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A Girl's Best Friend Isn't for Sale (well, OK)

Kirsty is taking a long time brushing her hair, striking an indifferent pose to her friend's nagging, enjoying the privacy of staring into a mirror. Kirsty is sitting sideways, with her legs crossed, on the sandy steps at Federation Square; the mirror is in the lid of her make-up box, which she has set on top of the video camera's silver case.

Her friend Laura stands a few steps down, holding the camera aloft in her palm; in the way her ancient relatives once hefted spears. For a while Laura's been saying things like "We have a lot to do" and "We're going run out of time" and "Aw, come on". Laura may as well be banging on a locked bathroom door.

Suddenly, Kirsty moans in despair. Her hair is long and straight, very shiny, but she's brushed it so much she's mucked up the part on the side - and needs to start from scratch.

"Kirsty!" It comes out of Laura like a curse, then she flounces and looks at me.

In between outbursts, she has been telling me their story. Kirsty and Laura - a year out of school and "best friends for years" - are making a video tour of the city. Laura plans to send copies to her pen pal in France and her grandparents in Brisbane. Kirsty plans to send copies to television producers; she "wants to be an actress or read the news or just be in commercials".

Laura compiled the list of places they need to visit on the tour, wrote the script and will be doing the camera work. Kirsty is the on-screen personality but she doesn't like the script - a series of short and chatty descriptions of places such as Federation Square, the Town Hall, Parliament House, the Old Melbourne Gaol and so on.

"It's boring," she says, checking her lips and eyes in the mirror and suddenly smiling and ready to get on with it. "Well, come on." At this point Laura brings the conversation back to its original topic. "I suppose if you can buy a best friend on the internet, you can sell one too. How much do you think I'd get for Kirsty?" Now we are getting to the heart of the matter. I'd been wandering around, looking for a couple of "best friends". I wanted to know what a best friend was worth, in cash terms.

A young fellow named Stuart Donald is probably sitting at his computer in Scotland at this moment, watching the eBay shopping website, where he is selling himself as best friend for a month to the highest bidder.

Donald doesn't plan to hang out with his new best friend - no fireside ales and jolly tales. Instead, he's offering a modest package of emails, letters and text messages. Donald hasn't set a reserve price.

"It's just a stunt," says Laura.

"It's creepy," says Kirsty.

"I think I'll definitely sell you then," says Laura.

So how much does Laura want for Kirsty?

"I think I'd settle for a bottle of tequila." "Hey," says Kirsty, brightening, "that's what we could do. It wouldn't be so bad if it was just emails. You could have like a dozen (best friends) at the same time and just send them copies of the same emails." Suddenly Kirsty and Laura are riotous best friends again, making plans to sell each other off for shoes, clothes and make-up. It's all very giddy until Laura worries that Kirsty is serious about the idea.

"It's fun to think about," says Laura, sobering. "But you'd just be preying on all the sad cases." Kirsty makes a sad face to keep in step with her friend. "Yeah," she says. "There's a lot of them out there. But don't you think they'd get something out of it?"

A Girl's Best Friend Isn't for Sale (well, OK) 1

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