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6. Nip Slip

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After meeting 12 new people in just over an hour, I was very much in need of some time for rest and recuperation. Unfortunately, Veronica and her team had other plans. 

We had been allowed all of 20 minutes in our trailers, to have a snack and a drink and maybe pour out some nerves to our team. Camryn, Jared and I merely sat in the trailer, scrolling through our Twitter feeds while Vic ranted about one of his neighbors (I swear, the bastard was asking me to run over his tulips!) and threw a tennis ball repeatedly against the trailer wall. We were all content to sit and unwind to our own peculiar rhythm: Thump, scroll scroll. Thump, scroll, scroll. Thump, scroll, scroll, rolllllll.

Thump, the ball hit the wall. Scroll, scroll; retweet that stan account that I knew I shouldn't have followed as a 26 year old but, hey, everybody's got a guilty pleasure. And rolllllll on the (common) occasion that Vic didn't catch the ball rebounding, and instead it rolled across the floor until coming to a stop against my foot.

I almost expected Camryn or Jared to break into a freestyle rap, over this unique little beat of life, when the trailer door was flung open to the arid California heat.

An intern looked around awkwardly and adjusted his round glasses. "It's time for the next shooting, they want you in the main foyer."

I turned to Camryn. "My makeup holding up okay?"

"You look like you just stepped off the cover of Vogue," she replied. I gave her a wide smile and thanked them for waiting with me. 

"No problem, sweets," Jared replied, waving me off. 

I stepped out of the trailer as the wiry intern stuck his head back into it.

"Oh, and Ms. Pratt says you're needed as well, Mr. Fratelli."

I could almost see Vic's eyes light up through the trailer wall. 

"Ooh, hear that? He's needed," I heard Camryn say as we walked across the lawn to the front door, once again.

We ducked inside the foyer and were led across it, this time up the stairs carpeted in midnight blue, and across the landing, into a sort of ballroom. I'm not sure that that's what it was, since people living in 2017 didn't have much of a pressing need for ballrooms, but I couldn't think of anything else that you would use a room like that for. It was all high, gilded ceilings and floor-to-ceiling, elaborately paneled glass, which gave the impression that one was outside, with the amount of sunlight it allowed in.

I found myself more than a little overwhelmed, once again.

I looked around; the other contestants were standing awkwardly on the edges of the large room, clumped up with their agents and tentative friends, looking like teenagers from different social strata at a high school dance. I spotted Andrew making small talk with some other guys (I tried to think of their names, but came up empty- Tyler? Zeke?) and then Patrick, on the edge of the crowd, looking aloof and somewhat disinterested.

I spotted Uriah, too, talking to some girls. He gave me a polite nod of acknowledgment when he saw me and Vic walk in. I looked hesitantly to Vic-trying to convey the inner sense of panic I was feeling with my eyes, silently imploring him: What do I do? Do I play nice girl, try to socialize?

Luckily, I was saved the trouble when Veronica clicked in on her sensible, fashionable, navy 2-inches. A woman with a headset and clipboard followed behind her, and I was surprised to see a small boy tugging at the hem of her skirt, trying to hand her a slobbery toy car.

"Victor!" Veronica called authoritatively from near the door. We looked up to see her motioning him over, and I gave him a sidelong, knowing glance. He chose to ignore me, instead scurrying over to her. After an awkward moment of hesitation, I decided to follow him.

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