I shouldn’t rely on my own infatuated brain here; I need to bring in reinforcements. I can’t call Robert and I definitely can’t call Jeff. He’d skin me alive for even suggesting it. I won’t even bother to call Lulu, because she already wants me to pole dance down at Private Eyes so that I can give her stories to help her empathize and relate in various auditions. Without even asking, I know I can put her in the Fuck Yeah, Marry Him column.
So I do what I always do in this situation: when I can’t talk to Robert, I call my brother.
Older than me by nineteen months, Davis is a bank teller in Milwaukee by day, and a rugby fanatic by all other hours. Where Robert and Jeff are refinement and culture, Davis is mud and beer and cheese sticks. It would never occur to him to grow a beard to be trendy; he grew one in college, years before the hipsters did, purely because he was lazy.
I give him the courtesy of waiting a couple of hours, so I’m nearly frantic by the time I get him on the line at eight. “Did I wake you up?”
“Holls, most of us don’t start work at three in the afternoon.”
“Okay, good.” I begin pacing my tiny kitchen. “I need your solid advice. Robert brought the busker in yesterday to play—”
“Jack?” Davis asks, and then snaps a bite of something crunchy. I’m assuming less apple-slices-for-breakfast and more Cheeto.
“His name is Calvin.”
“Who is Calvin?”
“A different busker than Jack?”
“Oh my God, Davis!”
I close my eyes, leaning my head back on my couch. Something is lumpy beneath me, and I reach down, finding my vibrator. Nice. Perfect moment to feel the full power of my singlehood. I shove it under the other couch cushion.
“Jack is Calvin,” I explain. “I never knew his name, remember? It turns out it’s Calvin.”
“Oh, got it, got it.” A bag crinkles on the other end of the line. “So where did Robert want him to play?”
I groan. “At the theater. Just listen, okay? I’m getting to all that.” Davis has this way of distractedly carrying on conversations while he watches TV or plays on his phone that makes me want to spend my precious money to fly to Milwaukee and just slap him. “So, Calvin is the busker. We’ve learned that he’s Irish. He went to Juilliard.” I wait—no response to this from Davis, so I continue. “Robert brought him in yesterday to play, and he’s amazing. Everyone wanted him to join the orchestra.”
He mumbles, “Okay,” and then laughs at something on the television.
I really need his full brain on this. Despite claiming to be a rugby brute, Davis is sharp as a blade. So I retaliate with force, using the nickname he despises. “Dave.”
“Ew. Gross, Holland.”
“Turn off The Bachelor. Listen to me.”
“I’m watching last night’s John Oliver.”
“But can you listen? Nasty Brian suggested I marry Calvin so he could join the show when Ramón Martín comes on.”
The sound of the television disappears in the background, and Davis’s voice returns, stronger. “He what?”
“Calvin isn’t here legally,” I explain, “and because it’s going to be really hard to get him a visa, Brian blurted out in a meeting that I could marry him, just for the run of the show.”
“Davis,” I say quietly, “just let me try to explain all sides, okay?”
I wonder whether this is a huge mistake. Davis is my buddy and in all ways a laid-back bro, but inside that round torso is a heart that beats wildly for his family with a type of loyalty that seems rare these days. How can I admit that I don’t hate the prospect of marrying Calvin even a fraction as much as I should? I feel like I’m defending the idea of marrying a stranger for absolutely zero benefit to myself. At least in Green Card Andie MacDowell got the fucking greenhouse.
“Robert said no,” I assure him. “He wouldn’t even entertain the idea.”
“Good,” Davis cuts in, sharp.
“But—I made a list, Davis, of the pros and con—”
“Well, I mean, absolutely let’s consider it if you have a list.”
“Will you shut up? I know it’s crazy—I do—but you haven’t heard Calvin play, and . . . it’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard. I’m not even musical and I’m obsessed. He would be so good for the production.”
“Holland, are you really considering this? You like him that much?”
“I’m attracted to him,” I admit, “but it’s not like I know him. This isn’t about that.”
“What is it, then? It’s not like you’re all that invested in Possessed. I always had the impression it was just a job for you.”
I hesitate. “I want to do it for Robert. It feels like a chance for me to give back a little.”
“Give back?” Davis repeats. “You work there. You don’t owe them your virginity.”
This makes me laugh. “Right. Unless they have a time turner and can go back to 2008 and Eric Mordito’s basement, I think that ship has sailed.”
It takes him a few seconds to compute and then, “Gross, Holls. Mordito? Eric and I shared a pottery wheel my sophomore year.”