[Ed. note: this article was originally published on November 25th, 1996]
Tyler Kidd is in town and James Dieke is afraid. And excited.
To hear his wife, Winnie, tell it, James and the Famous Movie Star are old friends. “Tyler Kidd? Don’t even ask,” Winnie will say if somebody does ask (and they do, since Winnie makes sure of it by dropping Tyler Kydd’s name at every opportune moment). “Tyler and James used to be bartenders together. On Martha’s Vineyard. When they were in college. A million years ago.” And then: “He’s just a regular guy, you know.” Pause. “He was best man at our wedding.”
James has always suspected that Winnie considers his friendship with Tyler an asset. Like owning a house in the country. (Which they do, even though, as two earnest journalists, they both know they can’t really afford it—each is secretly hoping the other hits a book deal. Soon.)
The last time James spoke with Tyler (three months ago, Tyler calling from his trailer on location in Mississippi), Tyler said, “I wish hookers were girls you knew. You know, like regular girls who were your friends, but they were hookers, too. So whenever you wanted to have sex with them, you could pay them, and you wouldn’t have to get involved.”
James hadn’t known what to say. That he’d never been with a hooker? That he found prostitution repugnant for moral and feminist reasons?
“Dude?” Tyler said.
“But if you’re friends with them, aren’t you already involved?” James said. “In some manner?”
“I have to go. I’m wanted in makeup,” Tyler had said, like the whole thing was still a big joke to him and always would be.
“Tyler’s in town,” James says now, calling Winnie from his home-office, and being careful to use the fax line because he’s been audited by the I.R.S. three times.
“We should fix him up with someone,” Winnie says.
“I don’t think Tyler Kydd needs to be fixed up,” James says.
“With a normal girl,” Winnie says. “A woman in her 30’s with a real job.”
“I don’t think Tyler Kydd wants to go out with a normal girl.”
“James,” Winnie says, “Tyler is always asking me to fix him up with someone.”
“He’s just says that to make you feel good,” James says.
“Oh. So, in other words, all he really wants to do is fuck dumb, 20-year-old models for the rest of his life.”
“Even when he’s 60?”
“Definitely when he’s 60.”
“He’s always telling me he wants to find the right girl and get married.”
“That’s only because he’s never been married,” James says.
There’s a pause. James hits a few keys on his computer.
“Thank you, James,” Winnie says. “I’ve been waiting for a comment like that, and you just delivered.”
“Can I get off the phone now?” James asks. He types in the word, “Chimpanzees.”
“No, you may not,” Winnie says.
“I’ve got to do an interview. With a man in customs. About the chimp story.”
“Have you ever noticed how every time Tyler Kydd comes into town, you start acting like an asshole”
“No,” James says.
“A big, fucking asshole.”
“Sorry,” James says.
“I won’t tolerate it, James. I will not tolerate what happened last time.”
“What happened last time?” James says.
“So who are you going to fix Tyler up with?” James says. “What about your sister Evie?”
“Evie’s involved,” Winnie says.
“Who isn’t involved with Evie?” Winnie says.
Me, James thinks.