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Star Make-Lover
By Cecily Knobler

Now a bit of background here. Max is what some might call an "eccentric." He wears ironic velvet green coats in the summer, he occasionally "frosts" his hair, he collects all kinds of weird instruments and has dated a lot of brilliantly talented and peculiar actresses and musician-types. He drives a 1974 Pinto, just for fun. Got it? Okay, so let's skip ahead a week when Max calls. To be honest, I'm surprised he even has a phone. He seems like the type who would use a Morse code telegraph machine because that's more "alternative."

He asks me out for that night and of course, I say, "Sure, I'd love to." Wait, whose voice did I just use? It seemed, I don't know, higher? "I'm totally down for anything." Why had I adopted a ditsy Midwest meets the Valley accent? I sounded like Victoria Jackson. So Max says he'll be there in two hours and oh shit, what do you wear with a talented eccentric musician? Oh fuck, I've gotta hide the bootlegs of his songs I got in London. Oh Jesus, I've got to hide all of my Jewel albums. Yes, Jewel. Some music snob I turned out to be. I start yanking stuff from my collection, no Ani Difranco, he'll think I'm bisexual. Wait, he'd like that, I put the Ani Difranco back. No Pink or good God, no Kelly Clarkson. I shove the CDs under my bed and find the most "thrift store" looking outfit I can muster.

So, we're at dinner and I'm so nervous I keep ordering shots of Patron. He doesn't seem to mind. He says something about how string theory can be exemplified through basic guitar chords. I, trying to sound weird and like I "get it" say "yeah, and so can quarks." What? The conversation takes another lull. I then say something really odd like, "I'm just so over America." He asks why and I can't articulate it, probably because I don't know what that means and if I did, probably wouldn't mean it. He drives me home and I invite him up for a night cap, (mind you, no sex, I'm not that kind of star-make-lover). He comes in and I say, "So this is my pad," like it's 1972. He and I are both surprised by this voice I'm using, but then things get REALLY weird. I start to pretend like I don't know exactly what he does for a living. I say, "So you're, like, what a musician?" He says, "Uh, yeah, you have my CD on the coffee table." Shit, forgot to hide that one. "Well I just didn't know you did it full-time." He says, "But you have a schedule for all of my shows on your fridge?" All I can think to say for this one is, "Do I?"

He starts to kiss me. Having someone's lips on yours makes their illegal bootlegs seem less exciting. But I can't relax because I can't help but think I'm kissing him too normally. Too pedestrian. I am not an unusual kisser. Fuck. Why can't I kiss him more alternatively? He senses my fear and pulls back a bit. "You alright?" he asks and I realize, I'm TOO alright. I thought I was edgy and strange before meeting Max, but at this point, I see that I will never be strange enough which will ironically make us strangers. There is an uncomfortable silence and after searching my brain for ANYTHING to say, all I bring is "I really think Fantasia is gonna win American Idol."

After all that work to seem offbeat, I blew my cover. I buried the lead. He says something to the effect of, "Yeah, I don't even own a TV" and my heart dies. Seriously, when a guy says, "I don't own a TV", he may has well have said, "I'm gay" or, "I hate the Jews." Any of those statements normally mean, "This probably won't work out romantically." But it's him; it's Max and so I say, "Yeah, I hardly ever watch it either." As I say this, I notice him staring at my Tivo, which at that very moment is recording a late-night showing of Judge Judy. Yes, Judge Judy. Is that alternative? I don't even know anymore. He says, "Hmm, well I should probably get going. This was fun, let's do it again sometime. I'll call you."

He never did call. The next time I saw Max, he was hitting on some girl with dyed green hair and a Partridge Family lunchbox. I still get giddy at the thought of him and his lovely music, although now when I listen to those bootlegs from England, I know how he tastes and it changes every note.

I suppose he and my fake "Victoria Jackson" persona just weren't meant to be. Thank God, I've got Judge Judy on Tivo.

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