Friday, March 28, 2014

Nicotine Dreams

Spuds is home for a week. Three months is the longest I have gone without seeing one of my kids and I count the days until Spring Break. He arrives taller and with a nice friend in tow. We make the mandatory pit stop at In-N-Out on the way home from the airport and I am so delighted that I eat dead cow for the first time in many years. Note to self: This was a poor decision. I accept that my only claim on Spuds this week will be at meal times and I prepare foods and select restaurants that he likes. We note, that while he and his friend appear to have their phones affixed to their hands with Crazy Glue, their level of discourse is impressively erudite. Despite ostensibly being on East Coast time they sleep most days until four in the afternoon, which would have them starting the day at 7 p.m. back at college. We also notice that Spuds has mistaken our living room for a laundry hamper and apparently has a physical disability which prevents him from washing dishes, closing cupboards or turning off lights. It is always hard to say goodbye but I will take a little comfort in the return to order.

It appears that most of my peeps don't share my affection for the TV show VEEP or perhaps they're just too lazy to go out on a weeknight. When my friend cancels at the last minute, I end up taking the train to the PaleyFest to attend the tribute by myself. This is perhaps fortuitous as there is an incident with a client at work that has me boiling mad and the solitary time gives me time to chill and plot.

It is cheaper and faster to take MetroRail to Hollywood and Highland but I get antsy being in a crowded car. Mostly the other riders are benign but there are people talking to themselves and tweakers. I check every ten seconds to make sure that my purse is zipped. A deaf couple sign to each other animatedly and elegantly. I am enrapt and it doesn't feel like eavesdropping until the lady shoots me a “WTF?” look.

I used to walk on Hollywood Blvd. just about every Saturday afternoon with my dad. It was seedy even then but there were pockets of gentility. We'd visit Burt Wheeler's Magic Store and Larry Edmund's film bookstore. Once in a while we'd even indulge in the famous hot fudge sundae at C.C. Brown's. I don't get to Hollywood Blvd. much these days and when I do I wistfully remember the pleasure I took walking up and down the street, my dad quizzing me about all of stars on the Walk of Fame. Now it feels vulgar and aggressive and unsettlingly in my face. A man, peddling a homemade CD, is violating the personal space, of who I presume to be, a European tourist. The visitor fumbles with the unfamiliar currency and parts with a twenty. Another tourist snaps a photo of a guy wearing a woebegone Batman costume which I surmise was purchased at the 99 Cent Store. Batman chases the woman down and demands remuneration. A family is accosted by a tour broker who promises that if they pay cash right away that all of them can take the deluxe tour of movie star homes and pay only the child's rate. Two LAPD officers on foot patrol pass in front of the Chinese Theater and a huge portion of the crowd disperses leaving only tourists jamming their toes into Marilyn Monroe's footprint.

I believe that Himself, except when traveling, has never dined in a restaurant by himself. “Why would I?” he asks. “I have food at home.” For me, there is something urbane and grown up about grabbing a seat at the bar and ordering a cocktail and a snack. I'm not feeling flush enough for Musso's but there is a Hollywood branch of Loteria that I've been wanting to try. Given the day's work travails and the fact that Weight Watchers has already been damned by my midnight visit to In-N-Out and a number of other transgressions committed in honor of Spuds' homecoming, I order a margarita. Salt and all. Plus a trio of tacos but these are very tiny so there's only the booze to feel guilty about. The strong drink indeed helps put the office annoyance in perspective.

I buy a pack of Camels over a month ago at my college reunion. I did the same thing at the previous reunion five years ago and I'll do it again at the next one, five years hence. I smoked during college and for the occasion this indulgence feels right. I end up smoking only a couple of cigarettes in Redlands. They are too expensive to throw away. I smoke a couple a week since we've returned. Because my wallet is the family ATM I am sure that the cigarettes have not escaped notice. No one has said a word though, which sort of hurts my feelings. There is one cigarette left in the pack. I plan, after drowning my sorrows with tequila, to smoke it on the way to the PaleyFest but I see that I'm running late and it slips my mind.

Nicely buzzed, I arrive at the Dolby (nee Kodak) Theater for the VEEP tribute. When I confess that I'm alone, I am moved from the back of the mezzanine to downstairs front and center. I fill a seat in the same row as the Paley family. An episode from the upcoming third season is screened. The show, written and produced by Brits, is wicked and wildly funny. The ensemble cast is flawless. Himself looks down at the show and calls it “shrill.” I swear to him that if he actually watched it, and didn't just half listen, he would accept that the show is one of the finest comedies ever produced.

The episode is followed by a question and answer with Armando Iannucci, the show's creator and most of the cast. I am disappointed that one of my favorite performers on the show, Anna Chlumsky, is absent but the others give a lot of insight into the production. Almost all of the performers live in Los Angeles but VEEP is written and produced in Britain and shot in Washington D.C. The discussion makes it clear that this is a fun project but there is a formidable work ethic and nearly maniacal quality control.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is almost painfully thin. I think that perhaps that this is a camera concession but I am sitting close enough to see that the two rings she sports are dangerously loose on her fingers. I imagine that Ms. Louis-Dreyfus doesn't wear a lot of costume jewelry. It is all I can do not to raise my hand at the question and answer period and advise her that she's going to lose those expensive rings if she doesn't get them re-fitted.

So, except for my big outing to the VEEP thing and problems with an irksome client, my week has been devoted to the feeding of Spuds. I'm busily at work on the final menus. There are only a couple of meals left now until I dump him at LAX before dawn on Sunday. Then I'm back to Weight Watchers and high maintenance customers. At least I have that cigarette to look forward to.

1 comment:

John L. Murphy / "FionnchĂș" said...

Well, you have the deck to smoke on. I tried Camels once in high school from a vending machine at the first Winchell's Donuts ever. The appeal was lost on me. The US version has Turkish as the come-on blend and the Turkish version, my students told me, has the US version as the appeal.Like the real maple syrup content in Log Cabin, I estimate the Turkish percentage is in low single digits. You are correct that I cannot recall voluntarily going out to eat alone as indeed, there's always food in the house somewhere. Pizza, however, will always lure me out of my home. As I typed this, "pizza" appeared on the t.v. I take that as augury.

I'm sorry about work but at least you had fun in Hollywood. Too bad that the millions spent a decade ago grinding glitter into the crosswalks of the fabled Boulevard failed to restore luster. There's always carloads of hipsters moving from Paris or Perris to occupy the new lofts. Few likely riding the Red Line.

Despite all the peddled glamor, the grit remains, ground in the sidewalks of the celluloid heroes. If our younger son ever awakens when I am conscious before he leaves, maybe we can talk more than a few minutes. Or not, as he inherits his mother's love of a night out. xxx me