Excerpted from my Bradley-Colleary’s novel; Smash, Crash and Burn: Tales From the Edge of Celebrity. This story includes:
A Love Triangle – Spring 1988
- The squealing of tires.
- The wrenching open and slamming of a car door.
- An argument between an unseen couple.
“You are such an asshole!” the unseen young woman shouts from the street outside.
“Well, you’re a total bitch!” shrieks the man with her. “Get your own ride home!”
“I’m never coming home to your sorry ass!”
“Good, I’ll put your shit on the sidewalk.”
“You even touch my shit and I’ll kick you so hard your balls will come out your eye sockets.”
“That doesn’t even make sense! My eyes’d have to come out first.”
“Kiss my ASS!”
“You kiss MY ASS!”
Tires lay rubber on asphalt as the car peels away from the curb. What the cuss was that?
I sit in a casting office at the rundown Crossroads-of-the-World on Las Palmas in Hollywood, waiting to audition for a beer commercial with twenty other girls.
We’re dressed in hot pants and platform heels, pimping ourselves out for a shot at hops-and-barley stardom.
I never book beer commercials.
Well. I never book any commercials, because I’m always competing against professional models that tower over me.
It’s my paternal ancestor’s fault. The men are no more than five-foot-five in stilettos. They’d have to climb a ladder to kiss Linda Hunt. They’re descended of the original Munchkins. Thanks a lot, Dad.
Also, I’m insecure about my thin lips.
Sometimes, when I smile, my non-existent upper lip attaches to my dry gums. Because whenever I audition with a bunch of Amazonian runway models I get cottonmouth.
My eyes accidentally catch the eyes of a flame-haired six-footer sitting next to me wearing a skirt hemline up to her collarbones. She smiles confidently with her full lips. I smile back. My upper lip sticks to my dry gums.
I look like Katie Couric in a wind tunnel.
I especially dread beer commercial auditions because of the dancing.
It goes something like this:
- A sadistic casting agent emerges from her dungeon and grabs a bunch of we lemmings dressed like Cannery Row hookers.
- She brings us into a room with five stubble-faced, backward baseball cap-wearing men sitting behind a foldable table.
- One of them chomps down Taco Bell.
- We’re directed, one at a time, to stand on a tape X on the floor and state our names.
- As the camera rolls, we turn to the left, turn to the right and turn to center, like felons booked for thinking we’re hot enough to be in a beer commercial.
- Then, invariably, we’re forced to dance.
We must pretend we’re best friends in a bar, dancing together, and wiping the sweat off each other with our tongues.
I can’t worry about that now, because through the thin, plywood walls of the building, I hear the stomp, stomp, stomp of the bellowing hellion from the curse-laden rumpus outside coming up the stairs.
A brunette Glamazon across the room meets my eye. We’re ephemerally united in our terrified glee to see the female half of the smack-down.
The door flies open, slamming against the wall in its trajectory to reveal a tiny china doll of a woman.
She has electric green eyes; a flowing lion’s mane; and lips full enough to float fifteen Cubans across the Atlantic to the coast of Florida.
“What’re you twats looking at?” she snarls.
To a woman we lavish our cuticles with attention.
“That’s what I thought,” she mutters, plopping down next to me with a huge bag she flings to the ground and wades through like a fire sale at Barney’s.
I surreptitiously peer into the bag over her shoulder.
She has enough stuff in there to stock the pantry at Buckingham Palace. She’s having trouble finding what she wants and starts throwing things out of her bag and onto the floor.
“Shit.” Two magazines.
“Dammit!” Jelly bra inserts.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck!”
Lacy thigh-highs; a container for a cervical cap; a pack of Marlboro Reds.
She lights up a cigarette and spews smoke into my face. My God, she’s magnificent.
“Um, I don’t think you can smoke in here,” whispers a chesty Blonde nearby.
“You gonna take this cigarette out of my hand?”
“I could kick your ass into tomorrow.”
Silence in which you can hear a false eyelash drop.
Smoking like a chimney, the hellion finds what she’s looking for.
Her Zed card.
I’d rather show someone the pimples on my ass than my Zed card.
