#21 - Ordinary Dinner

Krysta plodded down the stairs topless with her Stanford t-shirt slung over one shoulder, having wrapped up her East Coast live chat session only minutes before. As much as she claimed to be trying to break the habit, Krysta's roommates could count on seeing her bare breasts in all their full, pendulous glory at least once every couple days. Of course, neither of them gave her more than a gentle ribbing about it since she did literally own the place.

The aromas of fish, garlic, and assorted spices from the kitchen wafted throughout the ground floor into the living room, where they met the odor of a freshly opened quarter-ounce bag of marijuana. Whitley sat in the corner loveseat meticulously packing her post-practice bowl, a routine that went back to her sophomore year of high school. Also wafting in was the bubbly sound of Alicia humming along to J-pop over the roaring exhaust fan. An empty serving platter on the table sat at the edge of the coffee table littered with a few large chunks of fish skin, indicating that Whitley had already powered through her healthy dinner portion.

“Happy Monday!” Alicia chimed as she entered the living room and presented Krysta with a plate of fried rice and grilled rainbow trout.

"Wow, this is unexpected. I was looking forward to ramen night."

“Me too, but Whitley brought home good stuff!”

Krysta turned towards Whitley. “Good stuff? From you, I would assume that meant you brought us all pot brownies or something.”

"I wish. No, we had our inaugural team meeting-slash-practice today, and Coach Koga brought the coaching staff a bunch of trout steaks she'd caught over the weekend. Apparently, she's the outdoorsy type."

"How did it go?" Krysta asked as she settled onto the couch.

"Anti-climactic. I just stood there and got introduced while Coach Richter droned on about commitment, trust, teamwork, and—“ Whitley stopped to lick and fold shut her bag of weed, “NU Athletics anti-drug policy."

"I imagine some of the players had heard of you, yes?" Krysta asked over the gurgling of Whitley’s bong rip.

"Oh, yeah," Whitley croaked, exhaling a long puff of smoke. "I don't think there was a moment the whole practice when less than half of the team wasn't staring at me. A couple of girls came up to me afterward and gushed a bit. One girl asked me to sign her volleyball after practice. Another even told me she had my picture in her locker in high school. Besides Alicia, who says things like that out loud? "

Krysta gulped down a mouthful of rice. "Well, for all intents and purposes, you are living legend. Whether we are talking the tall lady admirer community or the volleyball community, you are a big deal.” Krysta took another bite, consciously trying to eat at a measured pace. "No pun intended."

"And you're also super crazy hot," Alicia chirped, picking up Whitley's empty platter and setting down a shiny tray of tea and cookies. "I bet at least a couple of those girls were totally into you," she said on her way back to the kitchen. Along with Krysta’s bare breasts, Alicia’s interjections were yet another thing to which Whitley had grown surprisingly accustomed.

"On top of that," Whitley continued, I noticed quite a few not-so-subtle attempts to take pictures of me, both in and out of practice. Sure, it's nothing I haven’t experienced before, but there are a lot more of them because I'm new to the area. Give it a few months and everyone will either have gotten used to me, will have all the pictures they want, or they'll find the thread about me on the tall admirers' message board and get what they need from there."

"Did you catch anyone in the act?" Krysta asked.

"I made eye contact with a few people. A couple guys I caught got embarrassed and turned away immediately, while one girl smiled and waved as if I was supposed to be flattered." Whitley took another hit and exhaled. "What do you two do when you catch people trying to take creeper pics?"

Alicia returned from the kitchen and plopped down on the couch. "I pose for them and give them time to get a good picture, which is cool." Alicia flexed one arm and posed the other with a flourish of her wrist and fingers. "Gotta' push my brand, ya' know?"

"You neglect to mention,” Krysta added, “how you also try to talk to them afterward."

"Yeah, that totally freaks people out," Alicia said, matter-of-factly.

"I don't doubt it," Whitley replied, imagining the brawny Alicia charging towards someone with her unhinged giddiness cranked up to eleven. "What about you, Krysta?"

"Well, first of all, I can hardly blame them. I mean," Krysta held her plate with one hand and gestured around her chest with the other. "I understand the appeal. They are magnificent. For me, though, free pics are lost profits. I put a lot of time and effort into my online content. Having some guy (or gal) ogling me from a poorly-angled creeper pic is, quite frankly, bad business. I have considered having business cards on hand with my website for when I catch people, but that almost seems too sleazy." Krysta scooped up another spoonful of rice and fish. "God, Alicia this is amazing. Will we have leftovers for tomorrow?"

"Probably not. Whitley ate four of the steaks and a mountain of rice." Krysta frowned at Whitley, who casually shrugged back at her.

"Just be happy I waited until after I ate to smoke," Whitley said, before waving at Krysta's still uncovered breasts. "By the way, hey there, girls! Does Alicia need to set out two more plates for them as well?"

“No good, we’re all out of fish,” Alicia said, glued to her phone. “Each boob would only get, like, a half cup of rice tops.”

Krysta looked down at herself and ran her hands along her curves, her face displaying not an ounce of shame. "Yeah, I know. Sorry. It had been a couple months since I demonstrated the nipples-in-mouth trick and...well, the girls are a little sore."

"You know, I’ve been wanting to ask what you do for those. I guess besides suck on your tits, what do you do on camera?"

