1051. A Girl Like You

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Olimometer 2.52

I woke up on the couch of the sublet with a start, which startled Colin awake, too. I had been asleep with my head on his leg and I’d drooled a little onto his tank top. “Jeez. Sorry about that.”

He stretched, reaching toward the ceiling and showing me his elongated pits, each tufted with dark hair. “Of all the body fluids you’ve gotten on my clothes, that’s the one you apologize for?”

“Well, I’m sorry about the others, too.”

“I’m not.” He kissed me on the forehead and stood up. Outside, a car horn sounded. “You better get a move on if you’re going to make it to Courtney’s thing tonight.”

It didn’t look that late to me, but I checked the clock in the kitchen. Six pm already. “Shit. You’re right. It looks like midafternoon out there.”

“We’re only a month from the solstice and we’re in the northern lands,” he pointed out.

“Not far enough north to start a death metal band, though.” I yawned. “God. I feel like I just slept for a week.”

“More like an hour, but yeah.” He ruffled my hair. “You’re just like a puppy.”

“I’m what?”

“My ex”–he didn’t say which one–“adopted a puppy at one point. She had an older dog, too, and the puppy would not sleep. Any time a car went by, or a person stood up and walked to the kitchen, whatever, this puppy would jump up and bark.”

“I thought my problem was I didn’t say enough, not that I wouldn’t shut up.”

“That’s not the point. The point is the puppy wouldn’t sleep. Until the big dog finally was like, enough, and basically put a paw around the puppy and lay down and basically forced it to lie down. And then the puppy, like, passed out.” He made a gesture like smoothing something flat.

“I guess I can see the parallel.” I blushed a little for no real reason. “You know I feel safe with you.” Ironic as that might seem given how rough some of the sex was. But that’s why it made sense, you know?

“I know. Now come on, or Court’s going to kill both of us.”

Back at the Allston house we arrived in the middle of an all out battle between Courtney and Claire. Near as I could tell it was on the subject of tonight’s reception and how Claire was not invited.

“For fuck’s sake, Mom, this is not like a rehearsal dinner for a wedding or some shit like that!” Court was shouting as we came in. She jabbed a finger and me and then jerked her thumb upstairs which I understood immediately meant I should get my ass dressed.

I could hear Claire’s tearful reply as I hurried up the stairs: “I feel like you’re ashamed to be seen with me, just when I’m supposed to be expressing how proud I am of you and your accomplishments.”

Colin followed me upstairs, gave me a quick kiss at my bedroom door, and then disappeared into his own room.

I shut the door to mine to block out as much of the argument as I could. Courtney had laid out clothes for me to wear on my bed. A black button-down shirt with silver buttons and red piping and accents at the collar and cuffs, a very stylishly cut black suit jacket (“sports coat” I suppose is the term, though what it has to do with sports I have no idea), black jeans, black socks, and a pair of plain black dress shoes that I rarely wore.

Of course when I was putting them on I had the thought: I bet I’m wearing these shoes to Claire’s funeral.

In the pocket of the jeans was a hair elastic, which I took to mean I should put my hair in a ponytail. I combed it gently so as not to yank on the extensions and then gathered it up. It was still damp from the shower I’d taken with Colin before our nap so it stayed smooth and slick.

I found my keys and stuffed the lanyard into my front pocket and then looked for my wallet, which I’d last seen while paying the taxi driver from the airport. So I knew I had it here somewhere. Unless it was in my jeans and it fell out when Colin had stripped me by the door at the Back Bay sublet…

There was a soft knock on my bedroom door. I opened it to find Colin holding up my wallet.

“How did you know I was just looking for that?”

“Logic. Here.” He handed it to me and then looked me up and down. “You clean up nice.”

“So I’ve been told.” I cupped my ear but I could hear no more argument from downstairs. “Let’s see if it’s safe to go down there.”

In the living room I found Court sitting on the couch with her feet on the coffee table, arms crossed, fuming. She hopped up when she saw me, though, and smiled. “Looking good!”