There’s always a headshot of the actor/model on the front, and three or four other “in character” photos on the back and one of which always sucks.
Sure, you look great in the “young professional” shot in that suit your dad bought you when you said you were going to become a news anchor, not a waitress. But invariably you look like the son of a motherless whore in the “Vamp” shot.
The hellion looks great in every shot on her Zed card.
And do I …? Do I recognize one of the photos?
“That one was in Cosmo!” I exclaim, like Alexander Fleming discovering penicillin.
The hellion’s been in Cosmopolitan? The seminal magazine my mom left lying around that caused me to query at age eight, “Mommy? What’s the Female Orgasm?”
I never did get a straight answer, which is probably why I haven’t had one yet. I suppose it may also have to do with me concentrating on hiding my cellulite from Ted while we make love.
“You mean this shot?” asks the Jezebel, pointing it out.
“I hate that picture.”
“I think it’s really beautiful.”
“What’s your game?”
“I have no game.”
“You got that right.”
She squints at me through a vortex of smoke. Clint Eastwood’s got nothing on her. She’s either gonna kiss me or kill me. She extends her hand, “Gabby.”
Before we can become blood sisters a casting agent sticks her festering, malevolent head into the room.
“Shannon Bradley, Holly Jensen, India Riposa and Gabriella Simon. You’re up!”
Gabby stares her down. “Listen lady, I’ll do anything you want, but if you try to make me dance, I’ll sharpen your head like a pencil.”
I never had an experimental phase in college, but I know love when I’m in it.
Two days later, I’m fashioning a half-Windsor knot even my dad could be proud of in the fish-themed tie I wear to my temporary waitressing gig, when my phone rings.
Who is this mysterious woman with the lemon-whiskey-infused voice?
“Your commercial agent.”
I forgot what she sounded like.
“You have a callback for the Michelob spot,” she informs me.
“I have a callback?”
“Honey, you’ve got to stop oozing failure.”
“Yes, yes okay. Where is it?”
“Its in bum-fuck Calabasas, near Six Flags Magic Mountain. Oh, and could you take another one of our clients who doesn’t have a car? I think she lives near you.”
“I guess so, who is it?”
Destiny takes a hand.
I pull up to the curb of a historically preserved 1929 Spanish bungalow complex on Sweetzer in Hollywood.
This is just the kind of place I’d live, if my photo had been the header of a Cosmo article titled, “Seven Ways To Funk Up Your Sex Life.”
I park and approach the building, find the right name on the buzzer and push. No answer. I push again.
“What?” shouts a man’s voice over the intercom. I recognize the voice as the male-half of the Gabby smack-down.
“Um, is Gabriella there?”
“Your fucking ride’s here!” the man yells at, ostensibly, Gabby.
“Do you have to be such a dick, Jeremy?” Gabby yells back.
“Just get your ass …”
His voice cuts out as he releases the intercom button. I stand there waiting, staring at the intercom.
What do I do? Should I stay? Or should I go?
I sing under my breath, shuffling from one foot to the next on the stoop, “If you say that you are mine, I’ll be here till the end of time. So you gotta let me know, should I cool it or should I go?”
BANG! Gabriella flies out of the lobby door.
“Let’s get the hell outa Dodge,” she snarls.
“You got it.”
She points at my car. I’m driving my grandpa’s old Taurus. “Is that your piece of shit?”
“Yes, that’s my piece of shit.”
I fumble with the radio as we drive north on the 405, finding Anita Baker’s Sweet Love. That’s right, I listen to this hepcat, jazzy shit.
“Music’s like a nail gun to my head.”
“I hate music too. And art.” I turn off the radio.
Gabby deftly fingers a cigarette from her pack of Marlboros and flicks her Bic, lighting up. I roll my window down a crack.
“It’s cold in here,” says Gabby. I roll the window back up.
“You have a boyfriend?” Gabby asks me.
“Yes, we just had our five-year anniversary …”
“My boyfriend. The guy I’m living with right now. You wanna hit?”
She offers me her cigarette. I don’t smoke and I’m not about to start.
“Sure,” I say, grasping the cigarette between my thumb and pointer finger.
