A Disclaimer:These characters are the property of MTV, and the intellectual property of the creators of Daria. I appreciate their indulgence in letting me build a world around them. I am doing this for love, not money, so please do not get your panties in a twist about it. Thanks.
Jane Lane's Diary
A year in the life of Jane Lane
By Ruthless Bunny
I hate the holidays. I always have. My head hurts, maybe I should get coffee before trying to make this entry. Much better. Last night put the capper on the year. I should be here trying to write a list of resolutions, especially since anything I might resolve not to do; I probably did last night. At any rate, this is as good a place as any to start, and I should put this pretty journal Daria gave me to good use. Here are some possible resolutions:
Not bad for a head with a hang over. I've been toying with learning the Theremin for a while now. In my research, I find that it requires perfect pitch. Trent assures me that I don't have it, but maybe I can learn. I will get some Theremin recordings, just to see if this is really up my alley. Who knows, we might be able to use it in the band.
As far as David is concerned, I'm pretty sure that can be taken care of by e-mail. Even though we live five miles apart this has become a long distance relationship. In fact although we rang in the New Year together, we didn't really ring it in. As far as I'm concerned what is the point of having a boyfriend if you're not getting laid on a regular basis? This time, he had to be on the 11:00 AM flight to Seoul, so he wanted to be sure to get home in time to pack. There's something going on there, and I just don't care enough to find out what it is.
Trent is a bit harder. With Daria and Brian married, I have been forced to abandon my most cherished dream of making Daria my sister-in-law, so now I have to break someone else in. I could let Trent take care of this himself, but who knows what he would drag in? He hasn't dated in years, I think he has forgotten how.
The rest of the list explains itself, so no sense in raking it up.
When Trent woke up we went out to get some brunch. I wanted to go to Dupar's for pie, but Trent wanted Norm's for hash browns. Since Norm's was closer, we went there. Trent as usual, went haywire at the last minute and switched to pancakes, so we could have gone to Dupar's after all. I was pissed off, but I didn't want to start an argument on the first day of the year. He could have apologized or something. I mentioned to him that he needs to get a date for the CD release party, but he waved me off of the subject in a hurry. I threatened to get him a Dream Date, from one of the fan magazines, and he got all moody and sullen. No sense of humor. It's as though he enjoys suffering, and specifically at my house. Either that or there's a big spider setting up light housekeeping in the bathtub in his house, and he just doesn't want to go home to deal with it. Consequently he is still hanging out in "his" room, picking at his guitar. I might have to soundproof that bedroom.
Back at home, Trent slugged out on the sofa and was watching some stupid countdown on VH1. I personally think they've done it to death, but he always seems to get something out of it and he needed cheering up. I was in my studio, actually my dining room, thinking about which project to complete, but my mind kept running to David.
He seemed nice enough when we met last summer at a beach party in Malibu. David was a project developer for an animation studio, which, being in the arts myself, I found interesting. We had some mutual acquaintances so our conversations revolved around work and people we knew. At first he seemed normal, at this point in my life I'm willing to admit that my voyeuristic outlook isn't for everyone, but he seemed to be okay with it. We would go to movies or to dinner, mostly regular date one-on-one stuff. After a few dates I began to suspect that David had escaped from the Pod People, but had retained their philosophy and lifestyle. I wouldn't say that David was laid back, since he never seemed comfortable anywhere we went. He wasn't stupid, but vapid springs to mind as a description. He didn't seem involved with anyone. He knew stories about people, but couldn't relate with people. When he would make love to me, I got the unsettling feeling that I was alone in the room. If I hadn't been so busy, I might have noticed earlier, but what with dealing with stylists and publicists and lawyers and what all, when we did hook up, I was so out of it, that it was nice to be alone, together. It didn't hurt matters that our schedules rarely overlapped, so we would go weeks without seeing each other, but here's the weird part, David gave great phone. He called me from wherever he was and we would have really intimate conversations. Then he would come back home, and be cold and distant. Now, I know I'm twisted, but I'm even embarrassed about how fascinating I found this behavior. I wanted to understand the two very different men I was dating. So our relationship dragged on for months, when it should have ended at the driveway with a hearty handshake after our first date.
I was trying to decide if I should see him one last time and go through the Sturm und Drung of a formal break up or just not bother to speak to him again. I was favoring the fade away approach. I didn't feel anything for him and he didn't feel anything, so why waste energy?
Trent and I spent the day in torpor. I hate holidays. There's never anything to do.
I met Quinn for lunch at a sprout place on Melrose. We were talking about the Academy Awards. I had submitted Daria and Trent's song Delicious Heartache in the best song category. My sister Penny's partner is an Indy producer and she needed a song for her movie, so we let her use it. It was a breakout film, winning the Palm D'or at Cannes. The movie was romantic and the song was romantic and the thing shot up the charts and stayed there. Prom themes were revolving around it. We all just thought we were helping out a friend and making an indecent pile of money in the process. Being the opportunist that I am, I figured, "what the hey," let's see if we can't get an Oscar out of it. According to Academy rules, each author must sign of f on the submission. Trent was easy, I told him it would help out Tanya, so he signed right away. Daria was more difficult.
"Jane, are you nuts? An Academy Award? Doesn't Disney win that category?" Daria was being cynical as usual. "We won't even be nominated."
"Then what have you got to lose? I reasoned "But, if you do get nominated, you can wear a beautiful dress and a tiara, and you get to walk on the red carpet. We can go as a group, it'll be fun."
There was dead silence on the other end of the line. Knowing Daria like I do, this was a good sign. "Okay, but we better get nominated, Brian would love it."
Being the master manipulator that I am, I knew what button to push. Daria wants to make Brian happy, and Brian is happy in a tux. Besides, I don't think he's ever going to get over being friends with the band. I catch him out of the corner of my eye sometimes and he looks like a kid at Disneyland every time. Daria finds that VERY appealing.
I felt confident that the song would be nominated. I'm not sentimental, but it made me misty every time I heard it, and if it moved me, then those goops in the Academy were fish in a barrel. We had one more month to wait, but we had to start planning now. If the song were to be nominated, Mystic Spiral would perform it live at the Oscars. We had to get Quinn involved with the wardrobe. I used to think that fashion was bullshit, but Quinn really helped me understand clothes in the context of performance. When she designed a fashion theme, it was like those old movies from the 1940's, where the actors had a look that defined them and they defined the look. She was the only person whose instincts I trusted. Quinn would never compromise her artistic view, and I totally respect that.
The actress who was bringing us our meal kept trying to catch Quinn's eye. In fact most of the wait-staff had paraded by our table trying to get her attention, but she had been doing this for years and she paid them no mind.
"Jane, do you ever eat vegetables? They're good for your skin. Try some of this roasted pepper." She held her fork out to me, but the pepper looked weird and slimy.
"No thanks, I'll stick with my pizza." It was one of those bitty things with dabs of goat cheese. It's a damn good thing I learned to like goat cheese, otherwise I'd starve to death in LA.
"Okay, it's your loss." she said as she chewed her veggies, "So, we've got to do the band in formal wear, while preserving their rock and roll rebel image. Hmmm." Quinn faded away there for a while, I could see the wheels turning as she flipped through the pages of her mental catalog. "I've got some ideas, but I'd like to sketch them out before I talk to you guys about them."
"Cool. Who knew that so much of my work would revolve around wardrobe?" I pondered as I nibbled my crust.
Quinn just rolled her eyes. "I've been telling you for years, but you just wouldn't believe me."
"Are you coming to the CD release party?" I asked
"I wouldn't miss it. Daria and Brian are going to be there, I have to help her with an outfit. They're staying with you right?"
"Yeah, I'm the one with the bunkhouse. Are you ever going to get a bigger place?" I was referring to Quinn's condo. It was on Sunset, and it totally suited her, it was a large two-bedroom, but she ran her business out of the second bedroom, so she didn't have space for guests.
"Why? I'm never there anyway. It's fine for me. I can always park my relatives at your house, so why would I need more space?" Quinn was absently arranging the remaining vegetables on her plate in a color-coordinated melange.
I got suspicious. "Jake and Helen aren't coming for a visit, are they?"
"No, silly, just Brian and Daria. Jake and Helen are traveling in Europe for a month, so no need to worry." She poured the last of her mammoth bottle of Pellegrino into her glass and motioned for our check. "I've got to go, meeting at Paramount, they want me to check out some new actor, I hope he's not difficult, the straight ones so often are."
While we waited for the valet to get our cars, we chatted a bit about Brian and Daria. "So when do you think they'll start a family. I'd bring it up, but she bit off my head the last time I mentioned it." I said.
"Well, I know that they both want kids, so I guess we'll just have to wait for the announcement." She was prowling through her bag, trying to look like she was looking for something.
"You know something. Tell!" I hate being the last to know stuff. Just then, the valet brought around her car.
"Bye Jane. " She air kissed me as she leapt into the driver's seat. "I'll call you." She waved through the sunroof as she headed towards La Cienega.
Damn. Now I couldn't say anything at all to Daria, but after the way Quinn reacted, I'm willing to bet that Daria is pregnant. Damn, I wanted to be the first to know.
Brian and Daria got into town today. They decided to drive down instead of fly. They came in the Tank. I don't know what I had been drinking when I picked it out for their wedding present. I think the joke was just too delicious. I especially liked the flaming skull I had the body shop paint on the side. A suburban assault vehicle.
When Daria got out of the front seat, I noticed immediately that she looked different. It was a blustery cold day, so she was bundled up in a big sweater, so I couldn't see her middle, but her face was fuller. I'm not one to hold back stuff, especially when it's personal, private and none of my business.
"You're pregnant!" I screamed at her and hugged her.
"Get off me you freak." She said back in her lovable way. Brian was making himself scarce unloading their suitcases while Daria headed straight for the house. "Gotta pee, I'll talk with you in a minute."
I wasn't letting her get away with it, so I followed her into the house, and I would have followed her in to the john if she hadn't closed and locked the door on me.
"Why didn't you tell me?" I yelled through the door.
"Do you MIND?" She yelled back. I hung out and waited for the flush. "So, did Quinn tell you?"
"Nope, I figured it out all on my own. You look great, how's it going?" We went into the kitchen, Daria pulled a bottle of water out of the fridge.
"So far, so good, I'm only 3 months, so I didn't want to tell anyone until we were sure everything was okay. I get dehydrated easily and I pee all the time, but other than being a human water filter, it's not so bad." Daria flopped on the sofa and sipped her water. We watched as Brian dragged in assorted and sundry baggage.
"Just take it up to the guest room, you know the way." I told him, making no move or offer to help.
"Thanks Jane," he said cheerfully. One of the things I like about Brian is that he does all the "man stuff" heavy lifting included. "Daria, do you want me to leave this tote bag here, or do you want it upstairs?"
"Leave it here Hon, there's something in it for Jane." He handed her the bag and wrestled the rest of their stuff up to their room. Daria prowled around in her bag for a package, which she handed to me.
"Ooh, a present." I said as I snatched it out of her hands. I ripped into it, it was a book about the Theremin. I had told her that I ordered one of the custom-made instruments, and was waiting for it to be delivered. This was perfect. "Thanks." I said as I gave her a squeeze.
"I saw it in a used bookstore on Post Street, and I knew you had to have it. You know what's funny?" She asked as I flipped through the book. "I don't know if it's synchronicity or what, but I keep running into stuff. This book for you, weird stuff for Brian, even the coolest baby things. I don't know if these things have always been around, and I just haven't noticed them, or if I'm more tuned in than I usually am."
I nodded my acknowledgement as Brian came down the stairs. "Everything's upstairs and ready to be put away. I hung up the good stuff in the closet, but I'm leaving folding things for you Babe."
"Thanks. I'll get right on it." Daria said as she flipped through one of the zillions of magazines I have on my coffee table, not moving an inch from her territory on the couch.
Brian went to forage in the fridge, I was glad I had stopped at the supermarket and picked up supplies. "Jane, don't you have any food in here?"
"What do you mean. I've got tons of food." I got up to see what he was looking at. I stood along side him and peered in. I saw all the stuff I had bought at the store. "It's a good assortment of food too: kalamata olives, hummus, green onions, port wine cheese, a tomato, Snickers bars, cranberry juice and a jelly roll. I have eggs and cheese, you can have an omelet." I offered. He just looked at me balefully. "Or I could order out."
"Brian, get some pita bread and hummus. Chop the onions and tomato into a salad, throw the olives in and please bring me a glass of juice." Daria commanded from the couch. Brian got to work on lunch. He seemed happy to have some direction.
I sat down next to her on the sofa. "So, what's that all about?"
Daria rolled her eyes. "Sometimes he has trouble conceptualizing a meal. Don't get me wrong, he's a good cook, sort of like Jake. But, he has to go to the market and get everything he needs from scratch. When we first started going out, he kept buying tubs of sour cream, because he only knows how to buy the whole dinner, not the component parts. He had 5 tubs of sour cream in his fridge."
As Brian was setting out the food and plates, Trent rolled in. "Hey guys!" He hugged Brian hello and went over to Daria, who had still not moved substantially from her part of the couch. She sat up and he hugged her, I could tell he noticed something was different, but he didn't say anything. "So, I see that you've got some lunch out. Brian, did you make this?" Trent asked as he piled a pita corner with food.
"Yup, what do you think?" Brian replied with pride.
"Mfgnd" Trent said, his mouth loaded. Daria got up to go to the bathroom again. When he thought she was out of earshot he asked Brian. "Hey, is she putting on weight, or is she pregnant?"
"Pregnant!" Daria called from the hallway.
Trent smiled at Brian. "That's great man. How far along?"
"Three months. We're just now starting to tell people. My Mom is flipping, don't get me started on Helen and Jake. My sisters are so excited, they're planning a trip this summer to visit us when the baby is born. " Brian looked contented.
"Wow Man, a family. That's cool. So do you know if it's a boy or a girl?"
"We think a girl, but we won't know for sure until further on."
I got excited, a girl. What fun we would have! I could get the baby her first pastels, no coloring books for this child! I was thinking of all sorts of fun I could have with a kid, and I got a little wistful, since there was no one in my life I'd have a baby with, and no prospects on the horizon either. Trent looked pleased as punch as he and Brian talked about fatherhood between bites of food.
Daria came back and assumed her area on the sofa. She sipped her water and nibbled her hummus. We all hung out around the house for the rest of the afternoon. Quinn came by at around 6, we were thinking about leaving for dinner at 8:00, but she wanted to visit with her sister for a bit before we left.
"Daria, let me see how big you are, I want to make sure the dress is going to fall correctly."
"Quinn, I'm not even showing. I'm sure it will be fine."
"Okay, I just want to see. Come on upstairs with me." Quinn dragged her off the sofa and they disappeared up to the guestroom.
"This is really stupid, there's nothing to see…" We heard Daria complaining as she was being lead away. After a few minutes, they came back. Daria looked pissed.
"Her boobs are at least two sizes bigger. Thank God the dress still fits okay. " Quinn announced.
Daria smacked her in the back of the head. "Tell the world why don't you?"
Quinn reached up to smooth her hair, "God, you are so sensitive. What, did you think nobody noticed?"
"I noticed." I chimed in, adding fuel to the fire.
"Me too." Said Trent, thinking that Quinn was taking a poll.
Brian blushed. "I noticed."
"Enough! My breasts are not a topic for discussion." Daria sat down and crossed her arms over her chest. "Where are we going to dinner tonight?" She said, subtly changing the subject.
"I thought that Mexican place you like. Unless you feel like Chin Chin." I gave them a choice, that way everyone could complain.
She thought about it for a minute. "The Mexican place. Chips and salsa sound really good to me."
"Any dissenting opinions?" I polled the group. "No takers? Mexican it is. Are you guys ready now?" Everyone agreed that dinner was a good idea. We all piled into the Tank and drove the short way to the restaurant. We had a pleasant meal and got back to the house a bit before 10:00.
"Jane, do you get Food Network on your cable?" Brian asked.
"I have no idea, I rarely make it off of the Scandal Channel. Here's the remote, help yourself."
He took the remote and flipped around until he found what he was looking for. "Great. You guys watch Iron Chef?"
"We do now." I said.
We all hunkered into a place on the couch. Brian went into the kitchen and brought out beer for us and juice for Daria. "Okay, here are the rules. If the ingredient is seafood, we take a drink. If it's alive, we take a drink. When something is put into a rice cooker, we drink. When Hattori says, "I think he's going to steam that," we take a drink. If the challenger is the master of something really obvious, like salt, we take a drink. There are others, but I'll let you know what they are as they come up."
Daria just looked at him, but the show was starting. It was in Japanese, but dubbed into Canadian for the English speaking world, except for the Chairman, Kaga, who got subtitles. The show started out with a short disclaimer, "If memory serves me correctly" and continued through a short description of a chef from a northern prefecture in Japan. He was a member of some hostile cooking faction and was a "hit-man" sent to take on the Japanese Iron Chef. We had to drink when the announcer said "If memory serves me correctly." We also had to drink when it was announced that the Challenger was the master of broth. Now was the time for Chairman Kaga to come out.
"Okay, feathers, sequins, ruffles, ribbons or fur?" Daria said
"Ribbons and ruffles." Quinn answered.
"Sequins, ruffles and ribbons." Brian guessed.
"Jane, Trent are you guys guessing?" We shook our heads, I had never seen anything like this, and I was pissed, because it was hilarious.
The Chairman came in and Brian won, his outfit was a highly stylized suit, with a ruffled shirt, accented by sequins and ribbons. Finally the moment of truth: the ingredient. A big tank came slowly up from a hole in the floor, accompanied by smoke, a big musical embellishment and Voila! It was announced. Some fish I had never heard of. Alive. I took three drinks just to be safe. Then next half-hour was a flurry of activity, instant replays and lists of supposedly edible things simmering, steaming and baking. The object of the competition is to come up with a series of dishes that "best articulate" the nature of the ingredient.
"Daria, did that guy just gut that fish, throw out the meat and put the head and entrails in the pot?" I asked incredulously.
"Yup. Doesn't that look good? The liver adds bitterness." She responded.
And sure enough, the words were no sooner past her lips, than the color commentator said almost the same thing. My eyes must have been as big as saucers.
The Iron Chef put some of the fish filets in milk, while juggling a bottle of sake and using the double cleaver method to reduce some other poor creature into paste.
Daria pointed this out to me. "That's masking. When they put the fish in the milk. It takes away the fishy smell."
And again, the announcer was only 5 seconds behind her with the explanation.
"Okay you guys. I'm very, very afraid." I said.
"So Brian, what do you think he's going to do with the paste?" Daria addressed her husband.
"Croquettes." He added, taking a prophylactic swig of his beer. Sure enough, there were little balls frying away in oil.
"Tell me that guy isn't making a dish centered around the skin. Please tell me that." It was repulsive and intriguing, like so many things in life.
"I wish I could Jane, I wish I could." Daria answered patting me on the hand.
