Monday, July 29, 2002

Last night I went to The West Wing season kick off party for the cast and crew.

It was at a bowling alley in Studio City and Warner Bros. had rented the entire place for the party. Cathy invited me to go with herself and Reese. Just because I know Cathy well, I know that she had my departure from Los Angeles in mind for extending the invitation to me, and that it would be a nice dose of Hollywood before I left. And, it was, in many ways.

First, I hadn't been bowling in over twenty years. The last time I bowled was when I was a kid, and we were on vacation in Estes Park, Colorado with another family that had three daughters. Melissa was my sister's age, Wendy was my age, and Katrina was around six years old. Melissa was mischievous, and got into an argument with a couple of local boys, not about anything in particular, just typical kid stuff, and threatened to pour a can of soda on the kid's head. The boy dared her, and Melissa promptly emptied that can of Coke right on top of his head. My sister, Wendy, and Melissa were prepared for this act, but I wasn't. They were already outside the bowling alley and I was frozen like a deer in headlights, half from shock, and half because I'd been overcome by paralyzing laughter. That is, the kind of laughter where nothing comes out of your mouth, but you dare don't move because you're certain to pee your pants. Shock laughter, is the best term that I can come up with.

And then I saw the two boys running toward me in a rage.

I was guilty by association, and had become their closest target. My legs started to move, but I was still weakened by laughter and couldn't run very fast. I called out to Melissa, Wendy, and Joan for help, but all I could see of them were the dust wakes they'd left in the moonlight. The boys however, had not lost their sights on me. As much as I tried to run, the fear of pee running down my bare legs overshadowed the threat of the two boys, and they caught up to me like two cheetahs closing in on their prey. I turned to face my attackers, for I was not going to go down without a fight.

And that's when a spray of Coke hit me in the face, and then another hit my legs. I picked up dirt and threw it at them, which only seemed to succeed in blowing back on me and sticking to my sweat and soda streaked skin. Now, I wasn't laughing, and that freed up my legs to sprint like a gazelle. The last thing I felt was a few drops of soda hitting my face as I ran when the boy threw the entire can at me but overshot me by a few feet.

It was a battle that I hadn't started, but ended up taking the punishment. I walked back toward our cabin alone in the thick humid night, smacking mosquitoes attracted by the sugar. Eventually, I caught up with the others, and they asked me why I hadn't run away with them. I asked why they hadn't come back to help me fight them off, and griped at them to next time give me some notice before they start a war with other kids. The sight of me, caked with streaks of dirt and soda told the rest of the story. I was humiliated as they laughed at me, but played like the whole event didn't phase me. It was a hot sticky night, and all I wanted was a shower.

Luckily, The West Wing bowling experience didn't turn out that way. Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe didn't chase me out the door to give me a soda baptism. Instead, I ate, I bowled, I talked to a lot of people and had one swell time. It had been a long time since I'd just enjoyed myself like that. And bowling sure has changed. The place is dimly lit and music blares as multi-colored disco lights dance around the floor and walls. The pins are lit under a florescent light and glow bright purple at the end of the alley. Instead of fifty-year-old hardened battle axes with lacquered hairstyles working the counters, the place is staffed with svelte beautiful women and hipster guys. The bowling shoes though, are still ugly.

It was fun to see Cathy in her element and watch her talk about her pregnancy with her coworkers. And, it was fun to see Hollywood having fun. Not pretentious fun, but good old family fun. Family was invited, and there were many kids running around the place which was great. I was of course, Cathy and Reese's family.

It turns out that Reese is quite the bowler. He bowled three strikes that night and won out of our group. Second was a woman who wasn't even going to bowl because she has Multiple Sclerosis. However, she gave it a try. It took her awhile to walk up to the line, but she had a mean bowling arm. Something neither she nor her husband knew. I had no idea she was handicapped until she told me. I thought that maybe she had an injured leg. But no, it was her difficulty to walk. Yet, she was there bowling and having a great time, handicap be damned. Not only that, but coming in second out of six. People are just amazing beings.

