My actress friend, Kate, called me the other day, overly excited. “I have a Sundance party for us to go to Saturday night. Isn’t that great? “I didn’t want to be a downer, but it was a post-post- Sundance party. Sundance was back in January, and it was now April. The party was going to suck.
“Uh,yeah. That’s great.” I said lacking enthusiasm.
“Come on. It might be really fun, and we don’t have to drive to Hollywood.”
Kate had a point. We could easily bail after a short appearance.
From the invitation: “So, if you don't have anything better to do, like, watch CNN, file your nails, attend a Botox party, etc., “ I did actually have a lot better things to do. But maybe it could be fun in a perverse way. I mulled over the idea for a few hours and decided I shouldn’t be so elitist. People were people.
Saturday night at 11pm, I picked up Kate. She was perky and looked stunning in a Cynthia Rowley red dress. I had thrown on Gap jeans and a sweater. “Maybe Barry Josephson’s assistant will be there.” I laughed at my own joke.
Kate grinned, “You never know.”
The party was in the back patio area of a Westside restaurant. There was plenty of parking, which was a bad sign.
I surveyed the scene-- 95% dorky guys. It’s not like I expected there to be attractive people. I wasn’t there looking for a date. I had hoped the crowd would be more eclectic. Instantaneously, a Guido walked up to us. I already wanted to leave. Kate whispered in my ear, “I bet he’d be great…”
“…in bed.” I finished for her. I didn’t see any Italian Stallion. Guido looked like he was from New Jersey, not Italy. Kate noted my expression and waved me on.
“I’ll catch up with you.”
Normally I liked wandering around by myself, but there were desperate looking men everywhere. Luckily, I soon ran into some people I went to junior high school with. I was chatting with Mason and Amanda about Renee Taub, the ICM agent who has been squabbling with Sharon Osbourne. I had forgotten that I had gone to junior high with her, too. Amanda is still close friends with her. I think Renee is innocent. It appears that a lot of people surrounding the incident were feeding the flame and making DRAMA because they are DRAMA QUEENS.
During our conversation, I noticed a very short guy staring at me. He was wearing an oversized faux Armani suit. He reminded me of a celebrity stalker. I figured the guy would go away if I continued talking, but he unabashedly stared. Minutes passed--it was starting to become a nefarious predicament.
Finally the spell was broken. He took a few steps towards me. “Are you an actress?”
"NO, OF COURSE NOT. I WOULDN'T BE AT THIS SUCKY PARTY IF I WERE FAMOUS," I said as I turned and walked away.
No, I didn't really say that. I am too polite. I needed to move on again. I said my goodbyes and made it 10 feet before another blah guy had introduced himself with, “I’m from Folsom.” Blah was also short and had the kind of face that blended in a crowd.
I had heard of Folsom before. “Is that near Sacramento?” I said being nice. Why couldn’t I be a bitch? I needed to move back to NYC.
“Yes, it is a jail. I murdered my mother.”
Logic would have told any normal person to walk away, but I am a writer and wanted to get the real story. I suspected there was some truth in this statement. Then again, maybe he was just a bad actor.
“Did you really do time?” I asked.
There was a long pause, and he shifted his eyes. I hadn’t met anyone until then who warranted the expression “shifty-eyed.” Now I understood the textbook meaning.
“Yeah, I spent some time there-- some months.”
“Did you really murder someone?”
“No,” he said unconvincingly.
Someone telling me they had committed murder would normally shock me. However, I was not particularly alarmed in this instance.
“What were you in jail for?” I asked unflinchingly.
“Tax evasion and racketeering. I am related to Bugsy Malone,” Shifty boasted.
Were there women out there who romanticized mobsters? I didn’t know any.
Shifty pointed to the movie screen showing Faye Dunaway and Robert Redford. “Is that John Wayne in Unforgiven?”
I looked to see if Shifty were joking, and he wasn’t.
