At your interview you told me you lived in Malibu. You had a new wife and a couple of dogs and you could walk to the ocean. You had been working as a freelance personal trainer. You were tan and your hair was sunstreaked. You seemed kind of floppy and content. Like a golden retriever.
I told you that the job would mean long hours. Your days would be spent sitting at a desk. Your meals would be eaten out of styrofoam boxes.
You were excited. You wanted to learn. You were like that golden retriever and truth be told, I didn't think you were very smart. But you were a friend of the star and it was a given that I would hire you. This "interview" was just an exercise.
Just before we started production, you and your new wife moved away from the ocean and into the heat and smog of the valley. You gave up your fitness clients and sharpened your pencils and met the writers in the "room."
Almost immediately I realized I had been wrong about you. You were smart. And funny. And outspoken. You treated the writers the way you might treat a new puppy. You established boundaries and encouraged them to behave.
"Give a man a fish," you said, while showing a producer how to work his printer, "and he eats for a day."
You found a place right around the corner from our office where I could get a green chile cheeseburger that was almost as good as the ones in my hometown. You discovered the family-owned sub sandwich joint at the foot of the Angeles forest. One day, we took a long lunch and drove up the winding road, the Rolling Stones blasting out of your speakers, until we found open space and cool air. We pulled off at the scenic overlook and sat in the dust to eat our sandwiches in silence before heading back to work for another late night.
One night after taping the show we headed out to an Irish bar to get a beer and found a live band. Three pints in, there were ballads sung and jigs danced. Three beers in, you called me a "dame," and you meant it in the best gumshoe novel kind of way. I could drink and smoke and joke just like a guy, you meant. We were solid friends.
One morning, you popped your head over the shared wall of our cubicle.
"We're pregnant," you said, beaming.
When I asked how far along, you said not very. But you had a feeling.
You were right.
You and your family introduced me to trails in the Angeles forest and convinced me to drive from Silverlake to Malibu to drink Starbuck's coffee. When I had my first child, your wife gave me a box of baby wipes and told me to be prepared for the mess.
"We use them for everything," she said. "You can get a lot of cleaning done. No lie."
For one reason and another, our view of you and your family has grown to be a distant one. We keep in touch with holiday letters and cards. Every year, I look forward to opening the envelope that will reveal your oldest girl, the one you knew was on the way.
She has your smile.