Avril woke up on Monday afternoon to the buzzing of her phone.
“Check your fucking Google Alerts.” The all-capitalized text was from her publicist.
Avril sat up in bed and opened Google. “Marilyn Manson Confirms He Fucked Avril Lavigne." As she scrolled further, she read that on stage in Toronto at Heavy Festival, Manson had announced, “It’s just that I was fucking her and I didn’t want anyone to know.” Avril already knew about the rumors of them dating. They had been swarming since July, but she did not care in the slightest. In a way, she was fucking Manson. The public just didn’t really know the truth about who they thought “Marilyn Manson” or “Brian Hugh Warner” was.
But Avril had been good at keeping secrets for as long as she could remember.
When she was only five-years-old she watched as Tim, the older, cooler boy on her block, lit all his sister’s Barbie dolls on fire in the forest behind their houses and then pissed on the smoldering ashes. He was mad at his big sister for something Avril did not understand. However, what she did understand were his instructions to go into his sister’s room and take the Barbies when his mother had gone outside for a quick cigarette. After the fire was all put out, Tim gave Avril her very first high-five.
“Don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret,” he winked.
When confronted by the adults in a concerned, parental powwow a few days later, little Avril sat quiet and said nothing about the Barbie fire. Don’t tell anyone. No one could break her. She felt power for the first time in her life.
Besides the powerful feeling, she simply liked keeping secrets. It made her feel special. It’s what made her such a great celebrity. The ability to keep secrets in the Red Carpet world was very important, especially as a pop star idolized by impressionable teenage fans. Her “people” valued her ability to keep her secrets low-key. Of course, she kept secrets from most of them but as long as they were happy and everyone was getting paid, what did it matter?
And suddenly here it was. The Google Alert. “Manson Fucked Lavigne.” This wasn’t going to look good next to the alleged rumors that she was having a “relationship” (unclear, according to the media thus far) with Chad Kroeger. There had been photos of them together: shopping in Paris, studio press shots in Los Angeles, and, of course, the fast food drive thru in Los Feliz. It was getting messy.
Avril ran her palm back and forth over the newly shaved portion of her head. Manson, Chad, Brian, she sighed. It’s all the same dick to me.
She dialed her iPhone.
When the voice on the other side finally answered, she burst.
“Why the hell did you say that on stage?” She questioned without a hello. “Things are getting too close. It’s going to get obvious, man. Come on. I thought you were smarter than this. I don’t know why I’m freaking out, but I’m freaking out.”
She was met with silence from the other end.
“Hello?” Her voice fell flat. “Brian?”
“I’m here. Relax.”
“Look, I know it’s not my secret. It’s your secret, but come on, like, I can’t just pretend this doesn’t involve me somehow. People are going to figure it out. Doesn’t that fucking scare you?”
“No one is going to figure anything out. I’ve been pulling this charade off for almost two decades. I know what I’m doing.”
Avril giggled. She had to giggle. Brian Hugh Grant had been tricking the public for years. Brian Hugh Grant or, as he was better known, Marilyn Manson, was Chad Kroeger. They were the same person. Marilyn was Chad. Chad was Marilyn. Avril was one of the lucky people to be privy to his double persona.
“Relax,” Brian continued. “Do you realize how insane it would be for anyone to figure this out by one stupid thing I said on stage at a Manson show about fucking you? People probably thought it was a joke. I’ve been saying weird shit on stage since the 90s.” He let out a deep chuckle. “Come on, Pixie Dust.”
She loved that nickname: Pixie Dust. He gave it to her the first night they met a long time ago. She was recording her first record in Los Angeles and very, very green to the whole industry. Avril met Brian in the studio. He stuck around for most of the day and even helped her with a harmony on her smash hit “Sk8er Boi." After most people had left the studio, it was just young Avril and Brian. He pulled out a bottle of Grey Goose from his leather shoulder bag and asked her if she knew whether or not they had any Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail in the kitchen.
“You want to drink a Crantini?” she giggled doing her best impression of mature sarcasm. “What are you on your period or something?”
He laughed at her childish, sexist humor and called her a “Trailer Park Boy” and then they giggled and giggled about what a small town, Redneck bumpkin Canadian she still was. They stayed up late drinking vodka and doing whip-its as Avril passed in and out of consciousness. They even kissed a little. She was much too young. He felt guilty, but he trusted her. They always kept in contact and when he decided to start a joke band called Nickelback under the alias Chad Kroeger, she was the first to know. He asked her for tips on faking Canadian pride. He told her that this project was going to make him millions. It would be the greatest accomplishment of his career.
“I’m going to create the world’s most hated band,” he exclaimed years later, high on cocaine as he jumped on the bed of his Four Star hotel. He had taken in an accent that could only be described as “royal." “The greatest music industry farce! The world is going to hate Chad Kroeger! It will be music for the dip shits! For the dumb asses! FOR THE MOTHER FUCKERS! It will be the world’s greatest practical joke!”
She didn’t believe him at the time. Who could pull something like this off?
But, decades later and he had done it. He really had kept the secret up with more success than anyone wise to the joke could have ever imagined.
“Brian, listen,” Avril said into the phone as she tip-toed from her bed to the bathroom to run the sink. “I got to go. When are you back in LA?”
“Thursday,” he said. “I’ll come see you. We’ll lay low, Pixie Dust.”
Avril smiled at her reflection in the bathroom mirror imagining Brian, Marilyn, Chad could see it. She felt lightheaded with the power of secrets.