Brian jumped up and punched the air with his fist. "YES! He's getting the ice cream maker out! Drink 'em down folks, I'll get us more."
"Fish Ice Cream?" And I'll be damned because that's exactly what was being made.
The dishes were complete and now, Judgement.
The judges were a strange mix, an actress, a member of the Lower House of the Diet, a Japanese rapper and a fortune-teller.
The judges were eating the repulsive dishes and commenting on them.
The actress was eating some soup the Challenger had made. "Ooooh, this is really good. It makes me feel peaceful" and then she giggled.
Brian told us to "Drink up. And send some soup to the Middle East."
At the end of the show, the Iron Chef had retained his title, the Challenger was sent back to his mentor, who vowed revenge.
We all sat back and laughed about the show. I loved having everyone in my house, and since we had been drinking, I billeted everyone down for the night. I thought about how lucky I was to have such great friends.
We were sitting around, minding our own business before getting ready for the party, when Trent burst into the living room. I have never seen him so animated. I love my brother, he is the sweetest guy in the world, but energetic is not a word I would use to describe him.
"Janey, guys, I met a girl." He fairly danced with the news. Now I was perked up, a girl for Trent.
Brian smiled at him. "So tell us about her."
"She's coming tonight, I'm picking her up at 8:30. I met her at Rexall. She's from out of town, staying at the Sofitel. Her name is Bunny." He was glowing.
"Bunny?" Daria mouthed from the couch. I shrugged, could be anything. I hoped she wasn't a stripper or something like that.
He hung around for a few minutes and then remembered that he had to go home and get dressed. So he hauled ass out of there up the Canyon to his house. I hoped he remembered where it was.
Quinn and her date met us at the house and we all drove down to the party in the Tank. I looked around at everyone in their party clothes. I had to admit that we were an attractive group. The party was at a new club in Hollywood. The rest of the band met us there, Jesse and his girlfriend, Max and his boyfriend and Nick and his wife.
"Hey Janey, where's Trent, didn't he come with you?" Jesse inquired.
"Nope, he's got a date."
"No way, a date? Trent?" Jesse asked.
The party was starting to get crowded, more and more people were showing up. I didn't remember that it was going to be such a big event, but the record company was probably trying to parlay the success of Delicious Heartache into some additional publicity. The album had already shipped double platinum. As far as I was concerned we already did our job and this party should be for us, not for a bunch of sycophantic record company executives and their actress girlfriends. The DJ was playing really popular dance tunes, but no one was dancing yet, mostly just drinking and eating canapés. I was checking the door, waiting for Trent to walk in. I was rewarded soon enough. He looked petrified as he escorted an attractive brunette. I tried to look casual as I bolted over to him.
"Hey Trent, is this your date? I'm Jane Lane." I introduced myself and extended my hand to her.
"Ruth Margolis. But you can call me Bunny." She said as she shook my hand.
"Come on over and meet the gang." I grabbed her and steered her towards our group. She didn't seem to notice that she was being photographed, it probably didn't occur to her that she would be. I introduced her to everyone while Trent went off to get her a Pellegrino. Thank goodness they were all on their best behavior, she seemed to be a very nice person. "You know Bunny, Trent started to tell us how you met, but he didn't really elaborate on it."
She smiled, "Well, I was at Rexall, it's my favorite place in Los Angeles, I was browsing, thinking about getting some new creams and bath salts and stuff like that. I was at the brush counter, looking to see if they had a nice round metal brush and I turned around and Trent was checking out a mechanical hairbrush. I laughed because, you know how spiky his hair is, and I get the devil in me sometimes, so I asked him if that's how he got his hair to do that. He laughed, and then we started talking. He invited me here and I thought that I should do this at least once in my life. So here I am." She didn't take a breath, but at least she wasn't stupid or boring.
Daria was checking her out. "So, Trent said that you were visiting from out of town. Where do you live?"
"Florida, just outside of Ft. Lauderdale." Bunny said, as Trent approached with her drink. "I'm in town to check out one of my customer's larger locations. I figured, why not make a weekend of it?"
We did the cocktail party chatter thing. These parties have never been fun, and aside from celebrity sightings, they just keep getting more and more boring. Quinn was dancing with her date, I think it was that actor from Paramount. He was really handsome and impeccably dressed. He did her credit. We hung around for a while, but it was a serious drag, so we left early at about 1:00 am. Daria was craving cheese fries, and I wanted pie, so we went to Dupar's for a late night snack. Trent and Bunny decided to go for a drive on the PCH, so they cut out earlier.
At the restaurant we did a post mortem on the party. I made sure we were sitting in Bea's section. Bea was an exchange student from Germany. I don't think she was supposed to be working, since she was in the country on a student visa, but I got the impression that she liked seeing the weirdo's drag in from Hollywood, and that's an education in itself. The crowd was especially strange that night. There was a table of suburban bikers from Tarzana, taking their walk on the wild side. Some transvestites were in a booth, discussing the merits of lip-gloss, I had a surreal flashback to the Fashion Club. Tourists were huddled in their booth trying not to look or act freaked out and failing miserably.
Bea came to take our order. "Hi guys, haven't seen you in here for a while, how have you been?"
"Pretty good, we just got back from our release party. I brought you a present." I said, handing her an autographed copy of the CD. She seemed please.
"Thank you, I can't wait to go home and listen to it." She said as she slid the disc into the pocket of her apron. "We have Bumbleberry pie tonight, I know that's one of Trent's favorites." She surveyed the table and noticed that he wasn't there. "Where is he tonight?"
"Trent had a date." I informed her.
"A date? I've never seen him with a date. He dates?" She looked puzzled.
"Well, I'd say that dates is putting it strongly, but he has been known to go out with people." I said as I tried to decide on which pie to get.
"Really? I've never seen him with anyone. How interesting. So, who is his date?"
She put the question diplomatically, since I'm pretty sure she had no idea what Trent's sexual orientation was. Everyone had a crush on him, and he was the darling of the gay community. He was even going to be the Grand Marshall of the Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco in September.
"Some girl he met at Rexall, her name is Bunny, she's from Florida. They went for a drive, but I'll take a slice of Bumbleberry home for him." I said. "Is there any strawberry-rhubarb left?"
"There's always strawberry-rhubarb left, I think you're the only one who eats that." She made a face. "Please get ice cream with it, it's so tart without it."
I nodded in agreement and everyone else placed their orders. Bea hustled to get the food and reappeared with it in record time. As usual, Daria and I were dissecting the party. I don't think either of us is capable of actually enjoying a party while we're there, but we love to talk about them in retrospect.
"Well, there were certainly enough people there. I thought I was going to pass out from the heat and noise." Daria said. She wasn't really a party person.
"I got to meet movie stars, so I had a great time." Brian kissed his wife and stole one of her fries. "I admit, I'm easy to please."
"True enough, but you always have so much fun, we can't deny you the pleasure." Daria kissed him back. I think they were holding hands under the table.
Quinn and her actor were sharing a piece of pie and talking primarily to each other. While no one was deliberately leaving me out, I felt very lonely. Now with Trent paired up, I felt a bit "loserish," like I was the only one who didn't have a significant other.
"So what did you guys think of Bunny?" I asked.
"Well, who really got a chance to know her? She seemed nice enough." Daria said.
Brian thought about it for a minute. "He looked pretty sprung. Seems kind of strange, to be that wrapped up in just a few hours. But, you know, I knew Daria was a special girl the minute I met her, so it's possible, I just never figured Trent for a 'love at first sight' kind of guy."
"Well, he is a musician, and much more in tune with his feelings, and other people's feelings, so I think that he falls, faster and harder than the average person." I stuck up for Trent, even though in some ways I was envious and jealous, and therefore, ticked off at him. Besides, I wanted to be the one to fix him up.
I waited up for Trent until about 3:00 AM, just to see if he was going to stop by, and tell me what he had been doing, and how his evening was, but he didn't show up. I finally went up to bed, dying of curiosity.
Brian and Daria left a couple of days ago, and I miss them so much. I hate that Daria is so far away from me, I love being able to turn to her during the day and make my witty observations, and to know that they will be appreciated. I haven't seen much of Trent, he's been with Bunny as much as is humanly possible. She wrapped up her business, but extended her trip so that she could get to know Trent better. He was thrilled. She has a thing about driving around, so they have been up and down the coast on road trips. I have to admit that you do get major quality time driving around, especially when it's overlooking gorgeous, coastal scenery. I wished I had Trent around to keep me company, but I was pleased that he had found someone who made him happy. There was only that one snag about her living 3000 miles and three time zones away, but I guess that's not insurmountable in this jet age.
I was having issues with my own long distance relationship. I hadn't heard from David for weeks, and suddenly he was calling with a great sense of urgency. He'd leave messages, but I never returned them. I was expecting the calls to stop, but to the contrary, they increased in frequency. I was sitting in my studio, finishing a sculpture and listening to really loud music, when I became aware of a thumping. I realized that it was coming from the door, so I answered it. Imagine how surprised I was to see David standing on my doorstep.
"Hey, didn't expect to see you." I said, pretty much at a loss for words.
"I'll bet." He said. He was hostile, and I was sorry that I let him in the house. I guess I was going to have to deal with a drama, so I settled in on the sofa. "What the hell are you doing Jane?"
"What do you mean?" I felt bad because he looked really hurt. I hate when their feelings get hurt
"Jane, I thought we were in love."
I was confused. "I'm sorry, I have no idea why you would think that. We don't have that much in common, we don't talk much and if you'll pardon me for saying so, the sex isn't that great, why would you think we were in love?"
Where would he get that idea? What on Earth did he think that being in love meant? It just showed me how much he lived in his own world, I certainly wasn't in there with him. This was heavy.
He looked crushed. "Because I'm in love with you. I guess I thought you felt the same way. The nights on the beach, our candlelit dinners for two, all of those phone calls. Didn't that mean anything to you? I've never opened up to anyone like I do to you. "
Opened up? Sure, he would tell me stuff on the phone, but when we were together in person, he was stiff as a board.
"But David, I don't really know you. We only really talk on the phone and I'm an in-person kind of girl. I'm sorry if there's been some misunderstanding, but I don't feel the same way."
"Jane, can't you reconsider? I'm not going to be traveling as much and I’ll have more time to spend with you." He was begging, which made me really uncomfortable. There is no way to let this kind of guy down easy, these are the guys who become stalkers, you have to leave them with no doubt in their mind that you have no intention of ever speaking to them again. But, I'm not cruel by nature, and it's not David's fault that I don't like him. Why is my love life so complicated?
"David, I am truly, truly sorry that you feel this way. I don't. In fact, I have wanted to end things for quite some time. I would have done it sooner, but we don't seem to synch up schedule-wise. I honestly thought that you weren't interested in me. There is no way that I will ever love you, so the best thing to do is to break it off right now." I felt like I killed Bambi.
He sighed deeply, and for a minute I was afraid that he was going to cry, which would totally unnerve me, but he got up and headed for the door. He turned around dramatically and I waited for him to call me names or something. "Jane, you are really wasting an opportunity here. I am very much in love with you, and I know that we could make each other happy. It's obvious to me that you don't feel this way right now, but you may change your mind, if you do, you know my number." He went out very quietly.
There is something creepy about pronouncements like that. There's always that thought in the back of your head, the one that says, "Give him a chance, look how sad he is, maybe he can change." How could you fail to be touched when someone declares his love for you? Thank goodness I've been through this enough to know that they don't change. Some women would have felt triumphant that they had a man in love with them, especially if they didn't return the feeling, but to me it was just depressing. David was a decent sort, for a disassociated type of gal, but he didn't do it for me. The last thing that I expected was for David to be in love with me. I spent the rest of the day, moping around the house and playing depressing music.
I had been pretty lonely the past week or so, especially with Trent being out with Bunny. I rarely saw the two of them, except for an evening when they came to take me to dinner. I was a bit down about my break up with David, and while I wasn't pining for the guy, it made me sad that I wasn't in a relationship. Now, before you think I am a complete, selfish jerk let me say that I think it's great that Trent and Bunny seem to be happy together. But there is nothing more depressing than having just broken up with someone and being with people who are in the first blush of a new relationship. They already had little private jokes and points of reference, so although it wasn't intentional, I was the third wheel.
We went to a nice quiet place called Olive, I really love a dish there called "The Fireball Hen." It's a Rock Cornish Game Hen, spiced up with all different kinds of peppers, and served on a creamy cornbread dressing. It's an endorphin rush to eat this fiery bird, and then to cool the fire with the dressing. This dish is one of the best mood elevators I know. It also puts me in the mood for sex, but I wasn't really thinking along those lines when I ordered it. Trent and Bunny seemed comfortable together. I was trying to figure out if they had slept together yet, but as bold as I can be, it didn't seem appropriate to come right out and ask.
It was a nice enough evening, but when we left at the end of the night, they went their way and I went mine. I was all alone in my big house. So, again, being the selfish person I can be, I was happy when Bunny went back to her warren in Florida, so that Trent could again keep me company in the house. I understand from Trent that they had a pleasant, tearful goodbye at the airport, and he enjoyed a few quiet sulking days at my house. Early in the evenings I would hear him on the phone with her, all soft tones and sweetness, if he weren't my brother, it would have made me ill. He has never been a chatty kind of guy, preferring instead, to have his emotions come out in his music, so during the day, he would hang out on the sofa working on songs that alternated between soaring joyfulness and spiraling depression. I always liked that mood myself. The gloomy atmosphere was enhanced by the torrential winter rains we were having, I was almost concerned enough to break out the protective plastic sheeting for the hillside, but luckily the grasses I had planted last year were keeping the topsoil where it belonged.
After a week of letting Trent stew in his juices, I approached him about just exactly where he was with his relationship.
"So Trent, what's up with you and Bunny?"
He blushed and was quiet for a moment. I knew not to interrupt him so I just waited for him to start speaking. He spoke very softly. "Janey I don't really know. I like being with her, she's different from the girls I usually go with. She's happy, and optimistic and fun."
I wanted to get to the nitty-gritty. "So, are you guys, um, you know…" I punked out, I couldn't get the words out.
He looked at me funny, not like he was mad that I asked, but more like he was astounded that I would.
"Janey." He said, and he had this strange expression on his face. I wasn't going to take it back, I wanted to know, so I just waited. "You are so nosy. " He sighed, thinking about what he would and wouldn't tell me. "No, I haven't slept with her, not because I haven't tried. She has a theory." He looked miserable.
"A theory? About sex?" I asked.
"No, about love. Bunny thinks that if you make love too early in a relationship, that it interferes with knowing and understanding the other person. " He picked up the guitar and started slowly picking at the strings. "She says that once you start having sex, your body takes over and your mind becomes clouded. As much as I hate to admit it, I know it's happened to me before. What about you Janey, has it happened to you?" He looked at me earnestly.
I thought about this for a minute. "Yeah, in every single relationship. I always sleep with my boyfriends way too early on. I just love the physical contact and while I get lost in the moment, it's like the relationship goes up to another level, with no foundation under it. In the end I always end up grasping onto the physical part of the relationship even after the emotional part has started to circle the drain." I missed having these discussions with him, it was nice to have him back in the house. "I guess I'm looking for intimacy and I think that sex will speed it up, but it never works out that way."
"Yeah, that's kind of what she said. For some reason, sex just seems to make something seem important, even when it isn't. Think about how much time you waste focusing on the sexual part of the relationship, when in fact, it's the emotional part that you really want. I really wanted to be with her, but I can see her point. What if we never see each other again? I guess there's a lot more to commitment then just pretty words."
"Wow Trent, that's deep. So where do you go from here?"
"Well, we've been talking everyday, but I think that unless we can spend more time together, I don't know. She's really great, but she's not here and I'm not there. The other problem is that we were both on a vacation of sorts. What's it like when she comes home from work? What would it be like when I'm on the road for months at a time? I know that other couples face these issues, but I can't really expect that a week with someone under ideal circumstances is going to translate into a good day-to-day relationship. Man, this sucks."
I thought about it, what would I do if I were in that situation? It really sucked for Bunny. She had her whole life established in Florida. House, job, friends. I didn't know how wrapped up she was in Trent, but she did burn some of her vacation just to be with him. Most women would jump at the chance to be with Trent, he was handsome, charming, sweet and sensitive, but after only one week, you don't just pull up stakes on a wish and a prayer. But how were they going to get to know each other with an entire continent between them? Even if they did get together, it would always be under heightened circumstances. Until they could be together in the same geographic area, there was no way to know if they were meant to be together in a meaningful way.
"So, what are you guys going to do?"
"I'm going out to visit in a couple of weeks. There's a red-eye to Ft. Lauderdale, so I'll be a regular on that flight for awhile. Right now, I want to be with her all the time. So we'll take it a day at a time and see where it goes."
"Well, it's a plan." I rubbed his hand. "I hope it works out, you deserve to have a nice girl in your life."
"Yeah, that would be good." He continued to noodle around on his guitar for the rest of the day, stopping only for his good night phone call to Bunny.
Got a phone call from Brian's friend Dylan. He's coming into town next week and wants to hang out. I had fun with him at Daria's wedding and I figured what the heck. There was some chemistry there and during the festivities, I'll admit that we hooked up a few times. Dylan was uncomplicated, which, for someone living in one of the most angst filled cities in the world is a desirable quality. Trent was going to be in Florida with Bunny for Valentine's Day, so I knew that I would have the house to myself.
We had completed and submitted our paperwork for the Academy Awards, and now we just needed to wait until the nominations were announced at the crack of dawn on the 15th. My plan was to stay up all night and call Daria as soon as I heard the news. I just knew that we were going to be nominated. I felt like a kid waiting for Christmas.
Dylan has been in town for a few days, and at first it was awkward. I 'm pretty sure that in the past, we had only slept together when one or both of us were under the influence. Dylan is a nice guy and I think that he has some romantic notions about sex, when he's not doing his horn-dog routine. We went out on a couple of conventional dates, but towards the end of the week, we were hanging around my house and ending the evening up in bed. I was thinking about Trent and Bunny. I wondered if I wanted to be serious with Dylan, if I would have the discipline to not screw him. Thank goodness I wasn't serious about him, because to be honest, I loved the sex. He seemed to have stars in his eyes, so it was really sweet, innocent sex, which can be nice, especially after a messy break up. Dylan wanted to do something special for Valentine's Day, so we went out to a fancy restaurant and then for a ride out to the beach. He regaled me with romantic poetry and we made out on the beach, until it got too cold. When we got back to the house, I couldn't jump on him fast enough. I figured that if I was going to be up all night, I could be doing something amusing. At dawn, I turned on the TV to the Entertainment Channel and we drank coffee and waited for the results. I called Daria, and she was none too pleased about being awakened so early.
"Jane, are you in the hospital? You had better be in the hospital, if you are calling me this early." She said in her sleepy, monotone voice.
"Daria, it's nomination day. Turn on your TV." She complied and I could hear her flipping through her stations until she got on the right channel. We watched together for about thirty minutes before they got to our category. Tanya had been nominated for Best Screenplay and Best Picture, we were a mortal lock.
