I was infatuated with the idea of eight. It’d been months since we matched on Bumble. It’d been months of daily texts and not making plans. It’d been months of nothing and still, I couldn’t stop thinking about him even though I was in the middle of a frequent and intentionally undefined situationship with a man you’ll meet that I call fish. I was so infatuated with eight that I relished to bask in our infinite nothing instead of real life.
I was infatuated with the idea that eight and I were the same. We went to the same schools. We knew the same people. We’re both Virgos. We loved the same sports. I was so infatuated with eight that I ignored every incompatibility and inconsistency full-stop.
I was infatuated with the idea that I’d be good for eight. Whether it was his pessimistic outlook, inexperience with committed relationships, or inability to follow through. I was so infatuated with eight that I never considered if eight would be good for me.
But let’s get back to the story.
Ding. Hey! It’s eight. How’s your summer been?
I’d successfully zombie’d eight and I’s little nothing via a Snapchat Story. The words “gotcha bitch” absolutely escaped my lips in real life when his text came through. I found it cute that he’d included his name, perhaps assuming I had deleted his number. I hadn’t and clearly he hadn’t. I was so infatuated I thought that meant something. We talked about our summers with predictabilties such as work, sports and vacations, then I asked how the sport season had been going for his team. He felt confident about their upcoming playoff run and I threw out a quick double entendre. “I have a good feeling about your chances.” But in general eight seemed different in that he himself was more open and we seemed to finally click conversationally. He explained a few “unspoken rules” of his league relating to player behaviour, things I found genuinely interesting and wished he would keep talking about, and then …
Ding. I’ve been meaning to ask you what your situation is? Are you divorced, separated, still living with your baby daddy?
Whoa destiny lacks tact and the ability to segue-way but ok. I answer eight’s questions as plainly as he asks them. I was engaged, timelines for the split, where I was living, and the like. The only thing he really said about it was that my situation was “still sort of fresh”. I agreed the formality of it was, but the finality of the separation was comfortable for me. I wondered if he was considering my emotional availability; I did not wonder any other motive for his line of questioning. I asked him if he had any long-term relationships to speak of and he replied as noncommittally as one could: “chilling seems like the decent play” he said to describe his romantic life and referenced the many divorces his friends as his reasoning for a lack of meaningful romantic attachments.
Over the next few days eight and I exchanged Snapchats selfies and videos from work. He’d say I was cute and send me something goofy and I felt I had gotten the side of eight I’d hoped existed. I smiled every time I saw his name light up my phone. We added each other on Instagram, and his messages became more contextual, his questions were more personal, and we got to know each other a little better.
My favourite conversations were when he’d text me from his team bus for away games: we’d flirt, he’d share about his day, I’d wish him good luck, and he’d sign off that he’d message later.
me: And then what? Run around and talk about how good your butt looks in your pants?
eight: We leave that to the fans.
me: Can you be a fan if you’ve never been to a game? Asking for a friend.
eight: Of course you can.
me: They. Of course THEY can. My friend. You know.
One summer night, after a tryst with a man called fish in a movie theatre parking lot, my phone buzzed on my nightstand a few times.
eight: Just what I needed, over-time on a Tuesday.
I checked Twitter to see what the score had been: the tied up game had gone way over but they got the much needed win to continue on in the playoffs. I was infatuated by the idea of eight, that we were so similar, that someone like me would be good for him.
me: Stop it. Are you happy?
eight: Yep but tired.
me: Happy makes you sleep well. Ride the high into Wednesday.
eight: You mean Thursday.
me: Why not both?
eight: Good call.
I put my phone down and went back to sleep but in the morning I woke up to a video he had sent sometime during their bus ride home: it’s eight’s face, only intermittently lit by oncoming traffic, loudly singing along to Riverboat Fantasy by David Wilcox.
eight: I’m sailing away from my heartache …
I’m unreasonably swayed into romanticism by music, so much so that even though I don’t care for David Wilcox in the slightest, you better believe I played that song while I blow-dried my hair that morning with a smile on my face that could only be described as stupid. I didn’t know then that the very next evening, eight and I would finally meet.