"I mainly chat about anything and everything. Sure I talk about my body and, of course, my boobs. But I have also talked math and computer science stuff. I even helped a guy with his calculus homework once. The dialogue varies, but the act is the same, I start out covered, normally—but not always—with a good amount of cleavage showing. Five to ten minutes later I am in my bra, and in another five to ten I am topless. Then I ride that out for the rest of the time.”

"Do they mind you being smarter than them?"

"They know what they are getting, and I do not talk down to anyone. They are my fans and customers, but I walk a thin line. I like to come across smart enough that people do not talk to me like a bimbo—because those acts are a dime a dozen—but not so smart to seem threatening."

"Are people rude?"

"They can be, but it is self-policing. I have some loyal followers in the boob-lover community, and they do not tolerate trolls, particularly since they pay money to tune in and they want a quality experience. I have even enlisted a few volunteer moderators."

"What about you, Beefcake?" Whitley said, flicking Alicia on the knee. “What’s your show?”

"I do live streams, but it's mostly free and cosplay-related. My monies come mostly from paid con appearances, selling prints, YouTube clicks, and the occasional product plug on my Instagram channel."

"...and most of it goes back into cosplay,” Krysta interjects. “Hence her issues paying rent on time."

"What about you, Whitley?" Alicia asked suddenly. "Where does your money come from?"

Krysta noticed Whitley’s lips tighten and gave Alicia a swat on the leg. "Alicia, come on. That is not something you—"

“I know your dad pays for your food, but—“

"Alicia, I will take twenty-five—no, fifty dollars off of next month's rent if you stay silent for the next ten minutes." Alicia promptly shut her mouth and snatched up her phone, setting a timer for ten minutes. She held it up to Krysta, offering a toothy smile. Krysta allowed the room to be quiet for a moment before continuing.

“Okay, so. Whitley. Have you ever had a social media account?”

“I had a public Facebook back in high school, but I shut it down and switched to a pseudonym after my third marriage proposal via private message. I use it to keep tabs on a few old friends from high school and college.” Her eyes narrowed. “We’re not going to talk Instagram again are we?”

Alicia’s eyebrows shot up to her hairline.

Krysta set her plate down, straightened up, and placed her hands on her knees. “Whitley I think you should consider it. Would it not be nice to have some degree of control over your digital identity?”

“I’m not self-obsessed enough for that kind of thing.”

"Narcissism is not a necessity. You simply need to find a version of yourself that works publicly. Do you think people who work at Old Navy are that insanely personable in real life?"

"Yes."

"Ok, bad example. But really, I could totally see you posting on Instagram. Not only would it allow you to take some degree of control over your identity and image, but it would also give you an outlet for writing. It would put both your appearance and your degree to good use.”

“Hm,” Whitley muttered. She glanced over at Alicia, who appeared to be on the verge of drawing blood from how hard she was biting her lower lip. Whitley cracked a naughty smile. “God, Krysta. Are you suggesting I, of all people, be let loose on the internet?”

“My only fear is that self-destructive habit of yours getting you inadvertently fired, or worse. I would prefer to believe this might be good for you and your self-image. Maybe half the reason you are such a powder keg of self-sabotage is that you lack a proper outlet.”

“All right, Dr. Dinh, Life Coach. Didn’t you major in Math?”

“Sure, but I do consider myself something of an authority on online identity management. Believe me, I have seen the whole spectrum.”

Alicia emitted a sound not unlike a pig squealing to itself, before sucking both her lips inwards. Krysta paused and gave her an expectant look, before turning back to Whitley and continuing.

“Whitley, as you have seen, we do not live in the kind of society where you can close your eyes, put your fingers in your ears, and expect to stay somehow hidden from the rest of the world. You think a Yahoo! Group dedicated to your feet or some reporter finding an old blog post from your sophomore year non-fiction workshop is bad? Wait until some nut starts a social media account in your name, and you have to prove it is not you."

"You're still topless, by the way."

"Wait until surveillance-style candid videos start appearing online starring you. Scratch that, do not wait for that because it is going to take more than a few smart-assed wisecracks to sort it out. Let someone who has been around the block help you get caught up with the twenty-first century.

A light suddenly shone in Whitley’s peripheral vision, and she turned around to see a mobile phone held at arms’ length, displaying her shocked face alongside a beaming Alicia who pointed over her shoulder back at Whitley. Alicia snapped the picture and shot both arms in the air.

“Ha! Gotcha!” Alicia shouted triumphantly, before holding the picture up for Krysta and Whitley to see. Oh my God, look at her face! This post is going to be awesome.”

“No deal, Alicia," Krysta said. "You pay full rent next month.”

"Totally worth it!" Alicia shouted back, diving off the couch to avoid Whitley’s long arms grabbing for her phone. She crawled on her feet and hands towards the basement door, with Whitley stepping over the coffee table and scrambling after her, knocking over the tea and cookies in the process.

"Sorry, Krysta! Alicia, God dammit get back here! And don’t you dare post that photo or I swear to God…”

Krysta listened as the two girls clambered down the stairs into the basement, followed by a muffled pandemonium. With a chuckle, Krysta pulled on her Stanford t-shirt, polished down the last of her dinner, and headed into the kitchen to retrieve a bottle of chilled white wine.

Happy Monday, indeed.

◄#youlookgreat