We sit down in the corner of the covered garden, facing outwards towards patrons talking quietly. I will forever love the seemingly dignified pretention of the Chateau Marmont. V orders a glass of wine and so do I. Red. Our friend works there and we catch up while he stands above us wearing a double-breasted pea coat and dirty blonde hair. He looks British and suited for some sort of trip through the countryside in a German car wearing leather gloves. M arrives, not as late as either of us anticipated, her hair appropriately disheveled and her hands covered in gold jewelry.
A famous musician who is currently trying to look like Johnny Depp is sitting at the table across from us and I laugh into my wine glass because he has a big head. My friend used to be convinced that he had undergone massive amounts of plastic surgery after he got rich and famous. “No way,” she would say in her under-educated, midwestern accent, “This guy was so fucking ugly in 2004. There’s no way that is his real face.” And so I catch glimpses of him over the course of the evening, talking and not talking to his friend, both occasionally taking social breaks to sit next to each other in silence while they type away on their Blackberries. Friendships in the wireless age. If I stupid, I could tell him that I used bar-b-que to his album in my mother’s backyard after I dropped out of college, but that would mean I’d have to admit to have occasionally listened to his KIIS FM friendly jams.
V and M and myself give each other the two-hour abridged version of our lives – work, Los Angeles, New York, boys who suck and boys who suck less. V’s in love and that makes me happy. M’s getting over love and finding more boys who look like Jesus. I’m out of love and easily getting introduced to every asshole in New York.
An older woman in a black shawl approaches our table and bends down low to ask me if I’m Julia Stiles. I laugh and try to play off the fact that my skin is crawling; I hate this comparison, though I get it on occasion, along with Kate Hudson, Kate Moss, Keira Knightley, and Joan Allen. Most of these don’t make sense, with the exception of Joan Allen. I’ll take Joan Allen; she’s a hot babe.
The woman looks back over at her table filled with three men, one of whom is an older Swedish actor whom I have a crush on like I have a crush on Colin Firth or Liam Neeson – the fifty-plus, dignified-gentleman category of dudes I’d like to make out with, but if push came to shove, probably couldn’t get the balls to do it. “She’s not Julia Stiles,” the woman says to a man who leans forward in response. “I used to represent her,” he tells me, and I think either I look like the spitting image of this girl who I absolutely don’t want to look like the spitting image of or this guy never knew his client very well. After I laugh awkwardly a bit more and try to avoid eye contact with the Swede, we return to our respective discussions.
Dinner comes. M gets her overpriced kale and quinoa: a fifty-dollar meal you could probably get at the hot bar at Whole Foods. I’ve got some beet salad with cheese I push to the side of the plate and a pumpkin soup that’s a nice shade of orange. V gets something; I can’t remember what. Everyone orders another drink.
The wind is fierce and it bumps wildly against the clear plastic tent covering the garden for winter. The walls lurch and push and pull with the whims of a California winter, mild by all of my recent east coast comparisons. Red lanterns sway subtly with the motion of the tent and we continue to talk and eat and drink while our lives change slowly, greatly, and without due notice.