She’s telling us her life story, reaching out to the Thai girl doing her hair, to say, Look, I’ve been an immigrant, too. I’ve been in your shoes.
“It was hard being a model there,” she says. “First of all, it wasn’t even real Germany, but Eastern Germany. They don’t even speak German there, but this slang. They’re not even fluent in German.”
“But you like it there?”
“It was so great, it really taught me about appreciating other cultures. Which party are you going to?”
I don’t answer right away, ’til I realize she’s talking to me. “Whoa. What?”
“You’re not going to the Vanity Fair party?” she says.
I turn my head to tell her no, no party, and to glance, briefly, at her perfect porcelain skin. She avoids sunlight, she says, because she is Egyptian. She can look black if she wants. There is a brush stuck in the top of my head.
I’m sitting in a chair in a beauty salon on the corner of Franklin and Highland in Hollywood, just a couple of hours before Chuck and I are going to walk from the Renaissance Hotel to the 82nd Academy Awards. The pressure of too many good friends, some who called, texted, and sent registered mail, to not take my beauty into my own hands for such a momentous occasion, was too much.
“We just gonna put this lip gloss on you,” says Alak. He is wearing a tight purple shirt and orange tinted sunglasses, even though we are indoors. “This gonna make your lips look like you use Botox.”
Twenty-four hours later, Chuck is at the gym. I’ve just cleaned Mila’s cat box. My belly is content, filled with Taco Bell on the long drive home.
Twenty-four hours ago, Chuck and I were watching the Academy Awards from Row D, seats 9 and 10, on the highest level of the Kodak Theater.
Bear with me as it may take me some time to find the words. It probably won’t happen today.
Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin sent us all home, and Chuck and I took our time walking back out down the red carpet on Hollywood Boulevard. The crowds had thinned out. They were serving coffee and hot cocoa. We stood under one of the many heat lamps now lining the red carpet, before meandering towards Highland Avenue, before we’d take that left turn and step off the carpet, never to return again.
Passing us by was Mo’Nique and her husband, clutching an Oscar for her performance in Precious. We ended up standing near them near the limo pick up zone at the end of the red carpet.
A young man with a camera asked if he could take her picture, but he was interrupted when a friend of hers ran to her and hugged her. They screamed.
Well, when the hug was over, she looked at me and I looked at her, and we smiled. She will never remember this, but I will. She got into her limo, and Chuck and I turned left off the red carpet, heading in totally opposite directions, in every way possible, but sharing this one thought, I’m sure of it: did any of this really happen?
It’s not because Chuck jaywalked. It’s not because he or I tried to do the “right thing.” Grigory and Marsha Higgenbottom didn’t have to invite us to the Oscars, but they did, because they’re nice people.
Marc Anthony is much shorter than I expected.