I suck. There’s smoke in my mouth, around my teeth, is this right? I open my mouth and smoke wafts out like a gaseous cloud lingering in my hair and eyeballs.
I hand the cigarette back.
“Jeremy’s a photographer,” Gabby informs me. “I know he’s banging someone else.”
“Photographers can be like that,” I say matter-of-factly, while secretly electrified she trusts me with her inner life.
“I mean, I love him.”
“Of course, you do.”
“But, the bastard can’t be trusted.”
“I’m pretty sure my boyfriend’s had affairs. It’s part and parcel of dating an athlete and …”
“I mean, he says he loves me, but then he goes to shoot that slut Stephanie Seymour. Do you know that slut?”
“Not personally, but she seems slutty.”
“If you bed Axle Rose you’re a slut. That guy’ll sleep with a dog.”
“He’s a zoophiliac?” I query.
“I’m not saying I want to break up with Jeremy. I mean, maybe he’s not messing around, but I wasn’t born yesterday, okay? I’ve got my eyes open. No one’s going to put one over on me.”
“I’d be afraid to try. Not that I’m afraid of you. Very much.”
Gabby appraises me. “You’re a good listener.”
“Thanks, yes, people tell me I give really good adv …”
“We need to get you laid. Are you getting laid?”
“I do have a boyfriend …”
“He’s not making you come, I can tell.”
“Is it that obvious?”
“Yeah. Your lips seem kind of pinched.”
“I don’t have lips.”
“You’re right. You don’t.”
We arrive at the callback on the set of the director’s current project.
It appears to be a commercial for feminine hygiene products, there are several mother/daughter types lounging around in flowing floral gowns and there’s a meadow nearby.
The harried casting director spots Gabby and me.
“Girls, girls, line up over there!” she screeches. “Why aren’t you two wearing shorts? Didn’t anyone tell you to wear shorts? We have to see your legs!”
“No one told me,” I cry, panic setting in. “I could take my pants off, if you want.”
“You’re not doing that,” Gabby barks.
She turns on the casting director. “The last time I checked, you were lucky to get us all the way up to this far-flung shit hole. You oughta pay for our gas.”
Gabby’s got stone balls. How is she so confident?
Is it her full lips?
- Would my life have been drastically different if I’d had fuller lips?
- Would I have won the eighth grade George Kawasaki English Award, instead of Pam Cestone, if I’d had bee-stung lips?
- Would I have made the varsity swim team, buoyed by my lip fat?
- Would I have scored higher on my SATs?
- Learned to speak French?
- Taken up smoking cloves?
- How many orgasms was I missing with these chicken lips?
The casting director lines us up like a bridal saleswoman fastidiously prepping over-priced wedding gowns.
The commercial director’s an old guy wearing ostrich cowboy boots, a Stetson and a silver belt-buckle that says CLIFF.
Is this his name, or a descriptive term for his penis?
Is there something perverse and twisted about me contemplating an octogenarian’s penis?
“You,” he points to a blonde pipe cleaner standing next to me. “And you, and you and you,” he points at a Redhead, a Latina, a Barbie doll.
He calls forward half the group of women. “All of you … go home.”
Holy moly. Just like that?
These poor girls drove two hours in apocalyptic L.A. traffic to be shot down in five seconds?
Wait. I’m not one of them. How am I not one of them?
It’s got to be Gabby. It’s because I’m with Gabby who, unlike me, could give a flying fuck at a donut hole whether she gets cast in a beer commercial or not.
I always try to trick myself into not caring if I get cast during auditions, but underneath I’m twisting in the wind with unfulfilled hopes and the powers-that-be can smell it like a horse smells fear.
A week after the audition I get two phone calls.
The first is from the beer commercial casting director who informs me I’m “on hold” for the commercial.
“What does ‘on hold’ mean?”
“Are you a waitress?”
“Right. So it’s like being ‘on call’ as a waitress. You may not have to go in and sling hash, but if one of the other waitresses calls in sick, then you’ll have to.”
“You mean, I might’ve gotten the beer commercial?”
“If someone gets sick.”
“It’s flu season.”
“Good luck to you.”
Click. She’s gone.
Wow. I might be in a beer commercial. Or I might not. This is so exciting.
