Babe Walker thought she had done it all. After all, she’s survived the highly exclusive social hierarchies of Bel Air, traipsed around Europe in true white-girl fashion, and left her mark on several of the best rehab facilities in the United States. But now Babe is about to enter a terrifying new world: Middle America.
It’s American Babe, the third installment in Babe Walker’s New York Times bestselling series, White Girl Problems. Join Babe on a whole host of new adventures as she encounters the mysterious world of suburbia, family ties, and… Maryland (gross). American Babe comes out on June 28th. For a sneak peek look at the first chapter, keep on reading!
“Are you okay?” A woman asked from roughly ten feet away, downhill from where I stood at the tip of the highest peak in Griffith Park. It completely took me away from my moment, which I resented. The sun had just begun to peer its glowing globe of majesty over LA’s eastern skyline.
“Yes.” I responded, “Nosy.” I didn’t look at her. I’d seen plenty already when I side-eyed her stomping up the hill toward me a few seconds earlier. She was hiking, she was blonde, she was thin, she was worried that I might be getting ready to jump off the edge where I stood and end it all. I got it.
“Honey, can I ask, what are you doing?” she said with hesitation, putting a hand on my shoulder. She stood right behind me now. Awesome. Getting rid of her was not gonna be easy. I was dealing with an out-of-work, B-List fitness model who was for sure on her daily 5 a.m. hike and was probably super concerned about the beautiful, young girl she just found standing at the edge of a steep fucking cliff, about to jump.
“I’m fine. You can go about your hike. Really.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, lady.” I said.
“You don’t need to do this.”
“Okay relax, you don’t even know—”
“You’re a beautiful girl.”
“Thank you for seeing that beneath this neoprene facemask. You obviously have a great eye for eyes,” I genuinely offered.
“I have a daughter and, you know, she’s going through a rough patch right now, too. And I’ve been there before. Trust me. I used to live in Vegas.”
“Whoa. Ew. Okay. Stop. I’ll explain.”
“Yes, talk to me, mama. Let’s talk this out.”
“Well, first off, don’t call me or other people ‘mama.‘ It’s insulting.”
“I just think it’s a cute thing to call my girlfriends.”
“Am I your girlfriend?” I said trying to sound as nice as possible.
“I… guess… not.”
She looked genuinely hurt. Not my problem. I mean, I was the one offering her helpful advice.
“So,” I started, “this story begins on the day I auditioned to be Tom Cruise’s new wife, which was weird as fuck, but it was also a major big-deal day that in a strange way affected the rest of my life. Tom does that to people, I guess. It was post all the Kidman divorce drama, and Tom and his team were screening several young actresses and non-actress-but-still-attractive people—like me—for the role of his ‘wife.’”
“I’d been a fan of his since the first time I saw Rain Man at age four, and I even thought he always seemed kind of cool and amazing and weird and rich, but I didn’t exactly see it working between Tom and me. However, I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to meet him for dinner at a castle in Portugal, where he was filming something or whatever. I’m not much of a European castle girl because normally the water in the showers is soft water, which is bad for my skin and hair, but this one was so breathtaking that I didn’t even mind the water. It sat on the gorgeous Atlantic coast, and we ate in a room with window-lined walls looking out at the bluest, most endless ocean I’d seen maybe ever. I don’t remember what we ate because I just don’t, but it was delicious. Tom looked handsome in the face, wore a simple white tee and jeans, brown scuffed Prada boots, and smelled like heaven took a shit all over his body. I asked him what cologne he was wearing and he said he wasn’t wearing any. So mysterious. So Tom.”
“So Tom,” said the ex fitness model, whose name I decided was Mel.
“My lawyers have strongly advised me not to repeat exact content from the conversation Tom and I had that night. I can say, though, that it never went past just talking between us. But I think I can tell you about one of the things we talked about that night. I mean, I had to sign a nondisclosure agreement, but we all know those aren’t real, don’t we?
“On that blustery night, tucked away in a Villa on the majestic Portuguese Coast, Tom shared with me one of his ‘passions in life’: squirrel diving. Most people have never heard of it, let alone tried it because it’s so dangerous and chic. Squirrel diving is an extreme sport that requires the diver to don a highly technical suit made of fiberglass, neoprene, and stingray skin. Built into the armpits is a sheet of webbing, like a flying squirrel, giving it its name. Duh. How Mission Impossible is that? He said never to try it because I would ‘probably die.’ His concern was sweet but only made me want to do it immediately. If you don’t want me to try something, especially a drug, don’t entice me with the threat of death, Babe rule #1.
“Well, a few years passed by, Tom married Katie Holmes, Katie Holmes divorced Tom, I lived my life, shopped a lot, went to rehab, kept being a mess, traveled, wrote two books, fell in and out of love with my soul mate, Robert, and ended up back in LA.”
The woman’s expression hadn’t changed since I started my story.
“So, so, so cool,” she said.
I looked at her for a long time and thought about the daughter she probably has, sitting at home thumbing through Tinder, alone.
“So, I’m gonna go now,” I said, turning toward the vast view of Los Angeles, mentally preparing to jump. She still stood like a statue, lifeless, roots a mess.
“So, why did meeting Tom change your life?” she asked.
