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The porn queen and the flight controller exchanged numbers, and he left the club one step closer to the biggest decision he'd ever make.
She pauses, reconsiders.
"Okay, maybe four feet tall."
Smith, who refers to her brother by his birth name, found out Styles's new career after months of his evasiveness. He was vague about what he was doing in L.A., and whenever Smith asked to talk to his wife, she was always "working out" or "shopping for groceries." Smith, a private investigator, eventually pressured Styles into telling the truth. Though it took some time, Smith accepted her brother's new life, especially since she saw how happy he was. The youngest two brothers have not fully accepted it, Smith says. The youngest brother discovered the truth when his teenage stepdaughter saw Styles on Jerry Springer and summoned her parents to the living room.
"Isn't that my uncle?" she asked, using Styles's birth name.
Smith, Styles and the two youngest brothers grew up on 300 acres of farmland about ten miles outside Wichita Falls. Their father liked the discipline that tending livestock gave his kids. Their mother, a wife from the old school, stood by her man and never questioned his methods.
His kids did, though. As loving as he was, he was also stern and, they thought, unbelievably judgmental. He acted like a bully to Smith and the two youngest boys, Styles says.
"Basically [they were] made to feel like they needed to be whatever he said," he says.
Styles, displaying unusually high intelligence early on, was spared.
"What me and my brothers referred to [Scott] as for years was the Golden Child," Smith says. "If you wanted Dad to do something, you got [Scott] to ask him. [Scott] was the only one that could sit down and talk to my dad without ending up in a fight."
His popularity at home carried over to high school, but not in the most desirable way. He was a late bloomer -- cute but scrawny. During freshman-year Spanish, he sat beside a gorgeous senior cheerleader. One day, she held a flattened hand level to her head, as if measuring something of equivalent height, and told Styles, "You're really cute. When you get to be this tall, look me up."
So, for much of high school, Styles was relegated to little-brother status. But he tried to get the most out of his time there, playing trumpet in band and even joining the football team, where he played rear bench.
"He had a personality that everybody loved," Smith says. "And he was a brain, and everybody thought he was so cute, but he's that tiny little, cute little boy, not somebody that [you] would actually want to date. And that's how he felt."
Styles spent summers at baseball camp and excelled at the trumpet to the point where, when he was 18, he scored a music scholarship to Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls.
By that time, he had sprouted to five-foot-eight, but he weighed only 115 pounds. Still, he found a girlfriend his senior year, and he lost his virginity to her on graduation night.
Another highlight of that year for the 18-year-old was watching Cosmos, Sagan's wildly popular documentary series on space.
Styles was fascinated. Here was something he could build a career around, something that would challenge and inspire him. Soon, he breezed through Midwestern and headed to Texas A&M for his master's in physics. During semester breaks, he drove home, where his dad would always ask him about school.
"My dad admired [Scott] and his education so much. I think he felt, at the time, [Scott] was the child that finally lived up to his expectations, and shouldn't we all," Smith says.
But Styles wasn't working out just his mind. He was hitting the gym at school, trying to build a body that would break him out of little-brother mode. He read fitness magazines and put himself on a strict diet.
He spent more time in the gym than he did with other physics students. They seemed one-dimensional to Styles, stereotypical science nerds who had no interests outside the classroom. That was his first inkling that if a career in space and science meant hanging out with dorks for the next 30 years, he wouldn't survive.
In the bookstore near campus where he bought his fitness mags, he couldn't help but notice the adult magazines and soft-core videos on nearby shelves. Except for the occasional Playboyor Penthousethat surfaced at baseball camp, Styles had never been exposed to porn. After walking past the shelves a number of times, he finally decided he'd rent a video.
With the sick leave he had accrued after three and a half years at Johnson Space Center, the flight controller took two weeks off to see if he'd actually miss the place.
By that time, he had been a personal trainer for six months and was making good money. More important, he enjoyed it.
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