Another observation I had when I was there was how accustomed I'd become to famous people. I used to be so impressed by that, and now I'm not. I think for many reasons. Mainly, because of my battle with depression. Going through that has risen me up in status in my own eyes. Not because I went through it, but because I refused to let it win and faced the music to beat it. I learned that I thought I was worth fighting for, something I'd never taken on so drastically in the past. Sure, I never was one to take crap off people, but so many times I shoved my dreams aside to impress others.

So, there they all were, sans Rob Lowe who is still sulking about being the only cast member to not be nominated for an Emmy and his decision to leave the show, and Martin Sheen who was out of town. I felt no need to cozy up to the cast to have a good time at the party. I didn't care who did what or who knew who. I was more interested in them as people. Besides, the cast came to us to see Cathy. I would forget sometimes that these people are seen around the world via television as bigger than life and as ideals. Yet to me, after eight years in this town and going through the hardest time of my life and coming out of it, I can honestly say that I see them like I do anyone else.

It was a perfect way to say goodbye to Hollywood. A friendly and gentle way. I even got a beach towel as a party favor, another symbol of Los Angeles and a perfect souvenir. I really do feel as if I'm going about this departure in the right way, exploring every corner of doubt until I am completely certain that it is the right decision. In a way, seeing how I handle the lures of this town that brought me here.

So far, so good.

Saturday, July 13, 2002

As of today, I have lived in Los Angeles for eight years.

Yes, it is my eight year anniversary today. I know, because for these eight years I have kept journals. The first one in Los Angeles was on July 12, 1994. It was my first day here and I was staying in a weekly rate hotel.

I wasn't alone.

I had rescued a kitten in Las Vegas. He was so tiny that he fit in the palm of my hand. I don't know how old he was, probably just weeks, but I couldn't leave him in the 110 degree heat in Las Vegas where even though he was with his mother, he didn't have a chance. His mother was a feral cat, and ran when she saw me, leaving the little guy all by himself. So I picked him up.

I can only hope that mommy kitty knew I was giving her young one a chance. I had no idea what I was going to do with a kitten, as I didn't know but one soul in Los Angeles. I just knew that I couldn't leave him there.

I stayed with my friend Felix that night at his apartment, and we found a box for kitty after feeding him some milk that he rapaciously licked up from a saucer. He was chocolate colored and had blue eyes as all kittens his age do when they are that young. He'd meet my eyes and meow loudly, and I let the little guy crawl around on me then put him to bed in the box. He was too small to sleep with me, as I'd be afraid of rolling over on him. We put a tick-tock clock in there with him, some towels and a tad of milk. He meowed loudly for about three minutes, then went off to sleep. He was so tiny, but boy could he yowl.

My plans were to find a shelter for him that was a "no kill" shelter the next day. Since he was a kitten, there was a very good chance of him getting placed. However, the next day fell on a Sunday, and I just didn't have the time or knowledge of Las Vegas to one, make sure he was placed in good hands, and two, find my way to the place. So, the little guy was coming to Los Angeles with me. We drove through the desert together, him in his well shaded box until he discovered the joys of riding curled up in the nook of my neck and shoulder. He was that tiny, that he could comfortably fit in my clavicle. I drove, he purred against my neck, a little warm ball of fuzz, and I was so thankful that I'd found him. When I needed to make stops, I carried him in my shirt pocket. He curled up at the bottom, and no one ever noticed that I had a kitten in my pocket.

So I drove into Los Angeles with my new-found friend on my shoulder, both of our futures uncertain. I checked into the hotel, a strange little place that had a two story building and bungalows on the property. When I paid the manager my security deposit, I didn't mention that I had a kitten with me for fear that they weren't allowed.

And, that brought me to that journal entry on July 12, 1994. I was laying on my side in bed, propped up on one arm and my journal open on the mattress, and the little one was crawling around on me. He'd tickle my neck with his tiny claws then stick his nose in my ear, craving attention. He was my much needed companion and made the room that less empty. And, he made me laugh.

