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By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
As we walked into the rented sky box, I was still thinking of ways to get out of it.
My friend left me within minutes to claim his spot alongside the VIPs suckling at TV’s teats. I spotted some bottles I recognized and as I approached them, an old friend tapped me on the shoulder to offer a small dish of cookies. I hugged him, then took a cookie.
“Careful, they’re pot cookies.”
I hugged him again.
We sat down in the private-viewing section, probably considered nosebleed seats, until someone had the wherewithal to wrap them in a hotel room. From our vantage point, the roadies working onstage looked like plastic army men unspooling thread. After we had one cookie each, my friend left to get drinks. It seemed like he’d been gone a while, though it could have been five minutes. I was feeling warm, almost giddy, when the box became quiet. Then, in a low, slathered-on, sexy voice: “This is one of my last performances in L.A.,” John Mayer prompted. The crowd pleaded, “Nooo.”
“I’m moving back to New York City.”
I found this off-putting and yelled: “Get the fuck out then — go!” A few heads turned toward mine to show their disapproval. I went back to the sky-box kitchen, opened the refrigerator door and leaned inside, not registering anything, just standing there like I was in a huddle with tonic water. “Okay, Big D.! No E.! Let’s go!” I moved an empty fruit basket, and found my friend’s dish hidden behind it, with half a cookie left. Having just read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, I took a bite of the cookie and pocketed the rest for the dismal journey ahead. This bite began a wave of giggles as unrelenting as hiccups. And they stayed with me as I entered the ladies room, closed the stall door and lurched out again, straight into view of one of NBC’s top-ranking officials. She was watching me in the mirror:
“Hi, Laura. Are you okay?” (Meaning: Why are you laughing like a nut by yourself and making me uncomfortable?)
“Um, I’m a bit tipsy.”
It seemed like the wrong thing to say coming directly from a toilet stall, so I made light of it by asking: “Ever tried drinking straight from the bowl?”
She squinted at me with pity.
“I’m kidding.” I washed my hands and ran, fearing I’d laugh again in front of the person who might have something to do with my livelihood.
I squatted outside the sky-box door. I was able to control the marijuana-induced mirth for a few minutes by grinning at the floor. At which point, my boss/the show runner stepped out of the room and asked: “Are you okay?”
Hearing the question a second time put me on the defensive.
“Yes! I’m just — having — fun.”
Then the exec from the bathroom, talking over me, added: “That’s what I just asked her. Is she okay?”
Now I’m being talked about in the third person. I felt like Billy Babbitt in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I looked up at their concerned faces and, half-smiling, begged: “P-p-please don’t tell my mother! She doesn’t need to know about this!”
“I wasn’t planning on saying anything,” the exec solemnly replied. “It’s probably best — ”
“Jesus, Jill!” I barked, suddenly recalling her name (incorrectly). “I was doing a bit!” Obviously, I’m not concerned about my mother finding out about this ... whatever this is.
I started hurling my back against the wall until I was standing up.
“I’m sorry. I need to get some air.”
I left and walked for blocks until I found a mini-everything mart. I surveyed their offerings: magazines, brake fluid, flashlights and bread sticks framing a glass case of donuts and toys. It was a lot to take in. I noticed two young guys at the counter, possibly thinking the same thing. The owner asked: “Can I help you?”
“Gee, it all looks so good. I’ll take a cup of the brake fluid.”
One of the guys laughed with a spurt and his friend joined. I looked at them, pleased to have finally made a connection.
HEAD SHOTS GONE WRONG
By Howard Kremer
Some years back, I moved to Hollywood from Texas. I arrived with high hopes, as I’d gotten some attention from starring in the MTV series Austin Stories, which landed me a manager at one of the biggest management companies in town. My co-star and writing partner, Chip Pope, moved out on the same day and was signed by the same guy.