Sunday, June 13, 2010

I Was Told There Would Be Lions

The concept of propriety, in its most essential Emily Post definition, seems arcane in today's slovenly society. Dressing for dinner and sending a thank- you note have been rendered obsolete by the texting and the sexting and the gamy immediacy of it all.

I wish I could believe this as I write it, but alas, I don't. I am a sucker for propriety: addressing friends' parents by Mr. and Mrs. (or in my case Mr. and Mr.), bestowing generous gifts upon my host or hostess (usually a single rose in cellophane from the bodega), and always dressing appropriately for the occasion.
So imagine how I felt upon my arrival to the 10th annual Young Lions Fiction Awards Ceremony when, as walking up the marble stairs to the New York Public Library, I felt a cool breeze on my behind and the unmistakable weight of scorn upon my brow. It would all be revealed (ahem) that I was revealing myself in a too- short cocktail dress from H and M Spring 2009 that was resurrected from my closet hour earlier. My invitation to this glittering event must have been lost in the mail, but I fortuitously received a press invite just in time. Would I be able to attend on short notice and take the place of the free subway magazine A.M. at the press table? I cleared my calendar that was actually booked solidly with my usual evening activities, dusting and masturbation (that was not intended to be redundant, thankyouverymuch), and gleefully accepted!
The short notice of this event and my double digit bank balance left little possibility of coming up with an elegant ensemble befitting such an illustrious event, I consulted my closet. I dug up a sweet little number capturing my signature style- slutty kindergartner. I vaguely remember wearing this dress a few times over the past months, once when I threw up on myself outside of Doc Holliday's on Avenue A and another time when I threw up on myself at my mother's book release party. However, the unforgiving northeastern weather always necessitated tights. I always felt the three- inch slit up the derriere as a kind of ventilation system on an already minimal hem threw on some Forever 21 heels, and I was off to the races!

Riding the D train uptown, my gazelle- like limbs encased in the poly- blend fabric earned the affections of a few homeless fellows, child break dancers, and commuters who mistook me for a tranny. That's what they call your "core demographic" in the modeling business. I begin to worry when I'm not propositioned for a half- and- half on my way to work. But as I approached the marble staircase on 42nd street, the precarious proportion of hem length/ slit height became all too clear. As I met my plus- one Brooke, I did my customary bend- and- snap to accentuate my rotund curves and to incite envy at God's generous hand in creating my butt. I wish my friends were jealous of me for anything, and they've told me time and again that it isn't writing. But instead of the typical sex riot that ensues after dropping it like it's hot, her jaw dropped in horror. Did I get dressed in the dark? Did I look in the mirror before leaving the house? Did I try to smear my family name? Did I aim to bring shame and ill- repute to the venerable institution of the New York Public Library?
So for the rest of the night I attempted to obscure my buttocks by walking crotch- first like a cowpoke . This was no easy feat as I spent the cocktail hour maneuvering through blond blowouts and navy blazers balancing several free full champagne flutes on a free stack of novels by the nominees, a few of which I will not be selling on eBay. When the house lights dimmed to begin the readings, I sauntered over to the press table, spoils in hand, my public bone leading the way. I took my rightful place centerstage, just behind the evening's champion, Wells Towers. But this advantaged seating arrangement wedged me between Wellsypoo, my hero and my love, and the Young Lions committee table. A woman actually shushed me for whooping too loudly when they called his potent, libidinous name. And that was just to announce that he was in attendance. When NYPL director Paul LeClerc announced him as the winner, I ran around the room with a table cloth tied around my neck as an ersatz cape, high- fiving a stunned and silent audience.
But fear not! Not even exposing myself to New York literary society and a school marmish shaming could dampen my soaring spirits on that enchanted evening. For one, a bowl of jelly beans adorned the table, but not for long, because I ate it. For two, Ethan Hawke hosted the event! Oh, Ethan Hawke of slacker love, you are more than a hotmaster but an aging emissary of a more innocent time- a time when cigarettes cost less than a down payment on a motor boat, a time when indie bands held some kind of cultural capital, a time before texting and sexting and the world wide web.
I'm so glad I remembered to pull my recording device out of my Strawberry handbag and press play, because he has a sexy- ass voice and I plan on utilizing that track for non- journalistic purposes later. He has cheek bones that could make a girl cried, and he apparently knows how to read, and he married the nanny. And that gives me hope.

Hawke brought along a cadre of celebrity friends, including Mark Ruffalo, who I would ride like a buffalo, Emily Mortimer, whose droopy English features only enhances her appeal, Josh Hamilton, who seemed surprised to be there, and Alessandro Nivola, who makes up in enthusiastic clapping
for what he lacks in comprehensible English. All the actors read excerpts from the nominees' books. Enduring a fiction reading in a methadone drone, out of context from a book you have never read before and have no investment in whatsoever, is sometimes akin to water boarding. But this was water boarding with the stars! I tried to get a pool going at the press table, but nobody seemed amused. Everyone knew the award would go to Wells Tower anyway because that is a name that intersects with destiny. After the applause and pomp and circumstance, my crotch led our way to the exit, burdened with all the bounty of the evening- the empty jellybean bowl, the books to sell, the business cards, the tear- stained cocktail napkins. I go through all the emotions when I drink champagne. As we lingered by the door hoping to catch a whiff of Hawke's long locks, a bewildered Mark Ruffalo stepped out into the night, as if he were creeping from of a dark dark cave of book learning. He approached me and said, "Hey don't I know you? Didn't you play one of the dead tranny hookers on that Law and Order episode a few months back?" Finally, the recognition I deserve!