I thought I would treat you to a little end of the year fun. Here is a chapter from my latest memoir, Hearts on the Line.
angels and a bare boob
Do you have the kind of friends that when you think of them powerfully, they call you, or vice-versa? My cell phone rings, and I answer.
“Marge?” The caller sounds giggly.
“Oh, Evelyn, dear, I was just thinking of you.” It’s Shelly, of course. I did lose touch with Shelly for a while. Her phone number, email, and mailing address were no longer valid, and she hadn’t contacted me in about five years. I tried my best to locate her but no one knew anything about her. “My God, Mom, she must be dead,” I cried to my mom in exasperation. “Otherwise she would never have let five years go by without calling or emailing me.” A few weeks after that, my mom called me and said, “I think I found Shelly!” She saw a photo of a woman that looked like Shelly in the paper. There was an article about her abstract art gallery in Seattle. The woman’s name was “Raven” but my mom was certain that it was Shelly. So I went on MySpace and did a search for Raven and found her. She had changed her name for artistic purposes, which didn’t surprise me in the least. “Well, you’ll always be Shelly to me,” I told her when we finally got on the phone with each other. We promised to never lose touch again, and we haven’t our psychic connection back in working order.
“Hey, how’s it going, matching up all of your rich studs?” she asks.
“Oh, you know, the usual. Solving the crisis in the Middle East, health care reform, and global warming seem like they would be easier sometimes. What’s new with you?”
“Well, I called to tell you about my guardian angel.”
“No kidding! This sounds good!” I put my feet up on the sofa. “Well, last week my laser broke down.”
Shelly had gone into debt to buy a laser hair remover last year, and she started a new career doing hair removal for transvestites with pesky back hair.
“I was so bummed about it because I couldn’t afford to buy a new one. So, I took it to someone to try to get it fixed, and nothing worked. He tried everything.”
“You must have been so depressed.”
“Yeah, but I have an angel bell made out of lead crystal sitting on a shelf in my living room. I went over and rang it and said a little prayer asking the angels for help with my laser. Just when I thought that I was going to have to give up on my new career, a little miracle happened. The other night I was sitting on the sofa with a glass of Two Buck Chuck and watching “Dancing with The Stars.” It was weird. I heard a buzzing sound coming from the dining room. I went over to the dining table where I had set the laser. It was up and running! The angels heard my prayers and fixed my laser!”
“Wow, Shelly that is amazing! And fabulous!”
“I know. And I feel so good about things….”
“I sure could use one of those bells. I think my wish list might be
a little too long though. Do you still have your tranny maid?”
“No. Things got a little weird and he moved.”
We talk and laugh for half an hour and the morning is gone. I’ve
made no progress on the memoir chapters, the one area of my life that has the potential to bring a real change to my career, and I have squandered my time and neglected the writing a publisher actually wants.
Adolfo emerges from the man cave. “I am thinking Italian,” he
This is too tempting.
La Piazza at The Grove in Hollywood is our favorite Italian
restaurant. We are sitting on the patio, which is perfect for people- watching, especially on the weekends. The place is packed with locals, tourists, a few celebrities, and all their dogs. You could get confused and think you wound up at a dog show by mistake. Dogs are welcome to stroll the cobblestone walkways. Small dogs can peruse the latest shoe collection at Nordstrom’s. Dogs sit on their owners’ laps and enjoy a pizza with them at the Farmer’s Market or play with the droves of toddlers running wild on the grass in front of the stage where a jazz band performs every weekend. Dog sizes range from horse to teacup. Pedigreed pooches co-mingle with mutts. Dogs may be harnessed in bling, dressed in designer fashions, or shod in rubber booties against the hot sidewalks. Some peek out of baby strollers and fancy pet carriers. You even see a few ordinary dogs being led on ordinary leashes.
Our waiter Luciano arrives with our wine.
“Grazie,” I say lifting my glass.
“Prego, Senora.” He smiles as he saunters off to attend to a table behind me.
I watch him absently until I see who he’s serving: Lisa Rinna. “Hey, honey, look! Lisa Rinna is with her family at the table right
behind me,” I whisper to Adolfo. He cranes to get a look.
“Don’t be so obvious,” I say, casually glancing over as if I were
simply getting my bearings, and take a peek at the happy family. She is married to actor Harry Hamlin and they have two beautiful daughters. I’m curious to get a glimpse at her lips to see if they really are over-inflated as the tabloids keep harping about.
Um…well, actually… Hmm… her eyes are gorgeous. What drives us women to such extremes?
Our food arrives and we devour the mussels in white wine sauce and an order of fried calamari.
“Mi amor….” Adolfo raises his glass. I raise mine also.
“Cheers to you Marlita. Yo te quiero con toda mi alma.” I love you with all of my soul. His eyes say he means it as he clinks his glass to mine. I smile, blushing I’m sure, as I take a sip of my wine. This man is so special. We’re so lucky we have each other. I hear dogs barking in the background, and at first it annoys me that they are spoiling our moment, but then it seems like the sounds are like our bickering: there sometimes in the background, but nothing in comparison to the love and tenderness we share.
