Page 28

Looking into the camera, I say, "I've been to Radu and Pasquale Manocchia-that's Madonna's personal trainer, by the way, baby-and Reed is definitely the first name in celebrity training."

"I have an obsession with biceps, with triceps, with forearm flexors," Reed admits sheepishly. "I have a major sinewy-arm fetish."

"I have the endurance of a horse but my blood sugar's low and I need a Jolly Rancher badly."

"After the next song," Reed says, clapping endlessly. "PowerBar time, I promise."

Suddenly Primal Scream's "Come Together" blares out over the sound system. "Oh god," I moan. "This song is eight minutes and four seconds long."

"How do you know things like that?" the Details girl asks.

"The better you look, baby, the more you see," I pant. "Dat's my motto, homegirl." My beeper goes off and I check it: JD at the club.

"Reed, baby, hand me your cellular." I let go of the rails and dial, smiling into the camera. "Hey Leeza! Look, no hands!"

This causes Reed to push up the speed, which I thought was impossible because I didn't know StairMasters could go past level 10.

"Hey, am I invited to the dinner tonight?" Reed asks. "I didn't see my name mentioned in any of the columns."

"Yeah, you're at table 78 with the Lorax and Pauly Shore," I snap. "JD-talk to me."

"Now don't get too excited, Victor," JD says breathlessly. "But we've-myself, Beau and Peyton-set up an interview with DJ X."

"With who?"

"DJ X. You have a meeting with him at Fashion Cafe at five today," JD says. "He's willing to do the party tonight."

"I'm on a StairMaster now, baby." I'm trying not to pant. "What? Fashion Cafe?"

"Victor, DJ X is the hottest DJ in town," JD says. "Imagine the publicity and then come all over yourself. Go ahead-shoot that load."

"I know, I know. Just hire him," I say.

"Tell him we'll pay anything he wants."

"He wants to meet with you first."

"Oh dear god."

"He needs some kind of reassurance."

"Send him a bag of candy corn. Send him some cute, extrasuckable pacifiers. Tell him you give excellent head... do you?"

"Victor," JD says, exasperated. "He won't do it without meeting you first. We need him here tonight. Do it."

"I'm taking commands from someone who uses the word `dish' as a verb?" I yell. "Shut up."

"Fashion Cafe," JD says. "Five o'clock. I've checked your schedule. You can make it."

"JD, I'm in the middle of becoming some kind of brooding god," I groan. "I mean, is it too f**king much to ask-"

"Fashion Cafe at five. Bye, Victor." JD clicks off.

"JD-don't click off on me, don't you dare click off on me." I click off myself and blindly announce, "I'm suddenly seized by the need to climb."

"I think you've been doing that your whole life, buddy," Reed says sadly.

"You turned down a Reebok ad and that makes you tough?"

After "ET" films me doing a thousand crunches and I've moved over to the Treadwall, an indoor rock-climbing simulator where you stay in one place while climbing, I notice Details girl slouching against a wall, holding her pad under the debut issue of a new magazine called Bubble. It's so cold in the gym that it feels like I'm climbing a glacier.

"Jesus," I moan, noticing the magazine's cover. "Yeah, that's just great. Luke Perry's opinion of Kurt f**king Russell. We need more of that."

"So what's the story?" she asks vacantly. "Excited about tonight?"

"Remember what the dormouse said," I say cryptically, watching Dillon walk by slurping a powershake. "Hey Matt, rock on."

"You're really into this," Details girl says.

"What's wrong with looking good?"

She ponders this semi-thoughtfully. "Well, what if it's at the expense of something else? I'm not implying anything. It's just a hypothetical. Don't be insulted."

"I forgot the question."

"What if it's at the expense of something else?"

"What's... something else?"

"I see." She attempts to complete a facial expression I'd hoped she wouldn't.

"Hey baby, we're all in this together," I grunt, my hands dusted with chalk. "Yeah, I wanna give this all up and feed the homeless. I wanna give this all up and teach orangutans sign language. I'm gonna bike around the countryside with my sketchbook. I'm gonna-what? Help improve race relations in this country? Run for f**king President? Read my lips: Spare me."

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