You Should Have Been There*
LOS ANGELES - I have no idea of how much the final tab is going to be, somewhere in the neighborhood of $4,700, maybe over 5,000 bucks. I had to rent the tuxedo and the limo and chauffeur, and have the right kind of shoes, haircut, and of course, there was the coach-class round-trip air fare, hotel bill, my plant and Darla’s fees,** but after that, the costs dropped dramatically.
Probably the most difficult part was finding the appropriate most beautiful white woman in her thirties to accompany me to the presentations. After I convinced her how much fun it was going to be, and that I was picking up her expenses and taking her to dinner, she overlooked the fact that she didn’t know me, and thirty years separated our ages,*** and said yes, ‘on conditions.’
Well, it’s not like getting married. “I not asking you to marry me, for Christ’s sake,” I told her. “I’m your escort.
"C’mon, Darla. It’ll be fun," I told her. "I’ll get you copies of the footage. You won’t get closer. What were you planning, watching it on tv? And why do you need a massage?”
“It’s Carla,” she said, agreeing to go if only we could continue throughout the evening, to dinner, and then later at a nightclub, her conditions, ‘since we already had the clothes and the limo and everything.’
“The important thing is the act,” I told her. “Don’t look at anybody directly. Look above their heads, past them, smile broadly, and wave occasionally left, and then to the right.
“Don’t point,” I told her. “I’ll do that. Just wave and keep moving. Remember to keep moving. Absolutely don’t do any interviews. Act incredibly important, like, above everybody, like they’re all your fans, like you’re one of the nominees, and everyone there is waiting to see YOU. They’re there for YOU. Suck it all in.”
“I think I can get my lips around that,” she said. “Do you have the tickets?”
“We don’t need no tickets when you’re acting as important as us,” I told her. “You don’t see no Big Names handing anybody no tickets. If they stop us at the door, it won’t matter. We will have already walked the carpet, tread the red rug. We’ll play it by ear from there.”
“If you have to moisten your smile, your teeth, remember to do so with your mouth closed, I told her. “I’ve seen women caught on tape doing that, and it looks bad. You don’t want to look bad. You want to look like a pro, like you’ve done it all before. And please go easy on the makeup.”
Darla convinced me she could do it. “I AM a pro,” she said. "I know what I'm doing."
Everything went pretty much as expected, except for the over-and-above expenses for the limo and driver, and the over-and-above mascara. Arriving early, we got out there, with a HUGE fucking press crowd all around, pressing the velvet ropes, guys opening the doors for us, Darla exposing a long leg and eyebrow-raising cleavage upon exiting the limo, my plant yelling out, ‘THERE THEY ARE!’, flashes going off all over the place, microphones thrust into our faces, reporters asking questions.
We waved them off and proceeded down the carpet. Keep moving, just like a Presidential receiving line.
Up close to the entrance, a reporter, not the guy I hired, managed to stop Darla, asking, since he didn’t know who the fuck she was, “Y…you look absolutely ravishing. Who…what…what are you expecting tonight?”
“Dinner at my favorite dinner club, and then dancing and champagne, maybe get laid,” she replied, flashing a big smile and looking past him into the crowd of admirers, waving a cute little wave with just her fingers.
The correspondent, clearly momentarily stunned, stammered, then spit out, “I mean, your chances?”
“Best actress in a lark,” she said with an arm-waving flourish and broad, recently, like that afternoon, teeth-whitened smile as I tugged gently on her arm and led her away.
We never got in, directly, being turned down a separate walkway at the entrance and led off to the side where an embarrassed underling with a checklist asked for credentials, which of course, I couldn’t produce, but acted offended and arrogant,****livid, and upon the verge of creating a public stir, until he finally acquiesced and escorted us to the ballroom.
We eventually got shitty seats, but that didn’t matter either. What mattered was the clock ticking on that limo rental.
After leaving the awards and crashing some banquets and parties where I was ignored and everyone fixed on Darla, we skipped dinner because neither of us was hungry, and kept drinking champagne till Darla threw up on her way to a ladies’ room, then had to be dragged out, passed out in the back of the limo, and then finally got deposited back at her apartment at about 3:30 a.m. Overall, I would have given her an Oscar for her performance.
She mumbled some unintelligible shit as she stumbled into her place with the stolen flowers and souvenirs we’d picked up. She had managed to give her phone number to a few lucrative prospects before becoming totally incoherent, so for her, it turned out to be a far better night than working the street.
As for me, I still need to get a look at the footage my man got. He said he got some pretty good shit, documentary quality. You probably never saw us on the air, since I’m sure we got edited out of everyone’s shows, although all their cameras were rolling.
But what made it all worth the money, besides seeing Darla all spiffy like that, was playing the part of a reluctantly smiling, slightly stiff, coked-up studio exec behind sunglasses with a glitzy date, and hearing all those local on-location field producers and reporters asking one another as we passed, “Who’s that? Who’s that? Whoooo the fuck is that?”
*You might be thinking, ‘How can this be? They (the Academy Awards) haven’t even happened yet!” You’re right, but you’re forgetting I’m a day ahead, over here.
**Gown and jewelry rental, hairdresser, nails, pedicure, facial, teeth whitening, tanning booth,***** oil/aroma massage, and going hourly street fare rate for six hours.
***thirty, forty, fifty years difference don’t mean shit in Hollywood.
****In a tuxedo, you’re going to look great. You could be anybody.
*****She looked some kinda pale from only going out at night.