The truly pathetic thing about the whole affair is how Alex actually is the one who introduced Kirsten to her last two boyfriends.
He and Jake were doing Donnie Darko together. Okay, Alex had what basically amounted to a cameo, but Jake was cool and Maggie was hilarious. They were an excuse. A good one even, not that Alex ever needed one with Kristen.
Alex doesn’t remember much about the visit, only that it was great until it wasn’t.
Jonny was pretty much the same deal.
Alex never learnt any lesson that stuck when it came to Kristen.
Alex, Jason and Sofia have always known each other. Well, Jason and Sofia are cousins so they were always going to. Alex is – well, he’s Alex and he’s around.
In the late 90s, they meet Kirsten.
Sofia meets her first, because Sofia is like that. She’s the cool kid that everyone wants to sit next to in class, the girl that hangs out with Marc Jacobs before he’s Marc Jacobs, the person who loves that new band before anyone else has even learn their name, so of course she meets Kirsten first.
When Kirsten needs a prom dress, Sofia lends her the dress Sofia wore to the Golden Globe awards. It’s around the Jason meets Kristen. Sofia introduces them. Or more accurately, she offers him as Kirsten’s date. Fully trained; Prom King material – that’s what Sofia tells Kirsten much to Jason’s chagrin. (Kirsten ends up going with a friend).
Alex meets Kirsten after the fact. They’re all ex-child stars by then, except for Jason who is now a drummer.
“I’m a singer,” Alex says.
“You were,” Sofia corrects. “Until my father decided to cast you as a drunken youth.”
At this, Kirsten laughs.
It’s funny, but she never really stops.
Alex grew up with Jason, Sofia, and Kirsten.
At least in his head they did. Sure, he might have been there along side them for most of it, but just because he was there didn’t mean he was apart of it. At least, not the way he always wanted. At the end of the day it was really Jason, Sofia and Kirsten who grew up together. They were the ones to tumble through the Hollywood ringer; tightly holding onto each other, making sense out of it all through each other.
Alex just happened grow up in the same place at the same time they did.
And although Jason may be one Alex’s closest friends and Kirsten is pretty much it for Alex, he’s never fooled himself into thinking he’s either of those things for them. He isn’t. He’s just Alex, the guy they’ve known since they were kids and they guy they still know now. They hang out with the same people and go to the same parties and run into each other at restaurants but that’s just LA. It isn’t special.
Maybe that’s why Alex ends up friends with Ryan. He might not be LA, but Ryan’s always understood what it’s like to be on the outside. Alex thinks that’s why they get each other they way the do. But Ryan’s never understood what it’s like to be on the outside of that sort of friendship. Maybe it’s a Hollywood thing. Or maybe it’s just because Ryan’s never been apart of something that Spencer wasn’t apart of too.
It would be a lie to say Alex has never envied Ryan and Spencer.
(It’s a good thing Alex is an excellent liar).
“Were you ever in love with her?” Alex asks Jason once.
“Kiki?” Jason repeats. “I don’t know. Probably. Most people are, at least for a while.”
Alex nods. But ‘for a while’ is a long time for him.
Jens Lekman writes her a song. When Alex finds out, he ends up telling Ryan which is stupid because Ryan doesn’t get it. He wouldn’t.
“Is it any good?” he asks, curious.
Alex makes a face. “Does that matter? It’s a song, all about her.”
He can tell Ryan thinks it does matter. But it doesn’t. It could be good or bad or anything, but she’s listened to it. That’s what matters.
When Gia Coppola calls to tell Alex that she’s calling in one of the many favours he owes her, she doesn’t really have to do a hard sell. Alex doesn’t mind doing the odd cameo for a friend. His filmography is mostly made up of them. He supposes he has more friends than most.
“I owe you,” she says never the less.
“No you don’t.”
And she doesn’t, nor does Jason.
It’s not even surprising when Alex turns up to the Coconut Record video shoot to find Kirsten perched on the counter in the make up trailer. Her hair is loose and she’s already been dressed in a pretty sundress that floats around her knees.
“Hey kid,” he says, handing her his hat and jacket for her to hang up.
“Late again Greenwald,” she comments, the corner of her eyes crinkling in amusement. “How are you going to get anywhere in this town if you can’t get to places on time.”
He shrugs. “Friends in high places?”
“That,” she sighs dramatically, “Or the proverbial casting couch.”
“There’s nothing proverbial when I’m on it,” he tells her.
It’s lame but makes her laugh and Alex can’t claim much ambition beyond that.
Gia doesn’t really need him to do much. He plays a bartender. The extent of his role consists of handing Jason and Kirsten a drink. So roughly five seconds of screen time, if that. The shoot is casual and Alex doesn’t mind sticking around and helping with equipment. Unpaid labour is unpaid labour after all and Gia isn’t one to say no to an extra pair of hands.
At the end of the day he is exhausted. Over by the deck, Jason is pulling out beer and saying something about ordering food. Gia is nodded. Her nose burnt pink from the sun. Alex closes his eyes and stretches his arms above his head. His swears he hears his spine crack. It’s awful what getting old does to the human body. When he opens his eyes, Kristen is grinning at him.
She shakes her head, her expression sun bleached and enigmatic.
He’s known her since he was a stupid kid. He should be tired of her by now.
“I wish I still had a band,” he tells her.
“Why is that?”
“Then you could be in my music videos.”
“Oh, Alex,” she groans. “That was awful.”
“Yeah,” he allows. “But it’s true.”
And it is.
Maybe Sofia was right all along; Alex is nothing until someone tells him he’s something.