They met on a photo shoot sometime in December. It wasn’t cold and there wasn’t snow because they both lived in Los Angeles – the east side, of course. Tommy was the photographer and Brie, the model, even though neither of them were technically employed as either in real life, at least in the traditional sense. She was only 5’6, waiting tables until she could act in indie films – the real “art house pieces”, she called them – and he was never really capable of getting the composition just right in the nightlife shots he took for a living.
None of this really mattered, anyway. The line wasn’t really a line just like they weren’t really what they were. Their friend Dan made expensive t-shirts out of used canvas bags from WWII, though he didn’t have any buyers yet and no one was sure if he’d be able to find them. The clothes were horrifically scratchy and left you feeling quite raw after a day of wear. The hope was that Dan’s friend in that popular band that now had a song playing in the background of some car commercial would wear it out in public. Dan said that sometimes his friend dated pretty celebrities and could be found in the tabloids.
Anyway, all three were in the Age of Favors, when all of your friends didn’t have more than two dimes to rub together and neither did you. You helped each other out to ensure the favor would be returned on your own project, if you ever ended up with a project.
When she first walked in the door, she spotted Tommy crouched down in the corner, his long arms helping his hands toy around with some camera equipment. He stood up and introduced himself, extending a soft hand that partook in the hard work of fine grooming and not manual labor. “Tommy,” he said. Brie couldn’t remember if she responded with her name, but she thought she did. And then Tommy walked away. She liked the way his arms hung loosely at his sides, pale and thin, even though she was aware that this physical attribute generally led to bad sex in her past experiences.
Tommy watched as she made her way into the kitchen. Cute, he thought. He had a thing for chubby girls; he couldn’t tell you why. Though it could have been Mabel. Mabel was his unrequited childhood crush. Each and every time he had grabbed her by the hand to lead her behind the bungalows at school – with the intention, of course, to kiss her – she would rebuke him. “No, Tommy,” she would say as she pushed him away, a smile pressing itself into her thickened cheeks. Tommy couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t want a kiss from him, plenty of girls did. Mabel was the chubbiest girl in class and no one else was trying to make out with her. So why not kiss him? Was he that repulsive? He knew he wore too much cologne – his mother told him often – but he thought his recently grown-in teeth were rather nice, though he could probably do with some braces eventually. But that was later down the line. In the fourth grade, everyone had crooked teeth. Kiss me, Mable. Kiss me.
Brie introduced herself to the makeup artist who, surprisingly, was the only person in the room to have achieved moderate success in her field. “I work the makeup counter in Nordstrom, but I’m going to go freelance soon,” she told Brie. The makeup artist kept talking but Brie was distracted; she watched the to-and-fro of Tommy’s hands pushing his black bangs out of his blue eyes.
There was something quite feminine about him, Brie thought to herself. The way he moved had a grace to it ordinarily reserved for dancers and nancy pants. Was he a nancy pants? You never could tell these days, now with the boys dressing in Helmut Lang and wearing pants that hugged everything, and she meant everything. Broken Social Scene’s “I’m Still Your Fag” played in the background and Brie laughed to herself because she thought it was ironic or serendipitous or something. Wasn’t it one of those?