Sunday Scribblings writing prompt this week:Write about a chance encounter you've had with an old friend or flame, or perhaps with a stranger -- or even a celebrity.
1986 – I was twenty-two and had lived in LA less than a year when my friend since childhood, Cindy, came to visit from San Francisco. I was living in a Spanish-style house, which I shared with three other people, on the hillside just above Poquito Mas (a tiny Mexican fastfood place) in Universal City. I worked as a movie extra, so I didn’t have a lot of money. But somehow – due to a crazy fluke of luck – Cindy and I had so many celebrity encounters that weekend, it almost seemed like my life was kind of exciting.
First, I couldn’t have planned Cindy’s arrival any better. She would be landing at LAX (LA Airport) that Friday afternoon. Coincidentally, my agency called to see if I could work on a film called “No Way Out,” which would be filming at LAX that same Friday. So I told Cindy, once her plane lands, to find the film crew and I’d be there.
Early that Friday morning, I reported to the “No Way Out” film set, got my wardrobe and went to the make-up chair where a hair-stylist wrestled my huge ‘80s hair into an elegant French twist. Then the stylist told me to wait in the trailer for a make-up person. While I waited alone – or so I thought - I checked out my wardrobe and my new up-swept do in the mirror, looking at myself from all angles. As time past, I swiveled in the chair and zoned out. Then I heard a male voice in the back of the trailer croak a laidback “Hello,” like maybe he just woke up.
I jumped in my seat, realizing, Uhh…I’m not alone. There - lounging on a couch in the back of the trailer, propped up on one tanned and toned arm, wearing faded Levi jeans and a white T-shirt – was an all-American boy-man with sandy-blonde hair. He'd been there the entire time. Ugh! Did I make any stupid faces in the mirror? And did he see me? My face felt hot. I mumbled, ”Hello,” and stared into my lap. I didn’t know who he was, maybe a crew member – a boom operator or an electrician – taking a break. I only knew he was cute.
About an hour later, I heard “Action!” So I did as directed and began walking in the background beside a taxi cab at the center of the scene. That’s when I saw the cute guy I met in the trailer again. He was dressed in a crisp, blue naval uniform… and he was the actor in this taxi cab scene. He was the star of the film: Kevin Costner! That’s when I noticed his amazingly blue eyes, eyes that seemed all the bluer once I knew he was the film's star. Eh, I’m shallow.
Right after the scene, I saw my friend Cindy waving in the airport crowd. “Cindy, you’re here!!” I yelled, running toward her, still wearing my khaki pencil-skirt and heels, and then proceeded to slide and fall right on my face in front of the film crew. Some welcoming committee, huh?
But I made up for the sloppy welcome by introducing her to my “new friend” Kevin, between scenes. My eyelids wore out from batting them so furiously - which was especially pathetic because most of his attention seemed to be focused on my gorgeous green-eyed-brunette friend Cindy.
“What’s your name again?” Kevin asked her. “Cindy? Hmmm…” he said as his eyes climbed up her legs.
Little did we know then, Cindy also happens to be the name of the woman he was married to at the time. Funny, he didn't mention that.
After filming, Cindy and I rode an airport elevator down with Kevin, and I said, in a way-too-loud voice, “So, Cindy, where should we go for lunch?” hinting (or shouting) maybe he might want to join us. Cindy elbowed me and whispered, “You are sooo obvious.”
Obvious, yes. But I was twenty-two and knew that if there’s anytime to take chances, to be lamely obvious, to make a fool of myself, it’s a good age to do it. But instead of sharing lunch with Kevin Costner, we watched him – again wearing his Levis and T-shirt - walk off into perfect, golden afternoon. He must’ve felt our eyes burning into him, because he turned around, smiled a dimpled smile and waved good-bye.
Later that night Cindy and I went to the Improv comedy club in Hollywood. Richard Jeni was one of the comedians who performed that evening. Cindy and I sat at a little round table in the front row, just the two of us, until Ray Parker, Jr. – the singer of “Ghostbusters” sat down with us. Again, Cindy elbowed me, but not to tell me how lame I was. Instead, she whispered, “That’s Ray Parker, Jr.” I smiled as nonchalantly as possible, as if I always sit at tables with singers whose catchy songs I can't get out of my head.
After the show, Cindy and I got drinks at the Improv bar and were immediately approached by Richard Jeni. He and Cindy hit it off right away.
“Hey, wanna get something to eat at Canter’s?” He asked her.
“Yeah, sounds great,” Cindy chirped.
At Canter’s, I picked at my pastrami on rye as Richard and Cindy had one of those immediate-connection conversations - not one pause or bored sigh; everything she or he said was amazing, brilliant, incredibly interesting or adorable! Yick.
Meanwhile, I ate pickles, let out bored sighs and mumbled about how we (meaning just Cindy and I) should head out to go dancing.
“Hey,” Richard said, looking deeply into Cindy’s eyes, completely forgetting I was there. “Why don’t I take you out tonight?”
“Well…” Cindy started to say until I interrupted.
“Eh, eh, eh… Look, Cindy’s here to see me. You can talk to her later,” I told Richard, thinking I was saving Cindy’s butt and she’d thank me later. Now that I look back, that was a lame-brain move on my part. Cindy paid for her own plane ticket and I should’ve shut-up and let her make her own decision. But at the time, I thought I was some sorta hero.
Anyway, Cindy - being the smart, thoughtful and kind friend she was/is - would have said what I said...only with a lot more tact and a less snotty attitude than I used. But I didn't give her a chance to speak.
Before we left Canter’s, Richard ran into Andrew Dice Clay, so we joined him and his mouth at another table. I think Dice talked until breakfast, at least it seemed like that.
Cindy left about a day later. She returned home to San Francisco where she and Richard Jeni had many long-distance phone calls and a year long relationship, making me realize I was no hero at all and more of a lame-brain than I thought.
But, hey, I did show her one heck of a star-studded weekend.