The next day I called my friend Tony, the one person that I knew in Los Angeles. Tony was a friend that I'd made at NewTek in Kansas, and I'd met his wife Martha, who was equally as nice as he was. Tony had become an animator for Steven Spielberg's then company, Amblin Imaging. By sheer luck, the hotel I was staying in was blocks from where Tony and Martha lived. I had no idea and had only chosen it because it sounded like a safe neighborhood. And, simply because I'd heard of Burbank through the Tonight Show. I asked Tony if he and Martha wanted a cat, knowing that they would say no. It was too good to be true, that two of the sweetest people that I knew in Los Angeles, who had good hearts and a stable married life would actually take the little guy in.

Tony and Martha came to visit, to welcome me to Los Angeles and kindly took me out to eat. Tony held the kitten in one hand, and the two of them sat in the room for a long time cradling the cat who rested comfortably in Tony's hand. I wanted them to meet him so that both of them could lobby for a home for him at their places of work.

Over the next two days, there were no takers, and I worried about kitty's future. I had no idea where I was going to be living after a week and wondered if I'd done the right thing. When I'd taken him from the streets, I'd put his future in my hands. Not only that, I was incredibly fond of him. Then, a day later, Tony and Martha made a surprise visit and said that they'd found someone to take the cat. I was ecstatic, and asked through the door as I pulled on my pants, "Who?"

They giggled, and I opened the door. The two of them stood close together and Tony said, "Us."
"Really?" I said and put my hands to my mouth.
"Yep, we talked about it and we want him," Tony said.
"Yay!" I said, so happy. This little kitten who before I'd found him was destined for certain doom was now going to go into a loving, doting and responsible home. They already had gone to the pet shop and bought the supplies needed for such a young kitten, the organized people that they were. It also meant that they had truly committed to this cat, and that I would forever know about his well being. They took him home that night, and though I was happy he was with them, I was terribly lonely for him. His empty box sat by my bed, and there was no little nose poking in my ear or mewing as he protested being in his box.

I cried that night over the loss, but knew it was for the best.

Tony and Martha named him Ender, after the character in Orson Scott Card's book, Ender's Game. Ender, who had started out as a little tiny cat, grew into a very large, beautiful chocolate-colored long haired cat. His blue eyes eventually turned yellow, and he is still today one very loved and cherished member of Tony and Martha's family. They now reside in Phoenix, and have two children of their own.

It turned out that I too, found a home in Los Angeles. The first three months I house sat in exchange for free rent for entertainment industry people who eventually introduced me to you guessed it, Cathy and Reese.

And Cathy and Reese are now providing me a much needed home as I plan to leave Los Angeles, just like I did to Ender when I'd first arrived.

Thursday, July 11, 2002

So, to continue about the weirdness that was yesterday.

Where was I now? Oh yeah, the stalker. A mild version of one, but a little on the creepy side. I was shelving books in the Current Affairs section, when a guy who looked about late twenties, early thirties said hello to me as if he knew me. The Current Affairs section is right by the magazine section, and he was on one of the benches reading a magazine. There have been several times when customers come up to me and are familiar with me when I don't recognize them, so I said hello back with the same familiarity, then realized I didn't think that I'd seen the guy before. At first, I thought it was Josh the music manager, since I looked at him quickly, but realized it wasn't. I was a little annoyed, but didn't show it since it wasn't the guy's fault that I mistook him for a coworker. He asked me questions, like how long I'd worked at the store and if I liked my job, and somehow, we got into a conversation about working for dotcoms, since he was a computer programmer. As it progressed, I realized he was chatting me up and looked for a way out of it. Not to mention, he had those blue contacts that made his eyes look a little on the freaky side, since he had brown eyes underneath. The contacts made his eyes to appear a muddy, murky brown-blue, and made his irises too large. Every time we made eye contact, it was a bit weird to look at. Luckily, a misplaced book about the Islamic Holy War was my ticket out. It belonged on an end display, and I walked to put it away, then didn't return to the shelves.

About twenty minutes later, I was putting away books upstairs in the Science Fiction/Fantasy section, and he sauntered into the aisle where I was working, very obviously trying to get me to notice him. I quickly walked away to a reading section where there are chairs and tables, and began collecting books that had been left behind by customers. He followed me there, and I darted into the New Age section. Once again, there he was, and his persistence was not only annoying me, but was starting to frighten me a little. I noticed a jump in my heart rate and shallower breathing.

