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Trevor, my husband, tapped his Saint Louis glass with a sterling knife, and the glittery couples chattering around the candlelit table snapped to attention. Everyone paid attention to Trevor. Even Pep, our tween with ADD, ADHD, and recent DOATM (Disgust of All Things Mom), paid attention when her father cleared his throat.
Trevor tapped his glass a few more times, sending out warning bells, then stretched to his six-foot frame. His lean shoulders curved into a question mark, a tennis player’s stripped physicality from destroying Dexter with his backhand on Trip’s court, Krav Maga with Uli in our home gym, and chewing each bite of food that passed his lips thirty-six times.
He grinned, basking in the attention, then drew his long fingers through his internationally documented hair, thick and black and brushed with foil streaks. (Some smart aleck on Instagram had created @TrevorNashHair. His hair had more followers than I.)
Even if he wasn’t an Oscar-winning producer, you couldn’t not pay attention.
“To my wife, Agnes,” Trevor said.
I hate the name, too. Someone’s great-grandmother on some side somewhere was an Agnes. What can you do?
“Happy forty-eighth! You look amazing, darling!” A buttery blonde with a smoky eye and red lips screamed as she leaned across the table, ruby drops from her wineglass spilling onto the cream tablecloth, her extensions hovering dangerously near the candle’s flame. Karyn was the kind of friend who’s not a real friend but is more dangerous not to have as a friend. She’s the best frenemy a girl could have.
Trevor had handpicked the chilly private room at Le Figaro along with the guest list, and we’d crowded into the brick anteroom, enjoying a full view of the wine cellar. I had requested a small, manageable party. We’d recently celebrated a record exec’s wife’s fiftieth (before they broke up), and Flo Rida performed live on a damp Bel Air lawn for tons of money. We’d shimmied to Flo Rida’s three dance songs in a hell circle of rich people biting their lower lips and awkward twerking.
My ears rang for days afterward.
“I want to toast my wife’s incredible…” He glanced down at me and smiled. “Work ethic!” Cue a symphony of sterling silver on Saint Louis crystal. I blushed, but not because of my hardy stock. Trevor has saluted my work ethic in every speech since our wedding, as though he’s surprised that I, a Hollywood wife, still have a job. I blushed because my fertility is on its last heaving throes, my eggs scrambled and crapping out, waving the white maxi pad. All that’s left for me is flushing and sweat. Soon, I will be all dried out, a human tumbleweed, rolling along Sunset Boulevard to guzzle martinis at the Polo Lounge.
I sneaked a napkin between my legs. Sixty-six degrees in the room and my dress felt like I peed myself. What’s so hot about hot flashes? Who knew a person could sweat buckets sitting still as a rock, and in so many nooks and crannies? Forehead, ears, neck, cleavage, groin, back of the knees! Who has sweat glands on the backs of their knees? (Me, that’s who.)
I’d nabbed an appointment to see Izzy. Of course I had. Everyone in town called him by his first name. Izzy. Allegedly, he was a medical doctor. You had to wait six months to see him—and by that time, you’d inject rattlesnake venom, toadstools, gulp Xanax, your kid’s Adderall, anything, to get relief. He was the most popular man on the Westside, barring LeBron James sightings at the Brentwood Country Mart.
I raised my glass to the unlined faces aglow with candlelight, padded bank accounts, and wine. Karyn and Michael. Karyn you’ve met. Ex-assistant (to Michael, during his first marriage), current stylist. Hails from Ogden, Utah, with an acquired British-ish accent. Pleasant and bland Michael boasts verifiable Hollywood lineage guaranteeing him a lifetime parking spot at Paramount; I don’t think he’s ever had a bad day. Juliette and Jordan. Three kids, two from surrogates. Expecting another. From another surrogate. Jordan’s an impish, childlike comedy director who watches too much anime porn on his iPhone; lovely Juliette has a sandwich named after her at Malibu Promises. Henry and Elizabeth. Henry, a jock “super agent,” upped his meds because he didn’t get the big Sony job and his hard-ons have disappeared. Poof. Sporty Liz, quadracial daughter of a Jamaican-Scottish record company czar and Japanese-German model, has a Ph.D. she doesn’t use and is bored with Henry’s whining and no-rection. We’ve been on several vacations with these couples. Hualalai, Las Ventanas, Saint Barts. Oscar Weekend in Beverly Hills.
I felt lucky to be in my marriage, with our familiar problems. Problem. How to handle Trevor. I hear the song:
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Tre-e-vor?
For a brief, shining moment, no one was on his phone.
“Cheers,” I said. Thank you, muted candlelight. And wine, you, too, don’t ever leave me.
Trevor clinked my glass and dry pecked my cheek. “Happy birthday, champ,” he said, squeezing my shoulder as he slid a small box toward me.
“Thank you, honey,” I said. “Should I wait?”
“Go ahead, open it,” he said, and he trained his fluorescent smile on our friends.
“Now that’s an auspicious box,” Elizabeth said, her eyes crinkling.
I tugged at the blue ribbon and opened the velvet box.