"Brian, wake up, here it comes." Daria said.
I was glued to the TV, Dylan was fussing with my hair, but I just ignored him. The first nomination was predictable, Disney, for their animated version of The Lottery. The second was some song I had never heard of from a Harrison Ford thriller. I stared screaming when we were announced third. Delicious Heartache from Anna's Wish. The other nominations were lost in our excitement.
"Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God." Is what I heard Daria saying over the phone. I could hear Brian shouting in the background.
"You did it, You did it!" I shouted into the phone. "Wait, I'll three-way Trent in Florida." It took me two tries, I was so wound up, but I finally got him on the line. "Trent, you and Daria are nominated!"
"Really? Cool. I gotta wear a tux right?" I could hear Bunny in the background asking him what was going on. "Hey Hon, we're going to the Oscars, Daria and I just got nominated." There was some squealing and Trent came back on the line. "Daria, Bunny sends you her congratulations. I get mine in person."
We shrieked and laughed with one another for about five minutes and then Daria got off the phone to let her folks know, and to free up the line for the inevitable call from Quinn. I know she wakes up for the announcements. Over half of the people nominated are her clients. I'll just catch her later, I'm sure she's talking Daria's ear off.
I gave Dylan a big, wet, sloppy kiss, just out of sheer joy. I was exhausted. I snuggled down in bed with my sweetie and slept until well after noon.
Dylan went home yesterday, which is good, because I have a bunch of stuff to do, and I don't want to be distracted. Quinn is vacillating between having the band dress up in retro seventies powder blue tuxes and something very chic for the Oscars. Trent is pressing for the retro-look, but I think Quinn is having them go chic. I've looked at the sketches and they are both good, but I'm with Quinn on this one. There is a nominee's luncheon next month, so Daria and Brian are coming down for that. They are spending a week, which seems strange, but perhaps Daria misses me as much as I miss her.
Quinn informs me that Tiffany's has approached her about getting Daria to wear their jewels on Oscar night. Quinn hinted that the jewels in question would be worth millions. I just wanted to see Daria in the tiara. All of that thick auburn hair, piled up with a crown around it, she would look like a princess. I buzzed around, happily anticipating the big night.
Now I'm sure there are lots of folks wondering why I'm so geeked about the Academy Awards, usually our events are the Grammy's and the MTV Video Music Awards. Well, first of all, the Grammy's are a joke, songs and groups nominated in the wrong category, the best new artist award as the death knell for a career, it's just so wrong. We go, and when asked, we perform, but it's not fun. The MTV Awards are just a house party waiting to be raided by the cops. Everyone is drinking and doing God knows what in the audience. The performers and presenters like as not, are high as kites, and the production values are as cheesy as can be. Again, we go because we have to, and it's a chore. By comparison, the Academy Awards are very classy. We can dress up in elegant outfits, there are great parties, with movie stars afterwards, and it starts early, so it can end early.
The logistics of getting ready for the Oscars are a nightmare. We have to arrange for a limousine, I've already cleared it with Daria, and I think we are going to all go in the Tank, we'll get Cameron the roadie to drive us around that night. How cool would that be? To pile out of this black, skull bedecked soccer-mom-mobile. The thought amuses me. We had to arrange for someone to come do our hair and make-up, while every other person in Hollywood is trying to do the same thing. But Quinn has leverage and she pulled some rabbits out of her hat so we've got everything squared away in that department. We are all having outfits especially made for us, and they are free! Mine is going to be great, but it's a secret until the show. I can't wait to see what Daria wears. She's debating whether to show or not to show. From what Quinn tells me, she'll be cute as a bug's ear if she shows, but knowing Daria, she'll try to get by with a big, shapeless bag of a dress.
I had some meetings with execs at the record label. Same old crap, trying to balance a touring schedule, with the needs of grown-ups who want to be at home. After the last tour, we all swore we wouldn't budge from our respective homes until doomsday. Putting out 2 albums within a 14-month period was grueling enough, but touring on top of it was the icing on the cake. I was trying to get them to agree to an abbreviated tour, with multiple night bookings. I was thinking that a two-month tour was about as much as the guys could take. I proposed New York, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, San Francisco, Dallas, Phoenix, Atlanta and Ft. Lauderdale (the arena there is brand new and super-nice. Trent also insisted on this stop.) My thinking on this was that with regional shows, folks could travel to the gig, if they were inclined, and no one would be more than a day's journey away from a Spiral show. By limiting the actual windshield time, I wouldn't be facing insurrection by the band, and if we did it in the summer, we had a better chance of having everyone's family being able to tag along. I thought it was an elegant solution, but the label thought differently. They were looking for 30 shows in 60 days, as usual. I had to play hard ball and insist. The guys absolutely refuse to do another road trip. And they shouldn't have to. I dangled all the new songs in front of the execs. The fact that we had a full album of material, ready to be recorded, especially with our newest album breaking all kinds of records, was not to be taken lightly. I also reminded them that our contract with them is up at the end of the year. Hell, we could run our own label, release what we want, when we want and do what we want.
At first I was talking out of my ass. You should have seen their faces! It then occurred to me that I had just stumbled onto the only thing I've wanted to do since we started in the business. I adjourned the meeting quickly, with these guys following me out to my car, begging me to reconsider. I got them to verbally agree with our summer tour schedule, but I wanted to get back to Trent. We had some very interesting plans to discuss with the band.
Trent and I called an emergency band summit as soon as I got home from my meeting. We gave ourselves a few days so that we could flesh out the idea. The guys hate the business end of the music industry and have never bothered to deal with it in a significant way. I explained where we were, and where I thought we should go.
Trent was the first to ring in with an opinion. "Guys, we already have more money than we know what to do with. We achieved what we wanted. We're professional musicians. The only thing the label can offer us is more money. If we take over for ourselves, we can have the artistic freedom to do what we want."
"Think about where we could take our projects. We can help aspiring new bands break into the business. We can do the revolutionary stuff we always wanted to do. Multi-media, films, the list is endless. The only issue is, we are giving up a guaranteed paycheck. A really huge guaranteed paycheck, for something that may not work out." I summed it up, these guys were not the sharpest knives in the drawer
To be honest, there really wasn't that much in it for the guys. Sure there was the creative self-determination, but really, Mystik Spiral was not a controversial band, so we never had issues with censorship. The only things that would benefit them would be the potential to make more money, which no one cared about anymore, and the opportunity to develop other projects, which was more my area anyway. In my heart, I knew that this would be the right thing. We should take control of our creativity, but the guys have been getting those steady paychecks for so long that it would be hard for them to make the change.
Max was the first to speak. "Guys, we need to get out from under the tyrannical thumb of the label. We decide what and when we are going to create."
I rolled my eyes, trust that idiot to latch onto the virtue of the idea and to twist it to his deluded fantasies. "Ok Max, but do you see the value of becoming independent? That's the important issue."
"Jane, I know that we could keep cashing those checks, but it's the freedom that I find intoxicating."
"Oookay. Jesse, what about you?"
"Janey, you know, I'm down with whatever you guys decide." I knew I could count on him as a go-along guy, but I needed him to commit to the project.
"Jesse, this isn't about what color the CD is going to be, it's important, I need you to be 100% behind this. If you have any doubts, or any fears about this, then now is the time to get it out in the open."
"Look, if it weren't for you and Trent, really pushing this band along, we'd still be in Lawndale, working day jobs and doing Doors covers. I have more, and get to do more than I ever dreamed possible. I've always relied on you to be the brains of the outfit. Either way I get to play my guitar. That's all that matters to me." He sat back on the sofa, and went to that place in his head where the daffodils blow in the breeze.
"Well Nick, that leaves you." He was standing by the arcadia door, half in, half out, so that he could smoke a clove cigarette. I was waiting for him to cut down the idea. He was always the fly in the ointment, but we needed a voice of dissent, if for no other reason than later, when each of them went to sue me, I could claim that we did due diligence.
"Trent, Janey, you know I almost never like any of your ideas, but I always get out-voted, so I just go along. This is one idea I like. I just want to know that if I want, I can develop my own stuff, you know alternate bands and solo projects. That's what I'm thinking I could get out of this deal." The room was cold, because the door was open, but I was flushed with the thrill of a new project.
"Well, we have to run it as a business, not as a vanity publishing company. But knowing the quality of your projects, I can't imagine that we couldn't work something out. Okay, so it looks like everyone is on board. Now, I've already told you what the ideal part of this is; now we need to get some business heads in on it. We are committed to our existing contracts through the end of the year. The label has agreed to our proposal for the summer tour." I looked out at a group of very happy campers, they loved performing live, but they hated schlepping around the country to do it, so I had already scored some major points. "By Christmas, this new project will be live. We need to start thinking of some names for the label. You guys are creative, devote some brain cells to it and get back to me with your ideas. I'll keep you updated on how things progress. I need you all to tell me what you want to do. Also, start thinking about people we've worked with in the past, people you'd like to work with at your record company." I sat down, exhausted. What had started as an idea was now forming into a real, live enterprise. I can't believe that over the past three days we have gone from a band, to a business.
If I had a brain in my head, I would have panicked, but I just kept skipping merrily along. I called Daria. She is the only person I know and trust that could counsel me on how to put this together. She helped me out by drawing up lists of things that we needed to accomplish and gave me some really good ideas about how we might be able to keep our distribution deal with our existing label, while still being able to retain profits and artistic control. I didn't want to mention it to her, but what I really fantasized about was having her and Brian move down here to help me with everything. Brian does corporate law, and we really needed someone who was up to speed on contracts, etc. We also needed a money person, someone to handle accounting, which is really complex in this business. I didn't want to be a label that was known for mishandling funds and ripping off its artists. As usual the idea looked better on paper than it did in person. Especially since I was the person who had to make it work.
Dylan calls me periodically and we natter at one another. He would be a great boyfriend, if he weren't in Chicago. Since I haven't really had much time for a private life, what with all the work around getting our own company launched, it's nice to have someone who checks in with me. Trent and Bunny continue to do the long distance thing in earnest. Trent is planning to go back out to Florida next weekend. He'll be back in time to see Brian and Daria when they arrive.
Tanya called me the other day, she's working on a new project, having capitalized on the buzz around Anna's Wish, and getting funding for her next film. She has an interesting concept for it, she wants Mystik Spiral to score the whole thing, making the music integral to the story. Since Trent and Daria have been prolific (significant life changes will do that) they have all kinds of stuff in abeyance. I was excited because the soundtrack could be our first production.
I'm glad that Brian and Daria are coming next week, I have a lot of work to get done, and I need their help.
Brian and Daria came down today. Daria looked excited about something. I knew it couldn't be the Academy Awards Nominee's luncheon, since in reality, who cared about that? Usually, I would have been all over her, trying to winkle it out of her, but I had a lot on my mind. We did the kiss-kiss, hello stuff and Brian again, unloaded the van into the guestroom. I was preoccupied, but very happy to have them in the house. Trent's plane was coming in later in the afternoon, but he was catching a cab home, so I didn't need to worry about driving out to LAX to pick him up.
Daria was starting to show, she was almost five months now, and it looked adorable. There is something about a pregnant woman, she seemed contented and very, very happy. I was going over some stuff for the company, we hadn't yet started to staff up, and we really needed to so that we could move forward, especially with the corporate stuff. I heard a chirping, but I couldn't figure out where it was coming from until Brian answered his cellular phone. He wandered into the kitchen and had a brief conversation and came into the living room.
"Okay Honey, it's all set, we're meeting with her in a half hour, she's picking us up here." Brian said to Daria. "Want to come along Jane? We could always use your opinion."
Daria smiled a tight-lipped smile. I flinched because when she did that to me, I was always in trouble. "Way to go with a secret."
"Are you kidding, you still didn't tell her?" Brian just stared at Daria. I was beginning to understand that something was up.
"Tell me what? I want to know, tell me what?"
Daria turned to me, "Brian is taking a buy-out from his company. We came down to try and find a house."
"Are you kidding?" I asked, it was too good to be true.
Daria sighed. "No, I'm not kidding. You haven't been reading the papers have you? Brian's company has been merged, he's in a position that is going to be eliminated due to corporate 'synergies'."
"That means I'm fired." Brian said, very cheerfully.
"Not fired, downsized." Daria said firmly.
"I like fired, it sounds more dramatic."
"Whatever. Anyway, we figured that I need to be down here, to better collaborate with Trent, to be near the business, and all that happy horse shit. Besides, I want to be near family with the baby coming and all. You, Trent and Quinn, We're going to need all the help we can get, and our other options, Lawndale and Chicago, make no sense. So we're relocating. That phone call was our realtor, she's coming to show us a house somewhere near here."
I was ecstatic, my mind was going a mile a minute. "Brian, can you come work for us? I've taken this about as far as I can. I need someone who knows what they're doing. I trust you, please, please, please?"
"Daria, you haven't told her anything?" Brian looked put out. "Dylan and I are going into business together. Tax law, corporate law, and crap like that. His CPA and my JD, we're going to be the dynamic duo."
I got dizzy. A lawyer and a CPA? I needed them. I needed them badly. "Oh my God, are you kidding? How about if we hire both of you? Starting right now. This instant. Please?" I was begging, but I wasn't embarrassed, I was desperate. There was a knock at the door, it was the realtor.
"Jane, come with us, you have a good feel for houses. We can talk about the rest of it later." Brian asked. I went along, mostly based on momentum, I was still thinking about having two of my favorite guys working with us. It would be a real family company.
We were all standing in the driveway, around the realtor's car, but she walked right past us. "No need for that, it's this one right here." We walked across the street. There wasn't a sign or any indication that my neighbors had put their house up for sale. We knocked on the door, and Mrs. Cross answered. She had been living in that house for years, she was always nice to me and would take my packages for me when I wasn't home. Her husband was sitting in the living room watching some sport on TV in his lounge chair. He waved at us distractedly as his wife showed us around.
"Jane, are these your friends? Come on in, I've tidied up a bit for you. You're the first people who have looked since I listed it yesterday." The house was as neat as a pin. A bit country kitsch for me, but nothing that a wallpaper scraper and some paint couldn't take care of.
"So Mrs. Cross, where are you and Mr. Cross moving? I didn't even know you wanted to sell." I asked.
"Well Jane, we're getting a condo in Palm Springs, right on the golf course. I retired from my job last month and it's time for a change. Besides, we're going to make a killing." She looked at Daria and Brian. "Nothing personal kids, just the nature of the market."
Daria laughed. "Don't we know it, we're moving down from San Francisco, we made an indecent profit."
We looked around the house. It was an open floor plan with floor to ceiling windows overlooking a particularly wooded part of the canyon. On the side of the house there was a patio, a hot tub and a black bottomed swimming pool. The kitchen was large and opened onto the dining room and living room, it was filled with light and had rustic wood cabinets. There were 4 decent sized bedrooms and a small den. Daria and Brian walked around the house a bit, peering into closets and out of bedroom windows. They went off into a corner to discuss it and then they called the realtor over. They huddled for a minute and the realtor got her cell phone out and made a call. I was busy thinking about our company and what I would need to do to bring Brian and Dylan aboard. I completely missed the transaction. It was only when the other realtor came over about 30 minutes later and everyone sat down to write up the contracts that I realized what was going on.
"Wait a minute, did you just put a contract on this house?" Daria and Brian nodded as they were signing their names repeatedly. "But this is the only house you looked at."
"What's your point?" Daria asked as she was initialing documents. "In case you didn’t notice, I'm not really in a condition to go searching all over Hell and gone to find a house. I like this house. I like being across the street from you, unless you have any objections." I shook my head no. They signed and the Crosses signed, there was much shaking of hands and we went back to my house.
Daria was beaming. "Great, now we have the rest of the week to spend fiddle-farting around instead of franticly searching for our house. One down, one to… No I think we got that settled too. Sweetie, you and Dylan can open your little law shop some other time. Why don't you guys help out Jane here and let her get some sleep. She looks exhausted."
Brian pretended to think about it. "Oh alright, anything for you sugar-dumpling. I'll call Dylan tonight and work it out with him."
I thought I died and went to Heaven.
Brian and I have been making serious inroads into getting the company started. We went out and got him a laptop and we've been working on preliminary filings and incorporation and things like that. Daria and Trent have had their heads together writing. I told them about Tanya's project and they've had a couple of meetings. There is a working script, so they have started to crank out music and songs for the movie. My house was a beehive of industry.
In the afternoon, we decided to go to the mall to catch a movie and pick up a few things. I like Beverly Center, they have indoor parking, and it's never crowded. Besides, we could hit Rexall before we headed back home.
There was something about being at the mall in the middle of the workday that made me feel like I was ditching school. Most of the other people in the mall were pushing toddlers in strollers. We walked around, window shopping, stopping occasionally to purchase something. We had some noodles for lunch and then headed over to Rexall, for a minute or two. As usual, I found lots of things to buy. Brian and Daria were checking out magazines.
Trent got waylaid at the men's cologne counter. "Hey Bro, didn't you just get some of this a couple of weeks ago?"
"Yeah, but Bunny stole it from me, so I need to replace it" he answered.
"She stole it?" I asked. "What does she want with your cologne?"
"She sprays it on her pillow when I'm not there" he answered, and he had the decency to blush.
"You're kidding, right?"
"Nope." He turned around to buy the cologne, leaving me to wonder about how much longer he would need me to take care of him.
Boy, the last couple of weeks have been so busy. Daria and Brian went home to organize everything for their move and turned around and came back for the big night. We spent a good part of yesterday practicing how to get in and out of the tank gracefully in ball-gowns and high heels. Quinn had Cameron video tape it, ostensibly for us to review long into the night. I suspect that some of that footage will end up in a video somewhere down the road. The Tank can hold seven people so it was me, Dylan, Daria, Brian, Trent, and Bunny traipsing in and out. Quinn is going to come separately with her date. I think it's Jack Nicholson, but she's not saying. Quinn was choreographing our movements and giving us advice on how to accomplish an elegant decent from a mini-van.
"Okay girls are on the inside, guys outside. Cameron, bring that little step around, so the girls don't wreck their gowns. Ladies, mind your skirts! Okay, file out front to back. Brian, help Daria out of the front passenger seat first."
I was dying laughing, we were having so much fun. If you think about it, you can look pretty dreadful jumping out of a mini-van, if it's not done right. We were wearing bridal petticoats as our "gowns" and the highest heels that we could find. Daria looked the funniest, primarily because it was so uncharacteristic for her. Pregnant, in a hoop skirt and red CFM pumps, hopping in and out of the front seat. Bunny giggled the whole time. She was enjoying the heck out of it. At some point wine coolers were introduced and the whole thing went to Hell in a hurry.
