Margarita time. Consider this: a regular margarita contains approximately 330 calories; 400+ if you're using that gnarsty store bought mix. Do not do this. This is what fat-asses do. Nix the mix and use fresh limes instead, eliminate the triple sec, bring in the agave syrup—congratulations, you're at 220 calories. Now if you're really bright, you give the agave nectar the boot (ankle boots are best if your calves aren't chunky) and get yourself a bottle of sugar-free triple sec syrup—zero calories, acceptable orange flavor, and the tequila kills the weird taste of the sucralose, which studies show destroys good gut bacteria, thereby leading to weight gain and obesity, and also reduces the effectiveness of any medication you might be taking, not to mention the toxic byproduct it produces when baked. But whatever, we're not baking, and it's zero calories, which is what's important if you're striving for the world's skinniest margarita. We're talking 140. If you skip dinner, you can drink six of these and not be fat the next day.
Brie and her neighbor Shauna are working on skinny marg numero tres when Krystal, Shauna's coworker at the M.A.C. store, arrives with reinforcement tequila, coconut water, and a pack of smokes. "They hired that HeShe," Krystal says, dropping her giant purse on the carpet and tapping the pack of Parliaments against the heel of her palm. "We're going extinct!"
"It's official," Shauna says. "Boys are prettier than girls."
Brie loves to hear them bemoan the death of the female M.A.C makeup artist. It was novelty at first, a shemale popping up at a counter here and there, their liquid eyeliner just a bit more precise, their lean hips and absence of cellulite enabling them to better rock the mini. In the beginning, it was only the Filipinos, a random Thai, but today you see Ladyboys of all colors: Latino, Puerto Rican, Black, White. There's even talk of some faux Jewess in The Valley. "I mean, seriously," Krystal says, lighting a smoke. "What are we gonna do? We're down to four biological vaginas at our store. Today, this like, eighty-year-old woman whose parents probably owned slaves came in and turned me down three times, saying she'd rather wait for Kyra, who's so confident at this point he doesn't even try to disguise his voice. He has the hottest fucking boyfriend I've ever seen in my life, I swear to God. They're taking everything from us!"
Brie is mixing Krystal up a double skinny. "It's retail, Girls. The general public is the problem. That shit would not be tolerated at The Center. My clients would never take beauty advice from a penis, no matter how pretty." Brie hands Krystal her drink and walks to the vertical blinds to draw them, opening the window to ventilate the cigarette smoke. It's a smoke-free building, but you would think the guy who lives downstairs has emphysema or something by the way he complains. Brie lights a cigarette of her own. "I'm telling you," she says, exhaling through the open window. "Invest in yourself and level up. I could groom both of you to be top-selling anti-aging ambassadors if you had the required certificates and were willing to commit to a more natural style of makeup."
Brie watches Krystal and Shauna trade glances, their slicked back hair, smoky eyes, and sticky lips mirror images of one another. True, Brie is on the hunt for a mentor, but that doesn't mean she can't life coach a flock of neighboring apartment dwellers of lower ambition. To them, her designer clothes, two-bedroom digs, and genteel patterns of speech evince a sophisticate in their midst, and Brie sees no reason to disabuse them of this notion. For all she knows, it's true. The Buddha says, The mind is everything. What you think you become, but here in Los Angeles, things are done a bit differently. In LA, the face is everything. What you look like you just might be.
A text from Gabe in apartment 4D sends the girls scrambling to the bathroom for freshening. Gabe is bringing his friend Adam up for drinks, and Adam is a known quantity courtesy of Gabe's Facebook account, which was left logged in on Brie's computer one night and the password remains saved. This is what is known about Adam: he's hot in a Jake-Gyllenhaal-with-male-pattern-baldness sort of way, he golfs, he believes "Life is swell" when he is paddle-boarding in Cabo, he took his mom out for brunch on Mother's Day, his sister just had twins, and his relationship field changed from "It's complicated" to "Single" three months ago.
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Brie Baggio thinks she's ready... for marriage, kids, the whole shebang. She's pushing forty, and even though she's the Senior Anti-Aging Ambassador at Los Angeles's hottest med spa, Botox can't paralyze that nagging feeling that it's now or never...