“Oh, because now I’m conquering one of my fears slash completing a goal of mine that I’ve had for years. I’ve always wanted to jump off a cliff and now that I’ve spoken with Tom about it in Portugal and watched a few chic yet informative YouTube tutorials filmed in the Swiss Alps and bought the suit and shit, I’m ready. So, I’m gonna need you to back away a little bit because I need some room for my running start.”
I walked backwards five or six steps until I had given myself enough runway before the edge of the canyon, pulled my goggles around my head tight with a snap against the back of my hair, and stretched my arms wide to check for tangles or folds in the underarm webbing of my suit. I was good. I was ready. I’d kind of done this before, I could do it again.
“You’re fucking Babe Walker,” I whispered to myself inside the tight and echo-y cavern of my fiberglass helmet. “You can fly.”
I took a sprinter’s position, felt the sand push against the pads of my fingers, looked out over the city one last time, and shot myself forward with every bit of strength I had in my well-toned core, butt, and thighs. After a few aggressive yet graceful steps, I was off the edge. Luckily, it was windy as fuck that morning, and I was immediately lifted skyward by a gust of generous breeze. God clearly wanted this to work for me, too. I could hear the hiker lady screaming behind me. She obviously couldn’t understand what was happening. She didn’t know that this was my thing. I had this.
The trick to squirreling is keeping your entire body stiff as a board and light as a feather, à la The Craft. With a slight bend at my elbow and a cupped swimmer’s hand, the air supply was able to tuck itself right under my cute, almost weightless body. I’d call it an extreme sport, but I don’t do “sport.” I will say however, it’s extremely body-affirming. I mean, you literally have to be able to float. This is chic, no?
I may be under the assumption that most people’s lives are more boring than not boring, but I doubt you’ve ever done anything as exhilarating as this, besides maybe cocaine. So I can’t expect you to understand the mind-splitting thrill of literally soaring above Los Angeles. It’s EVERYTHING. From about 1,100 feet above the ground I could see the In-N-Out burger where I threw a Sprite in a blind date’s face for ordering me a Sprite, and the movie theater on Hollywood Boulevard, where I gave the one with a ponytail from One Direction a hand job, The Scientology Center was the size of a Fendi Baguette from up there, and I even saw the acting studio where I’d taken an improv class for fifteen minutes before getting frustrated, screaming “Clowns!” and walking out. A very This Is Your Life moment for me.
The birds flying past me were probably wondering, What the fuck, but I spiritually greeted them all with an open heart and thanked them for sharing the sky with me, just a girl with the simple dream of getting high on adrenaline and being more like my role model, Tom.
I leaned my right shoulder to the ground just the slightest bit to set my trajectory westward toward the direction of my house in Bel Air. Well, more specifically my backyard, which would also function as my landing strip. Side note: Do you have a landing strip of hair above your vagina? If so: Don’t. I could begin to see the northeastern border of the neighborhood and followed the streets with my eyes until I saw my house and the yard, waiting for me.
I heard flapping sounds near my left-side ear but couldn’t see anything. The sound was loud and scary and so not cute. And it was only getting louder by the second. I couldn’t move away from it even though I wanted to because the thing about squirreling is you have to let the wind take you, more or less. A lot like life and anal sex. Then a hard whack slapped down across the top of my head. In a flurry of brown and white feathers and body and legs, I made out the form of a monster-sized turkey/eagle/hawk bird next to me, and it was trying to attach.
“Are you FUCKING JOKING?!” I screamed. My voice reverberated inside my helmet, which all of the sudden felt more like a cage.
Keep your form. Keep your form. KEEP YOUR FUCKING FORM. Tom says ifyou never lose form, you’ll never lose control. What the fuck, though? This is insane. I hate everything about this.
The albatross, or whatever it was was, now fully attached to my neck and no matter the quaking and shimmying I did to get shake it off, this mad bird queen was going nowhere.
I was going down.
I’d lost control.
I’m sorry, Tom.
The city got closer and closer by the second. My vision blurred with the fact that I was already dead. This was it. I guess I’ve lived enough? I’d done everything I wanted to do in my short, blazing lifespan besides wear an armadillo McQueen hoof bootie to church in Rome and sleep with Leo DiCaprio. I’d have to come back and do those things in another life, I guess. I found peace in the moment. I had no choice. In my head I could hear Yo-Yo Ma playing Ennio Morricone’s The Mission. I guess this was my death music.
The ground was like a wave swell, closing in on me. Almost as if it was about to break and crash, falling onto me, and not the other way around. Wait, that’s a beautiful image. Then…
I’M NOT DONE YET.
I’d come so close to dying sooooOOOO many times over the years (heat exhaustion, overshopping, overdieting, over-Pilatesing, stalkers, plane crashes, my failed and sloppy arson attempt), and there was no reason I couldn’t pull myself out of this.
“You’re fucking Babe Walker. You can fly!” I shouted, sharply twisting my shoulders.
With a deafening squawk, the bird let go!
But nope, that didn’t exactly help the cause. The problem was, I was then upside down with my back to the surface of the earth, then belly-down again; I was literally torpedoing. With a quick glance I saw that I was headed toward a one-story building in Westwood that had lots of glass windows. Oh god, please don’t let me die in a donation-based yoga studio, I thought. Just no.
I opened my mouth wide and from the literal seafloor of my soul released the loudest Mel Gibson as William Wallace battle cry. The next thing I remember is the sound of glass shattering, women screaming, a sea of aggressively bright yoga clothes, and the light aroma of eucalyptus. I figured this was hell.