At the same time, I felt bad since I had engaged in friendly conversation with him, but I felt that he was a little too familiar and persistent with me. Also, that he had taken that friendly conversation as something it wasn't. Because I am an intensely private person, (yep, even though I keep this blog) his actions to me felt invasive. Almost suffocating. I was walking away from him every time he came within ten feet from me, so why couldn't he fucking take the clue?

The cat and mouse game continued for awhile, then I had a dinner break which took me out of view for half an hour. When I returned, I didn't see my captivated admirer for an hour and thought he had gotten the message.

That was, until I was straightening some shelves and he came up behind me. Startled the hell out of me and at that point I was angry. Again though, there is that fine line between being professionally courteous and being like the salesperson in that Saturn commercial who says to customer, "Ya know, you're standing like an inch from my face and it's really creeping me out."

I can't remember what we talked about, as I was more concerned about getting away from him. I succeeded, and every now and then I'd see him walking by trying to catch my eye. About half an hour to close time, he again crept up behind me in the Reference section to tell me that he was going to take off. I had no idea why he was telling me that as I thought I'd made it very clear that I wasn't interested.

I'll stop this story now to give a message to you guys out there:
1. Do NOT sneak up behind women who you do not know. It's creepy, period.
2. Do not follow them if they show they are not interested by walking away from you. Creepy again.
3. Do not invade their space.
4. Do not hang out at their place of work for four hours. Especially if #2 applies to you. Creepy, and wholly desperate.

Now that I've gotten that out, allow me to continue.

I remarked that he'd sure been here a long time, and he said he'd gone out to dinner, (probably the same time as my break) then had come back to read awhile, (while he wasn't stalking me around the store.) I told him to enjoy his books that he was going to buy, and once again, walked away from him. With my back to him, he asked me if I wanted to have coffee sometime. I was around the book shelf by that time and just came out with it.

"I can't," I said giving no reason why, "I'm sorry." I could see that he was disappointed as he walked toward me and for once avoided my eyes. "I can always be found here," I said to try to soften the blow a little, and told him to take care.

That's another thing I like about wisdom. I don't have to give a reason why I can't go out with someone. I respect myself enough to not have to justify the fact that I just don't want to go out with a person. Especially someone who has frightened me. So, "I can't, I'm sorry," is all the explanation they get.

I wasn't angry at him for being interested in me and pursuing it. I was angry at the way he did it and that after several signals that I wasn't interested, that he continued to approach me without consideration of how that might feel to me. I know the movies tell us that the guy eventually gets the girl, but in real life people are much more than two dimensional characters. We are not simply reeled in like a fish after a fisherman throws so many lines. We are complicated beings and require a little more care than that. For one, respect the person whom you are pursuing in that they may not be exactly the neat little picture that you are seeing. Just because you have made someone your mission, do not forget that it is a person you are pursuing, not a fantasy. People are very different, and if you are truly generous, you will try to learn and then respect their comfort levels. In my case, I needed this guy to stop following me around, but all he saw was the pursuit.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

I should have known today was going to be a weird day when last night I found a dead bird on the floor near my bed.

It was a present from my cat Scout. She laid it on a piece of paper, and when I returned home from work there it was, wings spread, body torn open and half eaten, and loose feathers surrounding its carcass. I didn't know what kind of bird it was, but it was young. Not a baby, but not quite an adult either.

This morning, my answer came. A mourning dove kept flying at my window. It created quite a ruckus, squeaking and flapping it's wings, then taking a rest to perch on the tree just outside my window. Then, it would flutter madly again as it looked inside. I've never seen a dove do that before, and I'm guessing that it was the parent dove calling for her baby. It made me sad, watching the futility of that dove frantically looking for her young who was not going to answer. It also made me think of the tragedy of finality. That baby wasn't coming back, no matter how the much dove flapped her wings and chattered. I felt sorry for her, and responsible. I know that it was my cat that did it, but I had brought the cat here and let her out. I looked at the dove, a mother that had lost her young, and said, "I'm sorry."

This was the first of many odd incidents today.

