Little Talks: The Fake Meet-Cute Challenge

A series of short stories about a relationship starring a fictional couple who live rent-free in Scott’s head.

Scott Muska
I THOUGHT THIS WAS WORTH SHARING

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“Do you ever feel like we’re being judged?” she says, coughs as she hands me the night’s vape pen of choice, leans over and reaches for the coffee table to grab her glass of wine, all without glancing away from the television.

I follow suit, leaning forward to snag the remote and hit pause. This is going to turn into something lasting and I don’t want to have to start this episode over again yet again.

I take a quick hit from the pen, holding it away from me afterward to stare at it as if it has magical powers, which I guess maybe it kind of does, depending on your definition of magic.

“Pretty much all the time, about pretty much everything,” I say. “But, like, about what, specifically?”

She pulls her feet up to her chest, restlessly switches to criss-cross-applesauce position.

“True. The list could go on and on, I guess. But how we met, for one thing.”

This is a fair thing to be considering as we’ve just gotten back from a dinner with some random friends we see at best occasionally — and when we do there’s always at least one new person in the group who is dating someone else and, speaking of judging, we leave the dinner wondering if that person has staying power. Or if we really want them to. It can be somewhat nefarious business.

It dawns on me that most if not everyone else we go out on the town with either has or still does wonder that same thing about me — if I have staying power. And they probably talk to their partners about it. There might be a group chat I’m left off of where this topic is discussed. It’s unlikely, but not out of the question. With this specific group of friends, well, they’re more hers than mine and she would be the one to keep them if ever things went south with our relationship. I’d just become that guy from back when and probably never speak with any of them again. Not because they weren’t the kind of people I’d want to foster a friendship with, but because in a breakup the division of friend groups is something that inevitably occurs. You divvy them up. Them’s the breaks.

“We always talk about the app — how that brought us together — and not everybody meets that way,” she says.

“Most do these days, though. It’s not like we’re some crazy outliers.”

“And Hinge is not Farmers Only.”

“This is true. I kind of wish it was Farmers Only, though. That’d make for a hell of a story.”

“Are you jealous of the couples who have more of a story?”

“Like that one guy, Chip or whoever, who kept going on and on about meeting Beth at a bar and how people don’t randomly approach others all that much anymore in places like that?”

“That’s exactly who I’m thinking of. And his name is Charles.”

“If I were named Charles I’d go by ‘Chaz,’ for sure.”

“Guess I’m glad you’re not named Charles, then.”

“Same. He did seem, like, staunchly anti-app, didn’t he?”

Dudes like Chaz and their illusion of superiority always annoy me — the kind of people who act like they’re too good for the apps, when the apps have been and are a pretty innovative way to meet people that have become pretty regular and widely accepted by the general public. I tend to equate them with the kind of people who still prefer to compose drafts by hand or on typewriter and act like they’re better’n you — someone who stores your pieces of low-brow art on a digital cloud like some sort of goddamn idiot.

“But really, those kinds of couples, do you wish we had that kind of story?”

“I don’t think walking up to a woman at a bar and asking to buy her a drink is that special of a story, which is basically what I distill theirs down to. But I guess what you mean is like a true ‘Meet Cute?’”

“Exactly.”

I take another mini-hit and pass it back to her.

“Well, I do like our story as it’s unfolding. But I also am sometimes not too crazy about the fact that I first laid eyes on you while I was scrolling through my phone while taking a shit on the company dime.”

“When you articulate it like that…”

“I truly wouldn’t have it any other way, though.”

“Wouldn’t you?”

“I would not.”

“But what if we could just, like, make something up?”

“About how we met?”

“Yeah.”

“That would be lying.”

“More like a fib.”

“What’s the difference?”

“A fib wouldn’t hurt anybody.”

“Got it.”

“Want to make up a ‘Meet Cute’?”

“I get the feeling you do, so if so I’m game.”

“Let’s do it. Take control of our story. Be the unreliable narrators of our own star-crossed lovers’ saga.”

“How high are you?”

“Not low.”

“Well then, I have a proposal.”

“Whoa — not ready for that just yet, to be honest.”

“Good one.”

“Thanks. I’ll be here all week.”

“Here’s the idea: We give it a week. We come up with a bunch of premises for how we first met. Then we exchange them and settle on a winner.”

“That sounds fun.”

“This time next Friday, we’ll do it up.”

“Deal.”

“Now can we finish watching this?”

“I guess we can try. Let me get that pen first, though, Bogart.”

I make a motion to hand it to her and she says, “Wait one sec,” then runs into her bedroom, comes back with a Moleskine knockoff and a pen (this the kind made for writing). She sits back down, opens it to a fresh page.

“I’ve got to start brainstorming now!”

I open an Evernote document and start typing on my phone throughout the show.

We both fall asleep on the couch and wake up hours later.

“Guess we’ll need to start that episode over again, won’t we?” she says.

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Scott Muska
I THOUGHT THIS WAS WORTH SHARING

I write books (for fun, and you can find them on Amazon), ads (for a living) and some other stuff (that seems to magically show up on the internet).