Early the next morning and I mean EARLY, my house became a beauty salon. Hairdressers, make-up artists and armed guards of all sorts were milling about. We sat around in our robes and slippers drinking coffee, watching these people turn themselves inside out. We were all put together by 1:00. We were advised to eat a big lunch, because by the time you get on the road, pile out of your vehicle, talk to Army Archerd and Joan Rivers, get your seat and watch the show, it can be 10 hours before your next meal. Daria packed snack food and water in her bag.
We surveyed the group. We were beautiful. I was wearing a replica of the dress that Vivian Leigh wore to accept her Oscar for Gone with the Wind. It had a white background with hand painted flowers on it, a big bouffy skirt, fitted bodice and narrow shoulder straps. The hairdresser let the natural curl in my hair do it's thing, so I looked an awful lot like Vivian Leigh. The look was so elegant; I really evoked her mystique. Dylan was very impressed.
Daria wore a simple black velvet dress. It had a neck that scooped from shoulder to shoulder and long sleeves that tapered to her wrists. It was fitted to her body, exposing her pregnancy in a tasteful way. The skirt trailed a bit on the ground. Tiffany's had outdone themselves. Daria was a Tiffany's conceit. The jewels were like Audrey Hepburn's in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Just as I had hoped, Daria wore a diamond tiara in her hair, and the necklace was amazing. We had to squish a guard into the Tank, just to watch it. Daria agreed to those two pieces, but refused the bracelet, watch and rings. Her simple gold and platinum wedding band was her only adornment from the neck down.
Bunny had her dress made in Miami, it was a lightweight cotton, a denim blue color with yellow ribbons crisscrossing it. Full long skirt, fitted from the waist up, with the ribbons serving as the shoulder straps. There was a matching jacket and shoes. It was the shoes that caught my attention, they matched perfectly and they were adorable.
"Bunny, how did you get the shoes to match your dress?" It was amazing how well it came together.
"Oh, I got the dress to match the shoes, it's so much easier that way. A friend of mine designed it for me. He used to work at Versace, but he's left them to pursue a career as an interior designer, and he offered to help me out. He designed his niece's quinceanera dress. I hope I don't look too out of place with all these designer gowns and stuff. Although I don't expect that anyone will be looking at me. It's y'all that they want to see. " She rattled. She was a nice girl, with a good heart, but she talked like she lived at Starbucks.
Brian and Dylan had tuxes that they had bought at Brooks Brothers. Daria and I were laughing about it. We would be lucky if they weren't mistaken for the accountants from Price-Waterhouse.
Trent was the real star of our ensemble. He looked like he was Mr. Darcy just stepped out of Pride and Prejudice, with a bit of Mick Jagger and Carnaby Street thrown in. I marveled at Quinn's ability to pull the look off. It was as modern as tomorrow, but the cut of the coat was from the Regency era. The trousers were simple black, gray would have been too much. He had a white shirt, with a white cravat tied into a bow. He looked magnificent, and it was the perfect romantic look for the song. The rest of the band had similar suits, they were sure to cause a sensation, and that was just on the red carpet. Wait until they perform the song.
The van with the rest of the band pulled up and we piled into the Tank. We were going to hook up with Quinn at the auditorium, since she would be sitting with her date. She had our after-party itinerary, and had coached Cameron as to where and when we needed to be places. She made him promise not to smoke, at all, all night. We drove out to Pasadena at around 2:00 in the afternoon, by the time we got there, and disgorged from the Tank it was well after 4:00.
We all managed to get out of the Tank as we practiced it. I had the VCR at home taping everything. I wanted to see how it looked on TV. Joan and Melissa Rivers accosted us, but they bypassed we girls and went directly for the Band. They stuttered their way through an interview, the gist of which was "You boys sure are pretty." I thought we'd have to scrape Melissa's jaw off the carpet and hand it back to her.
Once in the Auditorium we were shown to our seats. . Tanya and Penny were seated in front of us. We were really far up front and on an aisle. We put Daria on the end, since she was the one most likely to need to get up for bio breaks, then Brian, Trent, Bunny, me and Dylan. The band and their dates sat behind us. They would all perform, but only Trent and Daria wrote the song, so only they would be up on stage for the acceptance speech, if they won. It was freezing cold, but the auditorium was only half full, so I figured it would warm up a bit once it filled up. Dylan gave me his suit jacket to wear. What a gent. People in evening clothes were loitering around the edges. They were "fillers." When someone got up to pee, or accept an award or whatever, they couldn't have empty seats, so the "fillers" come sit in the seats until the rightful seat holder returns from the can. The set looked smaller and cheesier than it did on TV, but that was true of everything in Hollywood, so it didn't disappoint me.
By show time at 5:00 the place was packed. Brian and Dylan were unabashedly craning around to see all the movie stars. People came down to talk to Tanya and said very nice things to Trent and Daria. The buzz seemed to indicate that we might win tonight. There really was excitement in the air. Nobody but a record company executive cares if you win a Grammy or an MTV Moon Man, you don't get all torqued up about it. But an Academy Award, that was special.
The show started just as it always does, we watched the entrances on the monitors. I did get a glimpse of us entering the Pavilion, but I was hoping that The Entertainment Channel had more comprehensive coverage. They did the opening number and it was actually funny. They goofed on Anna's Wish and even a bit on the song. I was feeling really good about this.
The Academy Awards are divided into three parts. The first half-hour, full of fun and tomfoolery, the long 2 hours where nothing interesting happens and the last half-hour, where they try to cram an hour's worth of awards into 30 minutes. We were last to perform, so no matter what, we would get the exposure, which is a consolation prize worth having.
The show went predictably from there. The two hours in the middle were interminable. Daria went to the bathroom repeatedly. I'm pretty sure from boredom. She passed out food surreptitiously, which we nibbled during the breaks, taking care not to smudge our lipstick. About 15 minutes before Mystik Spiral was to perform, they left to take their place on stage. They had been to some rehearsals, but they were a touch unnerved. It was smaller than their usual audience was, but it was larger as well, due to the satellite transmission to every household in the world.
Finally it was time. The audience went wild as the first notes of the song played. Trent looked beautiful on the monitors. The rest of the band looked good, but Trent was standing out. They went in for a close-up as he began to sing:
I didn't know what was at stake
You were a number I wrote on my hand
But now I'm deep within a glorious mistake
Bewitched, dazzled, defenseless and damned.
Savor this delicious heartache
Sleeping above the plane of dreams
Deep in love with you before I wake
And nothing is as easy as it seems
I wish I knew you like I know,
My love for you. Deep in my mind,
Obsession took hold and grew.
Leaving only my dreams behind.
Savor this delicious heartache
Sleeping above the plane of dreams
Deep in love with you before I wake
And nothing is as easy as it seems
And when I die alone. (We all die alone.)
Heaven will be like home.
I know it seems peculiar.
Like this love I feel
Sweet, ethereal, unreal.
Savor this delicious heartache
Sleeping above the plane of dreams
Deep in love with you before I wake
And nothing is as easy as it seems
At first there was a hush. There was something about the way Trent sang the song that made it feel like the first time I heard it. I looked over and Bunny was daubing tears with her hanky. There was a thunder of applause and then slowly everyone came to their feet.
The band stayed up on stage while an actor and actress read the nominees in the category. There was polite applause for the other nominees, but there was a demonstration when they read Trent and Daria's names. They waited for the crowd to settle down, and announced the winners.
"Trent Lane and Daria Mogandorffer for Delicious Heartache, from Anna's Wish." Everyone went crazy. Daria went up to the stage; Trent was waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs to escort her up to the podium.
Trent went first. "Wow, like we never thought that we would be here, doing this." Everyone laughed. "Really, this is so far beyond what we dreamed about in my parent's basement in Lawndale. I want to thank my folks for letting us use the space. My sister Janey, for kicking our asses to get here. The guys in the band, Jesse Moreno, Max Tyler and Nick Campbell, for being there for the good and the bad times, you're my brothers, Man. Daria, for being my muse and inspiration. Thanks."
Daria leaned into the mike, she was happy, "There are so many people to thank. My sister Quinn, for helping me score the dress and the gems, as well as for all the support she gives us on a daily basis." Big laugh from the crowd on the inside joke. "My parents, Jake and Helen, who bribed me to get out and mix in the world. That money helped us fund Mystik Spiral's first demo tapes." Another big laugh. "My husband Brian, who kicked my ass to get here. Thank you, Trent, Max, Nick and Jesse, for believing in my words, and in me. I'd also like to thank my high school English teacher, Timothy O'Neill, a man who encouraged and pushed me to write from my soul, even when it seemed that I didn't have one. But most especially I want to thank Jane Lane, the best and craziest friend a girl could have, I wouldn't have done it without you."
They both walked off to another ovation. It was a half-hour before they ran the press gauntlet and arrived back in their seats. They were in time to hear Anna's Wish winning for Best Original Screenplay. We all hugged and kissed Tanya as she went up to accept her award. I was so happy for everyone. Recognition is one of those things that you don't think you need until you get it, and then you don't ever want it to stop.
The show was finally over. We were delirious. We hung out for a while talking to the press, waiting for Cameron to bring the Tank around. The area was crammed with limousines and celebrities. We talked with everyone until the Tank finally showed up. We all got back into our ride, as elegantly as we go out of it and were whisked away to a night of parties and celebration. But first we stopped at Jack-in-the-Box. We were starving.
We have been going full tilt boogie for days. Daria and Trent have been fielding interviews and such, during breaks in their movie score project. Brian went back to San Francisco to supervise the movers. Daria has been directing the efforts of tradesmen in her house. As I suspected they had the wallpaper stripped off, the carpets replaced and everything painted. Daria went with a simple neutral palette, for most of the house. The nursery is not a traditional baby's room, but filled with maps, the periodic table and on the ceiling, the constellations against a navy blue background. I loved it. It was so unusual. Helen sent a brass crib, round. It's one of those "first grandchild" indulgences, but it looks perfect in the room.
I went with Daria to her new doctor for her check up. I got to see the baby on the sonogram. When your friend is pregnant, it seems theoretical. You talk about a baby, but it's pretty abstract until she gives birth. Seeing our little princess swimming around on that monitor brought it home to me.
The sonogram technician got everything set up. "So what did you eat for breakfast?"
"The usual, toast and tea." Daria answered, guiltily.
"Well, I think your girl is having a nap, let's see if we can't wake her up." She went up to Daria's belly, grabbed it on both sides and shook it vigorously. I laughed as she put the monitor on. We heard the whooshing and the heart beat, and then I suddenly saw the baby. The technician was really helpful. "Here's the head, her little hand. Hoo, she's being a hoochie, she's got her legs open, there's her labia."
"Damn, that's your little girl. She's cute, even if she is a hoochie." She was. She waved at us. I felt protective and loving towards this little person. Someone that was going to be important to me, and I hoped I would be important to her. I felt tears slide down my cheeks, I couldn't stop staring at the monitor.
Daria looked over and saw me, and she started to weep too. We looked and felt stupid. The technician laughed. "Well, it is a pretty special thing. Here's some tissue girls."
We moved to another exam room. I wasn't staying if it was a naked exam, but it wasn't her week for that, so I hung out to meet the doctor. She examined Daria and checked the charts. "Well, everything looks good, you're not experiencing anything unusual are you?"
"Besides being a host organism? I don't think anything is unusual." Daria replied.
"Good." The doctor said, ignoring the sarcasm. "You’re doing fine. Don't hesitate to call the office if you have questions or need advice, there's nothing too dumb. Our advice nurses have heard everything, so don't be afraid to ask. Are you and your husband planning on doing Lamaze? You should sign up for that in the next couple of weeks if you are. There's some information on classes up front with the receptionist. What about breast-feeding?"
"Well, I'm ambivalent about it. I'd like to try, but I've heard horror stories."
"I can understand that. First of all, you are the one who ultimately decides. It's best for the baby, but only if you are comfortable, and the baby is comfortable. There are some mothers for whom the bottle is better. We can cross that bridge when we come to it. There are some folks who feel very strongly about this, and if you go to them for information up front, which I advocate by the way, be prepared for them to call you after you give birth to check up on you. If for whatever reason, you decide to bottle-feed, shine them on, otherwise they'll just aggravate you."
We laughed. I liked the doctor, she was cool and down to Earth. Daria picked up the information on Lamaze class and signed up for a course that began a couple of weeks hence.
We met Quinn for lunch and filled her in on the appointment.
"Wow, Daria can I go with you next time? I want to see my niece." Quinn, as usual, was eating veggies. I swear that girl was going to sprout or something.
"Sure, come one come all. After this, I don't think I'll have an iota of modesty left." Daria said between bites of her hamburger.
"Quinn, it's so cool. It's almost like she knows she's on display so she puts on a show for you." I was enthused, I have never seen anything so interesting.
Daria laughed. "I guess she got some of your genetic code Quinn."
"Dar-I-A. Come on, that's harsh." Quinn pretended to pout.
"Please, you know it's true. Don't be mad, it's what makes you, unique."
Quinn laughed. "Well, okay, I'll give you that. So you and Brian are going to do Lamaze? What about drugs?"
"Yes please. I'm all for understanding the process, but if they think I'm going to do this without pain killers, they're crazy."
"My Mom had natural childbirth with all of us kids." I commented. Daria just looked at me with that 'freeze you in the spot' look she has. "Maybe that's not such a good example." I acquiesced.
She continued. "Besides people talk about natural childbirth, but isn't it funny how you never hear about natural appendectomies?"
"You do have a point. Besides you're the one having the baby, so my opinion counts for very little." I conceded. "I don't think I would want to do it without drugs either."
"How did those women do it? I guess if it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger. " She shuddered. "I don't think my peasant ancestry has asserted itself, because I'm not sure I could deal with it."
"I think we are capable of handling whatever were given. Not that I want to be tested. But there must be a reason we don't remember pain." I mused.
"Well, I may not remember pain, but if I don't get drugs, I'll give THEM something to remember." Daria laughed.
We had to bolt right after lunch because Daria was expecting a furniture delivery and she wanted to be sure to be there for the guys.
Daria and Brian officially moved into their house. They hired a super-duper moving company that packed, unpacked and in general made it possible for Daria to sit on her sofa and wave her hands imperiously giving instructions. In 48 hours, their house was all put together. A far cry from the usual U-haul, clumsy friends and keg moving I was used to. I walked around the house. It was weird thinking about Mr. and Mrs. Cross' house as Brian and Daria's. In the place of what can only be described as a "Hee-Haw Explosion" was an elegant, eclectic décor. Thank goodness.
Dylan also moved into town. We found him a condo to rent, it was on Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood. Dylan asked me to go along with him. What is with all these people wanting my advice on housing anyway? I liked it because it had a loft. Other than that, it was perfectly adequate. He arranged to transport his leather sofas, chrome and glass tables and Nagel prints from Chicago. As is typical for most guys, he didn't have that much to unpack, so he was all settled in the blink of an eye.
The awkwardness I felt in February with Dylan, was nothing like the awkwardness I felt with him now. Until now there was some sort of organized activity which gave us a reason to be together. He was also hard at work at the still "Unnamed" enterprise. Working together certainly threw a monkey wrench into our "relationship." I wasn't sure we even had a relationship. Sure, we still slept together, but I was starting to feel strange about it. I didn't want to be a stereotype and ask him directly to have a relationship discussion. Hell it sounded terrible to me. But I did want to know if he wanted to be my boyfriend.
I hadn't considered Dylan a boyfriend. He was a boy and a friend and a "fuck-buddy" if you'll pardon the expression. I liked him a lot, he was a great, regular guy, but I didn't know if I should take him seriously. The last thing I was going to do was bring it up. I figured I could keep my options open and if someone else comes along, I'll deal with it when it happens.
You can imagine my surprise when he was the one to broach the subject. I was relieved, but also a bit scared, what if he didn't take me seriously as a girlfriend? On the other hand, what if he did? You would have to travel quite a bit to find anyone as gravely twisted as I am.
We had been enjoying warm weather, so we went down to the Santa Monica Pier to walk around and to get Hot Dogs on a Stick. They were shooting a commercial on the beach, so there were tons of production types, running around in crew jackets from movies and TV shows, generally trying to look cooler than they were. We found a quiet spot a bit down the beach for our talk. I pretended to be completely engrossed in my corn dog.
"Janey, you know that I'm crazy about you, right?" He started, and it wasn't a bad start at all, as long as there wouldn't be a "But."
I swallowed and tried not to choke. One of the hardest things to do is to be casual when your heart is racing. "You are? That's nice." I smiled, encouraging him to go on. I prided myself on my non-committal, but heartening response.
"You aren't going to make it easy are you, you little minx?" He smiled, so I took it as a good sign.
I gave him my best innocent look. "Make what easy?"
He sighed, "You know, now that I'm living here, we have to decide if we're going to keep seeing each other. I really want to, you know. But how do we make the transition?"
"Transition? From what to where?" I felt like I had the upper hand, but I also needed him to define our relationship. I was so tired of doing all the work in my romances.
"From occasional romp to steady date." He was sounding exasperated with me. My ingenue act wasn't going over very well, probably because I'm more of the soubrette type. I decided to put him out of his misery, as well as my own.
"You want me to go steady with you?"
"Well, I didn't bring my class ring with me, but yes Jane, I want you to go steady with me." He reached over with his thumb and wiped some mustard off of my face. "Jane, will you go steady with me?"
I laughed and nodded my head. I'd never gone steady with anyone, even in high school. "Yes, I'll go steady with you, but I want your class ring, or your fraternity pin, whichever is prettier."
We laughed and smooched on the beach, but went home to celebrate properly.
Brian and Dylan finally found our offices. There was a huge funky house, right off of Melrose, that was perfect for us. It was zoned commercial and there were some parking spaces off the street in the rear of the building. A huge consideration since parking in that neighborhood was jungle warfare. We signed a lease and we were in business. Now we just needed a name. We were technically Mystik Spiral Enterprises, which sucked. We've always hated the name Mystik Spiral, but of course it was just one more thing the band couldn't get it together to take care of, and now they were stuck with it. I'll be damned if that happens to our label as well.
I don't pretend to know what Brian and Dylan actually do. Whatever it is, they spend fairly long hours at it. Their official titles are Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, respectively. I was business manager for the band, but technically I've been Chief Ass Kicker. I usually farmed out our accounting, investments and other things. I've been very lucky in that I have been steered towards some very talented and honest people. Dylan had an independent audit conducted and confirmed that the folks we have been using are trustworthy. Anyway my new title is President, which is nice and vague. You can call me whatever you want, as long as I get to set my own hours and nap in the boardroom.
Quinn found us an architect, contractor and decorator to take care of making the existing house usable for our business. I am a firm believer in delegating, so my philosophy is to get the best folks working on my projects so that I have enough time to focus on what I'm best at: developing talent and helping said talent get out of bed to do something productive. And people wonder why I wear boots.
I had started to do some scouting for new bands. I was sneaking into talent showcases and stuff on the strip, but the music scene in LA is really scary. I started dropping in on high schools. I was hearing some pretty good stuff too. I couldn't very well approach kids, people might think I was a pervert or something, so I wanted to kick it around with Daria. In her former life Daria was a marketing whiz and I knew I could trust her to come up with some good ideas.
