Kate was wearing stilettos, which I thought was crazy.

“It’s not like the party is literally going to be on the beach,” Kate had reasoned.

Maybe I was too So Cal. I was wearing flip-flops with iridescent sequins on them. I cradled my gift for Lou.  I had gone to four different bookstores to track it down. He was doing some research for a project and wanted Goethe’s Faust.  Kate had bought him champagne at Cost Plus.

Once inside, I noticed all the women were wearing heels. Kate was up one.  The beach part of this beach party was made up of a golden retriever and a kid.

Lou greeted us, “Ladies, so glad you could make it.”

“Lou, Happy Birthday. Open my present,” I said thrusting it into his hands.

Lou smiled, “You didn’t have to get me anything.” He tore off the gold wrapping paper and looked at the book blankly.

“You wanted it for research, remember?” I reminded him.

“Oh, right.” Lou flipped through it, his smile turning down.

“What do you want to drink?” he asked. I noticed the women were drinking light beers.

Kate jumped in, “Do you have strawberry margaritas?”  Lou said, “Of, course.”

I hadn’t realized the party would be so intimate. There were twenty people max, and they were all in cliques, except for our old breast-staring friend Brent-the-talent-manager and a bald guy. They were sitting next to each other but not talking. Brent looked right at me. He tried to make eye contact with Kate’s breasts, but they were under wraps today.  Nothing registered.

Kate walked outside. I sat next to a guy on the couch. He was wearing jeans, basketball shoes, and a white shirt. Most people had dressed for a cocktail party.

“Are you an actress?” he started.

“No,” I said. This was Hollywood’s version of, “You are beautiful.” I was wearing nice jeans and a vintage top. Actressy.

“What do you do?” I asked.

“Director/writer,” he said, peeling off the label on his Pacifico. “How do you know Lou?”

“It’s a long story,” I said.

“Make something up,” he said.

“Um…we were at a stoplight and I was singing a Prince song--- really getting into it. Lou started mocking me. I looked over and he smiled. At the next stoplight, he told me about this party.”

“Hey, some other girl here already has that story,” he said seriously.

“Oh, well. I’ll catch you later,” I said needing some fresh air.

I slunk into the last available chair on the deck and closed my eyes. The sun felt good. Just as I was nodding off, a loud woman’s voice boomed out, “How do you know Lou?”

“A friend of a friend,” I said only opening one eye. The woman had bleached blonde hair and was wearing a gigantic straw hat. In her hand was an Amstel Light.

“I used to work with him,” she volunteered.

“Cool,” I said.

“What do you do?” she asked.

“I’m an editor,” I lied.

“Oh, Thelma Schoonmaker is one of my best friends.”

I wasn’t even thinking film editor when I said that. I spied Kate, still wearing stilettos, playing Frisbee on the far end of the deck with an older gentleman.

I signaled to her that I was going to the beach. I sat on the top step leading to the sand to roll up my jeans. Kate yelled introductions. I waved at Rick.

Kate yelled, “I’m looking for a new agent--- someone who doesn’t already have a ‘Kate’”

Rick said, “Don’t worry. I’ll make a few calls.”

Kate continued, “Tiffany’s writing a column starring me.”

Rick said, “Free publicity.”

Kate stopped and brought her ankle to the back of her knee, stretching. “Yeah, do you think I should mention that in my cover letter?”

Rick said, “Uh, maybe it’s a bit too esoteric.”

Kate stretched her other ankle. “What does that mean?”

Rick twirled the Frisbee like a record. “I don’t think you need it.”

Lou caught me before I could get down the stairs, surprising me. I jumped. “Hey, we’re going to move to the table to play poker.”

“I don’t know how. I’m going…” I pointed to the ocean.

“Come on, Tiff. You can pick the ante for the losers,” Lou winked at me.

I brought my palms together and smiled. Lou cracked up, “Writers are so predictable.”

I positioned myself at the head of the table and tried to come up with jus the right ante while Lou rounded people up.  I closed my eyes to concentrate. Strip poker was cliché. Truth or Dare reminded me of Madonna. I opened my eyes to a full table. Everyone was looking at me. “Losers have to tell the most memorable story of their lives,” I blurted out.

Lou smiled. “Isn’t she great?”

Ha, I loved that I was getting praised for being selfish. Faces around the table were self-doubtful and perturbed.

Brent smirked at this news, while Kate cracked, “I hope I lose first.”

The guy from the couch partnered with me. I was the only one who didn’t know how to play poker.

Rick was sitting next to Kate, but managed to simultaneously hit on the Euroslut to his right. She was a chain smoking Petra and she supposedly owned a hot club in Beverly Hills called, “Flaming Lips.” Didn’t the band hold the copyright to that name?

The first loser was Kate.  She wouldn’t show anyone her hand.  It was probably full of aces.  Kate clapped her hands loudly until all the chit-chat subsided. “In addition to being Homecoming queen, winning best physique, and most popular, I was valedictorian of my class. On graduation day, I acted out some of Matthew Broderick’s scenes in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to a standing ovation. Then, I disrobed. My friend Stacey, who was voted “Most Artistic,” had painted my body like a mermaid.”

Everyone clapped.  Brent finally recognized Kate. Rick turned away from Euroslut and brought Kate’s hand to his lips.

Kate had done an admirable cut and paste job. She had been class president and won best body. Kate streaked across the quad during a pep rally one year. The rest was fiction.

I finished off my margarita and chewed on the last of my ice. Brent lost next. “I don’t have any stories,” he said while puffing on a cigar.

“Come on, Brent,” Lou said.

“I only have X-rated ones,” Brent said, winking at Kate. Then his eyes started watering and he had a massive coughing fit. Karma, baby.

I ran into the house and laughed harder than I had in months. I switched on the blender to cover my convulsions. My stomach started hurting.  Brent had made my day.

I dialed Kate’s cell phone.  “This is Kate,” Kate answered from 20 feet away. I hadn’t heard that before. In fact, Kate made fun of me for answering my phone that way.

“I just heard of another party in The Colony. There was a Barry Josephson sighting,” I lured.

Hidden behind a plant, Kate was still in charge of the patio. “Uh, I have an audition for a Coen Brothers’ film,” Kate said. The whole table clapped.

And with that, Kate made her exit.  Lou followed her inside to bid farewell. “Thank you,” he handed Kate his card. “Give me a call anytime. I mean it—anytime. Anytime you want.” Kate grinned at her stack of cards.

Lou turned to me, “Tiff, thanks again. Give me a call next week. I might have some work for you. What’s your rate, again?”

“It depends on the project,” I said while waving to everyone outside. Lou was always trying to get me to work for free. I had finally gotten hip to this.

But now Kate was missing. I went out to get the car and spotted Kate. She was halfway to the car, power walking in her stilettos. I waved to her to slow down.

“What are you doing?” I asked, breathing hard.

“It’s late—we have to get there before it’s over.”  

“Um, there is no party.” I couldn’t stop laughing.

Kate was upset, “You lied to me?”

“Yeah, like you lied about the audition.”

“That’s different. You are my friend,” Kate said hurt.

I shrugged my shoulders. “I’m sorry.”

I spun the story around to make her believe we had left just in time. Mystery was intriguing.

Still, Kate and I had our first fight.  And yet again I was driving home from Malibu on PCH.


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