I had worked all day in a shop, standing on my feet, ironing for hours. It was cold. Jessica was the first to suggest I should just go home instead of going through with my plans for the evening.
“It’s late, it’s cold, and you’re tired,” she said. “Go home and take a bath.”
“No, I should go,” I said, squatting to feel that good stretch in the small of my back. “Liz went through all the trouble of renewing her SAG card today, and if I don’t go — ”
“Then that’ll be the time he takes off his shirt?”
“He’s not going to take off his shirt.”
“You don’t know!”
I left the shop and drove to Liz’s, where she and Katey (clad in only a towel), spent many minutes trying to explain exactly when you can take a left off of Beverly or Melrose. They printed out a roundabout method of getting to Westwood while my car’s battery slowly drained outside in an illegal parking spot.
The print-out suggested you arrive an hour early in order to get a seat, as it’s first-come/first-serve. I only had an hour and twenty minutes.
I got to Westwood in less than twenty minutes, but that’s when the problems began. I couldn’t find parking. I drove in circles for another fifteen minutes, ending up at one point in a parking garage only to discover it was for the Whole Foods Market and had a one-hour time limit. I drove some more and finally found a vacant parking garage. I parked and emerged…
…and had no idea where I was. I passed Westwood, and headed in the direction I thought was correct, but then decided to follow Westwood, as my internal compass never works. I backtracked and found Westwood, but didn’t know which direction I should go. I took a gamble and walked a few blocks, and then got worried. I stopped someone. “Which way is Wilshire?” I asked him.
He pointed in the opposite direction, where I had just come from.
“Dammit!” I screamed to the night sky. He apologized.
I backtracked once again and picked up my pace. It was now after seven, and they suggested arriving at six-thirty.
“I’m not going to make it. I’m not going to get a seat. I’m the silliest girl in Los Angeles.”
But I did get there in time, and they asked my name and I correctly answered, “Feldman.” They gave me a coupon for a free popcorn and coke.
The place was packed. It easily held 1200, and I was one of the last to arrive. There was an empty seat in the very back row, by the door. I dropped my coat down, and then realized I’d be so far away from the front that I’d be miserable. I tried to wander closer to the stage, but every seat had a coat or purse on it. I also found out that the invite must have dictated the dress code to be “Hoochie,” but I hadn’t gotten the memo.
I went back to my seat at the farthest point in the room, hoping that maybe I’d catch a glimpse of him when he entered. It was then that the man who was holding the seat next to me sat down.
He smelled like pee.
But there was nowhere to go. I was in the very last seat possible, as I wanted to duck out after the Q&A and not stick around for the movie. A frantic man at the front of the room was pleading with us to take our seats, to be respectful of each other, to not take any photographs or recordings, as the Disney watchdogs were all around.
I put stee’s cameraphone deep into my purse.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure to announce our guest of honor tonight, who flew in today, and flies back out to France tomorrow. Please welcome your president Melissa Gilbert and Johnny Depp.”
He was on the very opposite side of the room, and everybody was standing and cheering and I couldn’t see anything and I was finally in the room with him and I was strangely kind of giddy and breathless, and I told myself I wasn’t going to cry!
I no longer felt guilty for lying about being Liz in order to be in this room. Actually, I stopped feeling guilty once Liz said, “And then you get to watch Pirates of Penzance!”
So here it was, years of fan worship and dedictation later. Do you know I lived in Austin when he did, and my apartment in West Hollywood was between his house and club? I know I’ve already told you that. Do you know I own a six-foot poster that used to hang over my bed? I’m sure I’ve told you that before. But do you know that in all of my celebrity sightings, I’d never seen him before?
Girls carried flowers up to him. DAMMIT! WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT? Another girl brought him her CD. DAMMIT! I could have brought him the new manuscript (which he’s in). Dammit.
Finally the interview was about to start. Not that there was much I was going to learn, as I was president of my own little fan club about fourteen years ago. I wasn’t aware it was possible to be a shitty moderator. I mean, what does a moderator do? Ask a few questions, fade into the background, or at least flirt enough to make it a funny story.
Melissa Gilbert, president of SAG, a union I don’t belong to, made an ass out of herself.
Johnny sat down (ragtag hat on his head covering most of his face, a mustache finishing the job). Luckily he did take off his jacket, and was down to a t-shirt. Jeans with ripped knee. Boots. Tattoos. No cigarettes.
Melissa got in the first joke, “It’s good to be the President!” On the way to the Q&A, I had told stee I was pretty sure Melissa Gilbert had run to be the president of SAG for this very moment. I couldn’t blame her.
Melissa proceeded to explain that she might sound a little silly and giddy, but it was because she’d been up for three days at the birth of her first goddaugther, blah blah blah, ten pounds blah blah ounces, blah blah healthy.
“God bless,” Johnny said so quietly that I’m sure only those of us with ears trained on his frequency and pitch could hear him.
Melissa then told Johnny a story about the time they had met before, at a screening for some movie I can’t remember, and how she had just had her first son at the time and was lactating, and leaked at the table. Johnny caught himself staring and apologized. “It’s just… that’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen,” he said to her. Melissa flipped her hair back as she explained that Johnny made her go from feeling like a monster to being the most amazing, beautiful woman in the room.
