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In Pursuit of Perfection

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When Jessie does something, she wants to do it perfectly. Her shoes are perfectly organized in her closet. Her skirts are organized by color and length. When she paints her nails, they need to be painted perfectly, and because she isn’t very good at that she usually pays someone else to do it. She is willing to pay the price for perfection.

Demanding perfection means different things in different pursuits. In some cases, like with her nails, it means paying actual money. With hockey it means paying a price physically, going out and hitting guys who are a lot bigger than her. Sometimes the cost of perfection is obvious, something she can calculate or feel. Other times it is something much more nebulous. Either way, perfect is the goal.

This is why Jessie doesn’t date.

She doesn’t have the time or energy to be anyone’s perfect girlfriend. She’s perfectly happy staying single.

She’s spent a lot of time considering the perfect fuckbuddy. It would be someone who’s a good friend, but not necessarily a close friend. Close enough to comfortably text each other in the middle of the night. Someone who doesn’t take it personally if she texts back, no, not tonight. She has more important things going on than just sex — like hockey. And some nights she’d rather just stay in and watch Miracle and bug Chuck than bone anyone. The perfect fuckbuddy is someone who she can invite over to bug Chuck with her, and then when it gets late they can go to her bedroom and try to have quiet sex. Someone who’s alright to hang out with outside sex. It’s better if they can play video games and talk some, not just fuck.

The sex would be fantastic, but not ridiculously so. It would be good, and comfortable — satisfying without getting romantic and weird.

It would be buddies, not something heavy. She isn’t interested in anything heavy. Not right now.

She hasn’t found a perfect fuckbuddy, but she tries to live these traits in her own relationships. In pursuit of perfection — she has it tattooed on her arm. That’s the goal, in everything, including her sex life.

Darcy isn’t the perfect fuckbuddy, but he’s pretty great. He’s the best she’s got, and they keep on getting better — they enjoy each other’s company. He’s really tall — that’s important to her. She’s hooked up with less perfect dudes just because they’re tall. Darcy is very tall, and sweet to her, and a kind of a dick to other people in a way that she appreciates.

They’ve been hooking up since Houston. They had flirted through three prospect camps, spent the start of the season dancing around each other, and then fucked for the first time around Halloween.

The first time she stayed over was probably a month later, when they went out after a win, and she wouldn’t have been safe to drive herself home. It wasn’t awkward in the morning, and that’s when she knew they could keep doing this. She made fun of Hack’s morning hair while Darcy cooked breakfast and helped her chirp. There’s always a risk that things get weird after sleeping with a teammate, but she and Darcy managed to avoid that like the champs they are.

Darcy is, objectively, kind of a mess. Like, in an appealing way. He’s tall, and has a great smile, and is good at making her laugh, but he doesn’t have his life together. He’s messy, disordered in a way that would drive Jessie nuts if they shared space more than they do. He doesn’t have a roommate, so it would make more sense to hook up at his place, but Jessie will wake up in the middle of the night and start organizing his cabinets, which makes them both grumpy in the morning. If Jessie was looking for a boyfriend she would be looking for someone a lot more with it than Darcy.

It isn’t that she wants a perfect boyfriend. That would be an unreasonable expectation. There’s no such thing as a perfect boyfriend. She would only be setting herself up for disappointment. Also, more importantly, she doesn’t want a boyfriend.

But if she did want a boyfriend she would want someone just as driven as her — they could pursue perfection together.

Is that romantic?

Jessie isn’t sure. She doesn’t spend a lot of time trying to be romantic. She spends a lot of time trying to make sure that her actions don’t read as romantic, just buddies, because she doesn’t want to make things weird. She’s pretty sure she wouldn’t be any good at romantic if she tried, at least not at first.

Darcy isn’t an obsessive perfectionist like her. Jessie can see how he needs to be less intense — he’s a goalie, he’s going to get scored on sometimes, he can’t freak out about it. He needs to let it happen, settle in and stay steady. That’s not always what happens, but that’s the hope. He can’t let himself obsess over the last mistake.

Jessie shouldn’t let herself do that either, but she’s a winger. She skates back to the bench after her shift is over, then they can talk about a breakdown in coverage, and make a plan to do better. Darcy’s just in there, unless it gets bad enough that he gets pulled. Staying in the net and bunkering down takes a lot of what a coach would call mental toughness.

Goalies are fascinating from a sports psych perspective. Jessie didn’t start hooking up with one because she thinks this, but it is a thing that she thinks. She started hooking up with him because he’s tall and convenient and makes her smile. He isn’t perfect, but he’s alright.

He’s too tolerant of her flaws. He says he likes it when she burns breakfast. He just smiles, and happily eats pancakes that are blackened on one side. He tells her that her hair looks good first thing in the morning, which she knows is not true. He likes her even when she’s being a brat. He hung out a lot when she was injured. Her bad mood drove Charlie out of their apartment, but Darcy stuck around, bringing her things and watching bad TV with her.

One time she asked him why he did that. She was a bit stoned from the meds, and he was drunk on beer and boredom. They had watched two and a half old westerns on TV, and were too tired to move or pay attention to how the third one ended.

Jessie didn’t care how it ended. She didn’t want to be here, feeling sorry for herself — she wanted to be playing hockey. There wasn’t a game that night, otherwise Darcy wouldn’t have been on her couch, but still. She liked to think that if she wasn’t hurt she would be doing something more exciting with her night off. This was not a perfect way to spend a night off. Not even close.

Maybe if they were going to fuck, sure — bad movies and sex, that’s an alright night. But Jessie was too broken to do anything interesting, so why was Darcy hanging around. He could have gone out and had fun and picked up someone else. He’s very tall, he could use that. Any girl in a bar would be lucky to go home with him.

She didn’t understand why he would rather hang out being lame with her, so she asked, “Why are you even here?”

Her idea of perfection has never included subtlely.

Darcy blushed, and shrugged, and said he liked her.

Jessie didn’t know what to say to that, so she just nodded like it made sense. It didn’t really make sense. Really it was very weird thing for him to say. She’d probably freak out about it if she was more awake or had taken less medication. She might freak out about it later, even though she likes him too. Maybe not in the exact same way, but she does really like him a lot.

She closed her eyes and wound up falling asleep. She never did find out how the movie ended. She stayed there all night in her little nest of blankets, and woke up to Darcy and Charlie being loud in the kitchen. Darcy brought her painkillers and gatorade, and ruffled her hair before they left for practice. It was very sweet.

Darcy is just ridiculous. He’s very tall, a bit too goofy to really be her type, but close enough. She wants him to stick around.

That’s a weird thing to admit to herself, but she wants him around. She doesn’t want to be his girlfriend, but she doesn’t want anything other than this. This is really good for her. It is pretty close to perfect. There’s room for improvement, but that’s a good thing. Jessie doesn’t know if she could live with perfection, she likes chasing after it so much.

In pursuit of perfection: that’s the one line summary of her life. It’s a warning label tattooed on her arm. It is a promise of constant movement, always striving, always working to be better.

Most of the time when Jessie thinks about perfection it’s just about herself, leaving out the idea of things that go perfectly together. There are things that are good by themselves, but better together, like mac and cheese, or chocolate peppermint ice cream. Jessie is starting to think that she should look into this more.

She doesn’t want a perfect boyfriend, she doesn’t want to be a perfect girlfriend, but she wants to start thinking what kind of person she goes perfectly with. Darcy isn’t perfect, but neither is she. She wants him to stick around. They’re a little bit perfect together — just a little bit, but still. A little bit perfect is a good start.