Monday, February 12, 2007

The Guy Across the Street

“What’d you do today?” I was on the phone Sunday with my friend from Seattle. One of my oldest friends who knows I live to check things off my ever-bloated to-do list.

“Nothing,” I told him. “I took a day off.”

The truth of the matter was I was nursing a wicked hangover, a rare experience for me.

“How’s life in LaLa Land?”

I snuggled down into the couch blanket and told him about my night.

I’ve lived here in my hilly, starry neighborhood for three years now. I’m in the cheap seats; the rental apartments at the bottom of the hills. But my uphill neighbors, the home owners, tend to be, well, famous people. Or people in the working realm of famous people. Just this morning on our hike, my dog and I greeted an A list actress whose dog likes mine and a cult TV legend whose dogs don't. A rising-star late-night TV host glares at me regularly for being friends with his ex-wife. With a 'hood like this, I shouldn’t be surprised at who my neighbors are, what they do and who they know.

I’ve been building a friendship with an ebullient artist up the hill who happens to be our street’s resident party hostess. I was thrilled to accept her invite to a dinner party on Saturday night. I’d been at her gallery opening earlier in the week and she told me the guy across the street, her dear friend, was going to be there. I was in.

The Guy Across the Street was someone I’d been fascinated by since I moved in. He seemed reclusive and often home like me so I reasoned he was a writer or some such creative. I was charmed by his boyish Mediterranean good looks and the shy wave and smile I would get if he drove by me.

“Oh he’s an absolute doll,” my hostess gushed. I would have accepted her invite no matter what but the chance to finally meet The Guy Across the Street was the icing on the cake.

I recounted to my Seattle friend how I’d arrived at the party and been presented to the Guy Across the Street by an art dealer friend of mine as the most fascinating and inspiring woman she knows. Have to remember to pay her later! It turns out The Guy Across the Street is not a writer but a major record producer only stopping home for a week. He’s in the middle of recording one of my generation’s biggest rock star’s new album. Of course he is.

We were standing next to each other when dinner was announced so we sat next to each other at the table and ended up talking. And talking. Guests left the party. He fetched a choice bottle of bourbon the rock star had given him and we worked on that for a while. Still talking until the wee hours. Finally, the exhausted hostess and her husband kicked us out.

So we did what you do. We went Across the Street. It was momentarily surreal to be entering this house that I’d walked by a million times and wondered what the guy who lived inside was like. And now here I was. We sat in his studio listening to music rarities and talking until the bourbon was finished.

Even thusly inebriated, I knew it wouldn’t be the best idea to let things go too far. We were neighbors after all. People would talk. But he was really cute. And we clicked so well talking. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea. I mean I’ve certainly had worse ideas. My head was definitely up for staying, talking all night and letting him continue to rub my cold hands. However, as often happens in these situations, my body took over.

The bellyful of bourbon suddenly felt like an unwelcome guest. I tried deep breathing to settle it but no good. I considered going to his bathroom but the thought of him hearing me throw up what was probably hundreds of dollars worth of bourbon was unthinkable. I thought it would look pretty ungrateful at least.

“I gotta go.” I blurted.

He chivalrously drove me down the hill to my cheap-seat apartment and for a moment I flashed on Andie not wanting Blaine to drive her home in "Pretty In Pink." But that thought was quickly shoved out by my inner den mother pleading “For God’s sake, don’t yak in the expensive car.”

He stopped said car, I pecked him on the cheek, bolted for my own toilet and flushed the evening’s festivities away.

Thus I spent my Sunday recovering on the couch while he was preparing for the Grammys.

“Do you think that left a bad impression?” I asked my friend. “I mean, it was a cool night, right?”

“Such an LA night,” my Seattle friend said. “Here you might go to dinner and say ‘I sat next to a guy in flannel.’ You’re sitting next to record producers.”

“Cute record producers!” I felt compelled to amend. A specific, cute record producer who hopefully didn’t take it personally that his evening’s conversation companion suddenly bolted when things were going so pleasantly. I’ll know next time he drives by me if I get a shy wave or not.

Meanwhile, add it to my list of Hollywood Cinderella experiences. I love this town.

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