wasn’t surprised. He hadn’t been getting especially positive vibes from Harry about the future of his band. And the facts that one member had already bailed in favour of a solo career and two others hadn’t showed up to any of the recording sessions for months also weren’t great.
“So I’m assigning you two to another project,” Angry Ron continued. Visions of Tom the weepy folk singer and the jazz harpist flash through Chris’ mind. They were a small recording company. The only reason they had almost gotten Five Party was down to Chris’ blood relation to one of the band members. He feared they were going to end up with some other incredibly niche artist who would ultimately create an album that only their closest friends and family members would purchase or listen to, mostly due to obligation.
He wasn’t wrong.
The artist they ended up with was a sixty year old man named Gill Chapel and he was working on a record of meditation music. Gill had really gotten into yoga and deep-tissue massage about five years ago just following his divorce. His wife had left him for her chiropractor, a man who Gill claimed had the karmic energy of a slug. Gill had collected a series of recordings he’d taken from nature. He’d travelled remarkably far to get some of them. Chris would argue too far, considering most of them sounded like the same birds in the same forest next to the same babbling brook. Now Gill was aiming to record some gentle guitar, sitar, and didgeridoo music to accompany the nature sounds. And then Gill would’ve created the world’s greatest spa album, available on vinyl.
“It’s like Enya, but for the pretentious,” Sybil explained to Suze and Ye later that night while they were all back at the apartment. At this point, Chris hadn’t actually been back to his own apartment in four days. When he’d left, all he’d had in his fridge was half a tub of sour cream and some expired eggs. He’d since bought groceries, but they were sitting in Sybil and Suze’s very packed fridge, shoved onto the shelf with all the fancy Greek yogurts. Chris would never understand why one household could possibly need four different kinds of Greek yogurt, but that apparently was the case.
“I almost fell asleep while he was recording his music today,” Chris added. “It took him so long to find his ‘sound’, but as far as I can tell, it was all the same unlistenable garbage. I don’t even know where he managed to find a didgeridoo.”
“The internet,” Suze cut in urgently, like she was answering a question no one asked on a game show that didn’t exist. “You can get anything on the internet.”
“That’s true,” Ye nodded, as if the claim needed to be backed up. “My weird roommate Jenna once bought plastic sashimi tuna on the internet.”
“But why?” Sybil asked.
“Because she’s hella weird,” Ye answered, as though that should’ve been obvious. Chris supposed it should’ve been. It was part of her moniker after all.
“In any case, this might actually be worse than working with Tom the weepy folk singer,” Chris said, turning to Sybil for confirmation. “At least he played actual songs. Plus, his poetry was very amusing.”
“Yeah, for you,” Sybil rebutted instantly. “That was terrible for me. I never want another person to write me a poem again.”
“There once was a woman named Sybil,” Suze began. Sybil chucked a throw pillow at her face, but Suze only laughed.
The following day, Chris legitimately fell asleep in the middle of Gill’s recording session. In Chris’ defence, Gill had been playing the same two extremely long notes on the sitar for half an hour. He wanted it to accompany some bird sounds that he found particularly interesting. Gill had enthusiastically explained that it was the mating call of a condor that they were listening to, but all Chris heard was the irritating sound of birds.
“You need to drink more coffee or something,” Sybil told him after shaking him awake in the recording studio. Gill had requested a quick break so that he could meditate. He wanted to reflect on how much progress they’d made so far. Chris didn’t think that was necessary; they hadn’t made any progress.
“I’ve already had two cups,” Chris protested. “There’s only so much coffee I can consume before I either lose the ability to sleep at all or shit myself.”
“Far too much information,” Sybil said, wrinkling her nose in disgust, holding her hands up in surrender.
“You brought it up,” Chris pointed out.
“I did not bring that up,” Sybil protested.
That night, Chris watched Degrassi with Sybil, Suze, and Ye. Sybil was incredibly displeased about this development, but she didn’t try to stop it. Chris was squished onto the couch between Suze and Sybil, Ye on the other side of Suze. The four of them were all eating Greek yogurt as a bedtime snack. Each of them had a different kind, even Chris who was sampling some of Suze’s honey-vanilla Greek yogurt. It was actually quite good.
“So, do you, like, live here now?” Ye asked him during a commercial, leaning over Suze to do so.
“I mean, I was here first,” Chris shrugged with some difficulty, his right shoulder trapped behind Sybil’s.
“Fair,” Ye replied, leaning back in her seat.