The second phone call is from Fuckin’ Jeremy.
“Hey, is there a chick named Shannon there?”
“I’m a chick named Shannon.”
“Yeah, Shannon, you’re that girl who’s friends with Gabby, right?”
“Gabby said we’re friends?”
“So listen, I gotta favor to ask you. So it’s her birthday next week and I’m kinda planning a surprise type a thing and I was thinkin’, you know, you could call her up and ask her to go to dinner with ya, you know, get her outta the house for an hour or something. On Tuesday like around eight o’clock.”
“I could do that! I mean, I have a life … and stuff I do … but I’m available Tuesday, just this one Tuesday …”
“Would you shut the fuck up!” yells Jeremy.
“I’m sorry, I talk too much. My childhood nickname was Diarrhea Mouth.”
“Naw, I was talkin’ to Gabby. I’m on the phone here!” he yells off.
I can hear Gabby yell something in the background that sounds like “shove my fist up your ass …” but then she kind of fades away.
“So great, Tuesday at eight.”
“Until Tuesday,” I breathe, but Jeremy’s already hung up.
It takes three hours to decide what to wear for my date with Gabby. A cut up off-the-shoulder sweatshirt might be too Flashdance. A Betsey Johnson dress too, Cyndi Lauper circa Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. A collared, button-up shirt and swooping bangs too, Flock of Seagulls.
Why do I care so much what Gabby thinks of me? I bet she wasn’t Homecoming Queen.
Oh, who am I kidding? Winning Homecoming Queen was a debacle.
The day after I was crowned, my Homecoming princesses and I had our photographs taken for the yearbook.
We sat behind a scrim, each waiting our turn before the lens.
My princesses preceded me, one by one. Then it was my turn to taste the glory.
My plan was to smile with my mouth closed, like the beguiling Mona Lisa, so my lips would look fuller.
“Say, I’m the Queeeeennn,” the photographer cajoled from behind his camera.
“I don’t really want to say I’m the Queen, because I’m going to smile with my mouth closed.”
“But you are the Queen so you must say, I’m the Queeeennn.”
“That’s okay, I don’t want to say that.”
“Say it! Say, I’m the Quuueeeen. I’m the Quueenn. Say it!”
“You can’t make me say it!”
“I’m the Queen! I’m the Quueeeeeen!”
“Oh my God, what is wrong with you?! I’m the Quuuuueeeeeen!”
I was immortalized in the Upland Highlander Class of ’83 yearbook with no discernible upper lip, what looked to be an endless sea of pink gums and Stonehenge teeth.
I skulked off behind the scrim in defeat, leaned down to grab my purse and check quickly in my compact mirror to see if there were any errant green things stuck between my teeth when I overheard the photographer say to his assistant, “Why is it none of the hot girls ever win Homecoming Queen?”
“I dunno. I guess it’s cuz the kids are too jealous of the hot ones, so they pick the ass kissers.”
Story of my life. You can bet Gabby’s never kissed anyone’s ass.
I settle on wearing a black shirt and black pants to pick up Gabby. I look like Johnny Cash.
Driving to Gabby’s apartment my hands drip with sweat. I’ve heard somewhere you can have your sweat glands removed. I wonder if that will be expensive. And will it hurt?
Wiping my drenched palms on my pants, I ring Gabby’s buzzer. Jeremy answers.
“That you, Shannon?”
“It’s me!” I shriek; a Mousketeer on crack.
“Come on up, we’re in 301.”
He buzzes the buzzer. I can’t figure out whether I should push or pull on the front door and have to ask Jeremy to buzz the buzzer again, because I took too long to decide and the door locked again.
I pounce inside and try not to dash up the stairs to the third floor, purposely slowing my climb to a meditative hike in the Austrian Alps.
Alllll the time in the world.
Oh, look, meadowlarks! A prairie dog sniffing the air for predators! I arrive at apartment 301 and do a series of calming Louise Hays self-love affirmations.
“Hey, Shannon,” says the man who opens the door.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this guy isn’t it.
He’s five-foot-six, on a good day; scrawny, with a blonde ponytail and scruffy face. Not the tattooed Obsession Eau de Toilette hunk I’d envisioned.