When I left for work it was 102 degrees outside. Miserable. As I've mentioned before, we have no air-conditioning in the house. My room was a hot box. I carried around a facial sponge and spritzer bottle, sponging and squirting water on me every two minutes. It still didn't help the misery. And, it's supposed to be even hotter tomorrow.

I got to work fifteen minutes early, as Barnes and Noble is air-conditioned, though not very well since the door is constantly opening and it's a big store. I bought my mocha over ice and bottled water and went into the break room to mellow out before my shift started. Two other employees filtered in, one named Elaine who I had just met, and Katie, a relatively new employee but whom I know better. Brian came in, and all of us sat at the table red faced and tired from the heat, not much for words, but cheery nonetheless. It wasn't lost on me though, that the manager's door was closed and there was a meeting going on inside. Quite a long one, as it had been going on since I had arrived. We continued to chat, when the door burst open and Lisa, who works in the music department, stormed red-faced toward her locker. I thought she was crying, but wasn't sure until she turned toward me, face contorted in tears and as she stomped past me, hurled an envelope at the wall, flung open the break room door and flew out of the room. Seconds later, I heard stomping up the stairs. All of us were shocked and cautious with our comments, touching on what we'd just witnessed but not delving too deep into what might be happening.

I walked over and picked up the envelope, and Josh, the music manager walked out of the manager's office. I handed him the money, and as I visualized Lisa flinging it against the wall in a fit of rage, I said to him, "Lisa dropped this," and handed it to him. I figured that it was her last paycheck, vacation money and whatever had accrued over time, as Lisa had been with the store for four years.

A few minutes later, she came back through the door, her face sullen and I mouthed to her, "you ok?" She looked at me but didn't respond, and I left it at that. She walked into the manager's room and had a few more words with them, during which the rest of us pretended that we didn't notice the drama going on. After she was finished, she turned back toward us, dropped her lock on the floor and kicked it toward the wall. At that, she left. Seconds later, I heard a woman screaming at the top of her lungs.

I knew it was Lisa.

I walked outside to a hushed store, then walked up to Brian who was sitting in the cafe and asked, "What happened?"
He told me that Lisa had yelled to a stunned store, "I'm finally free, free of this fucking place!"

I asked someone why she was so upset, and was told that she had been fired for being "written up" too many times. I had no idea, but I guess there was a long history of complaints from customers and coworkers. However, I liked Lisa. She has a morose personality that some of the newcomers felt was aloofness and unfriendliness, but I liked her sarcastic wit and could see the girl underneath the misanthrope. After being through my own hell, I can talk to anyone, and don't take much personally. I guess what broke through the ice pretty quickly was I didn't see her initial impression as a barrier. I also have an incredible understanding of people, particularly artists.

I have to say that I think getting "let go" is a blessing in disguise for her. She is only 23, and seemed unsure with the track her life was currently on. And, she'd been at the store for four years. She is a smart girl with a degree in theatre arts from USC and it's just too easy to hide in an easy job and live at home with the parents. That is, unless you have a specific game plan for doing so, such as school or looking for a new job. This is why I think it's the best thing that could have happened to her. She will now be forced to consider other options. I know it hurts her right now, but maybe in more ways than she ever considered, is she finally free.

I will miss her, though.

Just minutes after Lisa's declaration of independence to the patrons of Barnes and Noble, another drama was taking place up at the cashier's desk. A woman who had no receipts for her books wanted to return them for full price, and was enraged that our store policy didn't allow it. She was a fat, short woman with a fat short dog, (the dog was cute, though), who wore dark sunglasses. She proclaimed that she spend "thousands of dollars" at our store and couldn't believe that she was being treated in such a shabby way. She was abrasive, demanding, insulting and rude to Josh, who was simply trying to explain our store policy. And, she was causing a scene, saying that her husband had the receipt in New York, that she needed to exchange the books tonight, and a whole bunch of other bullshit.

As I listened to her rant and rave, this saying came to mind, "Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine." And in her case, you can add "bitch" to the end of that sentence.