Then Melissa told us that her younger son had to get a tooth filled today, and Pirates of the Caribbean (true Johnny fans refer to it only as “The Pirate movie”) was playing on the television in the dentist’s office. Melisss loves the movie, as does her kid, they just think it’s wonderful. Anyway, she brags to her son that she’s meeting the man on the screen tonight (no special invite for you, kid), and asks if he wants her to ask him anything. The kid wants Johnny to come over and play swords.
She ain’t done people. This is when someone in the audience shouted, “Ask him a question!”
Melissa: “So we were walking back to the car and I decided to ask him a question. You see, he’s grown up around actors. My husband, his father, is an actor. I’ve been an actor for thirty-five years. So he knows. So I asked him if Jack Sparrow was a real guy or if he was an actor pretending to be Jack Sparrow. And he said, ‘No, that’s really Jack Sparrow.’”
Johnny thanked her.
I didn’t realize there was a place to write down questions for Johnny Depp. It wouldn’t have mattered, anyway, because Melissa chose the questions to read. And this lady chose the dumbest questions ever.
I should tell you here that the audience now is moaning and complaining every time Melissa hijacks the conversation to talk about herself, which happens every single time Johnny says something. At one point he’s talking about a French director he admires, and Melissa interrupts to say, “I have the poster for [blah blah French]… in my bedroom.”
She joked about how they were both forty now, and end up on the same age list everywhere, except she’s called “President of SAG.” She read a question asking him his three favorite actors under forty (Benecio, Turturro, Phillip Seymour Hoffman), and then asked him for his three favorite actresses. While he was coming up with an answer, Melissa pointed at herself repeatedly, falling out of her chair and mugging until he pointed at her and said, “Her.” She pulled herself together and thanked him. “I get to keep my SAG card now?” he asked. She said he does. “Good. I need the insurance.”
For the record, he said it was really Lili Taylor, who is “pure.”
Six of the questions were from children. After every one she’d make the kid stand up. “Where are you, sweet pea?” she’d ask. At a SAG Q&A, Johnny Depp, who had flown in from France for this, was asked the following questions:
“What’s it like being a pirate?”
“Do you have any advice for being an actor?”
“Did you like working with my mommy on Private Resort?”
And finally: “Do you like eggs?” “Do you know a guy named Bob?” “Does he like eggs?”
It was so embarrassing. People were hiding their faces in shame. A group of girls near me were howling with laughter every time Melissa awkwardly flirted. My favorite was when she dropped her stack of questions in the middle of his answer, and then bent over to pick them up. No. My favorite time was when she told him about the makeup artist she had who got up in her face and stared at her (she “acted” this out with Johnny playing Melissa), and then deciding that only her upper lip wasn’t too bad.
“I wish I was a thirteen-year old girl so my question could be asked,” I said at one point. Then, “Why can’t Melissa Gilbert just interview herself and get it over with?”
Johnny lost interest in the interview as well, and started talking to whomever was brave enough in the audience to shout out a question. He took pictures with kids, signed autographs, and said he’d do some guy’s independent movie just for being ballsy enough to ask him in front of so many people. Melissa tried to pull it together, but we hated her so much by then that it was more fun to let Johnny take pictures with child after child.
Why so many kids at the SAG Q&A? The invite said you couldn’t bring anybody with you.
And just like that it was over. I took three cameraphone pictures that are of the backs of people’s heads, I didn’t get to see Johnny’s actual face because he was so far away, and the guy who smelled like pee was asking for my name.
I am a dedicated fan girl. These are the things we do when we love a stranger. I am the girl who bought a ticket and pricelined a flight to Los Angeles because I thought Weezer was breaking up.
I got home, exhausted. “How was it?” stee asked.
“You’re much cooler than he is,” I answered. I’ve said that to boys before, boys who needed that kind of reassurance. But for the first time in my life after I said it, I didn’t feel like I was lying.
We made the unfortunate mistake of seeing Mona Lisa Smile on Saturday (which led to a converstation about why that movie didn’t work when on paper it sounds like it should be a good movie).
stee was on the phone on our way to the theatre and admitted he was about to see the chickiest of all chick films this year. “I love my girlfriend,” he said to our friend.
“This isn’t because of me!” I shouted. “You tell Todd what book you’re reading right now.”
“I’m on the phone.”
“What, Todd? Oh, nothing. Just this book…The Devil Wears Prada. Huh? No, it’s just this lame book. Don’t worry about it.”
Before the film we were talking about why someone would be the president of SAG.
“It raises you from D-list to the most powerful actor in Hollywood,” stee said.
“Isn’t that Arnold Schwarzenegger?” I asked.
“I mean, that last guy who just played Higgins. Then he was famous.”
“William Daniels was in The Graduate. He was in St. Elsewhere. He wasn’t just Higgins.”
“Way more famous than Melissa Gilbert.”
“What movies has she made?”
“Oh, you know those Melissa Gilbert movies.”
And then we proceeded to name them all. You’ll have to go to stee’s site to read them.
Would Johnny bash Melissa Gilbert with me while waiting to see Mona Lisa Smile?
- Garner’s American Modern Usage. Who’m I kidding? This thing hasn’t left my desk in a month.
- The Pleasure of My Company.
- Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs. Is it jealousy, or am I so used to the quality of all of your writing that I wasn’t too terribly impressed? I did enjoy the chapter on Left Behind. I’m clearly spoiled by Fametracker.
- Two scripts of movies actually getting made (one starring Brittany Murphy, the other with Hilary Duff).