We were playing cards at their house, Daria and me versus Dylan and Brian. There we were sitting around the kitchen table, looking for all the world like the Petries and the Helpers. I almost went across the street for my Capri pants. I always liked a good game of cards, so appearances be damned. We were playing Spades, which is similar to Bridge, but not as complicated. Brian and Dylan looked perfectly at home. I usually played poker with the band on the road. A suburban card party was not what I was used to. Both of the corn fed Midwesterners were probably accustomed to seeing their parents do the exact same thing. I know that Daria and I were frauds, trying to pass for normal in their world, but we were putting the whup ass on them, which is all that matters.
"So Daria, I'm hearing some really good stuff in the high schools, nothing of professional quality, but really great raw talent. I think we should get a farm league going, you know, get them young, train them up, that sort of thing. I haven't a clue how to do it." I was shuffling and dealing.
Daria picked up her cards and arranged them in her hand. "Well, you could do some workshops, offer some scholarships to the really promising ones. Like ROTC, we pay for school and you sign with us when you get done."
"What if the bands break up?" I asked. "What if they can't get into a school?"
"Well, you take your chances. How many bands break up once they've signed with a label? It's a risk you take. Dylan, why don't you run some numbers to see how many need to be successful to make it worth our while?"
"I could do that. Need to get some other statistics though. I'm sure Jane knows a guy who can get it for me." Dylan was anal-retentively organizing his hand. I know he had the "little" joker, because he turned it right side up.
"Any kid could get into community college if they don't qualify for a university. Obviously, they would have to make the sacrifice though. But we could be running lots of workshops. I'll bet there are tons of great musicians who would want to work with up and coming talent. It might even be a draw in the session musician community. We could pay them between gigs to coach and develop bands."
"Daria, good idea, we will get tons of good karma from that!"
"Not to mention all kinds of great tax deductions." Dylan chimed in.
"Speaking of Karma, I had another thought, we may as well discuss it now. Jodie is going to be out of a job next year."
"How do you know that?"
Daria rolled her eyes. "Jane, after a merger, the top officers in the acquired company usually only stay one year, the new company can't fire them for 12 months. On day 366, they are out the door. They cash out their stock and go sit on a beach. Do you honestly see Jodie sitting on a beach?"
"No, I don't see Jodie sitting anywhere. Unless she's simultaneously on the phone, typing an e-mail and getting a pedicure." I answered
"Well, I know that she's active in the community through her sorority, I think that we should have a philanthropic arm of our company. Jodie would be the perfect person to administer it, and I'm pretty sure it's exactly where she wants to be. I think she's burned out on the corporate hamster wheel."
Brian was brewing coffee. "Hon, I spoke to Jodie last week, she is ready to leave tomorrow. Her new boss is a dick."
"Well, there you have it. What do you think?"
Before I could answer Dylan added his two-cents, "There are lot's of good tax incentives for doing it. Besides it's money that would otherwise go to the government. I'd much rather see it going for music education."
I reached over to scrunch his hair. "You're just my little band monkey aren't you?"
"The world needs tuba players." He responded. "Hey, you're cheating, quit looking at my cards."
Brian came over to the table with the fresh coffee. "Well, isn't this our little utopia? One big happy family."
I dropped my cards. Daria looked at me, then at him. "That's it!" I shouted. "Utopia Records, One big happy family. Oh my God, that's IT!"
"Utopia Records? " Daria smiled. "I like it."
I can't wait to tell the guys. We have a name for the label.
Trent came in today with the weirdest request, he wants to do some tour dates in Japan. We were having our quasi-regular band meeting and he comes up with this idea. Why Japan? We haven't toured Japan for years, and I didn't know that he had a burning desire to see it again. The rest of the guys thought it was a good idea, as long as there would be time between dates to actually see the country. We needed a place to open the new show and Japan was as good as any. I got in touch with our tour coordinator and worked out dates at the Budokan in Tokyo and the Municipal Baseball Stadium in Hiroshima. Trent seemed very happy with the arrangements. We would leave in two weeks, do three shows and stay an extra week in Southern Japan and return home with two weeks to rest up before the Summer U.S. tour.
Trent and I were hanging around the house that evening. As usual, Trent went to place his evening call to Bunny. I wasn't eavesdropping, since Trent was sitting on the sofa next to me.
"Yeah, so we're doing the tour in Japan. You're going to hook up with us in Hiroshima right? Great. Your folks are pretty close then right?" There was the usual long pause that indicated that Bunny had finished waiting and was now talking. "We're going to stay with your parents? Are they cool with me being there?" There was more talking. You know how music sounds kind of high pitched and screechy through headphones? That's what Bunny's end of the conversation sounded like. Trent nodded his head, assenting to whatever it was that she was saying. "Okay, let me ask her."
Trent turned to me and asked. "Janey, Bunny wants to know if you want to meet her parents in Japan. They live in a traditional Japanese house, she thinks you might enjoy it."
I looked at him. We arranged show dates half way around the world so that he could meet Bunny's parents? My mind was reeling, how serious was he? Was he going to marry her? Was he moving to Florida? What about the band? "Jane? What do you think? I'd like the moral support."
"Um, yeah Trent, that's great, no problem. We'll talk about it when you get off the phone." I gave him the hairy eyeball, so he knew he was in for it. He wrapped up the call quickly, promising to follow with travel details, and hung up.
"Trent, please tell me that we aren't touring Japan just so you can meet your girlfriend's parents."
"Well, it's not a terrible idea, and I do want to meet her folks."
"Are you going to marry Bunny?" I looked him in the eye.
"I don't know, I might want to. This doesn't mean anything, it's a visit, that's all." He looked guilty, but he was probably feeling bad about finagling the trip, I don't think he was hiding his intentions from me. Trent would marry Bunny in Vegas, if he felt like it. He didn't need my approval for anything.
"Okay, so the next question. What the Hell are her parents doing in Japan?"
"Her Dad is a counselor for the Marines and her Mom is a university instructor." Trent looked happy to be able to answer the question. It surprised me a little, because generally he was hard pressed to know his girlfriend's parents at all.
"So we're going to vacation on a military base?"
"No, her parents live in town, we're going to see the real Japan." He looked really happy and excited.
I didn't want to rain on his parade, and besides, it did sound like fun. "Hey, you want to go get some travel books? We can check out all the cool stuff to do in Japan."
"Great, we'll get some noodles while we're there to get us in the mood."
We took off to the Beverly Connection, they have a bookstore that stays open late there, and they had a pretty decent selection of books. You can't really be serious about anything unless you get a book about it. Trent and I had enough books to keep us amused for a couple of days.
The details had been worked out. The band and I would fly directly to Tokyo and hook up with the tour coordinator. We'd do our dates in the capital, and then we would fly to Hiroshima. Bunny was due to come in the Saturday after the show, and we were meeting her and her parents at the airport.
I was trying to get some stuff together so I wouldn't have to drag a huge duffel all over creation. Bunny assured me that we would not need any special clothes. No parties or church or anything like that. I decided that a wardrobe based upon the color black and denim would serve me the best.
Daria was disappointed that she couldn't come along, but she was way too pregnant at this point to travel. Japan wasn't going anywhere, so we figured that we could always go back again.
Trent and I spent time making lists of the things we wanted to do in Japan. Apparently the Yamaguchi Prefecture, where Iwakuni is located, is renown for their blowfish, so that went on the list. Bunny called to give me a heads up of what to expect as far as sightseeing was concerned, so we wouldn't duplicate any of our experiences.
I went to Rexall to get some stuff for the trip, but I was also interested in getting some things in Japan. I couldn't wait to see what the stores were like.
We flew to Tokyo on one of the longest flights I have ever been on. There were three movies and 5 short subjects. Although the flight left in the evening, and I was exhausted from all the last minute preparations, I found it hard to really get any decent sleep. Trent, of course, did not have a problem. Max and Nick got into an argument about a new arrangement of From the Futon, that they had worked out especially for Japan, and it was so stupid, I was praying that none of the other passengers were listening.
"Dude, the part where I'm trying to lay down the beat is where you need to ease up a bit, don't hit the drum so hard." Nick was telling Max.
"What do you mean, don't hit the drum so hard? How softly do you want me to hit the drum, genius?" Max got his hackles up and was sounding strident.
"Hey, just because you don't have any finesse on the skins, don't take it out on me."
I felt the need to knock the skulls of these chuckleheads together. "Boys! Knock it off! We'll run the drums through the board, like we always do. Nick, don't worry, you'll sound fine."
"Jane, he insults my integrity as an artist, I don't have to take this shit from him." Max whined.
"Guys, please, I know this is a long flight, and I know that we have some stuff to work out, but I don't think that this is the time or the place, so please, before I get up out of this seat and separate you two, just watch the movie, or listen to music or something. You are both working my last nerve." They both looked like they wanted to say something, but I just gave them my best searing glance and they shut up.
"Bitch." Max muttered, but I just let it go. Sometime you have to let them get away with stuff.
Finally after what seemed to be an eternity, we landed. How I got from the airport to the hotel is all a blur. All I remember was a very deep hot bath and a big, fluffy bed. Predictably, the label had reserved us western style rooms. While I wanted to try a traditional room, I was too tired to deal with it, so I didn't say anything. I think I slept for 12 hours.
It's actually tomorrow. We lost a day somewhere around the International Dateline. I was awakened by a phone call from Jimmy, the road manager. He had received all the equipment and it was set up and ready to go. The first show is tomorrow so he wanted us to get over there to do some sound checks and block the show. I confirmed with him that everyone was still in the hotel, and that a car was on the way. I had an hour to eat some breakfast and get ready. I put on some Japanese TV and called room service. An hour later we were in a car driving to the arena. We went through a few numbers and worked out some stuff. The guys did their version of From the Futon, with part of it in Japanese and it was great! I think they just bitch at each other for something to do. They are always borrowing trouble.
We were all pretty jet lagged, so we did something mellow. We went for a beautiful dinner in the Ginza and walked around the streets looking at the neon and electrical signs. We couldn't read anything. It was so strange being illiterate. Pointing at menu items. Wondering what some of the stuff was. Everyone had told us how expensive Tokyo was, it was similar to New York. Sure you could pay a fortune for a hamburger, but why would I buy a hamburger in Japan? We stuck with some traditional food and it wasn't that expensive at all. People stopped to stare at us, and a few looked like they wanted to speak to us, but they got shy at the last minute and hurried on. I couldn't tell if it was because the band was recognized or if it was because we were American. I just smiled and nodded.
One of the things I liked right away about Japan was the vending machines. They were everywhere, and sold everything imaginable. I bought Daria a pair of panties from a vending machine I saw near the hotel. I also liked how safe I felt. It was crowded, but not to the point where I felt threatened. We made plans to visit a nearby temple in the morning.
I returned to my room, there was a message, so using the instructions printed in English (please to press the number indicator for your message) I retrieved it. It was Dylan, calling to say that he missed me and hoped that I was having a good time. How thoughtful. I tried to determine what time it was in California, but gave up and watched some TV instead. It was probably not such a great idea for me to return the call, since I think the hotel charged the equivalent of $26.00 per minute for international calls. Not that I couldn't afford it, but there's some stuff you just don't do. I fell asleep watching commercials, trying to figure out what was being advertised.
The two shows were sold out as quickly as the tickets went on sale three weeks ago. There were a few bugs, but our Japanese audience was very forgiving. With the new material and the monster hit of Delicious Heartache, the Japanese went crazy for the show. It was a great way to start a tour. The crew packed everything up and shipped it to Hiroshima, for the last show. Instead of being able to get out to the countryside, we were tied up doing promotion. That was just weird. In some cases, we were provided with interpreters and interviewed in Japanese. In others a Canadian interviewed us in English, and then our host would translate what he asked, and what we answered into Japanese. We flew down to Hiroshima. It was a short flight. From the air you can see how strangely the geography dictates how Japan is populated. In any crevice there were clumps of homes and businesses, but even just a few feet up, the mountains remained unspoiled. The hills were varying shades of green, and according to my books, much of the greenery was bamboo. I have a small bamboo plant in my house, but to see it growing, full and lush on a mountain was amazing.
Landing in Hiroshima is the scariest experience I have ever had in a plane. You slowly descend and you can see the city, but at a certain point you begin to notice that you're not getting any lower. Suddenly the wheels come down, the flaps go up and the plane is screaming to a stop on a flat mountaintop. There are families picnicking behind a fence separating the hillside from the tarmac and they wave to you as the plane hits the runway. Meanwhile, since you can't see out of the front of the plane, you are praying that the pilot stops before he runs off the other side of the mountain. I think I dug my nails into Trent's arm deep enough to hit bone.
The airport is very small and we breezed right through it. It was a beautiful, sunny day and the ride into the town was lovely. It was so different from Tokyo. There were tons of high rise apartment blocks, and every single one of them had laundry drying from the balconies. It gave a somewhat cluttered look to what is often described as an antiseptic country. A commuter train chugged along the edge of the Seto Sea, which is a beautiful, calm, blue body of water. There were islands off the coast, and according to Bunny we would be exploring one of them. There were also factories perched right at the edge of the sea, with smoke and pollution pouring out of them. Apparently there were a few paper mills in the area. Living in Los Angeles, I'm used to a pretty high level of pollution, but this was really terrible.
We were staying in a hotel in the middle of town and close to the stadium. We checked in and since we had some time before the show, we walked to the Peace Park. It is hard to be in Hiroshima and not think about the horrible carnage that happened there. We went to the museum, Bunny warned me to bring tissue, so I thought I was prepared. There's no way you can be. There are five floors of sobering exhibits. It's sad to see all that misery and suffering. As Americans we have our own special view of the world, and our own slant on history, so sometimes the perspective from the other side can be an eye-opener. At the entrance, there was a description, in English of why the bombing happened. According to the Japanese, the Americans wanted to test the bomb, and thus chose Hiroshima and Nagasaki as their targets. There was the slight omission of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the occupation of the Philippines and Japan's declaration of war against the United States. Bunny had clued me into this, and suggested that we not bring it up in front of her folks. Both of her Grandfathers served in the Navy in World War II.
Later in the afternoon we headed over to the stadium to set up for the show. Again, we had a great reaction from the crowd. It was well after midnight when we returned to the hotel. There was another message from Dylan, and this time I called him back. I figured out that California was 16 hours behind Japan, so that meant it was late in the afternoon. I called him at the office. We spoke for a few minutes and he made me feel loved and appreciated. I fell asleep with a smile on my face.
We all went our separate ways in the morning. Trent and I went back to the airport to hook up with Bunny and her parents. The guys each had their own itinerary for the rest of their stay in Japan. We left them to their ramblings.
We got to the waiting lounge with our gear and were immediately able to pick out Bunny's parents, not just because they were the only Americans there. Her Mom looked exactly like Bunny, only shorter. Bunny and her Mom both had ageless faces, but there must have been a picture in an attic somewhere, because Bunny's Mom didn't look a day over forty. Her Dad looked exactly like Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead. They were both reading. We went over to introduce ourselves. I was a bit nervous, they looked nice, but it's always awkward meeting people's parents.
"Um, Mr. and Mrs. Margolis? I'm Jane Lane and this is Trent." I said to them. They looked up from their books.
"Hi Jane, Trent. Did you have a hard time finding us? And please, call us Esther and Herb." Esther said. She motioned for us to sit down. "We've been here for a while, I get nervous about missing the plane, and I didn't want Bunny waiting for us." I could see that the rattling that Bunny does is congenital.
"So, are you guys hungry? We didn't know if you wanted to get lunch or not." Herb said. He paused a lot between words. His speech patters were eerily like Trent's. That cleared up one mystery for me, I always wondered how a non-stop talker like Bunny dealt with a decided non-talker like Trent. I figured it was that she liked the audience, but now I could see that it was years of waiting for her Dad to get a sentence out that had prepared her for Trent's "intuitive" communication.
Trent thought for a second or two. "Yeah, I could eat."
Esther picked up the conversation, otherwise it was going to take forever to decide. "Well, we'll wait to see what Bunny's up for. She's a terrible traveler, so we may have to make do with eating out of the refrigerator."
We sat and chatted for a while, Herb wanted to know what we thought of Japan. Esther was curious to know about Tokyo. She had never been, even though they had been living there for nearly three years. We told them about our travels and Esther regaled us with some funny stories of places that they had traveled to. I had the weird feeling that we were being watched. I turned around and saw two little kids staring at Herb. They were pretty young, about six and four and their eyes were huge. I couldn't see why they were looking at him like that. Their parents were hanging back watching them. Herb noticed them and waved. The kids waved back. Then he stuck his finger in his mouth and made a "pop" sound. The kids giggled. Then Herb did something I have never seen an adult do.
"Ho, Ho, Ho. Have you been good little children?" He said to the kids. They shrieked with laughter, clapped their hands and danced around. Their parents laughed with relief. They came forward and said something in Japanese to him. He smiled and said something in what I presume to be the worst Japanese I have ever heard. But I gave him credit for trying. The parents bowed at Herb, and he hoisted himself up to bow back. Now I could see that in addition to looking like Jerry Garcia, that Herb was also a dead ringer for Santa Claus.
Passengers were starting to emerge from customs and Bunny was the first one through the door. She had a rolling cabin bag with her. That was it. I never figured Bunny for traveling light. She smiled as she saw us all there. Her Mom got to her first and hugged her for a good minute, then Herb hugged and kissed her. They were clearly thrilled to be together. Bunny saw us and hugged and kissed Trent and then hugged me.
"Hey y'all! I'm sooooo glad to be off of that plane. I have been in transit for 36 hours and my ass is numb. But I have to say that the flights were great. Trent, thanks for the upgrade, that was so thoughtful of you. So how have you liked Japan so far, tell me everything."
Trent smiled and studied his shoes. Since when did he have his shit together enough to deal with upgrading an airplane ticket? We gathered our gear. Herb insisted on taking my pack for me. We chatted and talked as we went out to the parking lot. We were following Herb, who seemed slightly befuddled. "Es, where did I leave the car?"
Esther sighed. "Herb, we rented a van from the base, remember."
Herb laughed. "Oh yeah."
Esther rolled her eyes. "It's a good thing your head is attached to your neck Magoo."
We found ourselves in front of a "very mini-van." It was strangely narrow and tall. We threw the luggage in the back and piled in. Bunny sat in the very back with Trent as we started to drive towards the Sanyo Expressway.
"Mom, can we stop at the rest plaza?"
"Why, do you have to pee?"
"Well, of course, but that's not the only reason I want to stop, I want these guys to see it. Jane, it's the most amazing rest stop you've ever seen."
"The most amazing rest stop I've ever seen?" I readied my camera, what on Earth could be amazing about a rest stop? I couldn't wait to check it out.
