A: It was incredible, Don! He was eating out of my hand. I mean, sure, most of my marriages have been on the quick side, but this time I was really on fire. I felt so smooth and confident! I really felt like I could pull this thing off. So anyway, he moved in and he’s upstairs sleeping off his humiliation right now.
D: I gotta say. I’m impressed.
A: The only thing is, Don, I like him. I mean, I really like him. He’s wonderful. I’m afraid it’s going to be difficult to keep my emotions out of the whole process.
D: Well, you get better at that with experience. I can give you some tips. Listen, how’s your other aspiration coming along?
A: Oh, the Friend of the World thing? Awesome! I just need a best friend to finish my current milestone, and I was going to ask Eliza as soon as she wakes up.
D: No, I mean your other other aspiration. The one you spent most of your previous lives working on.
A: Oh . . . . yeah I should probably go plant something, huh? Oh, good morning sunshine!
A: You look refreshed and handsome. Listen I’ve just got to pop outside and do a bit of gardening, but then we can go on a date later and hash out some details, k?
A: Gardening. It’s always gardening. Just once I’d like to do something exotic and exciting, like logic.
E: So you’re the handyman, huh? You look remarkably handy, I must say. You’re probably the handiest-looking fellow I’ve ever seen.
D: You should see me repair a stereo. S’cuse me a second, I think I hear some handiwork knocking at the door. You let me know if you need anything fixed, though, alright?
Arianna: Don, leave her alone. She has a husband to fix things for her. Now go answer the door. Eliza, come out here. I want to ask you something.
Don: Good afternoon, Nina, darling. How lovely of you to stop by.
A: So, I’ve got an opening for a best friend, and you are by far and away the best candidate. What do you say?
E: Are you kidding me? I’d love to! This is the best day ever!
A: Love you, Liz. Thank you for everything.
E: You ain’t seen nothing yet, bestie. We are going to work this dynasty until it shines! When can we get pregnant? Bob and I are ready at a moment’s notice!
A: Just let me practice my speaking in the mirror for a bit. I promise as soon as I’ve got this first aspiration nailed down and I can start my job we’ll both jump on the baby train, okay?
Later that day . . .
J: Oh, man. Arianna! You are never going to guess what whim I just popped. I can hardly believe it myself. This has been such a crazy day. Do you want to be my girlfriend?
A: Oh . . . . um . . . .no. Thank you, though! Just . . . no.
J: Okay, cool. I’m going to go hide from everyone in the bed for a few.
Don: Arianna, I’m going to go ahead and finish fixing this stereo, but then could I speak to you outside for a sec?
Nina: Oh, boy did you ever blow it. J is a total catch. You should have heard yourself, “Oh, um, no, I blah blah blah . . “ So lame.
Arianna: Go home, Nina. You’re juiced.
A: Don, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I know! I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know what I was thinking. I just . . . I like him, and he likes me, and I just maxed charisma, so I was feeling really confident, and then he was there and I wasn’t expecting it and . . . I just don’t know if I can go through with this.
D: Arianna, he’s the key to the whole operation. This doesn’t happen without J. You know that.
A: I do! I do, I just . . . I have to tell him, Don. If this is going to be real, if we’re actually going to be in a relationship, then I have to come clean. I can’t have secrets between us.
D: That is not part of the plan.
A: Well, then we’re changing the plan. This is not just an operation; this is my life, and it’s J’s life, too. It’s going to be a good life, and an honest life, and I won’t have him finding out at the end of it that I was using him. He’s got to be in on it, and that’s final.
A: So, J, thank you for agreeing to come on this date with me. I know this is a little awkward after . . .
J: Hey, it’s cool. I’m happy you asked. Could I request ahead of time that I be allowed regular bathroom breaks, though? I’ve been humiliated to the point of near-death a couple of times in the last few days, and I’d really like to avoid that happening again if possible.
A: Yes. Bathroom breaks are allowed.
J: Should we decide on, like, a hand signal in case you’re talking and I don’t want to interrupt you?
A: That won’t be necessary. Look, there are a lot of things you don’t know about me, and I think it’s time I brought you on board. This is not a dynasty for dynasty’s sake, and you weren’t a random spousal choice. It’s kind of a long story . . .
J: I won’t deny, it’s a lot to take in, but hear me out, because I have a few thoughts: 1. This is still a very good deal for me. I get a beautiful, charming spouse, an undoubtedly beautiful child, and I get to live in what is, by all appearances, a near-exact replica of the Von Trapp Villa from The Sound of Music-
A: Yeah, I’m not actually too creative about architecture so when they said, “Build a mansion,” I just went with the first thing that popped into my head.
J: Good. Then, 2. I get to spend my life as I please as long as I work in a little fishing and childcare now and then.
J: So, the only thing that’s new here is that by becoming a willing accomplice to this dynasty, I get to royally cheese off both my father, J Huntington II and my grandfather, J Huntington the original by unraveling the many ridiculous and intricate secrets of my family’s history and wealth.
A: I’m kind of surprised you don’t seem to have a problem with that.
J: Arianna, I hate my family. They’re a bunch of old, secretive, elitist blowhards who care about nothing but maintaining their wealth and power. Why do you think I ran off to live with a bunch of wacky misfits in the desert? Why do you think I wanted to become a bodybuilder? I wanted to make them angry. I wanted them to disapprove. I wanted to get away and do everything in my power to ruin my pretentious, prestigious family name. What you’re offering me is a chance to do all that on a much grander scale, and I’m very excited about this opportunity.
A: Wow, you are just full of surprises, aren’t you?
J: Look who’s talking.
J: So, is that everything? Will you be my girlfriend now? I’m still hanging on to that whim, you know.
A: You’re amazing. Of course I will.
J: And now, as punishment for rejecting me the first time, I will subject you to some impassioned, angst-ridden poetry on the subject of love and heartbreak.
A: *gritting teeth* I deserve this. I deserve this . . .