At the airport in Dallas, a pair of twin sisters named Diamond and Diane Hunter greeted me. They already had an apartment, which was close to the college, and I would be sharing it with them. Both Diamond and Diane were only three months older than I was, and they assured me they were mature and responsible adults, not the type to drink and party all the time. Both girls planned to work together as recording artists and songwriters, and they wanted to be actresses, too. I told them about my plans to be a master beautician, and they were impressed. Before I knew it, we were becoming friends.
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During the ride to Austin, Diamond and Diane told me all about a little Texan town named Corpus Christi, where they grew up. I told them that I was born and raised in Canada, and mentioned a few things about the country, including growing up in Calgary. Then I told them about the problem that was affecting my family.
“My little brother, Jesse, is absolutely anti-American,” I said. “Every time I brought up moving, he would just get into my face. I honestly don’t know why he’s acting like this. What’s worse is that my parents can’t figure it out, either. I suspect he got this from some friends of his. All I know is that our parents had never brought us up to be like that, ever. Yesterday, we had a big fight, and he hasn’t spoken to me since. I don’t think he ever will again.”
“It sounds like your brother is extremely ignorant,” Diamond said.
“I tried to tell him that moving here is the best thing, but he won’t listen to me,” I complained. “He won’t listen to what my parents have to say to him, either. It’s always what Jesse thinks, what Jesse knows, how Jesse feels. It’s always Jesse, Jesse, Jesse! I’m Canadian-turned-American, so he thinks I’m a backstabber. Can you believe his nerve?”
“No, but you’ll be fine once you get settled,” Diane said. “Once you get yourself adjusted to this place, you can brag to your brother all you want. How does that sound?” That made me feel good.
Then Diamond and Diane began to tell me a little more about themselves. Like me, they were very infatuated with, “the perfect guys.” They told me all about a club they formed while they were in high school, called The Guy Spies Club. It was, as Diane explained, a club where a group of girls hung out, talked about good-looking guys, watched movies with cute male actors in them, and do other things like that. They asked me to join, and I agreed.
On the way to the college, the girls took me to the state capital building, so I could get dual citizenship. When we got to the college with all my belongings, Diane said, “We’ll get you settled in, and then you can meet all of our friends.”
Diamond and Diane took me to their apartment, then helped me unpack my things. They had moved in earlier in the month, so they already had their things set up. As soon as I got settled, Diamond and Diane took me over to meet their friends, like they promised. All their friends were our age. They all grew up together, attended the same schools, and were even in the same graduating class.
Each girl was also a member of the club. There was Melanie McCall, who had lifetime subscriptions to all the “body and fitness” magazines ever published. There was Renee Gallop, whose bedroom and art studio walls were covered with pictures of male models from calendars. There was Vicki Biloxi, who watched professional football and all its specials to, “check out the hot-looking players,” as she told me. Finally, there was Tamara-Dawn Davis, who liked to travel to the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico on weekends, just so she could take pictures of swimsuit-clad men.
“Each of our friends has her own ambition,” Diamond told me when we got back to our place. “Melanie wants to be an actress in steamy romantic movies. Renee wants to be a professional painter. Vicki wants to be a romance novelist. And Tamara-Dawn wants to be a photographer for fashion magazines, and a photojournalist. They’re going to the Austin Community College, too. They just wanted to live farther away from the school and commute, that’s all.”
“How very interesting,” I said.
“So, would you like to join our club, Hollie?” Diane asked. “It’s a laid-back club, actually. We meet every Wednesday afternoon. There are no positions, and you don’t have to worry about dues and all that other stuff."
“Where do you meet?” I asked.
“We take turns on that, and it’s by volunteering,” she replied. “One week, we’ll meet here; the next week, we’ll probably go to Melanie’s; the week after that, maybe we’ll go to Vicki’s; and so on.”
“So, again we’ll ask, would you like to join our club, Hollie?” Diamond asked.
I put on a big smile. “Definitely.”