After about a half-hour we pulled in. It didn't look too different from service plazas that you would see on our nation's toll roads. It was a long nondescript, building with plenty of parking. We piled out of the car and we went in. There was a long corridor lined with every imaginable type of vending machine. Ice cream, hot and cold coffee, soda, sushi, ramen, beer and something called Pocari Sweat, which I hoped was a sports drink. We headed towards the toilets. A note here about Japanese toilets. In places that are heavy with tourist traffic, western toilets are common and plentiful, so no problem. The standard Japanese public toilet is porcelain trough in the floor, with a flushing mechanism. There is no way that I can use that, it looks like it requires years of training. Another accouterment of a Japanese stall is a box, mounted into the wall, that is a recording of flushing water. I pushed the button, and I heard the recorded flush, what was that for? I asked Esther about it at the sink.
"Well, it can either cover up, indelicate noises," and here we both giggled, "or if you're having a hard time getting started, it has the same effect as running the tap." We laughed as we washed our hands. There was a flower arrangement perched on the counter near the sinks. Esther checked it out.
"Hmm, they didn't give this one much thought, but those are beautiful orchids." She reached in and started moving the stems around and when she stepped back to admire her work, I could see that it had been greatly improved.
"How did you know to do that?" I asked, impressed with the results.
"Oh, I've been studying Ikebana for three years now. I'll be able to teach soon, I have four certificates. I'll introduce you to my sensei, she's a hoot." She replied.
Bunny wanted to get some hot, green tea, which is available, free from a tap, so we each got a cup and headed back to the car. Trent was eating some kind of sushi, purchased from a vending machine. It was a huge triangular rice and seaweed wrap.
"Trent, is that good?" Bunny asked, wrinkling her nose in the way that she earned her nickname.
"Yup." He answered, munching away.
Herb had scored himself an ice cream, apparently on the QT, because Esther gave him the hairy eyeball. "What was your sugar this morning?" She asked, annoyed.
"It was low." He answered, scarfing it up, making the argument academic.
"Whatever. It's your body." Esther climbed into the front seat.
We traveled another half-hour into Iwakuni. The drive was really pretty. There was bamboo growing all around us. We were coming down off of a mountain, so the road was twisty and windy as we traveled into the town.
The town had many street signs in English, a concession to the base and the Americans serving on it. One of the most distinctive things was the complete lack of zoning. Gas stations next to houses next to office buildings. We stopped for lunch at what appeared to be a Japanese Denny's called Beautiful. The sign was in English. We were shown to a booth and given a menu with pictures.
"This place isn't the greatest, but it's so strange you have to experience it at least once." Said Esther.
I checked out the menu and at Bunny's recommendation, settled on the fried rice. Trent and Herb went out on a limb and got a huge Tonkatsu meal. Tonkatsu is a pork cutlet, covered in breadcrumbs and fried. Esther ordered a hamburger steak.
It was weird being in a completely foreign country and dining in an American restaurant. I had been in the country for nearly a week and had been eating Japanese food the whole time. What quickly became apparent was that all Japanese food tasted the same, whether it was served in a five-star-hotel or the train station. It's not a bad thing, it's just odd.
We ate the adequate meal and proceeded through the town to the Margolis homestead. We turned down a street so narrow it could only accommodate one car. Herb parked in the parking lot next door to their house. The parking lot was for the workers who drove to the cloth factory, which took up the length of the whole block on the opposite side of the street. It was behind a tall, cement wall, so you didn't see the buildings, but it was massive. Behind the house was an apartment building.
We unloaded our gear and walked into the house. We removed our shoes, at Esther's request. When their landlord agreed to rent to Americans, he added a clause to their lease that stated that they are not allowed to walk shod in the house. There was a bar attached to the wall, so you could balance while shoveling out of your shoes. I could see that I wouldn't be wearing any complicated boots in this country, too inconvenient. There was a platform that was like a large step. Esther had a huge flower arrangement on it in a beautiful vase. The flowers had a strong perfume and it smelled great.
Bunny headed for the bathroom to shower and change while Esther took us on a tour of the house. We went upstairs and she showed us the three bedrooms. Herb and Esther's bedroom was crammed full of Danish furniture. The queen-sized bed was flanked by two small teak nightstands. A TV and VCR sat on a desk that shared space with a computer stack. A bookcase was against the wall, which was actually a shoji screen. The shoji separated the second bedroom. We walked out and around to get to the second bedroom. It was adorable. There were two rectangular "sofas" covered in a bright blue patterned print. There were matching curtains and more teak bookcases, displaying tons of toys. Stuffed animals of every description sat on the sofas. There were children's books and Noah's Arks everywhere. It was whimsical and fun. I wanted to sit in the middle of it and play with the stuff. But I restrained myself.
We looked in the third bedroom, which had been converted into a closet, out of necessity. The only storage I had seen was shelving behind sliding doors. These were meant for airing futons during the day. Esther had crammed them as much as she could, but needed the extra space. There was a small toilet room on the upper floor. It was similar to a western toilet, except the tank filled from a tap mounted on top of the toilet. Once the toilet had been flushed , the water would run from the tap into the tank. The user would wash their hands in the running water. It was very clever and economical. The toilet seat was the real star. It was heated, and featured a number of features, including a warm water spray available from various directions. I would come to love the toilet. Let's leave it at that.
We went downstairs. Every room had a door or a shoji to shut it off from the other rooms. The house only had two climate control units, and to keep it as economical as possible you shut off the room so you only heat or cool the space you are using. The living and dining rooms were divided by shoji as well. Again, more teak furniture. There were nooks, which were the household shrines. Esther and Herb had used these to display their multitudinous art works. Most of the art was Asian. But there was a case full of American Southwestern Kachinas. Kachinas are dolls that Native Americans use to educate their children about their gods. There were also baskets and pottery. Herb apparently was a painter and sculptor, examples of his work were everywhere. The house was compulsively neat. Not a thing was out of place. There were at least 50 Japanese dolls in plastic cases all over the living/dining room. Esther told me that her Japanese friends saw that she had a few, and had been bringing their doll collections to her, since she liked them. One person even left a box of dolls on her doorstep, with a short note, she had no idea who left them for her. She referred to the room as "the Doll Graveyard."
The kitchen was large, much bigger than I was lead to believe that a Japanese kitchen would be. There was an American refrigerator and a gas stove and oven. Esther explained that the Japanese only use a two-burner cook top and that ovens in the house were uncommon. The cabinets were components, and Esther had moved them around to suit her needs. The kitchen was crammed with food. Esther appeared to be anticipating famine, there was so much food stockpiled. I peeked in the freezer. It too was stuffed, and contained 6 half-gallons of ice cream.
Bunny came out of the bathroom, looking all put together. I was shown the bathroom. It too was larger than I would have thought it was. There was a standing heater, and some wooden cubes for storage of the numerous things that Esther and Herb needed for their daily lives. The toilet had it's own room behind a flexible room divider. It was similar to the upstairs model, except, since there was a sink in the room, no tap ran into the tank. The seat was just as fancy as the one upstairs. There was a louvered door that led into the "shower-room." It was one integrated unit. There was a drain on the floor and a hand held shower spray, with two mounting brackets on the wall. The tub was part of the room and there was a diverter that allowed the water to run either into the deep, but short tub or to the shower sprayer. Esther explained that you could fill the tub and that the control on the wall somehow kept the water warm, or heated it or something, but since neither she, nor Herb read Japanese, it had remained a mystery to them.
Esther wanted us to get settled so she converted the dining room into the guestroom. Trent and Herb hauled the sofas from the second bedroom down stairs. They unfolded into futon-beds. They were huge. We arranged them. I figured that Trent and Bunny would share one, and I would get my own. Herb and Esther didn't ask, and we didn't discuss it. That was cool. Bunny took me aside.
"My Mom asked me if you wanted your own room, the one next to theirs. But I told her no."
"Why?" I wasn't mad, but I was curious as to why Bunny had done that.
"Dude, they snore. I've shared hotel rooms with them. It's heinous. Don't worry, Trent and I won't fool around or anything. Trust me on this." She went over to help make the beds. Once we had everything squared away we piled back into the car and went to the base.
I've never been on a military base, so I didn't really know what to expect. First of all, Japanese guards man the base. They saluted Herb and he gave them a very precise and military salute back. It looked wrong. Herb was an old laid back hippie, but he seemed very in tune with the military thing as well. It's interesting how people have so many facets.
We drove by some very ugly, utilitarian buildings. There was a natural gas pipeline feeding the mid-rise apartments, it was elevated. It looked like Barbie's monorail. There were trees, and they looked like poodles with that elaborate cut. Herb explained that it was a Japanese style that was meticulously maintained by the grounds staff. There was a movie theater, and it was showing a movie that had just been released a few weeks ago. I didn't think that the base would be so up to date with stuff like that. There was a gas station, the commissary, which is just a grocery store. If we needed anything, we had to go with Herb, since he was the only one who could buy groceries there. The Marine Corps Exchange (MCX) which is the Marine equivalent of a PX, it was similar to a department store. There was a dry cleaner, video store, bank and a food court. The school looked like any elementary school in the states.
We went to a large modern building. We parked and went in. It was a bar, to be specific; it was the Officer's Club. The place was jammed, it was the final Basho of the Sumo match. Esther went into a Byzantine explanation of Sumo. She knew the wrestlers by name, and even had a few that she rooted for. Trent, Bunny and I played pool with some of the flyers while everyone else watched the match. On the way to the ladies room, Bunny showed me the slot machines.
"Isn't this a scandal?" She asked. "The government pays these guys almost nothing to defend our freedom, and they have legalized gambling on the base. The odds on these things are worse than Vegas."
"I had no idea."
"My Dad says that he sees clients all the time where someone has gambled away the housekeeping money, they are so broke and desperate that they do stupid stuff like that. What a shame."
We spent the evening in the club, and it was fun. I especially liked it when the aviators put Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" on the jukebox so that they could sing along. They are some sick puppies.
By the end of the day we all fell into our respective beds. I read a bit before falling asleep. Bunny was out the minute her head hit the pillow. Trent wasn't far behind, with his proclivity to sleep and all. It was sweet the way he held her. A bonus was that I learned that Bunny sleeps with a retainer.
Although we are in the Japanese equivalent of Boise, Idaho, we have been on the go from morning until night for the past week. We went to the Kintai Bridge, which is an ancient bridge built with no nails. We visited numerous temples, museums, shrines and oddities. I learned that a Japanese department store is a cultural Mecca. One day in Hiroshima we saw an Ikebana Flower Arrangement exhibit, a jewelry show and a display of Hagi Japanese pottery complete with Tea Ceremony performed by ladies in kimonos. We didn't have time to see the teddy bear show. At some of the exhibits, we were given really nice gifts, just for showing up.
A moment here to discuss Tea Ceremony. I'm glad I did it once. If it ever comes up again, I will run in the other direction. When we were in the pottery showroom I saw the ladies in kimono. The kimonos were beautiful, and in keeping with spring. I wanted to take a picture of them and the ladies were more than willing. The posed for me as a group and then they offered to take pictures of us with them. I love a culture that is photo-friendly. I snapped a good half a role and went to check out the pottery with Herb.
Hagi pottery was imported from Korea to Japan centuries ago, at the request of the Emperor. It has a distinctive pink glaze on it. Mom had studied with some masters in Hagi, so I already knew about it, but I had never seen such a large collection of it. The works we were viewing were specifically for use in Tea Ceremony. Herb and I were admiring the craftsmanship and trying to do the Yen conversion to see how much the pots were. They were either $1000.00 or $10,000.00. The artist's wife was there, also in kimono and she came over to us. She smiled and motioned for us to sit on a bench. They had been so nice about the pictures, we really didn't have a choice.
I've heard stories about Tea Ceremonies taking hours to complete, but this one was relatively short. There was a special piece of furniture set up specifically for the making of the tea. The ladies in kimono were all experts in Tea Ceremony and they fluttered around us, anxious to make a good impression. Esther talked us through the motions, such as admiring the beauty of the pottery before sipping the tea, she also suggested drinking it down in one gulp while it was hot. I hesitated and found out why. First of all, ceremonial tea has a strong bitter flavor. It is made from a finely ground tea powder, and is whisked into the boiling water. Unless you want a mouthful of silt, you need to get it all at once. The other notable thing about the tea is that is smells and looks exactly like henna. Very hempy. I smiled as I choked it down. We were also offered a beautiful pink cake. Esther said that it was meant to be a mountain with a cherry tree on it and provided a sweet counterpoint to the bitter tea. There was a small pick and I followed Esther's lead and divided the cake into three segments. She put a rather large segment into her mouth and with minimal chewing, swallowed it. Bunny looked at her pleadingly but Esther made it clear, with her eyes, that the cake was to be eaten, and no arguments. Bunny did the same, and tried not to grimace, unsuccessfully. I took a deep breath and popped a piece into my mouth, and discovered what the problem was. It was intensely sweetened bean paste. I don't know if you've had bean paste, but believe me if you have, you'll always remember the thick, sticky texture of it. I don't know what's worse, the initial shock of the first taste or knowing that there are two more pieces that need to be eaten. Trent and Herb chowed their pieces down, and didn't seem to mind the flavor and texture. Guys can eat anything.
The ladies in kimono were enchanted with us and were very sad when it was time for us to move on to the next attraction. But, the Japanese understand an itinerary and so we took our leave. Esther estimated that we had each just choked down $150.00 worth of tidbits on $1200.00 worth of pottery.
We went to Miyajima Island, the third most beautiful site in Japan (according to the pamphlet we received on the ferry.) It's chock full of amusements. An aquarium, temple, Torii Gate and hundreds of adorable, tame deer that wandered around looking for handouts. We had dinner at "the Chicken Shack" a cluster of pagodas in a cherry orchard that was a cross between a state fair and a restaurant. There wasn't a tourist attraction, panoramic view or cultural event within a 100-mile radius that we didn’t experience.
My favorite thing was the shopping. The Big store was a cross between a supermarket and a discount store. They had to drag me out of the appliance section. I was trying to figure out if the Hello Kitty washer/dryer would work in the U.S. There was also a 100-Yen store that was a classy version of our dollar stores. I bought tons of cool things there and I didn't need to worry about how to get it all back home. There was a United States Post Office on the base, and I boxed everything up and shipped it home.
Esther and Herb, being residents, knew the neighborhood places. Wherever we went they were greeted as honored guests. We met all kinds of interesting people, both on the base and in the town. We had a great time.
Herb and Esther drove us back to the airport and we were all hugged and kissed good-bye. They made it clear that we were always welcome in their home, which was so sweet and comforting. We flew back through Seoul where we had a ten-hour layover. Bunny showed us the Armed Forces taxis and we went downtown. We took a brief tour of the old Imperial Palace, which was just like the Forbidden City in The Last Emperor, we also took a turn through the History Museum, which was filled with dioramas. I love dioramas.
We went to Itaewon, a shopping district outside of Yongsan Army Base. We shopped for a while. I checked out the weird varieties of donut at the Dunkin Donuts. Giving the one with bean paste a wide berth. The great thing about Korea is that everyone spoke perfect English and they were very happy to take our American money. I scored some really cool watches and handbags, which the shopkeepers kindly packed up for me so I could get it all on the plane.
By the time our flight left, we were all falling asleep. Bunny was going to stay with Trent at his house on the return for a few days. We had arranged for a professional cleaning service to shovel it out while we were gone. I didn't dare tell her. I hope she appreciates it.
Another one of those weird hemisphere time change things. It's still the same day. I am dead. Have fallen into bed and I expect to sleep until next Tuesday.
Daria came over this morning with the mail. It was a scary, big pile. I thought of throwing it all into the fireplace and starting over, but she stayed and sorted through it with me. After a long trip away, I'm not good for much, so I ease into my ordinary life by reading my mail. I told her my stories and she asked tons of questions.
She was huge. In just a few weeks she had grown considerably. The baby had dropped and she was starting to feel back labor. She was just a few weeks away from being a mother. I was filled with envy and delight. I couldn't wait to see the baby.
I was a bit queasy from travel, odd food and jet lag. So we just sat around, sipping sodas and catching up. Brian and Dylan were at work so it was just we girls. Trent and Bunny had disappeared into the canyon, and were off line for the past two days. No phone call, no nothing. Maybe they were catching up on sleep, or maybe it was something else.
I had missed Daria. I was used to seeing her everyday, just like when we were kids, and I liked it. She seemed happy to have me back as well. At around noon another shipment of mail came, including the boxes that I had shipped back from Japan. I unpacked them and showered Daria with goofy presents.
At seven both Brian and Dylan came home. We had dinner delivered from the neighborhood Chinese place and I showed everyone my souvenirs. I bought some little sumo wrestler statues for the baby's room, Daria and Brian laughed their asses off at them.
It was nice not doing anything. After Brian and Daria left, Dylan and I caught up with each other. Being separated from a lover can do one of two things to a relationship. Either you realize that you are having more fun without him, in which case, it's time to call it quits, or you find yourself mentally turning to him, wanting to share the experience with him. I found that I missed Dylan so much that I poured out story after story to him. And he was such a lamb, he just let me go on and on. Cradled in his arms, yammering away, I felt so happy and loved.
We still needed to get our act together for the tour. Brian and Dylan were hard at work, hiring people, lining up talent and everything else having to do with the label. I was bummed about leaving Dylan for such a long time. I held him tight at night, burying my head in his neck, trying to inhale enough of him to last me the length of the tour.
Daria just sat around the house, she was feeling left out of all the activity, yet she was constantly the center of attention, it made her peevish. "Well, you better not go until I have this baby Jane, I'm serious, I'll never forgive you."
"Ok, well, you make sure you go into labor before I go then. Time, tide and tour wait for no baby." I thought that was rather clever.
"You would go, wouldn't you?" Daria's mood shifted suddenly and she got all weepy.
"Oh Daria, you know I wouldn't. Or if I did, I'd come right back on the first plane. Trust me, I'll be right outside the labor room, with donuts and magazines." I felt bad, I knew it was just hormones, but I also knew she really felt bad.
Daria wiped her eyes. "God, being pregnant is great, this emotional crap sucks. I didn't mean to make you feel guilty. You're my best friend, I know you'd be there for me no matter what." Then the waterworks started in earnest. I'm usually unsettled by big shows of emotion. Daria could always be counted on to suck it up, but in the past few years, she's really become much more open. I remember when the only emotion she showed was rage. That wasn't healthy, so this was better, it just took getting used to.
She did it with three days to spare. Margaret Jane O'Neill made her appearance early this morning. Modesty prevents me from commenting on her middle name. Dylan and I were eating dinner and talking about the tour when Brian came running across the street, he blew right into the living room.
"Daria's in labor, you want to come with us to the hospital?" He didn't even wait for our answer, he just turned around and ran back across the street. Isn't that the way it happened in I Love Lucy? Anyway, he and Daria booked out of there. We hastily cleared up the dishes and followed them down to Cedars-Sinai. By the time we got there, Daria had been admitted and was in a private labor room. After what I've seen, private is a joke.
