He sets an insulated coffee mug on the table and pulls out the chair next to Reid. “I’ll fill you in: two. One is the lady who lives above me and walks her cats, and the other is you.”
I stick a piece of lettuce to my front teeth and give him my cheesiest smile. “So, what you’re saying is . . . I’ve got a chance.”
Reid and Chris stare blankly at me for a lingering beat before turning back to each other.
“It’s only been a few days,” Reid tells him. “I think you’re too stressed about this.”
“That’s what Chris does,” I remind him, pulling the lettuce free. “He takes things very seriously and does them better than all of us.”
Ed steps up behind Chris’s chair, pulling out the last seat at our small table, asking him, “Didn’t you and Rebecca Fielding bang in the bathroom at the faculty Christmas party? You could ask her, since you’ve already dated.”
Chris lets out an audible sigh, but it’s Reid who answers. “Sex isn’t dating.”
“Either way,” Chris says, “I’ve got nothing for this commencement thing.”
“None of us do,” I tell him. “But you have plenty of time.”
“But do we actually need dates?” Reid asks.
“Wait.” Ed wags his finger back and forth between me and Reid. “I thought you two were going together?”
Reid stabs another forkful of salad. “We decided not to.”
“Why?” Ed looks understandably confused.
I have to be sending Reid a look that’s half threatening reminder and half panic, but he doesn’t look flustered at all.
“Because Millie is her own person and can find a date by herself. It was a dick move on my part to call dibs like she’s some sort of new toy.”
I give Reid a patronizing That’s right, you chauvinist smile, and he kicks me under the table.
Ed makes some kind of dismissive noise in the back of his throat. “It’s Millie. It’s not like you can offend her.”
I start to argue this but then realize he’s right. “Well, maybe I should have been more offended. But I only have one emotion, and it’s hunger.”
Chris, who has been noticeably silent, looks up from his coffee. “I’ve been thinking lately . . . what about a dating site?” He offers up the suggestion carefully, like he’s aiming a shot into a very distant, very small basket.
A dating site? I scrunch my nose. “Ew.”
Ed obviously agrees, because he’s the first to speak up. Good job, Ed. “You want these two to use a dating app?” he says, pointing a thumb between Reid and me.
Chris looks on, as confused as I am. “It’s how my sister met Ashley.”
“Reid and Mills are the oldest thirty-year-olds I know.”
Wow. Ed sucks.
“I’m twenty-nine,” I remind him.
“And you watch Murder, She Wrote every night, alone, in bed.”
I frown and throw a cherry tomato at his pouf of hair. “Because it’s a good show and my bed is hella comfortable.”
“And you still use the word ‘hella’—”
“Ed,” Reid says. “You’re doing that thing again.”
“Being a dick. Something like forty million people use dating sites. It can’t be that complicated.”
Ed turns to us, his smile the expressive equivalent of a condescending pat on the head. “Why do you even know that kind of statistic? And, no, it’s not complicated, per se. It’s nuance. There’s an entire language involved in these sorts of things.”
“We have six degrees between the four of us.” Reid looks back down to his lunch. “I think we can keep up.”
Chris leans in toward Ed. “What kind of language?”
“Why do I already know this is going to be like teaching my mom to use the DVR?” He rubs a hand over his face. “Okay, for example, ‘thirst trap’ is someone posting intentionally sexy pics to get attention.”
I shake my head. “Isn’t that the point of a photo? To get attention?”
“Yeah, but this would be like, ‘Look at my new watch,’ but showing the watch just gave an excuse to zoom in on your boobs.”
Chris reaches for my notebook and pencil, flips to a new page, and prompts Ed to continue, ready to take notes. “Okay. What else?”
“Nerds,” I say. “We are nerds. And old. Ed, you’re right. My God, we are too young to be this old.”
Everyone ignores me. Ed leans back in his chair, eyes on the ceiling while he thinks. “Let’s see . . . ‘Ghosting’ is when someone you’re chatting with online just disappears. No reason or anything, just goes ghost. As opposed to a ‘slow fade,’ where they start to respond less and less over time.”
Chris is diligently jotting all this down.
“ ‘Benching’ is pretty self-explanatory,” Ed says. “They like you but keep you on the bench so they can continue playing the field. ‘DTR’ means to define the relationship, so ‘The Talk.’ ‘F2F’ means they want to meet. Oh, and if you do meet, a ‘half-night stand’ is when you hook up, and leave when the sex is over.”
Something inside me comes to a stop, and I work very, very hard to not look up at Reid. When I glance up, his eyes immediately dart away from my face.
None of us says anything. Chris is finishing his note taking. Reid and I are studiously not looking at each other. Ed is leaning in, excited now.
“Seriously, you guys want to do this?” he asks. “Like, Team Dating App?”
“Um,” I say. “No? But . . . maybe.” I glance at Reid. “If we must.”
“Okay. Well, if you’re all down, Tinder is pretty awesome,” Ed says.
Tinder? When would he have time? Ed is either in the lab or playing one of the half-dozen arcade games he owns. I try to imagine a scenario in which someone is expecting a hot hookup, and they open the door to find Ed standing there instead. Like I said, Ed is good-looking in his own way, he’s just . . . so Ed.
I guess he’s getting more action than I thought. The reality of this slaps me into awareness. Ed has game because he expects to.
“You use Tinder?” I ask.
Reaching across the table, he pulls a discarded tomato from my salad and pops it into his mouth. “Sometimes.”
“And?” I am suddenly dying to get the rundown on Ed’s Tinder booty calls.
“No,” Chris interjects, “No Tinders or Grindrs or any other hookup apps. We need dates, not sex.”
I don’t miss the way Reid’s eyes flicker my way.
Ed pulls out his phone, swiping through his apps before turning the screen to face us. “We use it to find matches. We meet them, hook up, have fun—whatever, and then we ask if they want to go to the banquet.”
“I love that the sex comes before the date,” Reid says dryly.
Ed nods sagely. “Sex is just the bonus.”
Chris’s chin comes to an amused landing in his cupped hand. “Boy, in what universe is sex with you a bonus?”
“I have an IQ of one hundred and forty-eight,” Ed says. “I’ll let you connect the dots.”
“Actually, being smart means you’re probably having less sex,” Reid tells him. “A 2007 study showed intelligence is negatively associated with sex frequency. In fact, only sixty-five percent of MIT graduates have even had sex.”
“Pull up the plane, Reid,” I say.
He laughs. “Okay, I guess what I’m saying is maybe Chris and Ed are right. Chris’s sister is happy. I know a few people who’ve met their significant other online. Hell, I know lots of people who’ve met some of their best friends online. Maybe a dating site isn’t the worst idea.”
I slide my notebook back and point him to my neatly arranged columns. “I have a whole list of maybes. I don’t need someone else to find me a date.”
Reid gently takes it from me. “I think ‘maybes’ might be a tad optimistic.”
“What if we don’t all find matches?” Chris asks. “Then what?”