Day 1.

     I’ve been thinking about this, even before it’s started, because I have to know the ground rules before I begin. That’s pretty much me. If you know me at all, (and why would you – now or later? I’m not the subject here), you’d know that I have to know the rules before I play the game. I read through the little black text on brown cardboard that introduces me to the rules of a board game before I’ll play it.
     When I went to Las Vegas last year, I made the dealers explain every detail before I laid any money down for chips.
     And no guy I mess around with is uncertain about how far I’ll go when it comes to that point, sweating against the discomfort of my Honda Accord’s armrest or tangled in sheets freshly laundered in the dorm basement. He knows. I tell him.
     Ground rules.
     So I told Gina this. I’ll do it, but first some ground rules.
     Number one, I told her, is that she doesn’t get to read these until two weeks after each entry. That way, I figure, enough time will have passed to put things in the proper perspective and we’ll have had time to talk and sort things out before she goes back to the entries and flies off the handle. She shouldn’t be surprised by anything I write if I’m doing my job, fulfilling my dream, as a writer. It should all ring true, speak of life, chronicle the way things should be, as much as the way they actually are. Yeah, I know, it’s lofty bullshit goals, but I knew all this and was warned about it often enough when I chose my lit major.
     The other ground rule was that if we were going to do this, I had Real World access. 24/7, even if Gina was doing the bulimia thing in the bathroom. I get to come in. We’d discuss questions of taste and protocol later, but in cases of doubt, my judgment would supercede. And if I couldn’t be around to see something (read: men), we’d figure out a way to hide a recorder. It’s all workable, I told her. We’re smart women.

     Third: the money. For whatever adventures we decide to partake, expenses will mostly be mine, with the understanding that I’m not rich and I sure don’t have a six-figure advance to pay for lavish Olivia Goldsmith romps that’ll make nice bon mots come Chapter 8. But, again, we’re smart women and smart women know how to get into clubs without paying cover. At least, that’s the impression I get from Gina. She’s a girl who I don’t think has ever paid a cover in her life, or bought a drink of her own for that matter.
     [Memo to Gina, two weeks from this date: yes, I flatter you, but it probably won’t last. This is diary verite, or something like that. You may be a hottie to guys, but it remains to be seen what living under a microscope will reveal. Consider yourself warned, girlfriend]
     Three simple rules and the overall belief, faith, whatever, that Gina cannot, will not, bail on this project once it has begun. I do all the work here and she gets some independent study credits for reading it all and telling a professor what she thinks at the end of the semester. I think it’s a pretty sweet deal for Gina, but I don’t think that’s why she’ll stick with it.
     My observations in the next three months may veer wildly between hard truth and plain inaccuracy, but one thing I know about Gina is clear and certain. She loves the attention. She won’t bail.
     Tomorrow we start.
     The rules are set, the game box is discarded and I’m ready.