Dazed and Bewildered

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Nothing like a spicy short rib burrito to cleanse the palate after an upsetting encounter with a misguided friend. Brie mows her burrito down at stoplights, her mind racing with everything she wants to say to Marian. "The earth, our bodies, our checkbooks... everything demands balance," she sermonizes on Sepulveda with her mouth full. "Goalmates is about capturing lost revenue on the outside, but what about what we can offer right here at The Center?"

She's Beyoncé again as she strides through the entrance with thirty minutes to spare before her next appointment. She just needs to go wash the burrito spot off her skirt before she locates Marian and gives her all she's got.

Benji comes at her as she exits the Ladies Lounge. "Have you made any progress? We need food, we need drinks... maybe other things. I don't know, what's at a party?"

Brie drops her head back and groans at the burden of life. "Actually," she perks, whipping out a business card. "I have a contact who just launched a craft cocktail business. He's also in the coffee scene. They do events." She hands him the card. "Wanna give him a call?"

Benji's blue eyes bulge. "Can you? I mean he's your friend. Maybe he'll give you a better price? She's being a Nazi about budget."

Brie slips the card back into her purse. "Okay fine, I'll call him." She can feel the anxiety radiating from Benji. "Listen, I'll spend some time tonight doing some planning and I'll run things by you in the morning. Sound good?"

Benji exhales. "Bueno. Brie, you're the best."

Brie dances her eyebrows. He's right, she is the best. Marian is going to flip for her idea. She turns on her heels, her dopamine levels back on track, and struts down the hall in search of her boss.

***

"Come in, come in, just the girl I wanted to see!"

Marian reclines on a service table in her bra and no underwear, scrolling through her email while the new Swiss-Italian waxing specialist paints black dye onto her pubic hair. She gives Brie a little shrug. "It's a bitch getting old."

Brie passes her eyes over Marian's incredible body. She could put girls half her age to shame in a bikini. "Why not just wax it?"

Marian points out a spot that was missed. "Pubic hair is in. Even the mannequins at American Apparel are doing it." Marian sighs and stretches languidly, arching her back at Brie. "I'm thinking of taking a lover. I've earned the right, don't you think?"

Brie stutters and mumbles. "Uhh... sure, I guess."

Marian undulates her body in a subtle circular motion. "You know, when you get to my age, and if you manage to reach my level of success, you start to realize that there's more out there than just the prescribed markers of happiness..."

Brie clasps her hands together. "Actually, this is exactly what I'm here to talk to you about. I've been thinking—"

"You think to yourself, I'm human, I'm a sexual beast, and my attraction to others shouldn't be governed by what society deems acceptable. Who cares if I'm a married, heterosexual woman? I think I've worked hard enough to have earned the right to surrender to the invisible chemistry that draws two people together, no matter what defines them." Marian snatches the brush from the Swiss-Italian girl's hand and paints on another coat. "So I'm thinking of fucking a woman, is what I'm saying, and my sense is that women like pubic hair. It's the men who like it bald, so they can indulge their pre-pubescent sexual fantasies, which—I was loco on Champagne and painkillers the other night, thinking, Huh, girls start bleeding at the very age that men hold in their dark secret minds as the peak of erotic fantasy. It's biological, symbiotic, and it's just the artificial world we've built that dictates that it's wrong—but then I sobered up and wow, I really don't agree with that."

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