Wednesday, January 07, 2004

I had this funny memory the other day when I was halfway between sleep and consciousness. It was when I had just moved to Los Angeles and landed a job in the casting office for the movie Empire Records. As I was told by a seasoned Los Angelino, nearly everyone has a costly catastrophe when they first move there. It's a test of character and determination to see if you are really there to stick it out. Mine was the transmission in my car deciding that it didn't want to cooperate anymore. The dealership, located in Studio City, was finishing replacing the transmission, ($3000 worth of work that came out of a bond I had to cash), and the manager told me of a place where I could grab breakfast while waiting for them to finish.

Back up to a few years before that when I lived in New York City and was going through a friend's book of photographs in her apartment. A cute, blonde-haired blue-eyed boy caught my eye, and I asked who the hottie with the bedroom eyes was in the photo. "Oh, that's Jason," she said, "he's an actor." We talked briefly about Jason, and she said that he was a good friend of hers from Vancouver, and that he had guest appeared on 21 Jump Street way back when, and some other shows. When I asked if he lived in New York, she told me that he lived in Los Angeles. Oh, I said, and put the photo back. The two hadn't spoken since Vancouver where their friendship had taken a more intimate turn after which he had wanted to continue, but not Lisa.

A few months later, when my friend moved in with me between apartments, I was watching a pilot TV show about kids in Beverly Hills, and a familiar face came on. There was bedroom eyes, and I said to Lisa in the next room, "Hey come here, isn't that your friend Jason?"

She walked in and was surprised to see him as well, and said, "Yeah, that's Jason." Hurt feelings had separated the two, so she was as surprised as I was to see him. I thought that the show probably wouldn't last, because I felt that no one wanted to watch life about Beverly Hills kids. Oh boy, was I wrong. The show was Beverly Hills 90210, and if you haven't guessed yet, Jason was Jason Priestley, who was about to shoot into the teen idol stratosphere.

When the time came for my move to Los Angeles, I'd joked with Lisa that I'd be sure to say hi to Jason for her if I saw him. I'd imagined the scenario, him in a diner type place with Luke Perry and me saying hello for Lisa. Why I imagined that scenario, I have no idea.

And that brings me back to my original memory, where I was in Los Angeles getting a brand new transmission for my SAAB. I walked toward Du Par's Diner in Studio City on a hot hazy morning, looking up at the hills and the houses that jutted out of the side of them. The SAAB repair manager had told me Du Par was a great place for breakfast, as I was craving pancakes. I walked in, sat in a booth, away from the windows and away from the chattering groups of people at the larger tables, and voraciously ate my pancakes slathered with butter and syrup and three strips of bacon. Waitresses, none younger than 50, with shellacked hairdos and hardened expressions, maneuvered around the place holding trays full of artery clogging meals in one hand and a pot of steaming coffee in the other. If they'd been allowed, a cigarette would have dangled out of each of their mouths. One approached me on the way to another table, "More coffee?" she barked. I looked at my watch and realized I had a half an hour to go, "Yes please," I said, responding fast as to not hold her up, and she filled my cup back up to the rim, then marched on to the next table. I sipped, wrote in my journal, thought of the day ahead and how nice it would be to have my car back that I'd been without for three weeks.

I'd been working in several facets of the production office and when interviewed had come in a sun dress and sandals. The production manager looked at the girl with a fresh face and slight stature entering his office and said, "Are you here for the audition?"

"For the job?" I said, and he looked at me inquisitively. After a bit of conversational juggling, they figured out that I wasn't an actress and had come for the production office job. They joked that, "Yes, we got her!"

During the interview, they gently brought up that I may be required to lift some things, and that the work could get dirty. I said, "Don't let the dress fool you. I'm incredibly strong and don't mind dirty work." They laughed, and I walked out with a job in Hollywood less than a month after arriving in Los Angeles. I was reflecting on that, as I sipped my last bit of coffee, and then realized that my car would just about be ready. I got up, walked to the bathroom, then was on my way out when I looked to my left.

Sitting at a table with a friend, was a familiar face. As I'd imagined it, there was Jason Priestley sitting across from yes, Luke Perry. I shook my head at the absurdity of it, gathered my production book, purse, and journal, and approached their table. I stood for a second and Jason looked at me politely as he'd probably had to do a thousand times before. The show was several years into its run and their celebrity was in full swing, and I'd just watched a news report where extra security had to be called to a mall where Jason and Luke Perry were making an appearance. The girls had gotten so hysterical that they'd almost crashed through the barriers.

At the diner, there was no such scene. When he met my eyes, I asked him, "Are you Lisa's friend?" I'd given him her full name, and his eyes widened and his mouth dropped in shock. I could tell it was a pleasant surprise. "Why yes I am!" he said excitedly and reached out to shake my hand. He then asked me my name and we talked for a bit, and I updated him on Lisa and told him what I was doing in Los Angeles and how I'd recognized him from her picture collection. Luke Perry sat there politely and listened to the whole thing. I finished the conversation by saying to Jason that I'd told Lisa if I saw him I'd be sure to say hello. Upon leaving, he told me to send Lisa his love and I said that it was nice to meet him and shook his hand again. The conversation was very natural, and as I walked back to the dealership I realized that I'd not even acknowledged Luke Perry's presence nor mentioned the show. Not out of rudeness, but I'd just gotten involved in my and Jason's conversation. Part of me thinks that after I left, they asked, "Did she even have a clue who the hell we were?"

Later, I called Lisa and well, sent her Jason's love. We got a big laugh out of that random meeting and that it had actually manifested. I'd bragged on her to him and told her so.

So, I was lying in bed remembering that incident and how utterly absurd it was. How a pain in the ass to get your car fixed brings you to a conversation with the teen idol du jour. And, how varied and wonderful the forms in which those slices of life can be bestowed upon us. Perhaps I was just a messenger in the delicate dance between the two of them, and that was just fine. Life is a funny crap shoot like that, and its wonderful when it chooses to revisit us when we are least expecting it. It's a reminder to keep going, and that there will be more slices to come. Probably not while I am here, but that is exactly the point. I'm stepping back to get perspective and let all those memories seep through. And, that while being here is frustrating, (which I'm beginning to think is part of the plan to light not just a fire, but a blow torch under my ass) I'm gearing up and gathering the strength for more. I'm here so I can reflect on those wonderful juicy bites and have a clean palette for the next ones. Hopefully much bigger slices that will have more to do with my accomplishments than those of others.

And I do think that will be the case.

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