Quinn showed up not too long after, apparently she was in the middle of a date, so she was all tarted up, looking beautiful as usual.
We sat around, watching television while Daria intermittently screamed in pain and did that Lamaze breathing. I thought she was getting drugs, but I didn't dare bring it up. Everything progressed normally, which means slowly. Nurses came in at intervals to "examine" her. How someone as private as Daria is, ever got to the point where she was comfortable with strangers putting their hands inside her will remain a mystery to me.
At around 4:00 AM it was determined that it was almost time, we were shooed out of the room and left to hang around the bare waiting room, reading Golf Digest. Quinn went out to a pay phone to start notifying relatives. Since Dylan and I were alone I figured screw it, I wanted to make out, so we turned the lights off, leaving only the light of the TV to illuminate the room. We got as comfortable as we could on those impossibly hard sofas they have in hospitals and went at it. I don't know how long it was but Brian finally poked his head in to let us know that Margaret had arrived. God only knows what he thought, or what he told Daria.
We collected ourselves and went down the hall to check everyone out. Daria looked wiped, which is to be expected, but she was holding her little girl and grinning from ear to ear.
"Look you guys it's Margaret." She apparently got those drugs at some point. The baby was sleeping and promised to be really, really cute. Daria shoved over in the bed so Brian could climb in with her. The nurse would kill them if she saw that, but it was touching.
Daria came home this afternoon. Her family was in transit to help. I had my cleaning lady boil my house in preparation for the onslaught. Brian's sisters were staying in Daria's extra rooms, since they didn't need as much sleep at the older folks. Helen and Jake and Brian's folks would be staying in my extra rooms. I was buzzing around trying to get everything sewn up, but I found myself sitting over at Daria's, drinking coffee and staring at Margaret. Daria was still a bit out of it, she hadn't slept much in the past two days. I took Margaret, while Daria bathed and napped. I sat on the sofa, listening to music and holding the baby. There is something peaceful about a newborn.
Brian was hanging around, trying to get some work done from the house, but he kept coming in to look at Margaret and me. Dylan was trying to discuss some accounting issue with him, but considering the topic, and the distraction, nothing much was accomplished. I gazed at Margaret, kissed her cheeks and smelled her head. It was intoxicating.
I left with Trent this morning. I am so depressed I can't even begin to think about it. I stayed up all night with Dylan, trying to get enough to last me until I saw him again. The Wycleff Jean song, Gone til' November kept running through my mind. Trent moped about Bunny. We discussed it on the plane to New York. I figured I could use a different kind of misery, so I encouraged him to talk about it.
"What did you resolve with Bunny?" I asked after the meal service.
"We haven't resolved anything." Trent moodily looked out the window into the clouds.
I could tell that something was bothering him. Sometimes those who are the most laid back, are the ones that suffer the most from change, they have no mechanism for coping with it. Trent gave the appearance of being tranquil, but I knew that it was a façade. Trent had always avoided conflict and strong emotion. One day someone was going to push the wrong button and the explosion would be visible from space. I waited for him to compose himself. That's what all those pauses are about, he has to push the emotion down.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but something has changed between you and Bunny. Did you finally sleep with her?"
"It's more than that. She was right about waiting, but now, there's no turning back. I want her more than ever, but I don't know how we're going to resolve our situation. How can I ask her to give up her life for me? I don't want to change my life, except that I want her in it. I want to keep making music, and I need to be in Los Angeles to do it. She loves her life in Florida, I don't want to be selfish."
"Well, have you asked her? Have you discussed it?"
"Come on Trent, don't make me drag it out of you. Tell me what's going on, you seem unhappy."
"She doesn't want the situation to change."
"She has her job and her house and she's happy. She's worked out a schedule. I'll come out for a few days a month, and she'll come out for a few days a month. So we'll be together one-third of the time."
Boy that sounded strange. I wonder what's behind that. "Did she give you a reason?"
He inhaled deeply. It must be big, he waited until he could tell me, presumably without betraying emotion. "She doesn't want to make any changes unless there's a commitment."
"Commitment? Marriage?" He nodded.
"And you're not ready to marry her." He wasn't looking at me at all.
"She's not ready to marry me." Woah, I wasn't expecting that.
"You asked her? I thought you weren't sure about being married." This was taking a strange turn.
"Well, I wasn't, but the more I thought about it, it seemed like a good idea."
"But not to her."
Another long pause. I should take up knitting. "Janey, I don't think she believed me. I love her, and I know she loves me, but I think she has doubts."
"Trent, what exactly did she say?"
"She said that she wanted me to really think about it. She thinks that I'm in a mood, you know, Brian and Daria having Margaret. She thinks that I'm sentimental about babies, and she doesn't want kids."
"Trent, you have to admit, it makes sense. You told me yourself that you weren't sure about being married." I stopped, "She doesn't want kids? Do you?" That's a deal breaker, it never occurred to me that Trent wouldn't be a father at some point in his life.
"Janey, I know you want a family, but I don't think it's for me. I don't have the patience to be around kids, and as few skills as I have at maintaining a relationship, I know I have fewer for raising a child. There's only so much responsibility I can handle."
He swirled the melting ice in his glass. He has a lot of resentment about our Dad not being around when we were kids, so there was plenty of emotion behind his decision, if it was really a decision. I believe that if Trent really loved Bunny, that he would sacrifice the opportunity to have kids to keep her. He had a point, not everyone is cut out to be a parent, but Trent had been looking out for me since I was in kindergarten. He may not want any kids, but I know that if he did want to be a father, that he would be a damn good one.
Trent and I sat through the flight, each of us thinking about what we did and didn't have.
There's quite a gap here, and it's pretty easy to fill:
Finally, it was over and we all went home. Dylan met me at the airport and I think we made quite a spectacle of ourselves, but who cares? I’m HOME!
I can't believe all that I've missed. Margaret is just as cute as she can be. Daria was happy to see me. Margaret was becoming a small human. She's much more interactive. I sat with her on my lap and we played a game. I'd stick my tongue out at her, and she sticks her's out at me. We did this a few times and all of a sudden she broke out into a huge smile. I laughed and she smiled bigger. Making a baby happy is rewarding.
I've settled into a routine. I wake up, run, hang with Daria in the morning, have lunch out with different contacts, and then head into the office in the afternoon. It works for me. We've signed some great talent and we've already got some projects underway.
Daria and Trent have almost finished the movie, from what I've heard it's going to be a monster. The music is heavily orchestrated, lush and sensual. Tanya re-wrote some scenes to accommodate the songs, so the music and the movie are intertwined.
Every night I thank God for Dylan. I never knew that I could love someone so much. It's almost like a joke on me. I've never been someone who turns herself inside out for a guy. I've had my heart broken. Who hasn't? But on the whole, I've managed to stay detached. If someone had told me that I would be deeply in love with an accountant, I would have rolled on the floor with laughter, but here I am, and it's great. I couldn't tell you exactly what it is that I love about him. He's sarcastic like me, but not cynical. He's thoughtful, but not whipped. He's got an innocence that is absolutely charming. On nights that he stays over, he makes me a cup of hot chocolate. He just goes into the kitchen and does it. There is nothing that describes how nurtured I feel.
Quinn drafted Daria and me to help her with her charity work. Quinn had found a way to extend her former Fashion Club duties to her adult life. She works with a group called Dress for Success. They provide working clothes for women re-entering the work force. The women were either leaving abusive relationships, or just getting off of public assistance. The group gathers used working clothes and distributes them to the women so that they'll have appropriate clothing for their new lives as working women.
The clothing was just one step. Quinn offered her services as an image consultant. The fact that Quinn was able to make a living helping rock musicians and actors dress themselves is one of those things that make America great. I admire what she does, because I have been a recipient of her expert advice. What she did for these women was amazing. Daria and I were there to fetch and carry, Quinn had engaged hair stylists and make up artists for the actual consultations.
Daria and I familiarized ourselves with the clothing, it was arranged by size and color. There were twenty women who arrived for their day. You can look into the faces of these women and see how beaten down they are. Quinn set everyone up for a separate consultation. She asked them about what their average day was like, how many children they had, how much time they wanted to devote to their appearance. She gathered all kinds of information.
Quinn designed a look, and a maintenance schedule for each woman, that was realistic for them. She worked with each hair stylist to get a style that was flattering and easy to keep up. A working mom with three kids did not have 2 hours a day to spend curling her hair.
Quinn was able to work wonders. She told each woman what colors to wear, what style of clothing was the most flattering, and even gave them tips on which thrift stores could be counted upon to provide them with good wardrobe pieces. What didn't she know about fashion? The most interesting advice she gave them was about accessories.
"Ladies, you should always be on the look out for the best pieces possible, that goes without saying. I will say this, always have one good leather handbag, and only wear good leather shoes. Sure, these items may cost more, but in the long run, they will last longer, and look nicer, than any cheap, plastic/vinyl stuff you can buy, not to mention the fact that your feet will thank you. Be sure to take care of your accessories. Use saddle soap and polish as needed." Quinn gave them a list of discount places that sold leather goods and a flyer with instructions for caring for leather. She certainly covered the bases.
Each woman was given cosmetics and hair care products to take home with her. The women who left that day were not the same women who came through the doors that morning. Each was excited about her new image, and they could not thank her enough.
When we were younger, Daria and I were often unkind to Quinn about her slavish devotion to fashion. To us, it seemed shallow and unnecessary. Moving about in the world has made me change my mind on this. Sure, we should not be judged entirely on our appearance, and certainly those of us with unconventional taste should be allowed to express it. But often, when someone is dressed unattractively, it can indicate a bad self-image. Blue hair can be avant guard or it can be a cry for help, it's a thin line. These women needed to look as pretty as they could, because they had felt ugly for too long.
We drove up to San Francisco yesterday. Trent is the Grand Marshall of the Gay Pride Parade, so he's been here for a couple of days, doing advance work. At first, he was hoping that he could ride with one of the Dykes on Bikes, but no, he would have to be in a convertible towards the end of the parade.
Somehow, gay men identify with Trent. It's a good thing that Trent is comfortable around everyone, because a lesser man would be very uptight. But Trent was always one to embrace an audience and he was very concerned about making a good impression.
Bunny flew out. It turns out that one of the many places she has lived was San Francisco, and she was completely connected. A friend of hers has a van and he hauled us all over town to the hippest nightspots. Joe and Bunny together were hilarious. They had some history. Apparently in her day, Bunny was the diva in a group of gay guys. They all flocked to be with her at all these clubs. The girl only went into her purse to refresh her lipstick. Joe kept telling stories about her, she would tell them about him. As I've said before, Bunny can be a touch manic, but with Joe she was on rocket fuel. They finished each other's sentences and even gestured in the same way. No beverage was safe with them around.
Bunny took me to lunch at the St. Francis hotel. This is something that she and her Mom had done every Saturday, for years. At first it was meant to be a "ladies who shop and lunch" event, but I think Bunny wanted to have a serious conversation with me. I never really sat down with her one on one, and although I like her, I didn't really feel like I knew her.
We ordered. Bunny had them make lobster ravioli for her, a favorite of hers that was no longer on the menu. The waiter, Manny, knew Bunny and had asked about her Mom, so he was falling all over himself. When he brought the salads, they were huge and loaded with Gorgonzola cheese and walnuts, apparently another of Bunny's favorites.
We nibbled our lettuce and there was one of those pregnant pauses, where the small talk stops and you know something is going to happen.
"Jane, would you hate me if I didn't marry Trent?" Bunny stared at her plate.
"Um, that's a weird question." I mean, what else could I say? I didn't really have a lot of emotion invested in Bunny, but I knew Trent would be crushed.
"I assumed he told you that he asked me."
"Well, yes. But he seemed to think that you just needed time."
She shook her head. "No, I don't need time. I don't want to be married. I don't want a family. I know this is going to sound strange, but I like things the way they are. I get to have my cake and eat it too. I love Trent, but…" She stopped, there's a whole lot implied in 'but.'
"Well, I'm sure that he won't press the marriage issue, but just because you marry him, doesn't mean that you automatically have to have kids."
"It's also a huge sacrifice for me. I have to leave a job that I love, all my friends, my pretty little house and a whole way of life. I moved away from California for a ton of reasons, I can't picture myself moving back."
"Not even to be with Trent? Bunny, I've seen you guys together, I know that you could be happy. Besides, you can keep your house. Nothing would change except that you could live with each other, make a life together. Can't you transfer with your company? I hate to mention it, but if you wanted, you wouldn't have to work."
She shuddered. "I've always been responsible for myself. I'm independent, I never had to worry about someone else, and it's always been just me. I have to say that I'm really proud of everything that I've accomplished for myself. The idea of ditching it all and marrying Trent completely screws with my self-image." She sighed. "None of my friends understands what I'm feeling. They don't know what it's like to be so…" she searched for the word, "public. You know, for a goof, it was fun to go to the parties and the Oscars and all of that, but the idea of living my life on the Entertainment Channel does not appeal."
I knew what she meant. At least I've always been in the shadows. I could go out and not get mobbed, Trent was starting to need a bodyguard. There were fewer and fewer places that he could go. It was a strange kind of agoraphobia, it wasn't about leaving the house, it was about leaving Los Angeles. In LA, he was just one of many, no big deal. Take him out of the community and he was an oddity. Trent was a guy who was happy playing music for a living, I think fame completely blindsided him.
"So, is it the independence issue, or is it about the whole rock star thing?"
She shifted in her chair. "It's everything. I know that Trent can't do what he does anywhere else, so it's not like we can flip a coin and decide where we're going to live. If I give up everything, and it doesn't work out, not only have I given up my entire life, the whole thing plays out in the national news. Like I could keep designing data networks after something like that. I'd probably have to write a tell all book, and that's so…tacky." She had worked herself into a state.
"Bunny, I don't know what to say. Are you going to break up with him?"
I looked over at her and there were tears in her eyes. She was searching through her purse looking for a tissue. "Jane, I can't break up with him, I love him and I'm just not strong enough. But I know that he's unhappy and I don't want to hurt him anymore. I don't know what to do. How much longer can we go on? I was hoping you could help me, either convince me to leave him or tell me what I should do." The tears rolled down her cheeks.
"It's a bitch of a situation. Here's what I think should happen." I was doing that thing where I was talking as the thoughts tumbled in my head. "I think you should apply for a transfer, or better yet a promotion. You should move in with Trent, make him throw away all of his terrible furniture and redecorate the way you like it. That way the house will feel like your home. Invite all of your friends to come and visit with you and you can make trips back to Florida to visit with them. It may not be perfect, but you get to be with Trent." She was really upset and she was trying to compose herself. We were in a dark corner and Manny wisely stayed away, pretending not to notice. "Look how upset you are, doesn't that tell you something? If you didn't love Trent, and if you didn't want to be with him, you'd just leave and not even worry about it."
She looked up at me. "Well, it sounds good in theory. But I like where I am right now. It's not that easy to change everything. Dammit, why can't he just be some regular guy somewhere?" She smiled winsomely through her tears. "I guess I'm just going to have to figure it out, I don't have to decide right now this minute anyway. Well, enough of all this boo-hooing, how boring for you. If I did move in with Trent, do you think I could convince him to ditch that terrible oak coffee table?"
We spent the rest of our lunch discussing how she would redecorate Trent's house if she did decide to move in with him. She seemed to be back to her old self, only less so.
Trent went with his handlers to get set up for the parade. Dylan, Bunny and I went to Joe's house for a pre-parade brunch. Joe had prepared orange juice, Eggo waffles, fresh fruit and scrambled eggs. Bunny abused him soundly, apparently this is the only meal Joe ever serves his friends.
We hung out for a while and then we caught the bus to Market Street, since taking a car would be insanity. We had a cooler filled with munchies and water. It was a sunny, warm day, perfect for the parade. We claimed an excellent spot on the curb and set up our little site. The crowd was jubilant and rowdy. One guy had climbed a light pole and was sitting up on it for the best view possible.
The parade had started, we could hear the roar of the crowd and the motorcycles up towards the Embarcadero. Suddenly more motorcycles and lesbians than you could believe existed in the world, came down the street. It was awesome. It went on for minutes, the women waving to the crowd and the crowd waving back and cheering. It made me all warm inside, feeling the love and acceptance. Also, the motorcycles were cool.
The Gay Pride Parade is really fun, there were lots of groups marching, some political, some religious, some just family members supporting their loved ones. There were floats, sponsored by nightclubs, with blaring music. Transvestites and transgender folks all dolled up. The parade lasted about four hours. Trent passed by in the car, he was having the time of his life. He was wearing a pin that said, "I love my gay sister" and was waving like a fool. We cheered and waved back at him. Boys were throwing flowers at him and holding signs professing their love for him. Bunny, Joe and Dylan had been tipping a few and they were at the point where they were obnoxious and silly. Bunny was recognized by some of the guys on the street. For the most part they were just curious, asking her questions about what Trent was like and stuff like that, but one was really argumentative.
"Honey, please, I sure don't know what he sees in you. You aren't even all that." The guy said.
"Well, for starters, I have a choochie." She was trying not to start something, but it was hard, considering how insulting the guy was.
"Hummph! Well, that doesn't stay interesting for long."
"I don't know about that, it's a damn sight more interesting than your sorry ass. Tell me, where's your boyfriend?" Joe was behind her egging her on and ready to mix it up. Dylan tried to get the two of them to back down. I stood on the sidelines enjoying the show. I scanned the crowd for cameras, just in case, knowing how Bunny felt about being on the news.
The guy looked a bit befuddled, he didn't expect her to give as good as she got. "MY boyfriend?" He trailed off, apparently he didn't have an answer for that.
"Like I thought. Well, I'll tell you what, why don't you go back to your job at Blockbuster's and tell all your friends about how you TOLD me, meanwhile, I'll be with Trent tonight, and honey, I won't be thinking about you!" And with that she snapped her fingers and turned around. The other guys in the crowd were hovering around. They looked at the guy with pity. But they wanted to talk more with Bunny. She was holding court, smiling and laughing, the guy just skulked away. Dylan looked at me and I looked at him, there are a million stories in the naked city.
The plan was to hook up with Trent back at the hotel, but the busses were loaded. Taxis were nowhere to be found, so we started walking. We sang silly songs, anything that came to mind. It was a festive atmosphere, walking along with the crowd, singing.
We finally got to a place where we could get on a bus without too much hassle, so we rode the rest of the way to the hotel.
Trent wasn't back in the room yet, so we all came in, kicked up the air conditioning and ordered some room service. Bunny queued up a movie. After being out all day, it was nice to relax.
We were all draped across various pieces of furniture, Joe and Bunny were sacked out on the bed, asleep. Dylan and I were nodding off on the sofa. I wouldn't want to have any of their heads when they woke up. Trent came in and surveyed the landscape.
"So you guys had a little party, right?"
"How do I move that Joe guy off the bed?"
"You don’t. We can squish over on the sofa. Or we can go to our room. Or you can go to our room."
