“Guess what I got in the mail today?” said Paul. We were sitting behind third base watching the eighth inning of a Mets-Marlins game. “What?” I said.
“An invite to the Summer of Sam premiere.”
“Do you get a plus-one?” I said eagerly.
“Can I be that one?”
“No,” he said. “I’m telling you about the party because I want to take someone else.”
“Who?” I moaned.
“I’m kidding, muffin. Of course you can come with me.”
“Hooray!” I shouted, pumping the air with my Kahn’s dog. Suddenly the crowd went wild. I thought they were cheering my invite to the party but then I looked at the field and saw that Robin Ventura had just hit a single and Luis Lopez was sliding into home. I always miss the best parts of baseball games because I’m too busy talking. It’s a slow sport but if you look away from the field a moment to schmooze that’s inevitably the moment of the most exciting play.
“So when’s the premiere?” I said.
“Monday,” said Paul. “And the after party’s at Roseland.”
The night of the party I decided to wear a kimono-style wrap dress I got at the Village Scandal. It was thin and tight and it made my boobs look pointy and high. I’d been feeling kind of fat lately but this cut was just right for my bod.
Paul had told me to meet him at the brewery on 42nd between 7th and Broadway, but on my way out of the station I spotted him coming from the R. He was wearing a black silk shirt I love. He wears it unbuttoned down a lot and you can see his chest hairs but I don’t think it looks cheesy. I think it looks good. Sometimes the same style statements that gross you out on random men can be total turn-ons on your current beau. We kissed on the lips and walked out of the turnstile together, and since we were running late we decided not to go to the brewery and instead to grab something quick.
“How ’bout Roy Rogers?” said Paul.
“We’re about to go to a film premiere and you’re gonna take me to Roy Rogers?” I whined.
“We don’t have much time, dollface. And Roy Rogers is good.”
So we went in, wolfed burgers and fries, wiped our mouths and walked to the Loews Astor Plaza. There were photographers everywhere and a real red carpet and a huge line of will-callers waiting to get in. On our way toward the back of the line we saw this guy Paul knew and he let us cut in front of him. A few minutes later the line started to move. We were presented with tickets and ushered through the door and all of a sudden I was inside a movie premiere. I’d only been to one other premiere in my life. It was for Six Ways to Sunday and it was damn lame. Debbie Harry was in it but she didn’t show and the only famous person in the audience was George Wendt.
But this was a premiere with style. The stars were lined up in front of a rope talking to journalists, and flashbulbs were popping like crazy. Jennifer Esposito was wearing a long white gown and I had to admit she looked pretty smoking. Mira Sorvino had this perfect ass and shapely calves and high heels that she didn’t seem to have trouble standing in. I hoped she’d turn around, spot me in my kimono dress and suddenly decide she was bicurious.
Paul pulled me by the hand toward the escalator and I reluctantly followed. When we got inside the theater it was a madhouse. Almost all the seats were taken except for a small roped-off area in the front part of the back section. We wandered and wandered, trying to find two together, but everyone was saving for other people. But just as we were giving up hope, he spotted our friend Enrique in the roped-off area.
“How’d you get a seat here?” Paul asked him.
“I asked the usher if I could sit here and he said okay.”
Paul went over to the usher, they exchanged a few words and then Paul beckoned for me to follow. He was so totally my hero. We took our seats next to Enrique and then Paul nudged my side.
“I’m not good about celebrity-spotting,” he said, “but is that Jennifer Lopez a few seats down?”
I looked to my right and said, “Where? Where?”
“You have to be subtle,” he said. “To my left.”
I slowly rotated my head and did a quick drive-by with my eyes. “That can’t be her,” I said. “She looks like such a shiksa. How could a Puerto Rican have such a pug nose?” But then I answered my own question.
“Who are you talking about?” said Enrique.
“Jennifer Lopez is like three seats down from you, boss,” said Paul.
“Oh my God,” said Enrique, stealing a glance. “I can’t focus on the film now. I’m all fired up. I can’t believe she’s sitting so close. Oh my God.”
I rolled my eyes. Guys can be such pussyhounds sometimes. At least my Mira fixation was justified. Chick won an Oscar. But Jennifer Lopez is a talentless chippie. As far as I’m concerned, the only thing she’s got going is her tuches.
Suddenly a crowd approached our area and I recognized two of the guys as Puffy and Nas. The crowd went over to Lopez and her friends but while everyone else was kissing and hugging hello, she and Puffy just gave each other the evil eye. The lights went down. I loved that I had a seat and Puffy didn’t. Now maybe he’d know how those kids felt at CCNY.