“Martin Katz?” Karyn asked. “I’d recognize an MK box anywhere!”
“Is it Tiffany?” Juliette said, then turned to Jordan. “Love the name Tiffany! Write that down; that’s a good name for our next herby, or himby, or theyby.”
I blinked and held out the bracelet.
“Fitbit!” I said, as my upper lip perspired.
“Aggie’s been begging me for one,” Trevor said. “I train every day with it.”
“Me, too, every day,” Henry said, perking up. “I hit the gym, 4:30, rain or shine.”
Begged? I’d never even asked for one. I couldn’t program a banana. I willed myself to smile.
All eyes on me.
I feel you, Tupac.
“I love it!” I said, squeezing the napkin between my thighs.
The Last Book Party
March. Post–awards season. Awards season exists only in Hollywood; four seasons weren’t enough for us—we had to invent another. My book launch party in the bowels of the Soho House was starting in twenty minutes. Guests would start arriving in an hour and change.
LA, where you at? Not where the books are.
“Oh mah gah you look amazing we have a problem!”
I was perched like a trained parrot at a makeshift makeup station, submerged in electro-industrial ambient “music.” Basically, music without lyrics or melody or music. A makeup artist with post-election PTSD, magenta hair, and a nose stud grumbled about heavy lids as she glued lashes onto my eyes. In LA, “caterpillar-eye” had reached peak saturation.
“Did you hear we have a major major problem?”
“What’s the problem, Marie?” I asked, my eyes shut. I could smell her, my crow-boned, aggressively–tanned book publicist. She smelled like Lemon Pledge and Miller Lite.
I liked her, but I also wanted her to die.
“Don’t blink!” the makeup artist shrieked; her lip stud quivered. Too late. My left eye glued shut.
“Your card’s not working I tried it like twelve hundred times.” Marie didn’t do commas or numbers under one hundred.
“Hand me my purse,” I said, groping space like a drunk and blind swimmer. “I have a Mastercard. I just don’t get miles.” Miles. Dear, sweet miles. My favorite serotonin surge.
“It’s okay it’s totally okay it’s fine we can wait for Trevor—what the fuck are you doing?” Marie was gone, chasing after a waiter-slash-app-developer (copping to just being an actor is so 2016) balancing a full tray of glasses. “Those aren’t the bishop cut glasses get the bishop cuts!!” she yelled.
“So you’re Trevor’s wifey,” the makeup artist said, sucking an Altoid while working a tweezer with her tattooed hand. I’ve had this conversation a million times. I knew how it went. Suck suck. Suck. Sucksuck.
“Yep, that’s me,” I said, then, “joking,” “Try not to blind me. I’m bad enough at dressing myself as it is.”
Although, I thought, temporary blindness might be a relief. I find myself handicap-yearning lately. A fender bender that resulted in a broken-but-healable femur … Hello, adjustable hospital bed! Hi, gossipy nurses who sit up with me all night! Come to Mama, simple remote!
I’d bribe Pep with a new iPhone whatever to sleep over in my hospital room. We’d flip through her baby pictures and sip chicken broth and slurp on applesauce and red Jell-O (never green; one of our salient bonds is a mutual loathing of green Jell-O) and watch RHOA—which, let’s face it, is the best RHO. Maybe she’d like me again.
“Do you have kids?” Makeup Artist bubbled.
* * *
I “awakened” from my adjustable hospital bed. I could read minds in LA. It’s simple. All anyone cares about is who you’re connected to and Waze.
Makeup Artist’s Brain: Trevor is superrich and, like, powerful, and he’s married to … what is she, even? So, like, ordinary. So like my mom.
“We have a daughter,” I said. Pep. Peppers. Pep is short for Penelope. I’m not sure why we named her Penelope. Neither of us is Brit-adjacent. There’s a law that all Penelopes are adorable and sweet-natured. Our Penelope, almost as tall as her mother, is adorable and what’s the opposite of sweet-natured. Pep is sour. Happened over the last year. I keep a mental tally of the things she hates: school, questions about school, girls at school, boys at school, teachers at school, my worried face when I ask about school, my shoes, my jokes (about school).
Where’d she go, my freckled, gap-toothed sidekick?
“You wrote a book, huh?” she asked as my eyelid snapped open. I felt it rip and didn’t scream, because courage. “The mixologist told me Trevor optioned it for a movie. Or podcast? Like. You must feel so cool.”
Me: Mixologist? Bartender. Right.
“Hidden under a thick, pasty layer of uncool.”
I didn’t tell her option is Hollywood lingua franca for Don’t quit your day job. My project had a 0.0001 percent chance of getting made. Option means a Hollywood Reporter or Variety announcement that you paid more to your publicist to run than you deposited in your bank account. At the end of the day (there’s night?), an option costs you more than no option.
A better option? Not to option.
Okay, I’m done. I’m out of options. ?
My eye watered, and a tear ran down my cheek, taking my bronzer with it. Perspiration would take care of the rest. The makeup artist frowned and sucked.
I hate bronzer, I thought. Bronzer is a lie.
Copyright © 2020 by Gigi Levangie