I think the woman was under the impression that if she screamed loud enough, that she would get her way. She was wrong. It was actually hurting her case. Especially when you want to return a few hundred dollars worth of computer books at full price, which is a classic scam. Steal the books, return them at another store, get store credit, sell the store credit. I called Don in the back office and said that the woman was causing a scene and getting in Josh's face. Two minutes later, the security guard arrived. After protesting loudly that security had been called, she piped down. And, she didn't get her way and ended up apologizing to Josh and Jeff later. Apparently, because she was busy yelling and not listening, she had misheard a few things. Needless to say, she had no argument.

Like I said, it was a hot day. It was taking a toll on people.

Little did I know, that earlier in the day, Monica, another employee had to be taken away by ambulance. She became ill with a headache that progressed to loss of feeling in her arms and no peripheral vision. Fearful that she was going to have a migraine seizure, the ambulance was called and the paramedics whisked her away. I wasn't there for that one, and from what I hear, Monica is feeling much better.

Then, I was stalked. More on that later.

Thursday, July 04, 2002

Happy birthday America.

I have a lot of feelings about this Fourth of July. It did feel different than the last one due to the events of September 11th. You just couldn't help thinking about it through the celebration and fireworks.

On July 2nd, I went to the Hollywood Bowl with Cathy and Reese, and Reese's wonderful parents, Iris and David. The Bowl has their 4th of July spectacular with fireworks on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th because there is so much demand for tickets.

The Bowl is a great place to spend the 4th, as you can bring your picnic baskets, food, alcohol, and whatever else suits your fancy right to your seat with you. There are places to picnic before the concert starts that makes for great people watching and the atmosphere in the Hollywood Hills can't be beat. You just spread out a blanket and your food, and the parade of people walking by never ceases to be a form of pre-show entertainment.

The Hollywood Bowl in its Fourth of July splendor. Fireworks shoot from the top to the music as the orchestra plays below. The Bowl is an outdoor amphitheater nestled in the Hollywood Hills and seats about 28,000 people.

This year, the security was incredibly tight. We all had to file though several security checkpoints where we were wanded and had our belongings hand searched. I had no idea how they were going to handle the tons of food baskets, coolers and backpacks, but they did it, and did it expediently and politely.

John Williams was the guest conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Maestro Williams is famous for composing over 80 movie scores, including some small films such as Star Wars, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T.

James Taylor was also on the ticket that night. His voice sounds exactly the same, smooth as glass, and soothing to the spirit. It has the effect of a silk shawl wrapped around your bare skin on a warm summer night. What an incredible talent. For the encore, he sang America the Beautiful to which the entire audience stood and sang along. It was very moving.

There was still something different about this 4th, and it was evident that everyone around me was feeling it. Though the celebrations were patriotic and jubilant, there was definitely an undercurrent of something that I can't really put it into words right now.

I wrote this in my journal on New Year's Day, January 1st, 2002, a little over two months after the attacks. I think that it sums everything up:

I watched the ball drop live on TV in Times Square. It was 9:00 PM my time, but to me, once that ball drops it signifies that the New Year has arrived.

Times Square was filled with celebrating people and Mayor Guilliani was the Master of Ceremonies. He pressed the lever that started the ball on its journey downward.

I did get emotional, watching the defiance that New York was showing, listening to the patriotic songs and watching the crowd sing along. The strength in numbers almost seemed to lift New York City on its shoulders, like the wounded player who had just scored the winning goal.

To the terrorists:

You injured America's best player, but we still managed to triumph and hold it high for everyone to see. We can be hurt, but we will continue to prevail. Our smiles are not wiped off our faces so easily. And though they can be replaced by tears, it is only a temporary substitution. Though we do not forget our sorrow, we remember to dance in the streets and celebrate our freedom to do so.

Monday, July 01, 2002

What is it about Christopher Walken that makes him so cool?

The latest Christopher coolness is captured in the FatBoySlim video, "Weapon of Choice," where he dances through a hotel to the kick ass song. I haven't been able to quit watching and smile through the whole thing each time. The guy is just a kick in the pants.

