If you get sober in L.A., you become somewhat adjusted to occasionally seeing famous people. But there was one that I saw around the rooms when I first got sober that I heard more about than any other simply by virtue of the fact that one of my friends was obsessed with him. She’d grip my leg tightly if he was ever sitting near us and could recite every line from every one of his movies.
One night, soon after I’d gotten sober, he came up to me at a party at a club and told me he recognized me from the rooms. We talked for a while and soon were engaged in enough of a conversation that when one of my friends came over to ask me if I wanted to go to another party and extended the invitation to him as well, he announced that he would only go if I would drive there with him.
So we got in his sports car and made our way to this house party on the other side of town. I felt like I was special, because didn’t I have to be special to be in the situation I was in?
At some point during the drive, he remembered that he had to go to the Venice Film Festival that night and that the private plane taking him there was in fact leaving in a few hours so he wouldn’t be able to go to the second party with me but he said he could still drive me there so I could find my friend. I nodded, marveling at the notion of a life so glamorous that a private plane bound for Europe was routine enough for you to forget all about it.
At one of the red lights, he leaned over to kiss me. I assumed that when you’re as famous and sought-after as he was, that’s just what you did and that any woman who found herself lucky enough to be kissed went along with it. I don’t think it occurred to me to ask myself what I wanted.
When we arrived at the party, he walked me in, gave me one last, soulful kiss and dashed out the door to catch his plane. I could feel the silence that descended on the room -- the way I was suddenly the focus. I acted like it wasn’t a big deal but inside I theorized -- no, I knew -- that, for that moment, I was the most special girl at the party.
It didn’t occur to me until much later that when he left, he didn’t ask for my number.
It didn’t occur to me until after that that I wasn’t entirely sure he knew my name. Had he said it when he left? Had he not? It had been a little hectic what with his plane leaving and all.
If I’m going to be honest, I don’t think I cared all that much. It actually made the story better. Because you’d better believe I told the story -- still tell the story to this day if his name comes up -- but of course, I never want to look like I’m bragging.
The fact that I’d just been the girl of the night and that he didn’t even try to act like he wanted to see me again -- the fact that I was cool enough to understand the game I was playing -- allowed me to be able to act like I was telling a self-deprecating story when I was actually bragging.
When I told my friend, the one who had been obsessed with him, about what had happened, she was so incensed that she told me she’d never speak to me again. And she stuck to that.
On a certain level I thought she was crazy -- she had never even uttered a word to the guy so how on earth could she lay any sort of claim over him? -- but another part of me understood her actions. Because I hadn’t taken care when telling her about what had happened to make sure the story didn’t bother her. Quite the opposite.
I had absolutely reveled in every moment of it, subconsciously hoping that it would make her see that I was somehow superior to others -- superior, in truth, to her. I come from a family where competition is the name of the game and we all know not only that it’s not a game but also that there can be only one winner.
This fact had almost destroyed me as a child, because I’d always felt like the loser -- so it makes sense that I subconsciously went about re-creating the dynamic in my adulthood with me cast as the winner. But that doesn't make it any less cruel rather than B. Because the truth is, I’d never thought much of the guy until I heard her go on and on about him.
I hadn’t thought about any of this a few months later, when I ran into the Porsche-driving, Venice Film Festival-attending actor at the Vanity Fair Oscar party, which I was covering for another magazine. I was told that I could only be inside the party for a half hour but once I did the interviews I had to do, the actor guy spotted me and enthusiastically invited me to go with him to another party in a little while.
Still, just as he was telling me the details, a prim man who worked for Vanity Fair walked up.
“Anna David?” this headset-wearing individual asked. I nodded. “It’s time for you to leave,” he said grimly.
At this point, the actor grabbed my hand. “No!” he said. “Don’t make her go. She’s here with me.”
I looked back at the headset-ed guy, certain that he would see that I was important -- see that important people would put themselves on the line to make sure I could stay -- and back off apologetically. But that night, or at least in that situation, proximity to fame didn’t make a damn bit of difference.
“No, she’s not,” the man responded, as he tugged me toward the door. “She’s with me.” Then he walked me a few more feet and shoved me toward the exit.
I didn’t blame him -- this was, after all, the arrangement I’d agreed to. I’d just forgotten my role.
The above is an excerpt from the Kindle Single They Like Me, They Really Like Me.