I strolled to Starbucks at 11th and Grand contemplating for some reason how much the world had changed since my youth, which this day, two days subsequent to my forty-fourth birthday seemed like a lifetime ago. My phone rang just as I eyed the girls sitting around the park next to FIDM. So young—
“Oliver, it’s Lee.” That would be Mr. Lee my accountant who, if you recall in my last blog, had called to inform me that I was managing to spend twice what I was earning. I then proceeded to enjoy my Friday night at not one, but two restaurants, Rivera and Yard House, then had a pack of friends over and drank and did readings til sunrise.
“Hi Mr. Lee,” I responded cheerfully. I’m always cheerful on my way to do some writing.
“Oliver, I just got a bill for fifty thousand dollars to repair the damage your SL 500 apparently did when it landed in a swimming pool at a very expensive home in Malibu.”
Misha (age 19) hadn’t taken the news about me thinking she was too young for me well. And my offer to let her keep the car that Stan Peter’s, Hollywood’s scummiest and most powerful producer, had given me for the script about a writer who moves Downtown to get away from all of the pretentious idiots in Hollywood did not appease her what-so-ever. I didn’t even bother to bring up my relationship with April The Stripper in Vegas.
“Sorry Lee, I meant to call you and give you a heads up on that one. I let Misha borrow the car and the news of our break incited her to let it roll off of the cliff where her Dad’s house is situated—she was so mad at me that she forgot all about the neighbors house below. Women…”
“Oliver, I had a meeting with Lisa.” Lisa would be my manager that pitched Showtime a series about me, a dysfunctional forty-something-year-old writer, with no concept that it might just be redundant given that they already have a show called Californication about a dysfunctional forty-something-year-old writer. Lee continued, “She has an offer for you to write a cookbook, and before you say no I want to stress the dire circumstances.”
“Lee, I’ll get a job making coffee before I write a cookbook.”
“Because, of your popularity with young adults they’ll pay you five hundred thousand dollars. That will wipe out your deficit for the year, Oliver.”
“Lee, tell Lisa to tell them I won’t do it for five million—I’m not writing a cookbook…I’ll think of something I promise, just stall everyone for now.”
“Maybe I should give everyone IOU’s,” quipped Lee, being unusually witty for a Korean accountant.
“Hey, if it’s good enough for the state of California it’s good for me.”
As I neared Starbucks front door—another call, “Oliver you missed the inauguration. My inauguration.”
“Sorry Mr. President.” Some mornings get off to this type of start. A hangover usually helps to relegate them to a dull fog—I had done zero drinking the night before.
“Oliver, these are dire times, I need the bright people of this country to support what I’m trying to do. So spare me the story about whatever mess you got yourself into and tell me why you really aren’t onboard.”
“Well Mr. President, I couldn’t go to a hundred and fifty million dollar inauguration…But I did catch some of the bright people who are onboard on tv. I particularly liked the interview with Jessica Alba ‘Why can’t you be like Sweden?’ she asked the Fox News’ crew, forgetting that it’s Switzerland that’s famous for its neutrality. And that classy little rap JZ and Little Jizzy got caught doing on video—nice, very inclusive. If you had canceled the parade and parties to start work after the swearing in and lunch in the East Room I assure you I would have been there.”
“I’m going to change things Oliver and I needed to get people inspired. There needed to be a clear demarcation between me and Bush.”
“Well I’d say out spending him four to one left a pretty clear mark. With all due respect Mr. President, there needed be an example.”
“Will you write about my executive orders at least?”
“You mean like the one you slipped in on Friday late afternoon to start funding abortion in other countries, again. I mean with all the extra money we have lying around and given everyone in America is so pro choice—I’d feel great writing about that one.”
“I meant GITMO.”
“What are you going to do with all those guys?”
“I was hoping that you would write about the benefit to our image around the world.”
“Mr. President, I have readers all around the world, not one has ever posted a comment suggesting that we send the terrorist to their hometown. Sixty-six released terrorist have already wound up back on the battlefield.”
“We can agree to disagree, Oliver.”
“What do I do about this banking situation?”
“When the whole thing started the government could have bought every foreclosure in America for four hundred billion dollars. You guys spent three hundred and fifty billion on nothing, except for financing the mergers that are now ruining B of A and Wells Fargo.” I became very distracted by the girl who sat across from me. She had short hair, beautiful skin, and coal black eyes. “Um, what was I saying?”
“Oh, yeah. Well form a government entity to buy the foreclosures—all of them. Forget about the derivatives let the investors take the pain and be done with it. Do away with capital gains tax completely for three years. Pump a hundred billion, at a minimum, into SBA loans. Create a special SBA starter loan that’s unsecured for ten to twenty thousand dollars. Make the credit requirement reasonable, something around 620, so all of the people losing their jobs at big companies have the option of going into business for themselves.” I couldn’t stand it any longer. “Mr. President, I have to go I’ll call you back….”
I turned to the girl. “What does your shirt say?”
She smiled. What a smile. “It says you’re too old for me.”
“Excuse me?” I asked thinking I might have not heard her correctly.
“It says, ‘go to sleep so you can wake up and be reborn.’”
“What’s your name?”
“Nichole. And you are?”
“I’m Downtown Oliver Brown.”
“Well Downtown Oliver Brown, do you talk to the President often?”
I shook my head. “Just every now and then. I mean I suppose I could if I wanted to. I get some calls from other world leaders too, but they never listen to me. I think it just makes them feel better to know what the right thing to do is before they do the opposite.”
She laughed, “Who are you?” But this was no longer at Starbucks, that had been days before. We had gone to lunch at Urth Café and hadn’t spent almost any time apart since. We sat in her loft, which was tastefully decorated in an eclectic manner that reflected the contrast of her dark eyes and light skin. We came from two different worlds and two different times and yet yearned to be together.
“I don’t know I’ve been so many different things I don’t know anymore.”
“Why do you want to be with me? I’m half your age, you’ve had a thousand girls?…I don’t want you to go…I’m just trying to get my head around this…This is the mark from where they used to put the chemo in. It makes you so sick. Do you like my idea of draping a curtain on that wall and putting a painting in the middle? I made you some CD’s. The whole movie is about these guys trying to score some beer and go to a dance and meet girls. Fact: I love lingerie—for the fashion…” And so getting to know Nichole went. “What are you thinking, Oliver?”
“You know Downtown is a new community—it’s just being born now.” The view from her window was Staple’s Center, however it didn’t seem like we were in LA. “And since I had everyone over last week after the Yard House I’ve been at Eric’s, (Eric The Porn Star, not the blogger) to watch the fight, and now your place. There’s something different going on down here now. It used to be we all met at Starbucks or a bar or restaurant, but now we’re in each other’s places.” I pulled her towards me because I wanted her head to rest against my shoulder. “One of the reasons I’ve stayed here so long is that I wanted to write about this—a birth of a community.” She sat straight up. “Do I make you nervous?” I asked, sensing this to be so.
“Yeah you do. I know you hate lies so I’m being honest—you make me a little nervous, Oliver.”
I wanted to lean over and kiss her but for some higher reason I didn’t.