He reminds me of that stranger who you might end up dancing with at a nightclub and hanging with all night until the place kicks you out. A little dangerous, a little weird, and wholly intriguing. Sometimes I wish that as a woman I could capture that kind of coolness, but most women just look like they are posing when they try. It comes off forced or unnatural, and no woman that I can think of could pull off what Christopher Walken did in that video and have the same effect. He's just effortless in his coolness and appeal.

I guess that's what's so wonderful about being a woman. I get to enjoy men who are completely at ease with themselves as men, so much that they can dance up a storm in a hotel lobby, keep a deadpan face throughout the entire time, and look damn cool when doing it. There are so many men in Los Angeles who are not at ease with themselves as men, nor women who are at ease with being women. And both try way too hard to be cool, to no avail because they aren't being themselves, and are not in touch with their inner Christopher Walkens. Because of the mixed signals we've gotten over the past couple of decades, people don't know how to be either because society has tried and succeeded in many ways to convince us that we are one homogenous chromosome. This has blurred the gender roles, with women thinking that they have to act and dress like men to compete in the workplace or for equality, and men get confused and don't know how to act around women dressed in harsh clothes with harsh mouths and unapproachable attitudes. Perhaps it's just a Los Angeles phenomenon, but so many women around look so completely untouchable, and dare I say, not soft. I don't mean soft in a fleshy way, at least not entirely. Soft is touchable and comforting, and these over-tanned, over-exercised, and over the top women just don't cut the feminine mustard. Or shall I say, the Grey Poupon.

A couple of years ago at a company Christmas party, I bought the dress of all dresses. I looked like I'd just stepped off the Titanic, with elbow length gloves, a gorgeous sheer hand-beaded shawl that tied in the back, a red corset and a floor length gold skirt. It was just fabulous. This picture doesn't do it justice, mainly because the whole dress isn't visible and you only get a hint of how dapper Shannon looked.

Me and Shannon at my company Christmas party. We didn't even plan the color coordination, but there it was.

After the Christmas party wound down, Shannon and I trotted off to the Sky Bar, notorious for their impossible to get in door policy. We didn't think we had a chance in hell of getting in, but weren't ready to pack it in for the night, especially with us both being dressed up. He drove into the driveway, and I stepped out of the car to see if we could get in. I walked up to the two doormen who were dressed head to toe in black, and when they saw me, the scowls on both their faces melted into smiles.

"What a beautiful dress," one of them said and unhinged the velvet rope.
I thanked him and asked if it was okay if Shannon and I didn't have a reservation.
"Of course," the other one said, and I waved the okay at Shannon who waved back and parked the car.
As I waited for him, other clientele who were allowed beyond the coveted rope turned to me and said, "You look beautiful," and other nice compliments. Some said I looked like a princess, gorgeous, and were not afraid to meet my eyes and act like gentlemen. These were men who would normally look just above your forehead, avoiding your eyes at all costs for fear of losing the competition. The competition being, who catches who looking first. In this dress, a picture of feminism and grace, they were not afraid to be men. Because, even though I was dressed in an evening gown, I was touchable. The women they were with were dressed in black, and smiled nervously as their dates lavished on the compliments. I was gracious, and thanked every one of them.

Shannon and I walked into the club and waded through the crowd clad in black. There were women who looked like supermodels, but the attention was focused on me and Shannon. All night long, the pretentious and "above it all" crowd at the Sky Bar was complimenting my dress, allowing me to pass instead of blocking my way, and other door men at the club greeted me and opened the door for me, telling me how beautiful I looked. Keep in mind, that this is at Sky Bar where the people are supposed to be "too cool for you," and never do bouncers open the door for a customer who isn't famous or A-list. I mean, the horror.

It just showed me that there are men who are dying to be men and welcomed the reprieve from snotty, jaded, scantily clad, and unoriginal women who don't appreciate their chivalrous gestures when they are offered. Sure, all men aren't begging to be gentlemen. Some are just fine with the game and deserve what they get. But, my appearance that night brought out the gentlemen in so many men in a place where you would least expect to find them.

I've never thought of it this way until now, but I think that night I was my own version of Christopher Walken. Like he was in that video, I was at ease and comfortable with just being who I was, and that put everyone else around me at ease as well.