There was this time…(pt. 8)

Yet to appear at Longs Drugs, John Cleese, Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

About 15-20 years ago, I was in my local Longs Drugs store in the fancy town of Montecito. It was Halloween or very close to it. It was a beautiful day but they always are.

I looked up to someone asking me a question. 

I mean I really looked up at this handsome, thin man looming down at me from a great height. I’m no slouch at 5’8” but I wasn’t close to matching his height. 

“Pardon me, do you know where the glittery nail polish is? It’s for my daughter’s Halloween costume,” he asked in a stately English accent. 

“Um, sure.” I mumbled back to him. Nervous now because I was face-to-mid-chest with John Cleese.

I have always had a huge celebrity crush on John Cleese. Living in Santa Barbara for the past 10 years at the time, I was used to celebrity sightings. But John Cleese, though, —sigh— was close to my heart after seeing Monty Python for the first time when I was 10. Having practically memorized every Monty Python movie since then, I felt like he and I were tight. 

(Thankfully I didn’t actually tell him that. I’ve done dumber things. Including literally body-slamming a certain super model in the Starbucks next door to my apartment on Coast Village Road. Keep reading this series. You’ll see.)

I showed the tall man where the glittery nail polish was and walked away, casual, unimpressed, and totally cool. Like a dork. I’m sure I kicked something on accident or knocked something over. It’s what I do.

Fast forward about 4 months and I’m at Longs again and here comes John Cleese heading straight towards me. His face lights up then politely asks me to help him locate something in the store. Whatever it was, it was casual and not-at-all-embarrassing, while I pretended to not be stalled in front of some sort of hygiene product. We located his item and he thanked me with effusive British gratitude and went on his way. 

Dismissing the idea I possessed some deep, cross-ocean connection with my hero, it occurred to me that he must’ve recognized me as the nice employee who helped him the last time.

I like to imagine that he looked around for me the next time he came to Longs, maybe even asked if the nice blonde girl was working that day. Longs employees confused but excitedly trying to find me, whispering gossip. Maybe even the encounter rising my status to Employee of the Year.

Of course, the plaque in my honor would have to be a photo of a question mark because I never once worked at Longs Drugs store.

Kind of Miss the Fondling

Okay, not really fondling. It’s the urge to fondle me that I’m missing.

I can’t hear. The last thing I heard clearly was Blink-182 vibrate my eardrums as I stood in front of their speakers after a day of stock car racing somewhere in Orange County 20 years ago. I don’t even know why I was there but I can still hear the saccharin, teeny-bopper, pseudo-punk music date-raping my soul. Of all the bands to disintegrate my ears, it had to be that one. Ugh. But I digress.

Missing the urge to fondle me doesn’t mean that I can’t hear the fondling. I can’t, but that’s not the point. I can’t hear at all when I can’t see their mouths.

Let me start over.

I’ve always known that I’ve had to read people’s lips to understand them. That’s not new, even the hearing-abled do that.

Shut up. It is too a word.

But in this mask-wearing, corona-avoiding state we’re living in, I noticed a weird side effect that it’s had on how I’m used to dealing with people.

Pre-virus, for me to understand people, I would have to stare intently at their mouths. As you can probably imagine, doing that creates situations that are…

uncomfortable at best.

Uncomfortable for me. And probably uncomfortable for the person who is suddenly being batted away from trying to put their mouth on mine. I can’t really blame them even though I do. If someone was staring intently at your mouth while you were speaking, you’d probably think they were not only enraptured by your conversational skills but also really wanted a taste of your pouty mouth. I mean, why else could someone not take their eyes off your luscious lips?

However, it’s always been because I can’t hear without actually seeing the words formed by someone’s dry cake hole. Unfortunately, me doing that has made for some awkward quick departures, or worse, a slow head tilt and a come hither.

What I didn’t realize is that since we’re all wearing these hot, have-I-been-walking-around-with-breath-like-this-all-the-time? masks recently, is that, suddenly, strangers aren’t trying to kiss me as often.

Am I going to have to actually discern how creepy a lot of men, and a larger amount of women than you’d think, are by how they block doorways and drive 55 in the fast lane? I don’t have time to follow everyone around! I feel like I’m missing a superpower I didn’t know I had.

I’ve had to realize that my terrible hearing had turned into a highly-refined social skill. One attuned to weeding out people as creeps who would so easily betray their loved ones for a taste of strange lips and a boob fondle just because I was staring at their mouths. I get how creepy of me it is to stare at people’s mouths but it’s not like I’m also massaging my drinking straw while I do it, either.

