"So then I go, 'There's no way this is working out. You're like here, Kris,'" she says, her left palm one bookend, "'and I'm like here,'" her right hand the opposing bracket.
"Miss Kim," the on-call manicurist gently chides. Kim relinquishes her left hand to the woman's care.
We're in Kim's dressing room, a staging area between the master bedroom and a gallery-sized closet. Wearing a silk nightgown that conforms to her many curves, Kim sits at a narrow mahogany table while the manicurist performs weekly maintenance. The Korean woman makes herself available to Kim twenty-four/seven.
I'm in a French Empire chair a few feet to Kim's side. Even though I've got my digital recorder, I furiously take notes, mostly to keep from laughing.
An electronic hum sends Kim's iPhone skating across the table. She lifts it to her face with her free hand. Reading the text message as her lips form the words, she shrieks, "Oh my God! Rob's totaled the Porsche. He'd only had it, like, a month!"
The manicurist coos sympathetically. I feel an all-too-rare surge of religious faith.
This is the state to which I've been reduced. I'm Kim's Boswell, she my Dr. Johnson. Most writers would kill for this. I may kill because of it. Whether the victim will be Kim or myself is TBD.
It's our first full session. I got the job after ghosting for Lindsay, but that project was scrapped because Lindsay was almost always ripped or incarcerated. This time, if Kim and her people like the result, I may get an 'as told to' credit. In this line of work, that's the ne plus ultra. I'll finally be able to kiss the last of my student loans goodbye, a free woman.
Kim presses a key with her thumb and sets the phone back on one of the in-laid ivory accents on the tabletop. I have to admit, she's got incredibly dexterous thumbs. The manicurist has finished the left hand and begins the rough work of shaping the nails on the right with a diamond-embedded file.
"So, where was I?" Kim asks, wrenching her gaze from the iPhone. She has the attention span of a gerbil with ADHD.
"Uh, you and Kris." I hold my hands wide apart to put her back in the moment.
"Right. I mean, I just don't get it. One minute, we're totally on the same page, the next, I don't even know him. That's what I said to him: 'I don't even know you.' He's like, 'what are talking about?' Then I go, 'If you have to ask, it just shows you're not here for me.' Can you believe it?"
I shake my head. "No, it's totally unbelievable. So tell me, how did it make you feel? Personally, I can see it both ways. Because it was over so quickly, it's no biggee." I want to slap myself, but I know I need the right language to draw Kim out. "Or, because the wedding was so...fantabulous…and things didn't work out, it was just tragic."
The manicurist is done sculpting and begins painting. I can't see the design from where I'm sitting, but I know it's probably floral and intricate. I imagine the woman in another time and place decorating Fabergé eggs.
"Oh, God, I felt so mixed up. Like, I was really glad I made such a huge decision. I mean, it takes a really big person to say 'my bad.' But then I'm also really sad because I've let so many people down. I wonder, will I have to return the Vera Wang? And what about all the swag? It's weird to keep them, but it's weird to give them back. What do I do?"
Problems I can't imagine. "So, what did you decide?"
"Well, I didn't. Like there's no rush."
I sense we've finished plumbing the depths of her failed marriage. Maybe another tack, something to frame the rest of the discussion. "Kim, how do you want people to remember you?"
Kim turns to look at me. Her chiseled brows form perfect Roman arches. Was I too abrupt? "'Remember me?' Hey, it's not like I'm about to croak, Steph."
"Hands here, please," the manicurist clucks. Kim lays her fingers over a lacquered cylinder before a tiny electric fan. In some respects, she's really quite patient.
"Sure," I respond, "but suppose you look back on your legacy in a few years. What do you want people to say about you?" This is inevitably what Kim's people will focus on. If I get this right, the rest should be a breeze.
Kim closes her eyes. Creases line her normally pristine forehead. She purses her lips. "Well, like a bunch of stuff. That I'm totally cool, of course. That I'm really hot. Yeah, hot, even when I'm older. That I'm a really super friend. Course, I want people to say I'm really open. I mean, how many people would let the TV cameras into their lives?"
Who would be stupid enough to watch it? I look up from my notes. Kim is staring at me. Her brows and the crease between them underline her forehead. Could I have said that out loud?
"Eun, that's enough for today."
"But Miss Kim, your nails, they need another few minutes for drying."
"It's OK. Remember, I need you Friday before Oprah."
Eun nods and heads off through the bedroom. In about five minutes, she'll reach the front door.
Kim rises and moves to the Chesterfield sofa that lies beneath an arched window. She sits, then pats the cushion to her right her while looking my way. I'm being summoned.
I obey. As soon as I sit, she says, "You think I can't read that look on your face?"
Blood fills my cheeks. I need this gig. "Look? What look?" I ask.
"Oh no, Kim, that's not..." She raises her hand to stop me. The lie is hard enough without the interruption.
"You think I'm a ditzy bitch, don't you?"
Doesn't everyone! "The thought never occurred to me."
"Too bad. You know how hard I work to cultivate this role? It's exhausting." Her voice has lost its breathy quality and is half an octave lower.
"Role?" I ask.
"Role. Do you have any idea why I chose you for this?"
Frankly, I was surprised I got the job. Now I wouldn't be shocked if I lost it. "Um, there was the Lindsay thing I worked on. Plus we have the same birthday, right?"
She shakes her head slowly. "Yeah sure, the experience helps. But it's the Yale degree, the essays. I've read nearly everything you've published. It convinced me that you could keep the myth going as well as anyone."
Myth? "But I thought you were exactly the way you looked on TV."
She beams. "Good! Then you do buy the ditzy bitch thing. Look, your job is to fill in the backstory for the character. It's a chance to use those creative skills. Don't you see that?"
Is she on the level? "Sure, I guess. So you're not really the way you look. And act?"
She sighs loudly. Dramatically. "You think Johnny Depp's a pirate? You believe he's got scissors on his wrists? You need to wise up, girl. Picture yourself as a screenwriter. Reality TV is the toughest genre. Real life is tedious, even mine. Your job—our job—is to engage," she says, fist against her heart. "I am the raison d'etre for my public. I give them someone to lust after, to envy, to despise. You've got to help me make it happen."
I slink back in the sofa. I feel not just plain next to Kim, but dwarfed.
Kim puts a hand on my arm. "What did you think, you're some kind of third-rate Boswell?"
I look at my feet and mutter, "Well, yes."
"Then get with it!" she says, gripping my arm tightly. "You're in the molten core of the creative world. You'll either melt or erupt in glory. Cheer up and get with the program!"
What was I thinking? How could I have been so naïve? I sit up straight in my chair and smile weakly. "I'm sorry, I guess I made certain assumptions."
"It's OK. It takes a while to get into character. But you can do this. After all, we're a team!" Now she's smiling broadly.
"Right." I say. My eyes begin to tear.
"You OK, honey?" she asks gently. She leans over and puts her arms around my shoulders, my head nestling in her prodigious bosom. She caresses my upper back. "You know, Boswell made up half the shit he wrote."
"Totally," I whisper.
BIO: Jeremy Gluck holds a B.A. in Literature from U.C. Berkeley and a more practical Ph.D. in Economics from Stanford. After a career on the Dark (Financial) Side, he has returned to his first love. He lives in Northern California and has never met Kim Kardashian.