I was picked up at the airport in L.A. by an Armenian car service driver who managed to find out within 5 minutes that my husband is traveling alone in India for a month and that I felt perfectly at ease with that fact. In addition, that I had a 19 month old son who I’d left at home with my parents while I visited my brother and best friend in California for an entire week. Upon further probing he also gleaned that I believed that it was acceptable for a mother to work or even go out for the occasional glass of wine at Appleby’s (this was the Armenian man’s hypothetical location, not mine) after work with friends and WITHOUT HER HUSBAND!!! I don’t think I can quite convey to you how much this information horrified the man. I felt like Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and Hillary Clinton all rolled into one Big Bad American Feminist. “Mutter mutter American women mutter alone mutter mutter trust mutter” came the displeased noises from the front seat.
When I arrived at my brother’s little house in the Hollywood Hills I was pleasantly surprised to find that his decorating style has progressed quite a bit since the days when he found it chic to use a stop sign as his bedside table. His house is really very cute and he’s fixed it up nicely. Within minutes of arriving, we headed off to Beverly Hills where he dropped me off at “Book Soup” while he went to the Tom Cruise mansion to do Katie Holmes’s make-up for their L.A. wedding party (can you believe the life this man leads??). In the meantime, I spent about 2 hours discussing the various merits of the Harry Potter books with a chatty 10 year old boy. He seemed to be visiting the bookstore with his frizzy haired alcoholic aunt- a skinny woman who was swigging wine from the book signing table and occasionally staggering over to slur things like “Hey kid, how old ARE you anyway?” as though he’d tricked her into taking him out for a night of underage drinking rather than an afternoon book signing.
That night we went and had dinner with a bunch of my brother’s friends who were all a lot of fun. Present at the table were a make-up artist, a personal chef, a Tokyo housewife, a facialist and a stylist. Can you guess who didn’t belong? It was all verrrrrry L.A. my dears. After dinner I stayed up until 1am reading “My Way of Life” by Joan Crawford. This little gem (which is sadly out of print) was published in 1973. In it, Joan Crawford writes about how, with the help of her German maid who she refers to as “Mamacita” (don’t ask, I don’t know) she lives a life of glamorous perfection. It is chockful of useful tidbits such as:
-“Women are lucky because with a little bit of organization a woman can excel as wife, homemaker, mother, career woman, and gracious hostess, be lovely to look at and be with- and still have time left over to be a good friend to a lot of people. And a happy friend.” Yes, aren’t we all so LUCKY?
-That when my husband comes home I should be “well-groomed, fragrant and feminine.” Oops.
-That before my husband comes home from work at night, I should “examine the contents of my head” in order to make sure that I have something scintillating to discuss with him. Ideally it should be something about his line of work. I don’t have to worry about this as the field of electrical engineering is scintillating indeed and can be discussed by myself and Mr. D for just hours, simply hours!
My Armenian driver would have gotten along well with Ms. Crawford.
That night when I finally dozed off to sleep, it was under the most deliciously comfortable, pink 100% cashmere blanket. My brother informed me that in the morning I was to fold it up carefully and hide it under a pillow. He explained that this was actually pink cashmere blanket #2. The first was eaten by his dog Lester after he had mistakenly left it spread out on the couch. “For weeks after I was finding clumps of pink cashmere all over the backyard.” Lester is also known for having once regurgitated an intact fifty dollar bill. “I just rinsed it off and put it in my pocket.” A dog that spits up money and shits and eats pink cashmere. So Hollywood!
The next day my brother again had to work so I headed to Melrose to do a bit of shopping. My goal was to find the perfect denim skirt. I went to the flea market and several secondhand clothing stores and although I did find a nice reproduction of one of Botero’s fat lady paintings for our bathroom, there were no denim skirts to my taste. In the end I found myself sitting dejectedly in Starbucks with that failed shopping expedition feeling of torpor which we all know. It was sort of a “I came all the way to L.A. and all I got was this lousy fake fat lady painting and an empty Starbuck’s cup” sort of feeling. You know what I’m talking about.
Luckily there were good times ahead. That night we played Pictionary with some of my brother’s other friends and had a blast. I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in years! You know that you’re playing Pictionary with a gay make-up artist if when faced with the clue “Barney,” he attempts to draw Barney’s department store rather than a purple dinosaur.