Legendary Hollywood Trade Paper is sometimes interesting people call. Yesterday I heard from Naomi Eszterhas, Joe's wife. I vaguely remembered some big scandal regarding their union—perhaps involving Sharon Stone, if memory serves—but I didn't get into the details with my caller. Nor did we discuss the heyday of the spec market or the record-breaking script sale of Basic Instinct—the stuff of legend in film school circles—since all the missus really wanted was her annual renewal charged to the old man's AmEx.
Then today a gentleman identifying himself as the “Original Psychic To The Stars” called letting me know he was back in town and ready to do his show again. I asked if that were radio or television so I'd know which discount to apply. "Shame on you, young lady," he clucked. "Why, I knew Tichi Wilkerson.”
“Tichi,” he repeated, as if reminding me of a mutual acquaintance over gin and tonics at the late Swifty Lazar’s celebrated Black and White Ball. “Billy’s wife.” Now him I knew. Billy Wilkerson was the controversial restaurateur and nightclub owner—both a known associate of Bugsy Siegel and vocal supporter of Joseph McCarthy—who founded the town’s first daily trade rag in 1930. Doing the math, I concluded my caller was about a hundred and fifty years old. Either that or completely insane. I decided to go with the latter and get this over with so I could return to my on-line game of Battle of the Blogs.
“Sir, were you interested in the daily or the weekly?”
“Surely you recognize my voice, darling,” he said brightly. “I read for Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball. Have you any idea how many times I did Merv Griffin? I considered inquiring whether that had been the show or the person. “Down, Cindy,” he admonished some high-pitched toy breed yapping in the background.
“Did you want us to bill you for this?” I shouted over the din.
“You’re going through a lot,” he sighed into the phone after a long, silent pause. “Aren’t you, sweetheart?” Suddenly we were talking about me, instantly raising both the old guy’s credibility and his import. I looked around, lowering my voice so as not to alert the eavesdropping cows swarming this ridiculous bullpen like something out of those TV commercials for California cheese. “Tell me more,” I whispered.
“Well, there’s a younger brother out there. And an older sister who’s as different from you as night and day.” My Type A Sister indeed has a job and a husband, a pool, a house, a pool house and a 401K. Me, I got nothing. “Ah, but I’m seeing some very big changes for you,” he said. “Yes, you’re considering a major move.”
Okay, this was getting eerie. It was just yesterday, right here, that I entertained the idea of leaving Hollywood to give up screenwriting for good—the toughest decision I’ll ever have to make because the obvious choice just feels so cosmically wrong. Though I still wasn’t sure this strange little man was completely on the level, tears welled up in my eyes just in case. “What exactly am I supposed to do?”
“You’ll have to burn a candle—just a regular, ordinary dinner candle. Make it yellow for the love that’s just out of reach.” That one I wasn’t so sure about. Certainly there’s been a chill between my Imaginary Boyfriend and me ever since he started dating a real girl. Come to think of it, he moved her in last night—had the nerve to pull up right in front of me to empty the back of her smart little SUV of moving boxes. I may be deluded but does he think I’m blind? Then I remembered the e-mail I received this morning, out of the blue, from my Croatian Ex-Husband, who’s working security on a luxury cruise liner sailing the Mediterranean. He signed it, as always, “XO, Love you 4Ever.”
I asked my phone-in psychic for the precise source of his information. “I mean, is there somebody who actually talks to you?”
“Mae West,” he replied. Well, of course—I should have known Mae West was onto me all along. He went on to clarify that the flamboyant screen legend—who lived just down the street from my little Hollywood bungalow in the towering, ornate Ravenswood apartment building she’s still said to haunt—had taught him the art of reading voices when he was just six years old. I told him that just by coincidence I had paraphrased her famous line, “Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?” to headline yesterday’s entry in my on-line journal.
“There are no coincidences, dear,” he said before hanging up. “Only believe, all things are possible if you only believe.” Later this afternoon he sent a fax confirming his order, addressed to my attention. Funny thing is, I’d never once told him my name.
A hard man is good to find.
I go for two kinds of men. The kind with muscles,
and the kind without.
So many men, so little time.
Why don't you come on up and see me sometime, when I've got nothing on but the radio.
I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it.
Marriage is a fine institution, but I'm not ready for an institution.
Give a man a free hand and he'll run it all over you.
I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.
When choosing between two evils, I always like to try
the one I've never tried before.