The doorbell rings. I wipe my wet hands on my apron and disentangle it from around my neck, slipping it over my head and into a hidden laundry basket. Nothing but net.
“Chriiis!” I exclaim, meaning every exaggerated “i.” We embrace. “So happy you could make it! Let me fix you a cocktail. Gin OK? We’re drinking Corpse Reviver #2s.”
Effortlessly, I dispense lemon juice, curaçao, and Kina Lillet into a highball glass pre-filled with gin. As I splash the tiniest bit of absinthe on top, there’s a second knock at the door.
“Chriiiis!” I cheer, one “i” extra. He is my favorite of the guests tonight. I lead him by the elbow to my foyer, pronounced ˈfoiˌā, not ˈfoiər; I left that provincial elocution back home in Indiana.
“Hey man,” Chris Evans says to Chris Hemsworth, sad he’s been reduced to the second tallest man in the room. Goddamn you, Thor. Couldn’t Captain America be #1 for one night?
Look at these conventionally attractive men. Jawlines, well-defined. Eyes, bluer than the waters of Hemsworth’s home, Byron Bay. Ability to grow facial hair, on command.
I’m going to rock them to their [sculpted] cores tonight.
A giant bouquet of wildflowers walks up the steps. Eyes even bluer than the two pairs already here peer over the beargrass.
“About time you rocked up,” Hemsworth chides good-naturedly.
For f*ck’s sake, is that Chris Pine? Evans closes his eyes to disguise that he’s rolling them. “Hey man.” Handshake. His standard greeting.
I pour Pine a cocktail, freshen up the others’, and glide over to the dining room.
Hemsworth is punching Pine playfully in the arm. Evans’s head is thrown back, a display of disdain for the hooligans who share his name. They each take their seats at my rectangular table; I’m at the head.
A glass of water teeters but Hemsworth catches it with his enormous paw. He grins. “Sorry! Best not be breaking schooners already!” The vein in Evans’s neck bulges.
I pass around a bowl of salad, cueing that the meal has commenced. A boat filled with fresh dressing follows closely behind.
“So the reason I’ve asked you here tonight,” I begin quietly. Pine is doing some impersonation involving a wildly contorted facial expression. Hemsworth laughs heartily. Evans gives them a pointed look, turns to me, smiles nobly.
“The reason I’ve asked you here tonight,” I say, this time with more conviction, “is to talk about your futures.”
“Ace! Well, Evans and I, we’re signed on for the next Avengers movie, that’ll be a bottler—“
“Yeah, and I’m pretty excited about two upcoming projects, I have Wonder Woman dropping later this year, and—“
“That’s kind of what I’m getting at,” I interject. “Have you thought at all beyond the superhero movies?”
Pine looks taken aback; Hemsworth totally crestfallen. Evans’s eyebrows are knitted together.
“Well I mean, we’re doing a Star Trek prequel,” Pine stammers, “but the date hasn’t been announced. They’re just finalizing a few details, I think I’ll know in, like, a month…” His voice trails off.
“Star Trek is good, Chris. It’s done a lot of great things for your career.” Here comes the feedback sandwich. “To Trekkie moms everywhere, no one does a better job than you of capturing your character’s essence from the original series.”
He’s blushing, making what I have to say next even harder.
“But you’re lucky that Zac Efron still hadn’t blossomed into full manhood when that movie was cast—”
“—And that J.J. Abrams has a strict ‘one Zachary per film’ policy?” Pine said hopefully.
“Yes, that too, you’re right. But I guess that’s sort of my point. It’s easy to be the hot guy when you’re playing opposite Zachary Quinto.”
This is the worst day of Chris Pine’s life.
“As for you, Chris…” Hemsworth sits a little straighter. “‘Sexiest Man Alive’? You’re not even the sexiest person in your family!”
Evans drops his fork.
“And you. Besides dating Jenny Slate, what should I know you for?”
The Chrises are silent.
“KNOCK KNOCK!” a voice yells from the front door. “ANYBODY HOME?”
Chris Pratt lumbers into our dinner party.
“Chriiis! Have a seat.” I gesture to the chair opposite Hemsworth and next to Evans. Balance is restored to the table.
“Hi, guys!” he says goofily. “Why so serious?” God, I miss Heath Ledger.
“Well, our hostess here, she just gave us all a gobful, we should warn ya!”
“Yeah,” Pine translates for his Aussie colleague, “you should get outta here before she roasts you, too.”
“No,” I say firmly. “Chris Pratt is the exact reason I asked you all here tonight.”
“I am?” he says incredulously.
“Look at this guy,” I continue. “This is his resting face. He has a dead bug collection. He started his career modeling husky children’s clothing for J.C. Penney.”
“FALSE! I was discovered working at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company!”
Evans’s eyes meet mine; we share a knowing look. I pause for the benefit of Pine and Hemsworth.
“The envelopes beside your water glasses contain a photo of Chris Pratt. I want you to look at it every single day. I want Chris Pratt to haunt your dreams. I want him to be the first thing you think about when you wake up. You know why?
“Because while he was clowning around as America’s favorite goober on Parks and Rec, Chris Pratt was quietly building a serious career. Did you know that he appeared in a film nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars three years in a row?”
Pratt puts down his butter knife, which he was using to reflect a bar of light onto Pine’s sleeve, and looks sheepish. “Moneyball, Zero Dark Thirty, and Her,” he murmurs.
“‘ang on, though!” Hemsworth breaks in. “Aren’t you gonna shred the man for Guardians of the Galaxy?”
“Absolutely not. Chris,” I address one; I address them all, “superhero movies are tremendous. Especially for you perfect specimens! It would be a disservice to humanity for you not to be superheroes. But don’t get locked in. You remember what happened to Vinny Chase after Aquaman, right? If not, go back and watch the middle seasons of Entourage.
“My challenge to you, is… what else?” I sweep my hand broadly. “Chris Pratt has Jurassic World. He has The Lego franchise. He has Lego Jurassic World, Google it! Is it any wonder Steven Spielberg wants him to be the new Indiana Jones?!
“Chris,” I look at Pine, “A Wrinkle in Time is one of the most memorable YA books. I’m thrilled for you to be a part of that film. I hope it lands you at the Oscars again and you can reprise your most famous role, ‘Prettiest Tear by a Male Actor.’ And I promise you, I’ll get Lauren Conrad to sit close by; we’ll get a clip that makes Kim Kardashian’s cry face not even a Top 100 meme.
“And Chris [Hemsworth], I am so proud of you for Horse Soldiers. You will be marvelous, no pun intended.
“Gifted will be wonderful,” I say to Evans, “That girlfriend of yours is really something special; you two will be magic on-screen. And directed by Marc Webb? You’re gonna have to beat A24 off with a stick! Maybe you wanna hire Hemsworth as a bouncer.”
“Or me!” Pratt asserts earnestly.
I sigh. “Or Chris Pratt,” I conclude.