Jody was a famous actor now, and Star was jealous. Jody had parlayed the role of Kindred in a local play into a part in the movie Fifty-Two Ways to Blog about the Meaning of Life, starring the famous actor Clint Gabble. Star tore his or her heart out and died. Star had had a liking for Clint Gabble ever since he had started dating Gina Monrovia, with whom he had starred in the movie The Real Mr. Keen, mostly in the nude. Star had been too young to see the movie, but the Internet had shown Star nearly every clip available of the two lovers together in real life, and Star had wished his or her life to be the same.
Jody and Clint got along admirably. Clint invited Jody to watch television with him and Gina in his trailer while the makeup artist prepared their hair. The three of them watched the romantic film The Notbook, for which Clint had a soft spot, it being Gina’s favorite. Clint played tough roles in movies, but he was actually quite sensitive. That was why he had wanted so badly to play the real Mr. Keen. Plus, Clint liked sex.
Jody could relate. Being twelve years old, almost thirteen, Jody thought about sex constantly, even though he or she had never had it. In fact, Jody’s preoccupation with sex had been at the center of his or her portrayal of Kindred in the local play, Everyman, because after all, all kindred came from sex.
“I never thought of it that way,” Clint said.
Not long after that, Clint invited Jody to go waterskiing with him and Gina, and the three hung out all day on a motorboat drinking Popsi Colas and looking fit, which caused members of the opposite sex to buy up several popular magazines.
Clint had yet to meet the second of Jody’s parents, however, and Jody was nervous about it. Clint and Gina met one of the parents--everyone’s former spouse--out on the boat that day. Everyone’s spouse was known to drink Popsi Colas as well and regularly spent time on motorboats with fit and tan and beautiful people who were rich, successful, and famous, so he or she fit in well with Jody’s friends. Everyone’s spouse had long known Jody was bound for success: Jody had always been sanctimonious, and Hollywood people, the spouse noted, eat that up when the sanctimony runs in the correct activist direction.
Everyone, however, was something of a failure. Everyone had been blogging a novel for thirty-something weeks, and still no one was reading it. In the novel, everyone was looking for his or her spouse--or for the meaning of life, or both--when both were lying right here, on a motorboat in a body of water, easy to obtain access to, even as Jody and Clint and Gina had. Everyone had problems.
And that was Jody’s problem. He or she was worried how everyone would react when everyone met Clint. Everyone had not had dealings with rich and successful people in beautiful bodies, save for everyone’s spouse, before he or she had become successful, and all the people of the world who read the blog, which was no one, knew how that had gone.
Jody asked his or her friend the Internet for advice.
“Hire an actor,” the Internet said. “Nothing says Clint and Gina have to meet both your parents or even a real one.”
Jody pondered this for a few seconds and found the advice flawless. The Internet knew everything, which was why it was so good at dispensing advice. Jody asked the Internet if it knew any good actors that Clint and Gina didn’t know, actors who could play a parent.
The Internet spilled out reams of names. The Internet knew all of humanity but most especially those who wanted to be someone else, as they were the ones who had the most dealings with the Internet and were thus the Internet’s closest friends.
Jody chose an actor in black-and-white because he or she looked old, the way his or her other parent did. The actor agreed to come to the marina to get on a boat with Jody and Clint. They would go waterskiing together and drink Popsi Cola.
Star, who was dead, was not happy about this.
Everyone wants you to read the book on which he or she is working, a novel everyone is writing in order to find the meaning of life, with which everyone’s spouse ran off. But everyone has to finish the novel before everyone can know where the novel begins. In the meantime, there are all these distractions, such as the twelfth-floor window at the office building where everyone works out of which people or maybe just one person keeps jumping or falling--everyone isn’t sure--or everyone’s sexy coworker Sam, whom everyone is struggling valiantly against to keep from becoming a paramour. It’s kind of pitiful, actually, the way everyone keeps begging you to read, sending you e-mails, dropping it into conversation (“I have a book, you know?”), posting links to it on social-networking sites. Everyone figures that if he or she begs enough, you will break down and try it. Everyone is like a dog that way, watching you eat your dinner. The way you handle the dog is to push it away from the table, lock it outside the room. Sometimes, of course, you hand the dog a bite, an inch-sized bit of beef, and that is all everyone is asking for--a bite, that you read just the first line of his or her book. The problem is that you know everyone too well. If you read one line, everyone will beg you to read another. Just one more.
To start from the beginning of the novel, go here.