Diamond, Diane and I engaged in a group hug. “Welcome to the States, Hollie Springwood,” Diamond said.
I had my first meeting on the Wednesday after my move to Austin. We were meeting in Diane and Diamond’s place, which was now also mine. It was actually a meeting to induct me into the club. Tamara-Dawn removed a photo album that she brought along with her from her tote bag.
Diane took the album from Tamara-Dawn, held it at chest level with both hands, then asked me to stand up and put my right hand on it.
I did as I was instructed. Then I said this oath: “I swear that I will be a true, faithful, honest and trusting guy-watcher, and that I will be loyal to this club forever.” “I now pronounce you a member of The Guy Spies Club,” declared Diane. The room was filled with applause, and when it all died down, Renee brought out the entertainment section from a newspaper dated the day before.
“You guys, check this out,” she said. “This front page article says that the McClung brothers are coming to town to shoot their third western flick. Oh, this is so perfect!”
All of us were staring at Renee with interest. The McClung brothers were our favourite band of western heroes. Their names were Peter, Steve and Bruce, in order from oldest to youngest, and they were all talented and handsome. In Calgary, my friends and I went to see their second film at a downtown movie theatre, as part of an eighteenth birthday party. It was called How to Get a Riverboat Lady. In the movie, the McClungs played three lawman brothers who fall for, and do anything to get, three beautiful sisters while vacationing on a Missouri River showboat in the Wild West. I thought the movie was very good, even though I wasn’t much of a westerns fan.
So, anyway, the McClungs were coming to Austin to film yet another movie. All of us kept asking Renee to keep reading the article, and she did. She came to a good part and read, “Their third movie, Betrayal, sees Peter as a sheriff, and Steve and Bruce as his two deputies, whose lives are suddenly turned upside-down after they catch their brides-to-be having affairs with three members of a suave outlaw gang.”
“Sounds like an interesting plot,” said Tamara-Dawn.
“Oh, what whores those women are,” Melanie snuffed, referring to the unfaithful women described in the article. “I just know that I’m not going to do that to my husband. No, sir! When I’m married, I’m going to keep all relationships with male co-stars as strictly business.”
Vicki was staring at her. She did not look impressed, more like she could care less. “Glad to hear it, Melanie,” she scoffed. She turned at Renee. “Keep reading, girl.”
The plotline of the movie wasn’t the best part. We also learned that the production and direction crews were looking for last minute make-up artists and understudies, and that salary was negotiable. Diamond, Diane, Melanie, Renee and I all looked at each other with interested looks.
“Girls, this could be our big break,” Renee said to us.
But Vicki was a little concerned about it. “Wait a minute,” she said. “What about school, you guys? We have a little over a month to get ready. And once school starts, we’ll be expected to show up to all our classes.”
“Vicki has a point,” said Tamara-Dawn. “How are you going to do that, and go to school at the same time? And, Renee, how would this job apply to you, really? You want to be a painter, not a make-up artist.”
Renee laughed and answered, “Silly. All aspiring artists have to experiment with different mediums. I think that would include make-up. Maybe one day, if they come out with enough shades, I’ll create some magnificent artwork out of mascara and lipstick. Wouldn’t that be neat?”
“When does filming start?”
Renee checked the article. “The end of this month.”
“Don’t worry, Vicki and Tammy,” Diane said. “We’ll talk to the college about the scheduling. Maybe we can get either Fridays or Mondays off.”
“I want Friday,” Melanie said. “My big sister told me that they let students out at noon that day, so why not get the whole day off? Frankly, I don’t want to have to drive to the movie set straight from school.” Diamond, Diane, Renee and I all agreed.
It seemed to satisfy both Vicki and Tamara-Dawn. “I sure hope it works out,” Vicki said to us.
Diamond rolled her eyes. “Of course it will,” she assured her. “Doesn’t it always? Don’t be so skeptical, Vicki.”
“Yeah, think of it as a part-time job that’ll help us pay our way,” I added. Vicki and Tamara-Dawn nodded silently, and the whole room got quiet.