Told you (by Stephán Amery McKenzie)


I am sitting in this swanky ten dollar a cup coffee shop at a table by myself. That is what we do in Hollywood, we sit alone—while drinking the elixir of the gods that cost less than a popsicle to make, but we pay ten times that much because it makes us feel better—doing nothing or fantasying we are writing the next “The Catcher in the Rye”.

Settling back in the Hollywood lifestyle has never been so unsettling. Do not get me wrong, having access to:

· swashbuckling premieres, 

· secret parties hidden behind false walls in member-only clubs (as those with access conjure up more ways to separate themselves from themselves),

· kooky shindigs up in the hills (where one minute someone is singing opera and the next minute barely-legal twins—with the charisma of a caterpillar—perform the first act of a movie that will never see the light of day),

· and impromptu pop-up gatherings in shoe stores that only sale one type of shoe– snow boots…

 …can be alluring. But these “Fantasy Island”-filled desires does not a life make. At least a well-rounded life for those who want more than shoe-string Facebook pages with nothing but images that propose “YOU SHOULD BE HERE!” 

 There is more out here. Or, I want more. I am not sure I know the difference or if there is a difference. Last thing I need is to hear all my friends back home say, “Told you.” My mother’s favorite words. “Told you that college was shit.” “Told you your father was shit.” “Told you, you were shit.” If it is not apparent, because you have comprehension deficiencies, or you are thinking I am trying to be cute, my mother enjoys the word ‘shit’ too. Probably not as much as Gary Coleman hates the phrase, “What you talkin’ about Willis?” but more than coked-up Pacino fans and agro movie aficionados clamor to shout, “Say hello to my little friend.” That reminds me of a kooky story a girlfriend of mine mentioned to me. She said, and I am paraphrasing, right before her manscaping metrosexual date—the kind that sit on the toilet reading Men’s Health but primarily stares at the pictures—was about to bang her, he dropped his pants and bellowed, “Say hello to my little friend!” She was not pleased with the…presentation. She divulged she was particularly annoyed because all night he insinuated he was carrying an intercontinental ballistic missile in between his legs. And there was nothing she wanted more than a nuclear attack to be waged on her war-zone vajayjay. What were her exact words? Oh! “I was preparing for the bombing of Vagina-shima and what I did I get? A man that above the waist looked like a magazine model, but below the waist my five-year-old nephew had him beat. I cried inside.” I laughed out loud.

Unfortunately, back to my mother and her shit talking. Yes, that was on purpose. When my relatives told me the first word out of my mouth was shit, and not mom, I did not doubt it for a second. The only kind word I remember my mother saying to me, was not actually to me. I was in our linoleum rancid kitchen trying to get a glass of water without fainting like women did in the fifties, or at least in the movies in the fifties. It was rancid because she only cleaned it on the holidays. And she had to like the holiday. She only liked one holiday—Columbus Day. She likes to repeat, “It’s not about what really happened but what you can get others to believe. Once it’s printed you’re either shit or as good as gold.” To this day, she still writes letters to all the local papers about what a wonderful woman she is and signs them with names, either from the Bible, or contestants that win the final showcase on The Price is Right.

So I was trying not to have my last breath be in the place where my mother had the ‘talk’ with me when I hear her dragging the mailman into the house to show him one of the letters she received from Bathsheba praising her. Not knowing I was silently gagging in the kitchen, he asked, “How’s your son doing?” She bemused, “He’s not dead, so I guess that’s something.” I almost cried. I knew that would be the closest thing to ‘I love you’ I would probably ever hear her say.

There are a bunch of other scarring memories that makes me want to make my life in Hollywood not so unsettling. I cannot go back—back to a ‘B’ version of Rosemary’s Baby (The Untold Story) remake known as my mother—and I cannot go forward because I do not know where the heck I am going. I feel like a Sleestak (the original zombie), eyes all bugged out, aimlessly milling about two feet every hour.

​Damn it, this guy is walking up to my little conclave and I have a feeling he is about to bust my invisible bubble. “Is someone using this chair,” his grating voice misaligning my spine. For a sec, I think to tell him I am saving it for someone. I mean this is my table, my chairs. I do not want anyone to think I am a recluse or worse—Charlie Sheen without cocaine and strippers—LONELY. I acquiesce, with a gesture. He knows he is free to take the only other chair at my table (maybe that is what someone should have done to Mr. Eastwood). Oh. My. Christmas Tree! Surprise—HE sits at MY table. Now, I do not know how they do it in Mexico or ‘shoot and say I was scared for my life even though the other guy did not have a weapon’ Florida. But you DO NOT sit at another man’s table. And if you do, you do not do it without at least introducing yourself and chatting up the person sitting at the table a bit, especially in California, the land of solo drivers. I am about to give this spee…he is staring at me. Why is he staring at me? Now he is smiling and staring. He flashes the biggest of smiles, “Wow, I’ve done this at several other places and all the guys have wigged out on me for sitting at a public table, in a public facility as if I broke into their house during suppertime, pulled up a seat and made myself a plate. Crazy, huh?” I shake my head in contempt and mouth, “WHAT? Really?” He is not finished, “Right when I’m about to give up on humanity and the civility of Angelenos, someone like you shows up and shows me there’s something more out here. I don’t know what you do, but I just started a new venture. We’re looking for people who aren’t completely obsessed with their own bubble to the point they forget we are all in this together. Interested?” I blink a ridiculous amount of times. If you saw me you definitely would try to shove something in between my teeth and yell, “He’s having a seizure!” I smile. I wanted to say, “Wow. Thank you. It is good to know other Good Samaritans still roam the plains of these dessert lands. YES! Let us join forces to create the magical-powerless Avengers so we can spread joy and unification faster than the bubonic plaque did in the thirteen hundreds. ThunderCats Ho!” But all I could do is think to myself, “Who still says… suppertime?”