While working as a low-level office drone at a major Hollywood movie studio I had no prestige, but I did have ample opportunity to meet beautiful, intelligent women who were trying to break into the entertainment business just as I was. During a particularly grueling and humiliating office job that involved filing and refilling old television rights contracts, I was lucky enough to meet a woman to whom I was particularly attracted. Unlike as so often had happened in that situation, she was attracted to me, as well.
We bonded over the absurdity of what we were doing. Both of us considered ourselves too intelligent to be committed to such an obvious waste of time. They could have hired temps to do this stuff- how could they spare us in our respective offices?
We started dating the day we started the job. For about two weeks, we went out every night for dinner or a movie, or to a bar, and then spent nights at either her apartment or mine. It happened very fast, but it felt perfectly natural. I couldn’t see anything wrong with her.
One night about two weeks after the day we met, I told her, “My friend Chris asked me about you- if we were serious or not, and,” I started to feel nervous, “well, I told him that I thought of you as my girlfriend.”
I searched her eyes expectantly. Obviously, I was exposing myself emotionally. If she didn’t feel the same way, it was over right there.
She smiled and kissed me. “Well, that’s good, because I think of you as my boyfriend!” It was so wonderful that it almost made me sick.
Then a week later, we spent our first evening apart. Her department had an event and she had to work it, to provide bottles of wine to certain press people, and to ensure that the celebrities in attendance got from point A to point D without stopping at point C, or, even worse, point B, which would have been exceedingly tragic.
Of course I understood. In my department, we had events of this type just as often. Hers was larger and would last much later than any such event I’d been involved with, but, to be honest, her department was more important than mine.
So I spent that Friday night watching television, and then went to bed at around 11:30. An early night, but she’d exhausted me over the last two weeks.
A few hours later, she used the key to my apartment to let herself in and sneak into my bedroom, where she awakened me with kisses and frottage. That is a nice way to wake up.
“You’re excited,” I deadpanned.
“I am. It was a pretty good night,” she said.
“I’m glad you had a good night,” I said. “I know you were worried it was going to be a waste of time.”
She stopped and pulled away from me. She was smiling that smile that dazzled, that lit up the room even when the lights were off. “Okay, before you get really, really lucky, I just have to tell you this, because I’m going to burst if I don’t.” Her voice sounded giddy.
“Okay,” I said, laughing. I couldn’t remember ever seeing her that excited.
She inhaled, and her eyes widened charmingly. “Well, I was at the party, you know, and there were all these celebrities there. Ben Affleck was one of them, and he came up to me while I was talking to some reporter about the buffet- he had a complaint about one of the cold dishes, and I guess he thought I was with catering, anyway- Ben Affleck came up to me and started chatting me up.”
I felt excited for her. At least, I could feel my heart pounding in my chest as she spoke. “Don’t pause!” I said.
Her smile got bigger; she was using it to keep the giggles at bay. “He came on to me! I think I could have slept with him tonight, but I didn’t, because I’m in a committed relationship with you!”
She then leaned forward and started kissing me, first on the mouth, then on the neck. It felt quite good, but I was confused as to why she’d stopped telling her story. “You had the chance to sleep with Ben Affleck and you didn’t?” I asked, incredulous.
“I told him I was with someone. Dating someone,” she breathed, absent-mindedly. She was licking my ear, so her mouth was right there- she didn’t need to say it too loudly. “You.”
I pulled away from her. I tried to keep my voice from sounding scolding. “Honey, if you have the chance to sleep with someone famous, you do it!”
“What?” The light in her eyes was almost completely extinguished. “Are you serious?”
“Now, I’m going to have this on my conscience. I’ve deprived you of the opportunity to sleep with someone famous- and an Academy Award winner, no less! -And by the way, I don’t think William Goldman wrote the screenplay for ‘Good Will Hunting.’”
She pulled away from me, her entire manner completely changed. “Okay, Richard, this isn’t funny anymore. Actually, it never was. Are you saying that if- if-” she struggled to think of someone “-if Jewel came on to you, that you would sleep with her?”
“Of course I would!” I said. “She’s famous!”
“So, we’re not in a committed relationship? I thought you were my boyfriend!”
“I am,” I said. “And you’re my girlfriend. But, if you get a chance to sleep with someone famous, you do it!” It was an important point, and apparently bore repeating.
“Wait. Just so we’re clear. We’re in a committed relationship. We are boyfriend and girlfriend. But if either of us gets the chance to sleep with someone famous, we should?”
“Absolutely,” I said. It seemed perfectly obvious to me. “That is an exciting thing to be able to say about yourself,” I said. I shook my head in wonder. “Could you imagine, being able to say, ‘I slept with Ben Affleck’?”
“But I’m with you!”
“And I’m with you,” I said, reaching out to take her hand. She pulled away even further. The bed had never been that big before.
“What qualifies as ‘famous’?” She persisted. “Just so I know who I can and can’t sleep with. Do contestants from ‘Survivor’ count? Could I sleep with Colby?”
“Colby” referred to one of the contestants on the second season of “Survivor.” It was a show we watched together.
I thought about that. “If he wins, maybe,” I said. “But basically, if you have to ask, he’s not famous enough.”
“I have to ask anyway, you jackass- it’s your idea! I don’t understand it at all. You seem to be saying that your celebrity exception is any celebrity that will sleep with you.”
I nodded. “You’ve got it,” I said. “I don’t want to prevent you having an experience like that, and I don’t want to be deprived of it, myself.”
“What about Billy Bob Thornton?” she asked. I could tell from her expression that she thought she had me. We’d once discussed how unattractive she thought he was.
“Yeah,” I said. “He’s a famous Academy Award winner.” I didn’t share her distaste for Billy Bob Thornton, anyway. I probably would have been excited to sleep with someone who’d slept with Angelina Jolie.
“So, I should have slept with Ben Affleck,” she said.
I nodded. There wasn’t anything more to say, really. I think we both knew it was over at that point. How could I trust her judgment, after this? That night we spent together without enthusiasm, and when she left the next morning, she left her key on the table beside the bed.
I regret not telling her about our “celebrity exception” rule sooner. It might have saved her the regret of missing out on a night with Ben Affleck.