The day Brad Pitt follows me, I run a mile in under nine minutes. I drink eight glasses of water and hold a low plank for thirty seconds. Brad insists I only held it for twenty-five, but Brad is either bad at counting, or thinks he can trick me into working harder.
Brad was my therapist’s idea, or my would-be-therapist’s idea, a man with a goatee and thinning hair who assured me I wasn’t depressed. He said my recent weight gain and general indifference were signs that I was languishing, and he didn’t have room in his schedule for languishers.
“This year, everyone is languishing,” he said.
Still, the therapist wanted to help. He suggested I hire a celebrity follower.
“It works for most millennials,” he said. “It’s amazing how much you can get done with Adam Driver watching you for a day. Or Beyoncé.”
I shrugged, disappointed my sadness didn’t qualify for more traditional therapy, something covered by insurance.
“Brad Pitt is a safe bet,” the therapist said. Then he told me to add more fiber to my diet. He shut the door in my face.
* * *
The day Brad Pitt follows me, he watches as I catch up on e-mail. He sits in the back of my Camry as I drive three garbage bags of clothes to Goodwill. When I unload the dishwasher, I catch him leaning against the counter, sucking in his abs.
“You could help put these away,” I say to Brad.
“That costs extra,” he says. “Next time choose the light housekeeping option.”
“People do this more than once?”
Brad just laughs.
* * *
Eventually, I run out of things to do with Brad watching. I want to hide in my bed and sleep. Or binge Friends, minus the Brad Pitt episode. But every time I get up, he follows. I have to shut the door in his face when I pee.
Of course, Real Brad Pitt isn’t following me today, but a scrawny imitation who’s watched Fight Club an above-average number of times. I knew the odds of getting Real Brad were low. It’s written in fine print on the back of the contract. The actual celebrity isn’t guaranteed, but the company does carry sufficient stock of quality imitations. We’re still expected to treat our celebrity copies as genuine. It’s hard, though, because my Brad Pitt is about two-and-a-half decades too young and dressed in red leather. He’s also fidgety, like he’s up to something.
* * *
The day Brad Pitt follows me, he disappears for an hour-long lunch while I eat a bag of chips. When he returns, we sit on opposite ends of my couch and stare out the window.
“What do you do for fun, Brad?”
He stands and slaps himself in the stomach. “Hit me as hard as you can.”
I wonder what would happen if I requested Brad Pitt again next week—would I get the same Fight Club Brad, or another version, more like Tristan from Legends of the Fall?
“I’m not sure this whole celebrity follower thing is for me,” I say.
“This is your life, and it’s ending one minute—"
“Not now, Brad.”
He scratches the back of his neck, whistles through his teeth “Has anyone ever told you, you look like… Helena Bonham Carter?” He slips me a business card. No name, no address. Just a phone number.
“What’s this for, a therapist?”
He drapes his arm around my shoulder and blows fake-Brad-Pitt breath in my ear. “The first rule of celebrity following,” he says, “is you do not ask questions.” He hands me my phone.
The thing is, I have many questions, like where is Real Brad Pitt? And does he oversee quality-control on the phony versions? Or what happens if all the Brads began languishing at once, would they need to hire celebrity followers to follow them, while they continued following others? And why hasn’t anyone made a film adaptation of Fight Club 2?
Brad glances at his wrist. “Not to rush this, but you have me for another hour.”
I dial the number. From somewhere down the hall, a Pixies song starts playing.