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Sunday, December 04, 2005

We're Not in Marion, Toto

Since moving to LA, Dwayne and I have had lots of opportunities to view Hollywood from the outside in, nearly squishing our faces against the glass, but last Saturday we were ushered "in" by a valet attendant and many little trays of Oh'deurves.

Two months ago, I landed a job at a movie financing company in Beverly Hills. How this happened I'm not sure, but it did and I've been enjoying the ride ever since. My boss lives in the hills above B'hills, and approximately three weeks ago, he and his wife sent out invitations for a holiday party. I was in charge of assembling the list which consisted of execs from studios, a couple minor celebs, and a handful of entrepreneurs.

I was working on gathering phone numbers to call these people and ask for their home addresses, when out of the blue my boss wrote me: "I forgot to add our staff to the list and that, of course, includes you and your husband."

Do you know when someone offers you a dessert that is too delicious to pass up, but so rich it just about makes you sick and leaves you stressing about various body parts for the rest of the week? That was my boss's invitation to Dwayne and I. I knew this party was going to be interesting, but I couldn't help but feel I had landed out of our league. (I wasn't worried about Dwayne. He can handle himself with just about anyone.)

First of all, we were going to have to spend a wad of cash just to get dressed for the occasion, and then I had no idea what I would say to anyone at the party. But to my dismay, one by one, every single person in the office RSVPed "yes" including their significant others, and this left Dwayne and I alone on the other side of RSVP "no."

After talking to a few of my coworkers, I found out that this was the first time - ever- that my boss and his wife had invited the staff to their holiday party. So now I couldn't even use the oh-we'll-come-next-year card, and deep down I was really curious to see their home. So with much trepidation, I marked a little number 2 next to the names "Dwayne and Christin Taylor."

I started to feel the pains of going to the party when I spent the whole day agonizing over which dress to buy, which shoes and jewelry to match, and of course, which wrap to wear. It took me until 5pm to get everything assembled. By the time I got home, I was exhausted, not even sure I could stand on my feet for another three hours.

As the minutes rolled forward I was seized with anxiety. Dark scenarios played out in my mind, with me walking into the party and some small detail about my dress or the way I ate my food betraying my social status. At my worst moments I envisioned smart beautiful women with velvet wraps and dangling diamonds watching me from the corner of their eyes knowingly.

On the way to the party we made our way through LA, into Beverly Hills, and then started creeping up the Hollywood hills. There's a scene at the end of a Chronicles of Narnia book, _The Last Battle_, when everyone has sort of died and gone to heaven. But this heaven is just one big mountain, and the further up they go, the bigger and more beautiful everything becomes. I kept thinking of this scene as we drove up the hills. With each turn the houses got bigger and more glamorous. I was shocked, because I knew my boss was wealthy but not that wealthy.

It was a cold night and I hadn't worn anything very warm. Every other party I've gone to, you park the car somewhere outside the host's house and then walk up. Since there was over 80 people at this party, I started dreading having to park the car far away and walk up the hill in the cold.

But the minute we pulled into the cul-de-sac, everything, all of my fear, all of my anxiety melted away, because they had valet parking. Suddenly, I was fascinated. My curiosity just about outweighed my anxiety. I wanted to see this glamorous life my boss lived.

We pulled our '94 Honda Civic up behind a 2005 infinity and handed our keys over to a very polite young man who drove it back down the hill. As we scanned the sidewalk for the numbers 8950, a voice piped up behind us, "Oh, I'm sorry -" and I thought for a moment he was going to ask us to leave, but instead the attendant placed his hand on Dwayne's elbow and pointed to our left, "This is the house you're looking for."

My bosses house was very modern but classy. It was made of clean cement lines, and lots of glass. The walkway leading up to the house had massive cement tiles lined with slate blue pebbles. We walked through the front door and found wood floors with leapord print rugs, fire places, and a couple flat screens playing black and white movies. The Southern wall of the house was made of ceiling to floor windows which displayed a maginificent view of the basin. The Los Angeles lights stretched out to the horizon where they met the stars.

People clustered around a breezeway which stretched from the front door, past the two living rooms, the kitchen, and opened magically onto a large cement deck, with an angular pool. In the pool, lights came on and off creating the pattern of white snowflakes on the aqua floor. Heat lamps checkered the deck, and to the right, around the corner was a Cabana, with an outdoor fire place, couches, and a chandelier.

Suddenly I realized I was having fun! To my delight, everything and everyone looked beautiful, and Dwayne and I didn't stick out. (Well, I was never really worried about Dwayne anyway.) I found my coworkers and their various girlfriends and wives (I work with men). They were dressed to the hilt and already sipping spirits. We shook hands and introduced ourselves. They were easy to be around, and it didn't take long for conversations to flourish and laughs to abound.

A little after arriving, Dwayne and I made our way over to my boss who was the only man not wearing a black jacket. Instead, he had on red corderoy which seemed really appropriate. He shook Dwayne's hand, kissed both my cheeks, and said we looked wonderful. I suspect this is the typical LA greeting at parties, but it was great to hear.

Dwayne and I made our way over to the Cabana were we spent most of the night jabbering with people and grabbing tiny delicious bundles from the platters that coasted by. I had to laugh, because each one of the servers was handsome. And when they announced the platters, they did it as if they were auditioning for a part in a movie. And really, that's how a handful of actors and actresses are discovered. I could just see one of the men presenting roast pork on corn pudding with a dash of BBQ sauce to the producer in the corner and then as if a cloud was being lifted from the producer's eyes, the producer saying, "You're the one I've been looking for!"

Dwayne and I had our exit strategy. If things were awkward we were going to leave after two hours, but as it was we were having such a good time that we didn't leave until 11 o'clock. We said "goodbye" to the rest of our group which was slowly dispersing, shook hands, kissed people on the cheeks, and made our way back out to the valet.

As the car pulled up, two men rushed to my door, opened it, and helped me in. "Have a good night!" "Happy Holidays!" they said. And while I knew that technically I should have been one of the valet attendants, not the one being served, I allowed myself, for just a moment, to take a hand, step into the car, and say with dignity, "Thank you! You too."


Blogger Marcia said...

What fun!

8:56 AM  
Blogger the benwahs said...

My heart was beating for you as I read along. That is the type of party we all dream of. Fabulous location, good friends, memories of laughter and tinkling glasses. The thrill of walking into the room. Perfect.

You must have felt like such a grown up!

I'm glad you had fun!

5:46 PM  
Blogger Christin said...

Nick, you and Karen would have fit right into that party too! I hope you get to go to one of your own one day!

8:49 PM  
Blogger Trenton Nova Scotia High School said...

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Abby said...

I can just see you sailing into the room with the air of ... "what am I doing?" I am so glad you got to go, sounds like a dream and you wrote it so beautifully. Love you my friend.

9:23 PM  
Blogger Erik said...

This story is the reason that I keep coming back to your blog. The great stories!

6:05 AM  
Blogger Christin said...

Abs, I wish you could have gone with me. You would have had a blast! I can just see you working around the room charming people with your red hair and vibrant laugh.

Erik, I'm so glad you're entertained! So when are you and Beth going to come join the fun here in LA?;-)

8:48 PM  
Blogger rebekah said...

this story fits you!
:) i enjoyed reading it -- and as strange as this might sound, i am not surprised at all by it. i picture you two dancing with people like this.


7:03 PM  

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