- He’s the kind of guy you could picture at a poetry reading who weeps at his own work.
- The guy who makes necklaces out of clover.
- Sleeps in a redwood tree to rescue it from pillaging lumberjacks.
- Lies on top of baby seals so the clubbers can’t get them.
- Hitchhikes to Joshua Tree for the annual blossoming of the cacti.
You get my point.
This guy does not look like Fuckin’ Jeremy.
“Hey Gabby, Shannon’s here,” Jeremy calls.
Gabby appears wearing skintight white jeans, a midriff baring top and big silver hoop earrings that flash against the backdrop of her wild, curly auburn hair.
Gabby and Jeremy share a chaste kiss.
“You girls have a good time,” says Jeremy. Over Gabby’s head he shoots me a conspiratorial wink. I wink back.
Gabby and I sit at a table in discreetly expensive Butterfields on Sunset Boulevard. I can’t afford Butterfields on Sunset Boulevard. You spend fifty bucks just looking at the menu.
“Um, Gabby, this place is kind of … fancy.”
“Don’t worry about money. Jeremy’s footing the bill.”
“Really? Wow, that’s nice of him.”
“It’s the least the prick bastard can do for forgetting my birthday last year.”
The waiter arrives. You can tell he makes money at this joint because his uniform is dry-cleaned, starched and pressed right up to the persnickety St. Andrew’s knot in his silk bow tie.
My bulk-loaded, quarter-machine-washed waitress shirt tends to look like a Jackson Pollock painting done in fish guts five minutes into the brunch shift at my fish-and-chips place of employ.
“May I offer you ladies an aperitif?”
“I’ll have a Corona. Maybe with a lime on the side?”
“No, you won’t,” says Gabby, “We’ll take a bottle of the Kendall Jackson chardonnay.”
That’s like, twenty bucks at Trader Joe’s, which means its sixty bucks here!
So this is what it’s like to be confident. You can order more than tap water and dinner rolls with a pat of garlic butter.
We also order appetizers, entrees and reserve a chocolate soufflé that has to be ordered ahead of time because it takes a half hour to bake.
I start adding time up in my head. It’s eight-fifteen. We probably won’t be able to finish all of this food and drink for a good hour.
Jeremy didn’t give me a specific time to be back, but nine-thirty seems reasonable. Most parties don’t start until then.
I settle in with my wine and gaze across the table at Gabby.
She shoots down her first glass like an archer on fox hunting day and pours a second. My liver quakes in fear, but I try to keep up.
Gabby is somber, distant. Maybe she’s smelled my congenital un-edginess?
- Divined the excruciating crush I had on Donny Osmond when I was seven?
- How I went to sleep every night kissing a pillowcase embossed with his picture and a dialogue bubble that read “Sweet Dreams?”
- Maybe she’ll sense I’ve never done drugs and will excuse herself, go to the bathroom, climb out the window and hitch a ride home with Billy Idol.
“So um, what books do you like?” I ask, grasping for a topic.
“I think it’s over between Jeremy and me,” Gabby pronounces funereally.
“What? Really? Because you guys seem … you know … great, the way you’re so … communicative.”
“I get that. It’s just he’s such a moody bastard; I never know what he’s thinking. We get into a fight; he won’t talk to me for days. How am I supposed to live with that?”
“Maybe he’s one of those guys who feels more than he shows?”
“Yeah, maybe. He still won’t get over me sleeping with his cousin. I mean, he should understand I only did that to get back at him for forgetting my birthday last year.”
“You slept with his cousin?”
“You’re the only person I’ve told that to besides Jeremy, and he didn’t take it so well, but I feel like I can tell you anything and you won’t judge me.”
“I’m very non-judgmental.”
“I only cheated to get his attention.”
“Maybe you felt neglected?”
“Exactly, that’s exactly what I felt. Neglected!”
My heart rate increases. My breathing quickens. Gooseflesh covers my arms.
This is a familiar feeling. What is this feeling? This rush of adrenaline … Suddenly I remember.
I’m six years old and home alone with my two older stepbrothers when I see my grandpa Maurice’s Cadillac pulling up the long, asphalt drive at my mom’s house.