The afternoon is too lovely to end, so we dawdle over espresso. I look over at a kiosk that sells sunglasses as a frumpy old lady tries on outrageous Lady Gaga-style lace pair. A sunburned guy in shorts and big ass white tennis shoes tries on chrome aviator glasses, and a Moslem woman covered head to toe in a black abaya tries on glasses in a neon green color. I can’t resist dashing off quick notes on reinventing oneself with a new pair of shades: more fashionable, more cool, less repressed. Magic. I look up to see an attractive, slender woman with her dark hair pulled back in a sleek pony-tail who looks to be in her twenties. She passes our table, and I do a double take. I nod toward the woman. “Adolfo, check it out.”
Adolfo’s mouth hangs open. “What in the hell is she doing?” The woman is wearing jeans and a loose but skimpy top, which has evidently slipped all the way down on the left side, leaving her breast completely exposed.
“Now there’s a proud gal,” I say. “You think she’s doing it on purpose?” “I’d say the odds that this might be accidental are about the same as Pamela Anderson ever wearing a nun’s habit.”
People are stopping and turning around, mouths gaping open, kids pointing.
“Pretty extreme, even for L.A….,” Adolfo says. We both laugh. “Gotta love Hollywood.”
On the way home, I’m thinking that if we get a house out in the Valley, we won’t come here as often. I’d really miss that.
Back at home I’m eager to call Mom and tell her Shelly’s angel story and about our Hollywood afternoon watching people like the gal whose breast seemed to need air. I know Donna Reed is home just before happy hour in the senior citizen ’hood. Her place is the gathering spot on most evenings. She loves my stories, and then I ask her the tough question. “Did you get your money back on the cremation package?”
“Now, don’t go spoiling my happy hour. Stick to the angels and bare tits. Oh, here’s Marilyn. I’ll talk to you later, honey.”
So. No money back. She’s right in that worrying won’t do a bit of good. It’s just that Adolfo supported his parents for years, so I might be in the same boat someday. I really must start saving. Since Adolfo’s five-nights-a-week job at Mastro’s Steakhouse ended when the economy went south, he’s now earning half what he used to make because the job at Via Alloro is only two nights a week. He has to schlep all his equipment, and there isn’t much security. When he worked at Mastro’s, he used to earn enough to send a large portion of his income to help support his parents in Mexico, save, and still have the life-style we now have. He’s kept up with all the latest pricey technology in his field. He plays forty songs an evening, half of which are requests—which he has to be able to play without fumbling. He constantly practices and updates his massive database for many uses, ranging from over 50 documentaries he’s worked on, to TV shows, commercials, and private parties, accommodating traditional, oldies, rap, pop, rock, blues, jazz, show tunes, Latin, and more. Yet there is now less demand for those extra jobs. I only started seriously writing about five years ago, but Adolfo has earned a good living at music ever since he was nineteen. I would never want him to throw away that investment in time, labor, and money and switch careers at this stage in his life.
I know how essential my steady paycheck is. I know I can’t quit my job right now to live life more the way I’d like to….I know I should be writing my wrist off in my non-working hours, but…I also have a husband who wants us to watch a movie together right now.
Angel? Are you there somewhere? I know I don’t have a bell, but, I just…want a chance at making a writing career work. I promise I’ll get up early and get on it.
Sometimes what I feel like on my trip down the road of life is that I’m driving a car whose steering wheel is quite the little booger. I try to steer it straight ahead, but it just seems to veer off on a different road than the one I’d intended. I thought for sure I’d get up early on Sunday and write, but it’s almost 11:00 A.M., and I’m just getting going. Starting around 4:30 this morning, our upstairs neighbor Serena, probably in her late forties, began screaming. Something crashed on her floor and there were knocks, thumps and bumps. The rhythm was the main clue to neighbors that she wasn’t being beaten. No, she and her latest boyfriend were in the thralls of wild sex, and therefore the screeching and moaning were expressing the opposite of agony. The bed must be old because it scrapes and squeaks; our ceiling magnifies the noise like a kettle drum. Her bedroom is directly above ours, and about three times per week in the early morning hours, we now have the pleasure of listening to her being banged to kingdom come by a man whose face we have yet to see, though I’m dying to glimpse the gifted stud who manages to engage in a solid hour of non-stop action. He must either be a hormone-crazed teenager or her contemporary on Viagra.
Too groggy to get up and write at that hour, too tired from our own Saturday night fun, I finally drifted back to sleep and didn’t wake up until almost 11:00. Now, it’s too hot outside to go for the invigorating canyon walk I’d originally planned for 7:00 A.M., so I go the air-conditioned gym and work out instead. When I get back, it’s time to fix lunch.
Adolfo says, “We are going house-hunting next weekend.” I don’t argue.
* I write so prolifically, I’m channeling my muse.
* I work hard and keep my job—for now.
* I’m glad and grateful I don’t feel I have to resort to extremes
like silicon lips or boob flashing.
* I get a better steering wheel for the roadster of my life.