“PS, it’s hot,” I say, and drop the tissues into the trash can next to his feet. “Long morning?”
“You could say that. I came in to get some papers graded and was cornered by a couple students begging for extensions. But, I’m glad you came.” He looks at me again and then does a double take. “You sure you’re okay?”
“You look . . . haggard.”
“Wow. Seduce me, why don’t you.”
“Seriously, what’s up with you?”
“Nothing, I swear.”
He stares at me with flat skepticism for one, two, three seconds, before shaking his head to clear it. “Okay, whatever. I wanted to show you something.” Reaching for his phone, he swipes the screen before turning it to face me.
I lean in. “Good God, Reid. You have ninety-eight updates to install? Amazon, OpenTable, Facebook . . . What is wrong with you?”
“Focus, Millie.” He taps on a bright blue icon with a red notification bubble. “The IRL app. I woke up to eighteen notifications.”
“Notifications for . . . ?”
He clearly thinks I’m going to figure it out because he pauses for a few lingering seconds before giving up. “Didn’t you go through the app intro when you downloaded it?”
I spread my hands like he should know the answer to this. “Obviously not?”
Laughing, he says, “Okay, this means eighteen women shared their profile with me.”
“Ohhhh.” I fumble for my bag on the back of the chair and pull out my own phone. I hadn’t even thought to look. “I filled everything out on the laptop.” I turn the screen to him. “Oh, hey look, I didn’t even download the app yet.”
“According to Ed, you’ll want to use your phone for everything else.” He lifts his chin. “Search for it in the App Store.”
“Whoa, whoa, slow down with this technical speak.” My eyes are wide in faux-confusion. “Write that down for me, mansplainer.”
“Jesus Christ, Millie.”
“I do know how an iPhone works, Reid.”
He leans back with a patient sigh and continues scrolling through his own messages. “One of them speaks French and is a scuba instructor,” he says proudly, eyes widening as he zooms in on a photo.
Once the app has downloaded, I enter in the username and password I’d set up on my computer. “How does this work, exactly?” I ask. “There’s no swipe right or whatever, is there? That sounds terrible.”
“You know you were in the room when we talked about this.”
I smile at him over the top of my coffee. “I probably wasn’t listening. I do that sometimes when you speak.”
“As I mentioned before, men can only see your basic info and summary, along with a thumbnail of your photo. They can’t see the entire profile until you approve them. In which case you’ll probably have some requests wanting to see more.”
“But not eighteen . . .”
Reid ignores me and sure enough, an alert pops up signaling that I have unread messages. I’m surprised by the rush the little red bubble brings. “I have twelve requests pending.”
Reid’s brows climb up his forehead, impressed. “Not bad, Mills. Ed had four.”
“You’re comparing me to Ed now? Wait, what profile pic did he use? Did he use the one of him in the bathrobe doing the Captain Morgan pose?”
Ed, who wanted to wear an Animal House toga for his faculty photo.
“And you’re surprised I have more than him? Reid. Come on.”
“I’m saying that with such limited information and only a thumbnail to see your pretty face, twelve isn’t bad.”
“What profile picture did you use?” I ask. “Were you wearing the FBI shirt?” I let out a short bursting cackle. I will never get over Reid having to borrow a shirt from Alex’s trunk when his own disappeared from the beach, and all Alex had was one that said FBI: Female Body Inspector. We went right out for drinks that night, and, oh boy, Reid got some shit.
“Sadly, Ed spilled red wine on that one. I won’t be able to wear it again.”
“Well, that solves the problem of future commentary.”
He leans forward, redirecting my attention to my screen. “The little percentage in the blue bubble at the top of the request shows—”
“Our compatibility, I know, I know. Seriously, how do you think I feed and bathe myself every day?”
“Just read through them and see who you want to share with.”
With an odd mixture of dread and anticipation, I open the first message, wincing a little at the photo. I don’t want to seem completely superficial, so I don’t comment on the backward baseball cap or puka shell necklace, and start to read.
“ ‘I might be the man your looking for. I’ve been a plumber for fifteen years and know a thing or two about cleaning pipes ;) I like to spend my weekends on the lake or at the barbecue, and am looking for a special lady to stand at my side. If you think your up to the challenge, drop me a line. I just might bite.’ ”
My eye roll must be audible because Reid looks up with a questioning glance.
“There’s just so much here,” I say. “Where do I even begin? ‘Cleaning pipes’?”
“Virility is a sign of health.”
“He wants someone to stand by him at the barbecue.”
“I think that’s kind of sweet—Don’t look at me like that.”
“Reid, he misspelled ‘you’re.’ ”
“You’re always typing ‘tit’ instead of ‘it.’ It could have been an accident.”
“Okay,” he says. “Let’s look at the next one.”
“‘My name is Greg and I’m thirty-two. I’m a structural engineer because I live to figure things out. They say travel is good for the soul, and I firmly believe that. I studied abroad during college, and consider myself lucky enough to have seen the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the Colosseum, the Scottish Highlands, and the Parthenon all before I graduated. If you think you could be my next adventure, I’d love to hear from you.’”
This sounds too good to be true and so I pull up his photo. He’s . . . wow, not terrible. Blond hair, tan, and leaning against a surfboard in the sand. I turn the phone to face Reid.
He leans in for a closer look. “Hmmm. He might—” He stops; his eyes narrow. “Is that a ring?”
“What?” I turn the phone back and zoom in. There’s definitely something there. “Could it be a shadow?”
“I mean . . . it’s gold.”
I look again and he’s right; there’s a gold band on his ring finger.
“Maybe it’s an old picture?” Reid says. “Does he say he’s divorced?”
It takes a second to get back to his profile. Under relationship status, it says single. Under previously married it says never.
“Please tell me a person couldn’t possibly be that stupid,” I say. “Or gross. Why don’t I expect people to be liars more often? I study criminology, for Christ’s sake.”
Disappointed, Reid holds out his hand. “Let me see your phone.”
I slide it across the desk and let the full skepticism about this endeavor take root again. “I’m not one to say I told you so, but . . .”
He opens the next message. “Okay, this guy . . .” He stops, a scowl shaping his face. “Never mind.”
“He just . . . He had the word ‘tits’ in his bio, and I don’t think it was your charming typo.”
I wrinkle my nose.
“No, no. Let’s keep going, they can’t all be that bad.” He opens one, and then another, and with each message his smile wilts further.
“I think this guy might be Dustin.”
I groan. “Please tell me you’re kidding.”
“I’m kidding?” he says, and looks up at me.
He is clearly not kidding.
“That’s depressing,” I tell him. “How much faith can I put in an app that matches me with my ex? Good lord.”