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Leoni Online: The Articles — First Bra

Téa was a terrifying dodgeball player. She could throw that red rubber ball and knock you flat, and there was no way you could even hope to catch it. That was in seventh grade at The Brearley School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I was her secret Santa that year, and for some reason that I can’t remember, I gave her a big bag of Wise potato chips.From our class of 47 girls, many have gone on to high-powered careers, but Téa’s the only one so far to become a celebrity. It’s weird though because unlike Kate, who’s now a playwright, and Diane, who’s now a director, Téa was never into the theater scene. But she was hot.Téa was unique in our class: incredibly popular, but never a bitch. She never needed to put someone down to raise herself up.. she was that confident. I know I sound like I am being paid off by her publicist, but she really was charismatic. she was a jock with a foul mouth, and even then the girls discussed her “animal magnetism.” No makeup, short, brown layered hair, a faded navy blue polo shirt and jeans, braces with rubber bands, and still, sexy at 13. To this day, whenever I see cotton-piqué knit, I think of Téa.My first bra was actually a hand-me-down from Téa, a beige soft-cup thing that looked pretty much like a flimsy slingshot. Clothes made the rounds back then: I once lent a red Marimekko T-shirt to Betsy, who gave it to Nicole, who passed it on to Téa, who bequeathed it to Lisa, whose younger sister stole it and wore it to school one day three years later.

Writing in my yearbook, Téa used the word shit five times. She ends her inscription with, “Listen Jen, hope to *!@#+}! we’re in the same section! Love always, Téa.” (That was in the days before emoticons and e-mail, when a string of punctuation marks meant something unprintable.)

One of the boys we used to hang out with remembers that his friends were all a bit intimidated by Téa. There was a round-robin of dating, but she was never anyone’s girlfriend. She was attractive in a nearly masculine way that didn’t require the boys’ approval, and that scared the hell out of them. Yet years later, there she was, in among all the other marriage and birth announcements in the school bulletin: “Téa Leoni ’84 wed David Duchovny.” It looked wrong, as if their names should have been boldface, like in a LizSmith column.

Téa left for boarding school after ninth grade and that was the last I saw of her. Téa, if you’re reading this, I miss you. -Love always, Jen.