October 12, 2003

Being Somebody

A strange thing happened last week. I went to a get-together, a group of screenwriters and would-be screenwriters. I liked everyone there, some of them very much. I was looking forward to it. But once thereÖ wellÖ something didnít click. I started making snide comments under my breath, saying things that werenít exactly kosher to say, those ďOh man, did that come out of my mouth? Shoot me nowĒ sorts of in-your-face faux-pas. (And no, Iím not going to relate the specifics, Iíve already forgotten them. No, really. Total blank. I swear.)

Anyway. I started thinking afterwards. Iím fairly social adept, or so Iíd like to think. And people seem to like me well enough. I donít usually have such severe foot-in-mouth disease. Why that night? Someone else who was there later commented that everyone seemed off at dinner, it didnít gel. So it wasnít just me, though I think I was the only snark shark. The rest were super nice, super polite. To the extreme, in fact. Almost everyone there was doing a sales job. I did this, Iím doing that, Iíve got this possibility and arenít I grand? Itís human nature. Especially in Hollywood, the land of the perennial sales pitch. You are what youíve done, what youíre doing, what you claim youíre about to do. Youíre judged as a person by it (well, that and what car you drive). Are you Somebody in Town this week? Did your last movie do good box office? Do you have play dates with the studio chiefís kids? Do you Know People? Are you important, if not in and of yourself, then at least by degree of separation from People Who Matter? Oh, youíre not? Nice talking to you, I have to go replenish my designer water bottle. Waiter!

If youíre not Anyone Important, how do you survive? By making yourself sound like youíre tomorrowís flavor of the hour. Sort of like youíre at an endless cocktail party version of your high school reunion, you want to spin a tale that sounds believable enough to impress at close range, though not necessarily a story that holds up long term.

It gets worse when thereís an agent or producer or manager in the room, though in fact theyíre the worst offenders, adept in the two-step sideways hyped-up dance around the truth. And a manager was there that night. A nice guy too, someone I usually enjoy. And hell, I donít want or need a manager right now. I have no scripts to shill, no finished novel longing for the right adaptation. I donít need anything from anyone. Not right now, I donít.

Thatís the problem right there, I think. I canít do the dance, I donít want to do the dance, I in fact abhor the dance. And so Iím standing outside watching all the high stepping eyes-alight, hands-spinning hip-hop fancy footwork going on and the bile rises in my throat and causes me to spew inane but nasty gibberish. Iím outside it but not far enough outside. I too want bragging rights. I too want to matter in that vainglorious insubstantial Hollywood chit-chat sort of way. But right now I donít. And that has to be okay too.

Maybe I should avoid those parties in the future. Or maybe I should go (these are good people, after all, and some I even consider friends) but learn to stop caring. No bile, just amusement.

Easier said than done. Hunger floats in the sun drenched air here, blows down from the mountains along with the November Santa Ana winds. Hunger to Be Somebody. Itís catching, like the flu. And just as debilitating.

Every day I drive past a clothing store on Santa Monica Boulevard. Sometimes the light turns red as I approach and I have time to read the slogans on the T-shirts in the window. One says, ďFuck Fame.Ē Iím thinking about buying it.

Posted by Tamar at October 12, 2003 04:38 PM