“You too.” She was in a tastefully tailored knee length dress, baby blue, with a short dark blue jacket over it. I did my best impression of Linn, gesturing at her outfit, “Professional, yet projecting a youthful quality.”

She laughed. “Oh my god, you sound just like her.” A horn sounded outside. “That’s probably our cab.”

I followed her out of the house into a white taxi. “Are we late?” I asked.

“Fashionably so. I expect your presence may cause a stir.”

“You mean you hope my presence will cause a stir?”

“Well, a little buzz at least.” She checked her makeup in a small mirror from her purse and added a layer of lip gloss. “Word’s gotten around the department that you and Ziggy are my thesis project.”

“So who’ll be at this reception anyway?”

“It’s being held by a group of alums, mostly in the industry.”

“The music industry?”

“Entertainment,” she said, “mostly radio but some television and other stuff. Not so much the theater crowd, in other words.”

“Uh, sure.” I didn’t really know how they divided stuff up at Emerson. “So I probably won’t get in trouble if I express my opinions of Broadway musicals.”

“What’s your opinion of Broadway musicals?”

“That it’s a dead art form?”

She grimaced. “How about you not say that.”

“All right.”

“You know, on the principle that schmoozing should never leave a negative impression if you can help it.”

“Okay. But it was me being loudly opinionated about something at a party that led Chernwick to hire me that first time, and that led to all those LA gigs.”

“Chernwick was probably coked out of his mind at the time,” she pointed out. “How about this. Try not to say anything that would reflect negatively on me, since this is my graduation to begin with.”

“Sure. But if it’s your graduation, why do I get the feeling I’m going to be the one in the spotlight?”

“Because you’re the rock star,” she said like it was a foregone conclusion.

“No one else is bringing a famous relative?”

“Oh, you know I hadn’t thought about that. It’s possible. Emerson has a lot of A-list alums. You might be right. We might run into Denis Leary or someone like that.” She frowned a little.

“Is that a problem? Court, this isn’t a competition.”

“It’s not that.”

“What exactly do you want me to do at this thing? Do we have a goal for tonight?”

“Other than make a good impression on a group of highly influential alums? Not really. But that’s the thing. You never know which contact is going to pan out to be really important. But you know that some of them will. So it’s best just to make a good impression on everyone, if you can.”

“Well, but are you trying to ‘make an impression’ in the first place is what I’m asking. You know, how memorable should that impression be?”

“Oh, I see what you mean. If we’re too nicey-nice no one will remember me at all?” She nodded her head and faced me, speaking with a little extra clarity like she was explaining something to a kid. “This is a little different from trying to make an impression as an artist. As a musician, when you try to get the attention of a record rep or whatever, you have to really try to stand out from the pack any way you can. This isn’t really like that. This is a peer group, and I should be trying to show that I belong in the peer group.”

“So you’re going to work the room.”

“Yeah. And I’m leaving it up to the fact that I’m bringing my A-list famous brother in the first place to be the thing that leaves an impression in people’s minds if I don’t get a chance to talk to them. It’s not like I’m bucking to get hired or something. I’m making contacts that could be useful for me–and you–in the open-ended future.”

“My head hurts just thinking about it.”

“Which is why I’m in management and you’re not. This is the fun part as far as I’m concerned.” She checked her makeup again, even though she’d just done that, then looked over at me. “Here.” She reached up and used one finger to gently pull some of my hair free of the ponytail, leaving me with a long straight lock hanging down one side of my face. It was part red and part my natural brown-black. “There.”

The cab pulled up in front of a hotel, or tried to, but there were too many other cars trying to do the same thing on a crowded urban street. “We’ll get out here,” Court announced. She pulled cash from her purse.

“You should let me pay for this,” I said, patting myself to find my wallet, but she had already handed a twenty to the driver.

“You are, big brother,” she said. “You are. This is out of your account.”

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