My life was normal, working the nine to five.
I was comfortable with normal.
I didn’t know there was a difference between comfort and living, until you came along.
Another day, another day of giving flimsy dating advice. “If he fixes his hair while keeping eye contact with you, it’s a sign he likes you and you should go for it!” What a load of malarky. The joys of writing a teen girl magazine, downplaying some of the bigger issues in society and just give cute little flirting tips. I missed the days when my biggest crisis was having a bad hair day.
“You’ve never really seen a guy do that, have you?” I asked my co-worker, Bethany. She was assigned to write Five Signs He Likes You for our next issue of Teenalicious Magazine.
“This guy I dated in high school did that to me and then we went out,” she said confidently. “Then I found out he was a bimbo and had other girls lined up to date him so it was short lived.”
I shrugged. “Guess I was wrong.”
She flipped her black hair confidently. She had red tips that looked like fire. I always wanted dark hair but once when I was 16 I dyed my hair black and it damaged it so much I had to get several inches cut. Maybe one day I’ll go darker. I was too attached to my blonde hair, being blonde since birth. I recently added pink highlights because I love pink. I usually wore black or pink, my favorite colors (orange was my third favorite). I was wearing my usual black leather jacket and had my nails painted pink with orange polka dots.
I heard the familiar sound of high heels clicking on the linoleum floor. Boss lady was making her rounds.
“Willow can I see you for a second?” my boss Lydia asked me.
“Sure,” I followed her to her office. I thought in my head everything I had done wrong, but couldn’t think of anything. I had only been there for a month and half, and had been on my best behavior. Maybe she didn’t like me.
It was a quiet Friday evening, most of the workers had left early to get drunk while the rest of us non-partiers stayed behind and were too in the zone with writing to make a sound.
Lydia closed the door to her office. She was a nice lady, in her 40’s that looked like she could be in her 20’s. “Willow I asked you in here because I have an assignment I think you would be perfect for.”
Phew, not in trouble. The knots in my tummy untangled themselves. “Oh?”
She pushed her curly hair out of her face. “Yes. I’ve been reviewing some articles you wrote for your college newspaper and I really like your voice. You give your opinions without stepping over the line while making valid points. You’re not afraid to talk about important topics but can write fun articles too.”
Back in college when I was studying creative writing, I wrote not only for the school newspaper but I wrote on Odyssey as well. I liked talking about music, but I wasn’t scared of tackling difficult subjects such as bullying and how certain reality shows and trends were toxic (my Kardashian shaming article got over 1,000 views). I’ve always loved writing and it was my way of getting people to pay attention to me and what I had to say.
“There’s this new dating app called Press Play that matches people up based on taste in music and I think you would be perfect for this story.”
“I’ve heard of it.”
She tapped her long red nails on her desk. “I would like you to write an article about it. How it works, maybe interview somebody that found love through it. You can write it any way you like. I think it would help if you actually used it, just to see what it’s like.”
I shifted my feet uncomfortably. “Um, I have a boyfriend.”
Lydia bit her lip. “Oh, well you could make a fake profile, or maybe you can ask a single friend to use it. We need to know what it’s like from the user’s point of view.”
I finally nodded. This was my first important assignment and I wasn’t going to blow it.
It was 5:00, time to close up the office. As I was waiting for my computer to power off, Bethany asked if I needed a ride which I agreed. Normally I would wait for my boyfriend Tyler to come pick me up but I knew he had to go to work early where it was the weekend. His family owned a popular bar and it was usually crazy during the weekend.
“So what did Boss Lady Lydia say to you?” Bethany asked as she pulled into rush hour traffic.
“She wants me to write a story about that dating app Press Play,” I said watching the traffic light turn red.
“And you have a boyfriend,” she giggled.
“Yeah,” I answered quietly. I wasn’t sure how I was going to tell Tyler I needed to use a dating app when I was faithful to him. I loved Tyler and had a stable relationship, but he understandably wouldn’t like his girlfriend on a dating site.
“Just tell him it’s for research, it’s for work. It doesn’t mean anything.”
“I guess so,” I said, my anxiety coming back. “Boys can be really jealous.”
Bethany scoffed as the light changed green. “Girls externalize their jealousy, boys let it fester and kill them on the inside.”
In the two years we’ve been together, Tyler has never shown any jealousy, nor have I had any reason to be jealous. Anytime we’ve argued it was resolved quickly and we forgave each other. My roommates said we have a perfect relationship: no dysfunction, how cute we look together, how healthy we communicate. Tyler was so handsome with his soft blue eyes, plump lips and wavy brown hair. He had a good body, and stood close to six feet tall, always making me feel safe.
We met the summer I graduated college. My roommates took me to his family’s bar, Neon Flamingo, and he was working as a bar tender. His smile caught me instantly, he had to have a girlfriend, he was too good looking to be single. When I went to the bathroom he asked Monica, one of my roommates, if I was single and told him I was. When I came back, he and I shared a dance. He asked me for my number and I gave it to him, surprised that he was showing interest in me. We texted all night, it was just easy to talk to him. He took me out to dinner the next night and have been together ever since. It’s cliche, but he’s not just my boyfriend, he’s my best friend and have never felt so loved by any boy before him.
Bethany pulled up in front of my apartment. “Good luck with the dating app drama.”
“Thanks I’ll need it,” I waved goodbye.
Tyler’s car was in my driveway. He was supposed to be working. I guess it was now or never.