Home > Last Night at Chateau Marmont(2)

Last Night at Chateau Marmont(2)
Lauren Weisberger

“Do you hate me?” Brooke asked as she arranged her coat on the chair next to her and tossed her wet clutch beside her. She took a long, deep drink of wine and savored the feeling of the alcohol sliding over her tongue.

“Why? Just because I’ve been sitting here alone for thirty minutes?”

“I know, I know, I’m really sorry. Hellish day at work. Two of the full-time nutritionists called in sick today—which if you ask me sounds suspicious—and the rest of us had to cover their rotations. Of course, if we met sometime in my neighborhood, maybe I could get there on time. . . .”

Nola held up her hand. “Point taken. I do appreciate you coming all the way down here. Dinner in Midtown West just isn’t appealing.”

“Who were you just on with? Was that Daniel?”

“Daniel?” Nola looked baffled. She stared at the ceiling as she appeared to rack her brain. “Daniel, Daniel . . . oh! Nah, I’m over him. I brought him to a work thing early last week and he was weird. Super awkward. No, that was setting up tomorrow’s Match dot-com date. Second one this week. How did I get so pathetic?” She sighed.

“Please. You’re not—”

“No, really. It’s pathetic that I’m almost thirty and still think of my college boyfriend as my only ‘real’ relationship. It is also pathetic that I belong to multiple online dating sites and date men from all of them. But what is most pathetic—what is bordering on inexcusable—is how willing I am to admit this to anyone who will listen.”

Brooke took another sip. “I’m hardly ‘anyone who will listen.’”

“You know what I mean,” Nola said. “If you were the only one privy to my humiliation, I could live with that. But it’s as though I’ve become so inured to the—”

“Good word.”

“Thanks. It was on my word-a-day calendar this morning. So, really, I’m so inured to the indignity of it all that I have no filter anymore. Just yesterday I spent a solid fifteen minutes trying to explain to one of Goldman’s most senior vice presidents the difference in men on Match versus those on Nerve. It’s unforgivable.”

“So, what’s the story with the guy tomorrow?” Brooke asked, trying to change the subject. It was impossible to keep track of Nola’s man situation from week to week. Not just which one—a challenge itself—but whether she desperately wanted a boyfriend to settle down with or loathed commitment and wanted only to be single and fabulous and sleep around. It changed on a dime, with no warning, and left Brooke constantly trying to remember whether this week’s guy was “so amazing” or “a total disaster.”

Nola lowered her lashes and arranged her glossed lips into her signature pout, the one that managed to say, “I’m fragile,” “I’m sweet,” and “I want you to ravish me” all at the same time. Clearly, she was planning a long response to this question.

“Save it for the men, my friend. Doesn’t work on me,” Brooke lied. Nola wasn’t traditionally pretty, but it didn’t much matter. She put herself together so beautifully and emanated such confidence that men and women alike regularly fell under her spell.

“This one sounds promising,” she said wistfully. “I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until he reveals some sort of colossal deal breaker, but until then, I think he’s perfect.”

“So, what’s he like?” Brooke pressed.

“Mmm, let’s see. He was on the ski racing team in college, which is why I clicked on him in the first place, and he even did two seasons as an instructor, first in Park City and then in Zermatt.”

“Perfection so far.”

Nola nodded. “Yep. He’s just about six foot, fit build—or so he claims—sandy blond hair, and green eyes. He just moved to the city a few months ago and doesn’t know a lot of people.”

“You’ll change that.”

“Yeah, I guess. . . .” She pouted. “But . . .”

“What’s the problem?” Brooke refreshed both their glasses and nodded to the waiter when he asked if they’d both like their usual orders.

“Well, it’s the job thing. He lists his profession as ‘artist.’” She pronounced this word as though she were saying “pornographer.”

“So?”

“So? So what the hell does that mean. Artist?”

“Um, I think it could mean a lot of things. Painter, sculptor, musician, actor, wri—”

Nola touched her hand to her forehead. “Please. It can mean one thing only and we both know it: unemployed.”

“Everyone’s unemployed now. It’s practically chic.”

“Oh, come on. I can live with recession-related unemployment. But an artiste? Tough to stomach.”

“Nola! That’s ridiculous. There are plenty of people—loads of them, thousands, probably millions—who support themselves with their art. I mean, look at Julian. He’s a musician. Should I never have gone out with him?”

Nola opened her mouth to say something but changed her mind. There was an awkward moment of silence.

“What were you going to say?” Brooke asked.

“Nothing, it’s nothing. You’re right.”

“No, really. What were you just about to say? Just say it.”

Nola twirled her wineglass by the stem and looked like she’d rather be anywhere but there. “I’m not saying that Julian isn’t really talented, but . . .”

“But what?” Brooke leaned in so close that Nola was forced to meet her eyes.

“But I’m not sure I would call him a ‘musician.’ He was someone’s assistant when you met. Now you support him.”

“Yes, he was an intern when we met,” Brooke said, barely even attempting to hide her irritation. “He was interning at Sony to learn the music industry, see how it works. And guess what? It’s only because of the relationships he built there that anyone paid him any attention in the first place. If he hadn’t been there every day, trying to make himself indispensable, do you think the head of A&R would’ve taken two hours of his time to watch him perform?”

“I know, it’s just that—”

“How can you say he’s not doing anything? Is that really what you think? I’m not sure if you realize this, but he has spent the last eight months locked away in a Midtown recording studio making an album. And not just some vanity project, by the way; Sony actually signed him as an artist—there’s that word again—and paid him an advance. If you don’t think that’s proper employment, I really don’t know what to tell you.”

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