I have Brad Pitt to thank for my first "real" date. I have quotes around the word real because, looking back, he may not have thought of it as a date, but oh was it ever to 13-year-old me. It was the Summer of 1996, and my crush on Brad Pitt was in full swing. One night I was doing what I did the majority of Summer nights: wandering the aisles of Blockbuster with my best friend deciding what movie to rent. As usual, I was loudly weighing the pros and other pros of every Brad Pitt movie. Only this time, a woman came up to me and said, "You have a crush on Brad Pitt? My son, J, is an actor and just made a movie with Brad called Sleepers. They worked together, you should call him!" After grilling this middle-aged stranger for every detail about Brad Pitt she knew (almost none), I took the number home.
Cold calling a boy I didn't know wasn't my style. I was shy and self-conscious. I wasn't the girl that boys wanted anything to do with quite yet. But I had the number of someone who had met Brad Pitt, and nothing was going to stop me. I called, his mom answered, and she passed the phone off to J. After some weird getting-to-know-you pleasantries over the phone, we made a plan to meet at the closest T stop to my house and go see a movie. He wanted to see A Time to Kill since he had also "worked with Sandy" in another movie (of course I immediately rented that movie; I think he had one line).
I brought along my best friend, and J brought along his. I tried to play it cool about the whole Brad Pitt connection, but it was futile. As if you couldn't see this coming, the afternoon was pretty painfully awkward, but I was on cloud nine. I barely cared that he had only met Brad Pitt once or twice, and they didn't share any scenes — I was with a boy in a movie theater when a preview for his own movie came on. He was sitting next to me, and he was on the big screen, and Brad Pitt was there, too.
This did not lead to me accompanying J to the world premiere, where I would meet Brad Pitt and somehow steal him away from Gwyneth Paltrow. In fact, J and I only had a few more stilted phone conversations and never saw each other again. I still have a soft spot for him, though, and have cheered for him from afar through every other role I've seen him in through the years. The next year, I got my first real boyfriend and my love of Brad Pitt became more of an afterthought to real life, but I'll never forget that moment when I was one degree of separation away from my first love, Brad, and there was a nice young man sitting next to me in a movie theater giving me my first date.