Nothing but trouble

Everyone dressed up for the Oscars. No lie.

I dreamed I went to young John Malkovich’s apartment to cancel my lie audition. He was about 30 and dressed in evening clothes. His huge 1930s apartment was lit with chandeliers and filled with people drinking cocktails. He came toward me with arms outstretched, very elegant with that leonine Malkovich walk but also like a society hostess.

I’d come to use Malkovich’s computer to email my cancellation, but I suddenly realized the auditions were actually being held right here in his apartment, right now at this moment. Yes, I’m having audition anxiety.

I tried a couple times over the weekend to cancel my audition. I told Dave, “I don’t think the story I came up with is the kind of story they’re looking for.”

“You don’t know what they’re looking for,” he said.

“But I don’t even want to get cast,” I reasoned.

“But you don’t think you will get cast.”

“I know.”

“Go ahead and cancel,” Dave said. “Then you can stay home all day Tuesday and not go out at all.” I have anxiety about turning out like my mom, who never wanted to go anywhere except TJ Maxx. That shut me up for a while.

But then Scheherazade called when I was at Walgreen’s, buying a curling iron for yesterday’s Oscar party. She’d heard about the audition and said her impression was that it was more for guys who would be one-upping each other with outrageous stories. “Like drinking stories,” I said, trying to choose between a 39-dollar ceramic curling iron and a 9-dollar non-ceramic one.

“Exactly,” she said.

“It’s not that I’m scared of auditioning,” I said as I pulled a 19-dollar compromise curling iron off the shelf, ceramic but only two heat settings. “I just feel like there are more important things I need to be working on.”

“If it’s not your thing, honey, don’t sweat it,” she said.

“Exactly,” I said, “it’s not my thing.”

“So don’t sweat it.” I love Scheherazade.

I typed up my story and had the lady from Final draft read it. At the Oscar party, I told my friend Xeena how this lie thing is taking too much time when I really need to be working on my play.  “So it’s not a fear thing,” she said.

“No, not at all.” I love Xeena, but she has these crystal clear eyes that seem to stare right into your soul. “I don’t think so. Maybe a little. But also I need to write a new scene for my play.”

“Hm. It’s hard when it’s both.” I got another plate of food from the Oscar buffet. My favorites were the spinach balls, blue cheese gougeres, mini fruit tortes, Nutella sandwich cookies, some kind of cheese that you put on a tiny skillet ‘til it melts and you put it on flaky cracker, peanut butter buckeyes, and champagne grape focaccia slices. All homemade by Vandamm Lovely and Kismet. I’ve given up drinking for Lent so I ate as much as possible.

When we left, a lovely young woman who was extremely drunk was also leaving, so we walked her to the train. Dave asked if she was from London and she said, “No, Pakistan.” Then a minute later she added, “I’m sorry, that was a stupid thing to say. Yes, I’m from London. I’m really sorry.”

Then she asked what we did and when I said Dave was a violinist she said, “That’s brilliant. No one plays violin anymore. Everyone plays fucking guitar or fucking bass, I hate fucking bass.”

“I play bass,” I said.

“Oh God, I’m so sorry.”

I laughed, “No I don’t. I was just messing with you.”

“Oh God,” she said, “I’m always saying these stupid things. Why do I–”

“No,” I interrupted. “I was lying.”

She didn’t seem to hear me. “I don’t know why I say these things.”

“But I was lying,” I said.

She didn’t seem to hear. “I’m British so I’m always bloody polite even though I’m always swearing and saying something insulting and then I’m always apologizing.”

“But I really don’t play bass. I wasn’t insulted.”

“I’m really sorry,” she began again. We were still a block from the train. This lying business is nothing but trouble.

The cling wrap next door

package of Press n' Seal
Historical re-enactment.

The only problem with getting a gift-wrapped package of magical crinkly and non-sticky cling wrap is that I don’t want to unwrap it. It’s sitting on the desk in the front hall. I really needed it last night, but I just couldn’t unwrap it. Couldn’t even bring it in the kitchen. Officially it’s called Press ‘n Seal. I have to keep checking the name because I can’t keep it in my head. I know it only as the magical crinkly-but-waxy-so-how-does-it-stick-cling wrap.

Apparently it’s been around awhile, but I first saw it, really saw it – the way you really see the boy next door for the first time when he checks your receipt at Best Buy – at Syd’s barbecue. Stretched over a tray of bruschetta that Xeena carried in. She pulled off the crinkly magical stuff and I held it in my hands, marveling. “What is this stuff?”

“Oh I love that stuff,” said half the women in the room.

“Why don’t I know about this stuff?” I stuffed it into a ball, feeling its strange tackiness, feeling how right it was for so many of my food-covering moments that heretofore had been so unsatisfactory, thinking vaguely about taking it home to reuse, but sensing it wouldn’t rinse well. Already I knew its limitations, and loved it the more.

The next morning, like the Best Buy security guard neighbor who rescues your newspaper from the driveway and sets it on your porch before you even wake up, it arrived. Virtually wrapped in thick red ribbon that covered it on all sides. Dave had gone down around 8 to check for my cell phone, which I’d left at Syd’s and she’d kindly offered to drop off on her way to an early-morning graduation. I’d left a big pillow just inside the door so the phone would have a soft landing when Syd pushed it through the mail slot. Dave brought it up with my coffee, and that was magic enough for one morning – forget your phone at a friend’s, and have it delivered right to your bedside table before you even wake up.

But an hour later, when I was downstairs eating breakfast, Dave brought in a second item, the item. He didn’t think it had been there when he grabbed the phone, so it couldn’t be Syd. Xeena doesn’t get up that early, though she does go in for fancy gift-wrapping. Kismet also denied responsibility. That left only the Lovely sisters, Vandamm and Starbeck. They would neither confirm or deny, though Starbeck replied something about a possible “group of Santas” being responsible, and Vandamm added something about “Mariachi Santas.” Also, I know from previous experience, namely being at a David Wilcox concert where Vandamm left early to join Starbeck at a late-night Kohls sale, that they are intrepid shoppers. So if anyone is out grocery shopping at the crack of dawn it’s the Lovely sisters.

I am so delighted with this gift, and delighted with friends who deliver gifts early in the morning, and delighted to own for myself the means of covering any plate or bowl tightly, without the hit-or-miss heartbreak of Saran wrap. And yet, I can’t seem to use the stuff. I don’t even want to take off the ribbon. I thought about it last night, when I needed to wrap up the leftover vegetable rosti, but I got by with a layer of saran wrap and another of aluminum foil instead. It’s like the very day the boy next door moves back from that ecovillage in Ohio. You want to get the scoop, and for all sorts of reasons you should do it sooner rather than later, but… not just yet.