Immediately, I know this is an unexpected visit, because my mom’s ashtrays and cigarette cartons are lying around everywhere.
Grandpa doesn’t know mom smokes and, even though she’s a twenty-nine-year-old woman, she’s frightened he’ll find out.
Without wasting a second, I hide the evidence, dumping ashtrays in the trash and shoving cartons and boxes of cigarettes in the cupboards behind steak platters and fondue sets.
I throw open windows and doors, flapping dishtowels around to get the smoke smell out.
An hour later, when my mom walks through the door to find me sitting on the couch with grandpa, her face is pale.
My heart rate increases, my breathing quickens, gooseflesh covers my arms as I watch her face shift from dread, to relief, to pride.
She looks me in the eye, knowing it was me who saved her ass.
I’m her fixer. And as long as I play that role I’ll be more important to her than any man, even The Cop. I’ll be indispensible.
“Yes?” I look up to see Gabby staring at me. “Should we get more white wine? Or should we move to red for the entree?”
I remember the reason I’m here with Gabby. I’m not supposed to make her like me better than Jeremy, I’m just supposed to keep her distracted long enough so he can throw her a surprise party.
“I don’t know if we’ll have time for more wine,” I say.
“Are you kidding? Jeremy never lets me out of his sight. I can’t remember the last time I went out with a girlfriend!”
I suppose a little extra one-on-one time would be okay. I flag down the waiter, “Garçon, a bottle of your best pinot noir, but nothing over forty bucks!”
“Then you’ll have to have merlot,” says the effete bastard.
Time moves like liquid amber resin in a balsam tree as we quaff the entirety of our bottle of merlot.
It was so fruity, with a hint of cassis. But it’s gone now. And I miss it.
It feels like we’ve been sitting here since Rome fell. I’m just going to look at my watch. Nine-thirty p.m. Why does that time seem significant?
“We need more merlot,” declares Gabby, gnawing on her porterhouse.
The surprise party! We’re supposed to be back by now. And Fuckin’ Jeremy bought me this filet mignon with a side of truffle-mashed potatoes and something green.
Oh, how could I look a gift horse in the mouth for a dose of feeling … what’s that word again? It was there on my tongue before … inde … india … indispensible! There it is!
“I think we better eat fast, Jeremy probly wants you home.”
“Screw Jeremy,” says Gabby, a matador flashing a red cape.
“He is kind of a jerk,” I say. “He curses a lot.”
“Foul-mouthed motherfucker,” says Gabby.
The waiter clears my plate. Is it just me? Or does he give me a you-can-take-the-waitress-out-of-the-smelly-fish-house-but-you-can’t-take-the-smelly-fish-house-out-of-the-waitress look?
“What’s yer nam?” I demand.
“You know, that thing yer called.”
“French. Quelle surprise!”
“Give us dessert menus!” demands Gabby.
“You have a soufflé coming,” François scowls.
“Should we have the soufflé thing?” I ask Gabby, “Weren’t we supposed to be somewhere?”
Where was it?
“We were s’posed to be here. Eating a Godamned soufflé,” she replies.
“What about Jeremy?” I ask.
“He’s not the boss of me.”
“He’s Mister Bossy Pants!”
“I should be allowed to have friends!” growls Gabby. Then like a toddler, “Why can’t I have friends?”
“You can have friends. You do have friends. I’m your friend. What time is it?”
“Oh! It’s ten-oh-two. Maybe you better call Jeremy just in case.”
“Fine, I’ll be right back.”
Suddenly Gabby’s gone. Her chair’s there, but she’s not in it.
I think I’ll just sip the last of this fine merlot. Oh, that’s right. We’ve finished it. Man, did it have great legs. I could see those legs right through the glass. They were so purple.
God, I’m sad.
“Screw you, asshole!” Gabby screams from somewhere I can’t see her.
Suddenly she’s back in her chair. She wasn’t there for the longest time, and now she’s back and her face is mad-red.
“We’ll take the chocolate soufflé with extra ice cream and two of your best ports,” she yells at François.
I wonder if he’ll poop in our soufflé. He probly doesn’t poop though. He probly has an internal defecatory self-cleaning system reserved just for Frogs.
“What’d Jeremy say?”
