It could’ve been my big break.
An opportunity to rub elbows with celebrities and the upper crust. There was no way I was missing out on the chance. Even if it meant tagging along with an ego-maniacal hair-dresser.
Chapter 3 – Fear of Missing Out on Fame
It was two hours before the party and I was still trying on clothes at a Burlington Coat Factory. The occasion was a Valentine’s Day celebration in the South Miami home of a power lesbian couple I had never met. The temperature was prognosticated to drop into the low seventies, which is why I was shopping at the only winter clothing store in Miami.
The winning outfit: fancy silk pants with embroidered tulips from a designer label, at a drastically reduced price, with a gold sweater. A sparkly gold sweater.
Make no mistake; the outfit was as ridiculous as it sounds.
Back at home, my hand shook while applying eyeliner. In my mind, I had likened this party to the yearly Carrie Fisher and Penny Marshall joint birthday extravaganza that hosts everyone from Elizabeth Taylor (God rest her violet-tinted soul) to John Travolta (God rest his hair).
I had only partied peripherally with celebrities. Meaning, I had been in the same clubs or events, but never at the same table. I had worked with their publicists, and accommodated all of their requests, but, like a good PR girl, I always stood 40 feet away from the constellation that is composed of the star and the people who kiss their ass.
But this time was different, because now I was a member of the entourage of a celebrity stylist.
The residence was surrounded by a flock of luxury vehicles, so I parked my freshly washed, decade-old Jeep Cherokee exactly a block away. As I made my way toward the house, a black Mercedes SUV suddenly pulled up on the sidewalk, disregarding the nicely manicured shrub belonging to the hosts’ neighbors.
The door popped open, letting out my supah-star. You know, it’s true what they say about celebrities. They do walk in a weird glow. And, to make sure that his glow was in full effect, he wore white leather cowboy boots, ripped white jeans, a white sequin belt, a white bedazzled buttoned-down shirt opened all the way to his belly button, and one very large white cowboy hat.
He pivoted out of the car and let out the official gay call of the wild:
And, my heart melted.
We had only known each other for a month. A chance meeting through my line of work. He had an expired voucher for a cruise and I was helping him get an extension. When the voucher wasn’t honored, I offered him my employee rate and he was touched by my kindness. We became fast friends. He would invite me to his place of business to gossip like two little girls. One time, he even forced me into his chair and snipped my split ends. And, when I tried to pay, he gave me the stereotypical gay-man-glare and handed me a bag of hair products from his newly launched line.
So, when he called me up to invite me to this party, I was thrilled. I considered it my try-out for a permanent position in his entourage.
I basked in the glow of his outfit as, I and three others, walked up to the house for our collective 2-hour-delayed grand entrance. And, it was exactly how I envisioned it. People fawned. Drinks were handed. Kisses were given. Compliments were exchanged. But, forty-five minutes into it, I realized that the party goers were not other pseudo-celebrities, but a grand collection of geriatric homosexual nobodies. No sign of the Estefans. No sign of the Gibbs. No sign of the Iglesias.
He must have caught my disappointment, because he made his way from across the room to tell me that we would be leaving to go to the real party now.
I was instantly relived. Until I realized the real party was at a gay male strip club.*
At the club I stood against a wall and watched the spectacle of orifices being filled by appendages and/or beverages and/or white powdery substances. A friendly bartender took pity on my and poured amaretto in my glass both as an apology to what I was witnessing and in an effort to erase it from my short-term memory.
Under the blinding disco lights and thundering bass, I recited a mantra in my head, in the hopes I would remember it the next morning over the haze of a sweet liquor hangover: Fuck Fame.
*I believe my irrational fear of sitting down on surfaces for fear of impregnation came about as a result of this outing.
That was the last time I saw my celebrity friend. We spoke sporadically on the phone, especially whenever he was going to be on T.V., as a reminder to watch him. He would always extend a vague invitation to hang out again, and I would sound enthusiastic, but only as a polite gesture. Eventually, the phone calls ceased and I carried on, content with my mere mortal existence.
Until he showed up to my job coked-out of his mind.
At the security desk, he demanded to speak to my boss, so they dialed her up and handed the receiver over to Edward Scissorhands. Little did he know that our office was no more than 10 feet away from security, so I could not only hear his aggressive rant, but also the sound barrier blasts made by his flailing hands.
In his monologue of bullshit, he spat out accusations, saying I exchanged haircuts for free cruises, and demanded I owed him $400 for services rendered. After his shouts became belligerent and incoherent, the security team took away the phone from his ear and escorted him out. After the shock dissipated, my boss called me into her office and demanded an explanation.
“Is what he’s accusing you of true?”
“Of course not,” I responded.
Without using the term FOMO, I tried to make her understand my curiosity for celebrity. And, when that didn’t work, I tried to come up with some sort of excuse for his behavior.
“I think he is just lashing out because I didn’t catch his QVC special.”
Without flinching, like a true PR professional, my boss instructed me to fix this mess.
And, so I did. I had my lawyer send a nice cease and desist letter with a threat of a restraining order and I never heard from him again.