“No, it’s Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde.” I didn’t get to feel like a superstar for knowing this. I wished it were some obscure film.
Shifty was blaringly not part of the Sundance crew and was not going to give me any Soprano stories. I pointed to a cave-like entrance people were going into.
“Why don’t you check out what that is and get back to me.” I said pushing him in that direction.
I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths. I heard a weird scraping sound and opened my eyes. A blonde woman, who was a dead-ringer for Traci Lords, was sprawled out in front of me. The heel on her shoe had broken off. I offered my hand.
“Wow, are you okay?”
“Are people staring at me?” she cried. I helped her to a chair and shooed away the swarming men.
“Not really,” I assured her.
“I hope my Paper and Denim’s aren’t ruined. I have only worn them once. I spent 2 hours at Shoe Pavillion today. Now my heels are…” Tears were welling up in her eyes.
I could understand mourning her designer jeans, but not the hot pink heels with sequins.
“You can take them back,” I consoled.
She whispered in my ear, “You don’t see Stephen Baldwin around do you?”
”I came here tonight to see him. I met him at Sundance, and we had a connection. A psychic told me to come to this party tonight to be re-united with him.”
“You are funny, “I said laughing.
“No, it’s really the truth. My psychic is really good. Cameron Diaz sees her.”
I highly doubted that.
A similar looking woman with a black page-boy rushed up to us. “Omigod, Cheryl. Your jeans have a hole in them!”
I was ready to leave. Where was Kate?
Kate was talking to this guy, Peter, who looked like a cross between Billy Corgan and James Carvell. However, he uncannily reminded me of the new creepy guy, Arthur, on Six Feet Under who Ruth is in love with. Arthur is a Mormon, moves in an awkward manner, has handkerchiefs and likes dorky sci-fi movies. Peter was dressed in black, tall and held himself in a stiff manner.
“Do you ever watch Six Feet Under?” I asked perched on the enormous root of a palm tree. I could overlook the sea of unattractive men.
“Yes.” Peter swayed forward, very drunk.
Kate, feeling smothered, said, “Whoa, I am not European. I need my personal space. “
Peter stepped back an inch and looked at me. “Yes, I watch Six Feet Under.”
I was so bored. Maybe I was trying to create drama.
“You look like Rico’s assistant. You know the new...
Peter backed up horrified. “No, no. That guy is a weirdo.”
I felt mean. I made it worse. “Well, it’s not that you look like him. It’s something about your presence-- the way you carry yourself.”
Peter had been sobered. Considering how drunk he was, this was impressive. “This is horrible.”
I tried to make up for it. “Who have people said you looked like?”
“Really?” I said not believing him. Peter did have a bizarre resemblance to James Carvell. There was no way I was going to tell him that. I was pretty sure he wouldn’t know who he was.
“Well, you look like Billy Corgan,” I said stretching the truth. (Sorry Billy.)
Peter finally smiled. “I like that. Billy is cool.” Yes, Billy was someone who was cool and I doubt boring.
Now that the little drama was over, I was bored again. At least I got some new material. I gave Kate a look. She turned to Peter.
“Nice meeting you. I’ll see you around.” Kate smiled her humungous smile. We had been talking the other day about toning it down. As usual, Peter took this to mean that she genuinely liked him.
“Can I have your number?” Peter asked desperately.
Kate’s smile waned. “Uh, why don’t you give me yours.” Peter obediently wrote it down on the back of an invite to another screening party.
Kate locked arms with me, and we skipped on our way out--- happy to break out from party hell. “Great. Another party full of non-working screenwriters and bad short films,” Kate said, laughing.
If only I had followed the invitations advice: I could now have a manicure, know more about the war, and have a new face from my special exfoliating mask. (I was way too young to go to a Botox party.) Instead, all I got was a free pack of gum that said, “Another A+ party by Michael.” I was going to leave the pack on my desk to remind myself of why I would just say, “No” to C-F-list parties for now on.