“He told me to ‘get home immediately.’ I mean, who does that douche bag think he is? My father? I never get to go out with girlfriends. He’s so possessive it’s ridiculous. It’s like I’m a prisoner.”
“They say possessive men can be dangerous. It’s the first sign of that syndrome where there are wives and those white t-shirts that show your biceps … what are those called?”
Two glasses of shiny brown liquid show up. Are they the ports that Jeremy bought us? Mmm, yummy …
Does my watch say eleven o’clock or one o’clock? Is the eleven to the left or the right of the twelve?
“Ya know, mebbe we better go,” I slug back another port thanks to Jeremy. I’ve grown fond of the skinny cuckold.
“Jes one more dwinkie,” says Gabby.
“Dwinkie rhymes with Twinkie!”
For some reason, I’m crying.
“And, and, and I was so flattered when Jeremy said you liked me! Do you like me? Do you really like me?”
“I guess so,” shrugs Gabby. “Yeah. Why not? Hey, so do you think I’m scary?”
“You scare the crap outa me. Because you’re just so beautiful, and I was Homecoming Queen but the hot ones are never Homecoming Queen. I mean you’d never win Homecoming Queen.”
She wouldn’t. She really wouldn’t.
“Also, I was like a mediocre junior varsity volleyball player? I couldn’t make varsity cuz I had no vertical leap.”
“I am totally terrifying,” says Gabby, stabbing her steak.
“I wouldn’t want to meet you in a dark alley, or even, you know, one that had adequate lighting.”
“I think Jeremy’s scared of me.”
“Fuckin’ Jeremy. I love that son-of-a-bitch!”
“Mebbe thas why he has to get all pissy, so I don’t cut off his balls.”
“Yeah, I guess he’s not sucha bad guy since he’s throwing you a surprised birthday party and everything.”
“Yeah, a surprised party is nice.”
“So, hey, should we get some, like, ouzo now? Or grappa?” Suddenly, I have a powerful thirst.
“When did he do that?” Gabby asks.
“The surprised party?”
“Tonight. That’s so nice.”
“Yeah, so I think ouzo, ‘cuz it’s Greek … and I always wanted to go to Greece after I saw that movie, Summer Lovers, where Peter Gallagher had to take all these vitamins to have sex with Daryl Hannah and this other Greek woman …”
“Wait. Jeremy’s throwing me a surprised party tonight?” Gabby asks from a very great distance.
“Yeah, right now. Crap. I wasn’t supposed to tell you. Crap crap crap. Don’t tell anyone I told you … what are you doing with your hand? That looks like a fist. Your rings seem very big. There’s, like, a mood ring and an Irish Claddagh ring. Did Jeremy give you that?
There’s a sound that’s making my head hurt. It’s loud … like a siren blaring into my sacro-cranial passageways.
What is that blaring? Oh. It’s the phone.
I can only see it with one eye. Why can’t I see out of my other eye?
Ouch. It hurts. I’ll think about that later. Who’s calling me at this hour?
“Herrrow,” I say into the phone.
“Is this Shannon Bradley?”
Instinct tells me to lie.
“No,” I say, disguising my voice like a very ancient Chinaman. “She’s stir sreeping.”
“Well, you just tell Shannon I’m coming for her. Do you know who this is?”
“That’s right, this is Fuckin’ Jeremy. And you tell Shannon the next time I see her, I’m going to wind her clock for her.”
“I wirr terr her.”
There’s that blaring noise again. It’s creating an aneurysm behind my right frontal lobe. Damn phone. I pick it up.
“Your commercial agent.”
“Oh, hi Gloria! It’th tho good to hear your voithe, Gloria.”
“You booked the Michelob spot.”
“You actually booked it! You booked the Michelob commercial!”
“I don’t book commercialth.”
“I know! You never book them. But you booked this one, sweetheart!”
“Oh my gosh! You never call me thweetheart!”
“Oh, my freaking gosh!”
“No problem. It’s been a good day for the agency. We had another client book it as well.”
“Wow, that’th great. Who?”
“Gabby Simon. And her boyfriend, Jeremy Brockton is shooting all the stills for it.”
I never book commercials. Never.