Spike Lee stood up in a spotlight and thanked his wife and the curtains opened and the movie began. Jimmy Breslin was in the intro sequence and he was pretty bad. You could tell he was reading his lines off a cue card. But then John Leguizamo and Mira walked into a disco and did this amazing dance sequence where they literally became the only people in the room and I was totally hooked. I’ll spare you my blow-by-blow review save to say the film was too long but the acting was solid and George Tabb kicked ass in his cameo.
When it was over Paul and I walked to Roseland. As we approached the bar to order drinks, I noticed that all the bartenders were wearing white tanktops—and all the chick bartenders were really fine-looking platinum blondes. I looked over at the food table and noticed all the chick waitstaff were platinum blondes also. Black chicks and white chicks both. Then I realized they were wearing wigs. In keeping with the theme of the movie. Because Son of Sam liked brunettes and in the summer of ’77 lots of brunettes went blonde.
“They’re all wearing wigs,” I said to Paul. “That’s so sick and unfunny.”
“I know,” he said. “But the tanktops are even worse. See that guy over there?” He pointed to a white-haired bartender. “I came here six years ago and bought a beer from him. He’s one of the regular Roseland bartenders. He’s like 60 and they’re making him wear a goddamn undershirt.”
I went up to the bartender. “How do you feel about your undershirt?” I said.
“I hate it!” he shouted. “I can’t believe they’re making us wear them! I hate this fucking thing!” He pulled it angrily from his skin.
“It’s so wrong they’re making you do that,” I said. Then I waited for what I felt was an appropriately long beat and said, “Can I have a vodka tonic?”
He poured one for me and a beer for Paul and as we sat to drink I spotted Auteur Jew across the room. Auteur Jew was a Hollywood director and he’d made two films I’d heartily enjoyed. He had a keen visual style and a rocking sense of humor and I had a suspicion he’d be the perfect director for the film version of my novel.
“I have to do some business,” I said to Paul. “I’ll be back in a few.” I sidled up to Auteur Jew and introduced myself to him. “I hate to talk business at a party,” I said. “But I wrote this book I think you should direct and I’d like to send it to you. I really liked your last film. Particularly the vomit scene.”
“Which vomit scene? There were two.”
I was thrown for a loop de loop. For the life of me I could only remember one. But I couldn’t admit that. I had to show him I’d been watching his work closely. I had to prove myself attentive to his art.
“The one where he’s, where he’s about to?” I said hesitantly.
“Oh, that one,” said Auteur, nodding.
“Anyway,” I said brightly, “let me tell you about my book. It’s subtitled ‘a gratifying novel’ and my editor says you can read it with one hand. But really it’s about a nice Jewish girl who just wants to meet a Jewish guy.”
“Did you ever meet one?”
“No. My boyfriend now isn’t.”
“That’s good,” he said. “Jewish girl-WASP guy relationships always work out. But Jewish guy-WASP girl relationships never do.”
“Because in Jewish families the boys are spoiled and in WASP families the girls are. Two spoiled people together don’t work. I know. My last girlfriend was a WASP.”
“Are you dating a WASP now?” I said.
He nodded sadly and said, “You’d think I’d learn.”
He was so right up my alley. I knew our artistic collaboration would be a shiddach for the ages. “So where should I send the book?” I said. He wrote down his address and I took it, fighting the instinct to kiss the paper. Then I scurried back over to Paul and said, “Let’s dance.”
I took his hand and led him to the floor. The DJ was standing up on a stage and behind him were these huge blow-up posters of Daily News front pages from during the Son of Sam killings. One had a police sketch and it was really scary. I turned my back to the posters and began to disco with Paul. My heels were uncomfortable but I ignored the pain. I tried to move just like Mira in that opening scene. I was feeling pretty good, but then I spotted her dancing a few feet away and she definitely had the better moves.
Suddenly a new song came on and I realized it was Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody.” I am a humongous Chaka fan so I instantly grew tremulous and eager. “It’s my girl! It’s my girl!” I said to Paul excitedly. For the first two verses I twirled around and shook my shoulders real slow, as Chaka began to build to the first chorus, and when she finally sang that rising, “Oh, oh, oh, oh-oh” I totally rocked out, swinging my hips and waving my arms in the air. Paul took my hand and spun me around a few times and then he pulled me in and we slow-danced even though it’s not a slow-dance song. I closed my eyes so I didn’t have to see the huge police sketch over Paul’s shoulder and for a second we were the only people in the room.