Yet, I miss it now. I miss the attempts. I miss my amused confusion when the previously mundane conversation strangely turns to innuendo and swatting them away when they go in to score. For now, I’ll have to go back to dating people for years to find out what horrible creeps they are. A cruel injustice, indeed.

Unless I’m able to somehow angle them into a doorway to see how long they stand there staring at their phone.

It’s true what they say, you never miss what you have until it’s gone.

-Cue 00’s teeny-bopper, psuedo-punk-

There was this time…(pt. 7)

Because of awful circumstances I’d rather erase from my mind entirely, I fell into a job that proved to be yet another source of incredible stories that no one seems to believe are real. If it weren’t me doing it, I’d doubt it, too.

I don’t make stuff up easily. Because there never seems to be a reason to.

At this job one day, I was telling one of my co-workers that when I first started working there, there was a full-blown riot right out front of the registration office.

Anywhere else in the world, this would be news. Not there. There, it’s just an incident. It’s just a to-do and to be extinguished immediately and moved on from. From hearing other stories from people who have worked there over 10, 20, 30 years, this one didn’t even make the scale. But it was my experience and hilarious in a “Holy Shit” kind of way.

Staring at me skeptically, my co-worker listens as I tell him about the chaos of this particular day. That as the angry crowd filled the gaps around the initial fighting pair, then irrationally deciding to choose sides, that all of my then co-workers…just…vanished. A jumbling, chaotic cluster-fuck grew, brewing bigger and angrier outside the plate-glass windows. Suddenly and immediately, I was alone and trying to check in a guest who’d come to our lovely resort for the first time ever. It left to me to remain calm while pretending that nothing that was going on outside was actually going on outside.

And call 911 at the same time.

“Hi! Welcome! Please, just look at me, don’t turn around. No! Keep looking at me. —911? Yes, Hi. We need EMTs, Police, Fire and Rescue. There are 75 people rioting outside. Send help.—Here is where the store is and this here….don’t look around, look at the map…is where the restaurant is…” I hand the guest, who is now wondering whether I’m hitting on her or trying to kidnap her, her parking passes and usher her out through a side door.

The explosive pile of roiling humans cools down a bit with only minor scratches and multiple Banned-for-Life decrees from whoever was in charge that day. I’d like to assume it was the quickness of the security employees that settled it down. They did a great job. There is also something to be said about the calming effect 10 cop cars have when they come screaming down the wrong way on a one-way street towards a mob of vacationers. Stories were conjured, statements were taken, peace restored.

As I’m telling this new co-worker about the short-lived and kind-of-hilarious riot, I’m thinking out loud, “Was it Memorial Day? Or was it earlier like Easter?”

My co-worker is standing slack-jawed, shaking his head in disbelief because I HAD to have made this up, the current guest, the one who had been standing in line far too long listening to two people having a conversation instead of doing their jobs said,

“It was Fathers’ Day, 2017. Can I check in, please?”

There was this time…(pt.6)

I keep saying it’ll be my last story but then I think of another one…

I was having martinis with some friends at the Biltmore in Montecito. This is around 2000. I think. I don’t know anymore.

What I remember is that I noticed my friend, Craig, was in the lobby and not joining our ragtag team for drinks despite our waving and screeching hysterical giggles.

Right about the end of 2 obnoxiously-large martinis and I excuse myself to go release them to the sea. Or to the fabulously appointed Four Seasons bathrooms.

On my way back to our way-too-loud table, I spot Craig speaking in, what I find out later, respectful tones to other business-clad colleagues.

That doesn’t stop me from running up to him and cupping his butt with both hands. Hard.

I’ve never seen a person turn that shade of red before.

To his credit, he didn’t bat me away like a wasp. He slowly and calmly explains to me, “Molly, I’m in a meeting.”

To my credit, I quickly shuffle away.

But, he wasn’t just in a meeting.

He was mediating the sale of the Four Seasons-Biltmore to Ty Warner (of Beanie Baby fame and fortune and Chief-of-Resurrection of historical Santa Barbara landmarks.)

Right. At. That. Moment.

As I ran, then lunged and grabbed the cute buns of Craig, it was in front of that man, that not-quite-yet-but-soon-to-be-future owner of the Biltmore who would eventually spend $275 million in buying it and $240 million in restoring it.

I like to think, and Craig agreed, my bun-grabbing was probably why Ty decided to invest in Santa Barbara.

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2000-may-24-fi-33345-story.html

There was this time…(pt. 5)

This one is more embarrassing than body-slamming a supermodel. Don’t worry, I’m gonna to tell you anyway.

My friends are good friends with a well-known author.

A very well-known author.

Not some slouchy, dime store, cozy novelist. A real writer of Literature.

No begrudging anyone at all with the creativity, determination, discipline, and drive to write a book. You deserve great kudos. This guy, though. This guy is what we aspire to be. And what I aspire to become a jackass in front of. Often.

He’s written books that are taught in college as examples on how to write books.

He can write the human experience.

He’s actually remained alive to profit from them.

And he’s a nice guy.

Then there’s Miss Clumsy Pants.

For some reason, this guy enrages me.

I read something of his in high school and it pissed me off at a molecular level. I don’t even know why. Despite that being the definition of good writing, I never seemed to grasp it. Literature degree from UCSB be dammed! Because that’s damn good writing.

AND, I READ HIM IN HIGH SCHOOL!!

So, the first time I meet him, decide I’m gonna tell him about it.

Okay, I didn’t decide. It was more like an evil gnome pushing out everything I thought about his work from 20 years ago that was unflattering.

It didn’t end well.

And didn’t end then.

For at least, 3 or 4 meetings. Because there’s nothing cooler than repeatedly running into the person you made an ass of yourself in front of.

…I don’t say that lightly. I introduced myself each time.

I’m sure he knew my name after the first time. Not only that, for some reason, I felt the need to reiterate my original position. The position that his point in his 20 year-old novel was wrong.

My Bachelor’s degree in the broad discipline of “English” somehow warranted me implying, “Go back in time, super famous and respected author, and fix what you fucked up.”

Which essentially was, “re-win your place in winning” these:

  • Rea Award for the Short Story, 2014.
  • Induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2009.
  • Best American Stories selection, 2008 (“Admiral,” from Harper’s).
  • Best American Stories selection, 2007 (“Balto,” from The Paris Review).
  • National Magazine Award, 2007 (“Wild Child,” from McSweeney’s).
  • Ross Macdonald Award for body of work by a California writer, 2007.
  • Audie Prize, 2007, for best audio performance by a writer (The Tortilla Curtain).
  • Commonwealth Club of California Silver Medal for Literature, 76th annual awards, 2007 (Talk Talk).
  • Evil Companions Literary Award, Denver Public Library, 2007.
  • Founder’s Award, Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference, 2006.
  • Best American Stories selection, 2004. “Tooth and Claw,” from The New Yorker.
  • Editors’ Choice, New York Times Book Review, one of 9 best books of the year, 2003.
  • O. Henry Award, 2003. “Swept Away,” from The New Yorker.
  • National Book Award Finalist, Drop City, 2003.
  • Southern California Booksellers’ Association Award for best fiction title of the year, 2002, for After the Plague.
  • O.Henry Award, 2001. “The Love of My Life,” from The New Yorker.
  • The Bernard Malamud Prize in Short Fiction from the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, 1999, for T.C. Boyle Stories, the Collected Stories.
  • O.Henry Award, 1999. “The Underground Gardens,” from The New Yorker.
  • Prix Médicis Étranger, Paris, for the best foreign novel of the year, 1997 (The Tortilla Curtain).
  • Best American Stories selection, 1997. “Killing Babies,” from The New Yorker.
  • Howard D. Vursell Memorial Award from the National Academy of Arts and Letters, for prose excellence, 1993.
  • Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree, State University of New York, 1991.
  • Editors’ Choice, New York Times Book Review, one of the 13 best books of the year, 1989 (If the River Was Whiskey).
  • PEN Center West Literary Prize, best short story collection of the year, 1989 (If the River Was Whiskey).
  • Prix Passion publishers’ prize, France, for best novel of the year, 1989 (Water Music).
  • O. Henry Award, 1989. “The Ape Lady in Retirement,” from The Paris Review.
  • Commonwealth Club of California Gold Medal for Literature, best novel of the year, 57th annual awards, 1988 (World’s End).
  • O. Henry Award, 1988. “Sinking House,” from The Atlantic Monthly.
  • PEN/Faulkner Award, best novel of the year, 1988, for World’s End.
  • Guggenheim Fellowship, 1988.
  • Editors’ Choice, New York Times Book Review, one of the 16 best books of the year, 1987 (World’s End).
  • Commonwealth of California, Silver Medal for Literature, 55th Annual Awards, 1986 (Greasy Lake).
  • The Paris Review’s John Train Humor Prize, 1984 (“The Hector Quesadilla Story”).
  • National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, 1983.
  • The Paris Review’s Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, 1981 (“Mungo Among the Moors,” excerpt from Water Music).
  • The St. Lawrence Award for Fiction, best story collection of the year, 1980 (Descent of Man).
  • National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, 1977.
  • Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines Fiction Award for the Short Story, 1977.

Just because some random chick who can’t keep her mouth shut said so.

Whatever. I know I’m right.

Surprisingly, for me, it actually got to be a little bit of a joke. Again, for me anyway.

Every time I ran into him, I’d wave from afar and he’d say, “Hi, Molly. Yes, I know. I know.”

I don’t read his stuff much anymore. I’m sure it’s still quality. Pfft.

Oh and hey! if you come across a character that won’t keep her mouth shut…

T.C. Boyle

There was this time…(pt. 4)

I met three Hollywood tough guys almost 20 years apart.

All three were the nicest people. Keep in mind that while two of these incidents were while I was working, only the first one was I wearing a name tag. I don’t normally wear a name tag but only because they fall into that vortex of lost possessions that forms in my purse.

The first was Alex Rocco from “The Godfather” and many other roles you’d recognize by his signature gravely voice. I was working at the Miramar Hotel in its dying day in Montecito in 1996. Trying to check him in but being extremely busy as it always was, I couldn’t get him into his room until we strong-armed the previous occupant out. He said, “No problem at all, Molly. I’ll be over here with my beautiful wife. Please let us know when it’s ready but only when you have the time.” I scrambled to get the strong-arming of the cleaning staff done to help someone this sweet.

The second tough guy I met was Paul Sorvino. He’s played every gangster in every movie where there were Italian gangsters…and a brief stint in Law & Order. In this case, I went to a bar to meet my former boyfriend and his tennis buddies, Rick Miani and Gregg Bigger, after a match.

Their new friend stood when I walked up to the table. He spoke lovingly about his daughter, Mira, and their father-daughter trip to Italy. He stood every time I did and listened to me like I mattered. He kissed my hand. I think. I don’t remember if that part is true but I’m going to keep it that way in my head.

More recently, the third tough guy was Dennis Franz. Though not normally cast as a gangster, he is the quintessential “cop”. You know. That guy.

Sipowicz took no guff from nobody.

Sipowicz might be tough but Dennis Franz is a sweetheart. Having since I’ve oddly gravitated back to supplemental hotel/resort work, for the past two years Dennis has come back to my place of work to check in with me in particular. He says it’s because of how well I take care of him and his family. No asking for special treatment, just gratitude. He remembered me by name and was so impressed that I knew who he was, too. He’s quite huggable.

Very nice gentlemen all. Real gentlemen all. Probably not surprising but nice to hear, isn’t it?

There was this time…(pt. 3)

The time I met a supermodel was the most un-supermodel-y moment I could’ve come up with.

We met each other, but we were never formally introduced.

One morning, I woke up to no water. That was particularly painful as I’d indulged in far too much fermented grape juice the night before. Apparently, the whole apartment complex was sans-eau and I sort of remembered the notices posted around the place for about a week prior.

So, the only option open to me was going next door to the Starbucks to their, now desperately-needed, restroom.

Shoving my hair into a hat but not finding sunglasses, wearing sweats and the same silk blouse from the night before, predictably-smeared mascara sideways off my face, I barreled through the Starbucks’ side door hoping to escape anyone’s notice.

Bad plan because I slammed full-body into Kathy Ireland.

Courtesy of Lane Report

She must’ve been in some kind of meeting because even supermodels don’t dress in business suits early morning on a Saturday to get coffee. Even models dressed in fabulous, clearly-not-a-drinker, form-fitting, business suits.

Now, I’m a tall 5’8″ but when I’m slouching in embarrassment and desperately needing to pee, I can lose an inch or two. At 5’10” plus 4” heels, Kath, as I like to call her now, make her stand out like, well, a supermodel.

And, of course, she is even more stunning in person.

She possesses such a confident presence that even someone body-slamming into her at 8am doesn’t seem to phase her.

She needlessly apologized to me. I gasped something inaudible.

Then, having to wait for the bathroom about 3 feet away from the aforementioned supermodel-body-slamming-incident-in-front-of-witnesses added to it becoming quite a bit more uncomfortable.

Yeah, it was like this. Warren Buffet, Kathy Ireland, and Bill Gates.

Except that it totally wasn’t and it was really uncomfortable.

No, wait? Not uncomfortable. Awkward is the word I’m looking for. Definitely awkward.

There was this time…(pt. 2)

The time I met Christopher Lloyd was epic and iconic. Sort of.

The movie was already 20 years old back then.

I happened to come across a friend who ran an auto-detailing shop in Santa Barbara who was waiting at the curb for a client to show up.

I don’t remember the car the client was driving but I do remember how tall and how his long legs made him seem more wobbly than he probably was.

Watching Doc Brown get out of his car, shaking himself off was exactly what you’d hope it’d look like; fumbly, like he just got out of a tumbling dryer.

He walked over to us. While shaking my hand, for a second, I felt like what I think Michael J. Fox probably felt around him, a little off-kilter. Especially, being looked at from that great height with those big, focused eyes.

Well, only if Marty McFly had a huge rack, too.

Courtesy of Wingclips

There was this time…(pt. 1)

Once Melinda and I came out of a restaurant in the Upper Village of Montecito after a long lunch and got into her car to go home.

Long after I went through the CDs and wondered when she became a Art Garfunkel/John Oats fan…

Long after she fully adjusted the driver’s seat, rearview mirror, shoulder belt height, and side mirror…

…did we realize we got into someone else’s car.

Trying to be nonchalant while escaping one green Saab to slither into the only other green Saab in all of Southern California while not laughing is something I’ll always be proud of.

All Your Thoughts Are Belong to Us

https://yourbias.is/

Great website. I found it through a guide I was drawn to about logical fallacies, seeing as it’d been a continuous battle I’ve had to fight until recently. Trying to find logic in illogical arguments will make your head spin until you give up and follow. I’m trying to learn to not argue this way and, more importantly, not fall for them.

It’s tough, though, because of our strong emotional biases this website so clearly delineates. This causes a lil mind-fuckery for enquiring minds like the one in my giant noggin.

So, now, I’m totally confused and have no idea what is logical and what is bias and who deserves to receive my frustration the next time someone doesn’t argue the way I want.

I’m trying to have a more discerning eye regarding emotional-tactical arguments. You know, those using the lowest common denominator to elicit a particular response based on fear, and those evil fuckers that use them; politicians, assholes, exes, middle managers, trolls, cops, lawyers, bullies, etc.

It reminds me that it’s sort of like advertising; something I actually have huge admiration for.

You weren’t expecting that turn, were you. Boom! Bait ‘n’ switch. Muahaha!

I have my reasons for my admiration. Well, one reason.

Satan.

No, I’m not a Satanist. I’m just an admirer of…well, not an admirer…it’s just…okay, I’m saying a lot of things here. Anywho…

I think of advertising as an entity/profession that is truly evil to the point of awe. In that, I admire it. An entire industry bent on manipulating us to want something by any means necessary. It’s so…insidious. Like a little tempting gift from Satan every 30 seconds. It manipulates how we feel about everything. No matter how much we can try to see it as something outside of ourselves, we’re totally affected by it every day; how we feel about our bodies, our successes and failures, dreams, lifestyles, fears, relationships, everything. The result probably isn’t much different from any other society-controlling entity from history. Like religion or the aristocracy, advertising is just another method of controlling the masses. Our interpersonal dynamics, to families to cults to autocracies, how we’re told and what we’re told is ideal is usually based on some form of logical fallacy, then perpetuated by the herd. And it’s fascinating.

Our free will and independent thinking is negated because of how we’re raised in a certain culture containing core beliefs about what is ideal. Though it’s a chicken-or-egg-type of causation; if advertising causes our ideals, or if society already defines them and advertising reinforces that ideal, our bias is so heavy toward one belief or another based on what we’re shown, read, exposed to, then constantly reinforced. And back and forth, again.

Yet, just to fuck with us, we’re still told we all have choice.

We don’t, but you are free, -wink-, to believe what you want to believe.

I’m no conspiracy-theorist but it doesn’t mean they’re not controlling us.

Sorry, I forgot where I was going with this. My favorite Progressive Insurance commercial was on.

Now I totally forget my point. I’m giggling and nostalgic about the uncomfortably hilarious Health class videos we were forced to watch and not at all thinking about things. Forget I said anything about Satan. Forget that I’m only trying to appease our Lizard Overlords.

Forget I said anything about advertising being evil. It’s only entertainment. It doesn’t control us. It’s alllll good, Flo.

I gotta go make a phone call. Anyone catch that number in the video?