"Nah, what I really want is a bath anyway, if you want me, I'll be in there."
"You need me to light the candles?"
"I've got it."
He went into the bathroom to draw a bath. One of my favorite things in the world is to have a nice afternoon bath and to curl up with my honey, naked in bed on a Saturday in a hotel room. I figured I owed Trent a favor. I woke up Joe and sent him home. Dylan and I went over to our room. I left Bunny where she was. They knew where to find us.
We all met for breakfast at Sears Fine Foods, on Powell Street. It's another "San Francisco Landmark." I swear I've never been in a city that has so many dumpy places designated as landmarks. At any rate, Sears has the best pecan waffles and French toast, of anyplace, bar none. We ordered a bunch of food for the table, and we each had a bit of something. I love it when people agree to that. When I go for breakfast, I want everything, but I hate to waste food, so for me, this is the perfect solution.
We dawdled over breakfast. Our plans were to drop Bunny at the airport on our way out of town. Joe was there, but the mood was subdued for a change. We got a later start, so that we could avoid rush hour traffic, only in San Francisco, it's more like rush morning traffic. That is one thing I hate about California, trying to get from one place to another requires a tactical plan.
There is a thing called the Thomas Guide, and it's a spiral bound book, with maps of different parts of town. They have them for the major cities in California. Everyone has this thing in their car. You have to monitor radio information, and if you hear that a particular traffic artery is clogged, you whip out the Thomas Guide and try to plot another route, madly flipping through pages, looking for R-199 on the grid on page 72. The only problem is that everyone else is doing the same thing, while simultaneously driving and calling someone on the cell phone to tell them that they're running late. It's amazing that there aren't more accidents than there are. Consequently every time you drive some place, it's wise to tack on 30 minutes to your expected travel time, just in case things aren't working out with the freeway.
We were lucky, we were able to take 101 all the way to the airport with no hassles. Trent and Bunny had their "goodbye moment." I was watching them while they stood in line to check her in at the curb, they both looked so sad.
Trent was quiet as we traveled down to Gilroy to take the cut off around the dam and over to Interstate 5. We even stopped at Casa De Fruita, home of the cup flippers, to pick up juice and dried fruit for our trip. The rest of the trip was uneventful. Trent racked out in the back seat, I couldn't tell if he was sleeping or thinking, it's always been a bit of both for him anyway. I think that he and Bunny had hit that part of their relationship, where the rubber meets the road. Either it's time to get together permanently, or it's time to bail. I wondered where they were going to end up.
Today was the day the Jodie moved to town. Apparently the big-time corporate termination package includes the super-duper movers, Jodie's house was all in turmoil as guys were setting up her furniture and possessions. They had finished with the kitchen, and had started to work on the other rooms. Jodie had scored quite a bit of dough in her travels, between the trust fund from her parents, the profit on the sale of her house in San Francisco and the amazing golden parachute, she was pretty well set up. She used Daria and Brian's realtor and found a wonderful old house in Hancock Park. It had five bedrooms, six if you count the one for the maid, a koi pond, a bougainvillea lined patio and a lap pool. She was showing us the fur vault as we toured the large, but cozy house.
"So I think I'm just going to put my sweaters in here. Fur? Ew." She wrinkled up her nose. Her furniture was arranged in the house, and it was funny how the stuff in her three-bedroom house fit so well into her five bedroom house. We do have a tendency to cram our space full of stuff. I know that there's not a spare inch of space in my house, and I'm one person with five bedrooms. Where does it all come from?
"Jodie, I like this window treatment, these curtains are beautiful." Daria was admiring a rather fouffy looking slub-silk, pale blue drapery.
"Thanks Daria, they came with the house, and to be honest, I couldn't care less about decorating, so I just got the other stuff to match." Jodie looked around as though she was seeing her things for the first time. "I got a decorator to pick this stuff out, who has time to deal with it?"
"All the same, it's really pretty." Daria said, shifting Margaret to her other hip. The baby was happily drooling on her index finger and looking around at all the pretty colors.
"Thanks. Want to get some lunch?" We went down stairs and surveyed the gourmet kitchen. There were a few take-out menus stuck to the Sub-Zero fridge with magnets. The only thing in the fridge so far was bottled water and the salads that Jodie had delivered earlier. We sat around the island in the kitchen and talked girl talk. Each of us taking turns holding Margaret so that Daria could actually eat something. Margaret was a good baby, but she was a real attention hog, always wanting to be held. Seemed funny for a child of Daria's, but God plays his little jokes on you.
Jodie was playing peek-a-boo with Margaret as Daria was filling us in on the news from Lawndale. "So Jake tells me that Mack Daddy Game's stock has split again. Apparently it gained half again the value within the first week. As you can imagine, Jake is pretty happy about that." She was referring to Michael Mackenzie's company of course. In one of those odd twists, Jake had done some marketing consulting for Mack when he first started the company, Mack didn't have any cash, so he paid Jake in stock. Jake and Helen were now, very, very, very wealthy because of it. I can only imagine the raft of shit Helen gave Jake when she found out about that deal, but everything turned out all right in the end, and that's all that matters. Helen was able to realize her dream of early retirement, and they spent their time traveling all over the world, something that Jake had been dreaming about his whole life.
"So how are Mack and Caroline doing? I haven't seen either of them since your wedding." Jodie asked.
"Great, she's expecting again, I think she's due in February."
"Remind me not to drink the water at their house." Jodie said as she rolled her eyes.
"No kidding." Daria and Jodie laughed. Mack and Caroline already had three kids, all boys.
"We should plan an outing. A mini reunion of people we actually want to see." Jodie said. She always was the cruise director. Organizing all kinds of activities and what-not.
"Jodie, besides those present in the room, who else do you want to see?" I asked. I was truly mystified. When I left Lawndale, I pretty much left behind everyone who stayed there. Daria always had been my best friend, and Quinn had become a good friend as well, since we work together so frequently. The guys in the band, well, I had to deal with them. Jodie had been Brian's best friend, and she was in the peripheries because of that relationship, but now that she was coming to join us, I could see her becoming tight buddy as well. But who else did I really care about? Who else did I even wonder about in an off moment? The Fashion Club? Upchuck? Andrea? Brittany? Kevin? I never gave them a thought. When I ran into Brittany last year, it was nice to see her, but after we came back home, I forgot about her.
"I wouldn't mind seeing Mack, he was my best friend for I don't know how many years. I guess I'd like to see how Upchuck and all those people turned out. " She seemed thoughtful for a moment. "A lot of my life was wrapped up in high school. Not to sound mean, but you guys never did mix with those people, I did."
"True, I don't have a burning desire to find out that Upchuck and Sandi got together." I said, mostly as a joke.
"Oh God, you don't think that happened do you?" Daria said, trying to calm a fussy Margaret.
"No idea. Doesn't Quinn keep up with the Fashion Fiends?" I responded, dangling a flower in front of the baby to get her attention.
"Doubtful. Those girls all packed off to parts unknown, mostly private liberal arts colleges in the South, when they couldn't get into Pepperhill. Quinn got into Rhode Island School of Design and never looked back. Think about it, besides an unnatural interest in lip gloss, what did she ever have in common with those chicks?" Daria handed me the baby, since she seemed to want to be with me.
"Yeah, even when she was the biggest pain in the ass, she had way more on the ball than any of them." I agreed, while trying to stuff Margaret's foot in my mouth.
"So I guess I can count you out as far as a reunion goes." Jodie said, somewhat deflated.
"Yeah, I don't think I could pick any of them out of a line up." I said.
"Not my bag either. They really were your friends." Daria said, taking the opportunity to be divested of the baby to cram her face full of salad.
Jodie contemplated it for a minute. "You know what. If they really were my friends, I wouldn't have to track them down on the Internet. Maybe you guys are right, maybe I should just wait for the official twenty year reunion. You'll come to that right?"
I looked at Daria, I was sure my face said "Hell No!" Daria interjected before I could say anything. "Sure Jodie, we'll be at the reunion."
That seemed to make Jodie happy, and we let the subject drop. After Daria had lunch, it was time for Margaret to have hers. Daria was breast-feeding, so she had to get all set up with the blanket. I swear, if you asked me twenty years ago whether Daria would ever feed her child in public, I would have bet the ranch that the answer was no. First of all, I didn't think she'd actually have kids, and secondly, the idea of her getting fewer than 3 layers of clothes between her and the world was inconceivable. Yet here she was in a kitchen, with the equivalent of Grand Central Station rolling through, without a care in the world. Go figure.
"So what are we going to call her?" Jodie asked.
"Margaret." Daria answered.
"Come on Daria, Margaret is a bit much for a little girl. Don't you have any nicknames picked out?"
"Well, we named her Margaret after Matthew Arnold's love. His poems are so lovely and romantic." Daria got a dreamy look on her face. "Of course, if it has to be shortened, I approve of Meg, like in Little Women."
"What about Maggie, like in The Simpsons?" I loved to gig her. I was rewarded with a sour look.
"I hardly think so." Daria replied haughtily.
"Margie? Midge? Marge?" Jodie continued. "Peg? Peggy?"
"How did Peg get to be a nickname for Margaret anyway?" I inquired abstractly.
"Is it?" Daria asked. "I guess it is. Hmm, good question. I'll research it when I get home."
"I know!" Everyone looked at me. "Muffy! It's perfect, it sets her up to be a debutante later."
"ABSOLUTELY NOT!" Daria said. She was so emphatic that she startled the baby who started to fret. "Don't worry little one, I won't let the mean lady call you…Muffy." She said it with disgust.
Jodie and I laughed as Daria comforted her daughter.
Jodie came to work today. We set her up with an office, she had a great view of the next-door neighbor's backyard. Jodie was given a budget of ten percent of our gross profits. Well our future profits at any rate. We did have to prime the pump a bit, since we had yet to produce and sell anything. Jodie's job was to dole the money out to charities and causes. She was also in charge of benefit gigs and any other community affairs.
First off, she was going to meet with each of our signed artists to see where they would want their money invested. We think of our charity work as an investment, we figure any little bit of money we send out in the community would get back to us in the form of happy humans and good karma. Not a bad exchange really.
One of the first things she did was to have us sponsor a Habitat for Humanity house. We were going to help the homeowner build the house. We already had people signed up to work on it. She thought that if some of our more recognizable faces were to swing some hammers, that we might help them get more people interested in helping the organization in general. She was already working the phones.
She slid into that office and it was like she had been there for years. I knew that we were in good hands there.
I had a meeting with an executive from Knickerbocker Publishing that afternoon. She represented a book that I wanted to option. After working with Tanya, I wanted to try my hand at directing a movie. The book is called Incubus Dearest. It's about a single woman in her thirties who is visited by a roguish incubus. I thought it would be a good romantic-comedy, with someone like Val Kilmer as the incubus. At any rate, I wanted to own the book rights. I had a figure in my head, and I knew that it was slightly more than the going rate, I didn't want to be stingy. I was even willing to let the author co-write the script if she wanted. Daria had already started doing an outline for the movie, even though I told her not to get her hopes up.
To say that I was surprised when Diana showed up in my office is an understatement. Talk about not thinking about people. Diana was Trent's first important girlfriend. I suspect that she was his first love, but he never talks about stuff like that, so it's only conjecture.
She looked great. Her red hair was long, like it had been all those years ago. She was wearing a gray suit. It was so sharp that I think she took a slice out of my silk ficus with her cuffs.
"Gosh Jane, it certainly has been a while since I last saw you." She started, smiling at me as she unpacked her case.
"No kidding, why didn't you say anything? I'll bet Trent would love to see you. Wow, I can't believe that it's you." I had always liked Diana, she was good to Trent and she was smart and funny.
"What am I going to say? 'Oh, by the way, please tell Miss Lane that her brother's girlfriend from the Paleolithic era will be stopping by to discuss the book.' I don't think so." She laughed.
"Well, it's a nice surprise. Great, so do you want to sell me the rights?" I asked her.
"You don't negotiate much do you?" She responded, giggling.
"Sure I do, I just don't bullshit much. Look, is the property for sale?"
"Yes, the property is for sale."
"Okay, what are we talking about here?" We discussed the nuts and bolts and dollars and cents. After a bit, I owned Incubus Dearest. Now to develop it. I took her card, to pass on to Trent. I figured he'd want to catch up with her.
It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it.
Now I know how Pandora felt. Trent had been draped on my couch when I got home from my meeting with Diana. I think he intended to watch something on TV, but somehow he got sidetracked by a magazine, then by a CD, then by half the contents of my refrigerator. As I surveyed the debris, the only thought in my mind was that Dylan was coming over and that he would freak if he saw that mess.
"Hey! Sleeping Beauty! Trent! Wake the fuck up slacker!" I yelled, he roused slightly.
"Wha? Huh?" He was a tad disoriented. "Oh, hey Janey." He sat up on the sofa, displacing a crumb filled plate on the floor.
"Great now I have to vacuum. Get your ass off my sofa, and clean that crap up Trent. Dylan's coming over in an hour, and I need to get ready, and I want my house as clean as I left it. Okay?"
"Damn, you're in a mood."
"No I'm not. I just want my house to be clean for my boyfriend. Look, I'm sorry for yelling. Please get that picked up. And if you feel like going, oh I don't know…home. That wouldn't be a bad idea either." I went up to my room to get ready.
Actually I needed to get into something comfy, we planned to stay in, which suited me just fine, but there's some stuff you don't want your brother hanging around for. As I changed, I could hear Trent moving stuff around. I wasn't going back down until I heard the vacuum cleaner. After a while, I could still hear him downstairs, but no vacuum. I went back down, in sweats, to see what he was doing. He was kneeling between the coffee table and the sofa picking each crumb up individually. I swear, a lazy man works the hardest. I got the Hoover out of the coat-closet.
"Ok, I've got it from here." I plugged it in, but then I remembered Diana's card. "Oh, I have something for you. I fished in my purse for her number."
"What's this?" He said taking her business card from me.
"Diana came into day, she's a publishing executive. You should get together, talk over old times." He looked stunned. "Trent?"
"Woah." He said as he studied her card. He turned the small piece of cardstock over and over, as though looking for a clue. He looked at me, waiting for an explanation.
"How did she come to you?" He was either still groggy from his nap, or just too stunned to think.
"I optioned a book from her. It was a complete surprise. Call her, she wants to hear from you. But call her from your house, okay?" I shooed him out the door.
Just in time, Dylan missed him by less than a minute.
The next day I decided not to go into the office. I felt like lounging around. Trent showed up around noon.
"Hey Janey, can I talk to you?" He was in one of his serious moods.
"Sure, what's up?"
"It's Diana, we met up last night." Trent was rationing out the words, in case he had a shortage. "I didn't know what to expect, but a lot of old feelings got raked up."
"Oh?" What was I supposed to say? I didn't really know what their relationship was all those years ago, so it wasn't like I could surmise where he was going with this.
"Yeah, I sure did love her, and I think I still do." He wouldn't look me in the eyes.
"So?" Somewhere, I could tell, he could see a complication, but I wasn't going to play twenty questions.
"What about Bunny?" He said finally.
"What about her? You either love her or you don't. What did Diana say?" I wanted to know what he was thinking, sometimes his conversation didn't clue me into it.
"About Bunny?" He asked.
"Okay, start with that."
"I told her that we were at a crossroads in our relationship. I know that I love Bunny, but I don't know if we're meant to be together. I'm frustrated because she won't meet me halfway. Well, it's more than halfway, but she understands why it has to be that way. " Poor Trent, he was not used to dealing with complex situations.
"What did Diana say about that?" I was curious, so I waited for him to continue.
"She said that she could understand it, that she had to make that decision a long time ago too. She said that she wonders if she made the right decision." He looked at me meaningfully.
"So she regrets leaving you?" I bottom-lined it for him.
"Yeah, that's what she said." He said shyly.
"So what are you going to do?"
"I guess keep seeing her, find out where it goes."
"What about Bunny?"
"What do you think I should do?"
I sighed. I knew what Trent should do. He should explore all of his options. How much would Bunny want to know? Trent needs to be honest, he doesn't have the ability to be duplicitous, but it could ruin what he has with Bunny. I'm not sure I'd want to stick around if someone told me that "Hey, my ex came into town, we're having a rocky time now, so I thought I'd see if it would be better with her. I'll get back to you when I figure it out though."
"Trent, you have to tell her. But you do realize that she may never want to speak with you again." He nodded. "I guess just say that you've been seeing her. Don't elaborate. You don't want to hurt her feelings. Besides, you don't know where this is going anyway. Whatever you do, don't sleep with Diana unless you're absolutely sure that you are going to break up with Bunny. Promise me you'll do that."
"I promise. Thanks Janey."
I've been worried sick about Trent. He and Diana have seen each other every night since they got back together. I know that he still talks to Bunny, but she's a fool if she can't figure out that something has changed. Bunny may be a goof, but she's no fool. I feel responsible in a way, but really, it's all my dumb brother. How can someone go for nearly ten years without a real relationship and then suddenly find himself in two? Come on, it's Trent. Admittedly, Diana knows all about Bunny, but I'll wager that Bunny does not know what is really up with Diana.
Meanwhile Dylan is becoming a fixture at my house. I think he's using his apartment as a closet. I like having him around, I'm not sure that I want him to move in. I don't want to live with my boyfriend. I've done that before and you have all the drawbacks of a husband with none of the benefits. There's a guy, up under you 24/7, and he has every right to be there, but you can't really yell at him viciously because he could bail at any moment. No relationship can withstand that kind of pressure.
Everything is moving along smoothly, which is really nice, and I still have veto power. As it stands it's nice having him around so often, I think I could make this permanent. Again, I'm not really interested in bringing it up as a topic for discussion. I think I'm the queen of avoidance. I would rather motor along, as long as I'm happy, than rock the boat. In the past, I'd limp along with a relationship, until I was so sick and tired of it that I would start to hate the guy. At that point it was easier just to change the locks and my phone number. This is the first time that I've felt that I might want more, but I'm scared to death to say anything, because what if I drive him away? I'm just going to sit tight on this. For now.
Trent is going to Hell. And I might just be the one to send him there. I can't believe that he would do it. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't believe it.
I had a noon meeting with Diana. We were going to grab some lunch and go over the contracts for the book. I was meeting her in her office. I arrived early, a miracle. The receptionist pointed me towards her office, so I went on down the hall. I rapped on the door and opened it at the same time, and got the shock of my life. Trent and Diana were making love on her sofa. Ok, didn't want to dwell on that scene. I just shot out of there. Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars.
I didn't really know what to do, so I headed home. I had to turn off my cell phone to keep it from ringing. I was so angry I didn't want to talk to Trent. I wasn't really mad at Diana, she didn't make anyone any promises, but I sure as Hell didn't want to talk to her right then either. I was so pissed off, I nearly missed my driveway. Predictably, my phone was ringing as I opened the front door.
I got out of my suit and into a smock, I was going to paint. