“I am cured. I am cured,” he repetitively enthused. This was not the first time—or the eighteenth—we heard Mr. Recovery Junkie stand on his imagined podium spouting the same victory speech, insisting on taking another victory lap for his current rehabilitated ways. It would appear this is the new ‘”it” thing in the land of the stars—RECOVERY. It seems everyone is in recovery from something. Whether it is: drinking, drugging, sexting, eating, marrying, car humping (if you do not know about car humping, do not ask). Heck, I walked into a bookstore (remember those?) the other weekend, in “The Way Way Back,” they were having a recovery meeting for those addicted to Spotify.
So I am being bribed to go to one of those (dreadful) networking events that my neighbor drags me to because she is horrified at the idea of walking into those types of events alone. As she describes it, “I’d rather go to New York Fashion Week wearing a combination of JJ’s outfit from “Good Times” and Mork’s outfit from “Mork and Mindy” all week, without washing them, including the underwear, before going to a networking event alone. High School is less judgmental.” I am not too hip on these events. The idea always makes me think of a pool of piranha with meat strapped to each of their backs as they perform the Funky Chicken where they try to fuck each other and fuck each other. But heck. FREE food and FREE alcohol and I do not have to drive—I know the Funky Chicken.
In case that reference was confusing, let me paint you another picture:
I heard a former child-star describe these events as a bird party. All types of birds gather at the edge of a watering-hole (networking event), squawking at the top of their lungs. The prettier (aka more successful) the bird, the more booming the squawk. The other birds, crowding around it, attempt to mimic the booming squawk. Then the mother of them all, the Pterodactyl (most successful in the room), swoops in with one all-encompassing squawk. All the crowding birds swarm around ‘Big Daddy’, pushing and pecking at each other to ride on his feather, or back, or to be next in-line.
Whenever she cannot find someone of ‘influence’ to go with her she bribes me. Since I know I am last on her “Who I’d Rather” list and she has no idea of my affinity for the word FREE, I make her do my laundry. She has a washer and dryer in her place. It saves me coin (literally) and from obsessing about what was inside the machine before I put my wares inside. I also do not have to be bombarded with lonely or loopy ‘Let’s talk since your life must suck too if you’re in a laundromat on a Friday night’ people. Plus, she adds fabric softener at the right time and not at the beginning because she is lazy, like me. I just have to remember to have her do my laundry before we go to the event and not afterward. She suffers from post-event amnesia. Akin to any promise a man makes BEFORE he ejaculates. Ask anyone with experience of the ‘post-ejac mind-wipe’ knows a complete frying of the man’s mainframe and hard-drive occurs that not even the most sophisticated hacker can recover.
So we go.
At these networking events I rarely see someone that does not fit into a networking event type-category:
a) Hype-Man— the guy who is waiting to hear back about his deal that is on the verge of breaking his career that he has been waiting for the last three years and must think people are stupid (which they may well be) and do not remember he has been telling a version of the same story for the past three years.
b) Cubby-Hole— the guy on his laptop off to the side talking to no one, apparently writing the next Citizen Kane or Casablanca and wants someone to come begging to see what he is doing.
c) Post Jessica Rabbit— the sex-kitten who is neither sex or kitten but because that is the best angle she has got she goes with it.
d) Credit Whore— the guy who did one thing and has not done anything in years or the old guy who did something thirty-five years ago. They both tout it like it was Jurassic Park, and it was not, not even close.
e) Innocence Not— the fresh-eyed barely legal CW type with the thirst of a newly-formed vampire, determination of Mack Truck and manipulation ability of a madam.
Among the rest of the crowd, it is split between newbies, spectators (like me!), bitter-burned industry-victims, posers, and a few undercover, legitimate working players looking for those one-offs that could be an essential piece to their almost fully-formed battle cry.
The other only unrepresented sector at this plane crash is the U.N.I.C.O.R.N. – The artist that is not jaded, possesses real identifiable talents, seriously open to co-ventures, follows up on whatever agreement is made and does not talk about him/herself all the time. Like I said, a U.N.I.C.O.R.N. (Universally Nice In Considering Others Rather than Notoriety).
I am filling my esophagus with V&Ts (vodka tonics) while I fill my pockets with pigs-n-a-blankets (you would be surprised how well these little critters travel), when low and behold a U.N.I.C.O.R.N. breezes past. If I had not been distracted by Mr. Accolades’ conversation about how his piece-of-crap short was accumulating loads of awards at every film festival—that no one ever heard of—I might have been able to intercept. It is a surprise I was even able to get a whiff of the scent in the air as the U.N.I.C.O.R.N. whizzed by due to Mr. Accolades, also deprived of good-house training, chewing with his mouth open as he bellowed on and on about his recent successes (by the way—it turns out Mr. Accolades only entered six film festivals of which only one had been around longer than a year and at least three of those festivals he either co-produced or started himself). And if you know what homemade biscuits and gravy does to a Southerner, you will understand how I was inexplicably drawn to the U.N.I.C.O.R.N. without my knowledge or acknowledgement.
My neighbor, with precise speed, zig-zags her way over to me from across the room as if she is one of those blue or red cars in the Tron videogame. She grabs onto my arm and pulls herself close to my ear, “Did you sense that?” “The Force?” I nonchalantly reply as I gulp down my fourth or eighth V&T. “You’re insufferable. I think it’s a….,” she goes to a DEFCON FIVE whisper, “U.N.I.C.O.R.N.” The utterance of the word alone, starts a cosmic shift. The room stirs. Every guest, ghost and ghastly crawling creature, stands to attention. She promptly shushes me while attacking my shoulder as if she saw a spider. “I am not the one who said U.N.I.C.O.R.N.” All ears perk up, like antennas on the nineteen-eighty cell phones. I dun did it now. If her look could murder, my family line would cease to exist. She drags me through the gathering, weaving in and out of the squawking in search for the illustrious mystic phenomenon. She thinks she has spotted the spotted-winged beast. She cuts me loose as fast as J-Low did to P. Diddy after she got hauled off to jail that one time. In need of another drink and a back pocket still to be filled with Charlotte’s Web’s chubby friends, I mosey over to the only unoccupied bar, while watching everyone try to find the U.N.I.C.O.R.N.-Waldo.
That is when Almost Famous bumped into me. YES, he literally bumped into me! “Wow. That’s probably the fourth or fifth time I have done that today. Maybe I should look into getting those bumpers they use in bowling attached to me,” he teases. “I would think twice about that because if you lay down I might be tempted to roll my balls down all over you,” escaped my lips, before I had any idea I was in a conversation with Almost Famous. Another reason I usually stop drinking after my seventh or eighth V&T. He looks at me. I look at him. As if on cue, we crack up laughing at the same time. And laughing. And laughing. And laughing some more. At this point all the squawkers are taking notice. He grabs my arm and pulls me outside. “Sorry about that, in there. Usually I keep my balls to myself but every once in a while, they get away from me and roll into someone else’s lap,” I offer. “My Mother says that’s why she keeps mine in a nice little metal box named Tatarina, by her bed, for safe keeping,” he muses. We practically fall to the ground laughing. The squawkers shift their attention to the patio. For a moment, I felt like we stepped into a scene in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (the original of course). He grabs my arm again and pulls me onto the street, out of the event. Between Almost Famous and my neighbor dragging me everywhere, I am tempted to check my outfit and see if someone pinned a sign on me that says: I DO NOT DO DRAG BUT I LIKE BEING DRAGGED. “Sorry I keep dragging you along like you’re a piece of meat,” he delivered apologetically. “Since I cannot get someone to drain it or beat it, I will take dragged any day. It has been a loooong dry spell.” “Can’t be dryer then the time I had to dip mine into water every morning to make sure it hadn’t died overnight.” “No. Dryer. My doctor, a bad replica of Tony Soprano, begrudgingly offered to…give me a ‘hand’ just so I did not try to sue him later for not living to up to Hippocratic Oath.” We LAUGH. Yapping, yapping, and cracking up at each other, yapping, laughing and jabbing at each other as we walk down Sunset Boulevard.
He was your typical U.N.I.C.O.R.N. – Tall, model-looks, gym body, television smile, magnetic energy—the perfect combination of Bugs Bunny and Superman, GQ marries Complex magazine. Before I can stop it my mouth spills, “What the hell were you doing in that place?” “Where?” “Bottom-fed row.” He chuckles, “Man, my first legitimate gig came from a networking event like that.” “Not like that,” I prod him. “Pretty much. I promised myself I would go to one a year for seven years straight or until I found The One. I figure I was found there, I should be able to find someone there too who just needs that one chance.” Yep, he was a U.N.I.C.O.R.N. “Why were you there?” He inquired. “FREE drinks. FREE food,” I quipped. “Would you like a tucked-in wiener?” I show him the wieners in their coats from my many filled pockets. “I don’t plan on eating anyone else’s unless I can at least try my own first,” He mused. Yep, we laughed.
He checks his phone. He appears disappointed. “What is up?” “Oh, it’s just my mom,” he replies weakly. “Oh, that old bitch, what is her fucking problem?” I bark. We laugh. And laugh some more. “Dang. I did sound like that, huh? My bad. My mom…she’s the best. I was hoping it was my agent.” “Big news?” I dig further. “I hate talking about it. I don’t want it to go to my head or people thinking I’m one of ‘those’. Besides, I don’t want to jinx it.” “Look, we practically greeted each other like puppies do with our balls and wieners in each other’s faces. We are already bro-dating. Might as well cut the third-date bull-sheeeeet and give it up now.” We giggle like babies playing peek-a-boo. “Well, I’m up for the part-of-a-lifetime, at least for me. This would be that next-level break I’ve been pushing for. It’s an all-star cast and crew with…,” he stops. He checks his phone. I cannot read his face. “Oh, my Christmas Tree…are you going to faint?” His face goes Casper-white for a second. He looks up from his phone. With the same intonation and seriousness as Haley Joel Osment had when he uttered ‘I see dead people” to Bruce Willis, he stared deeply into my eyes and revealed, “I got it.”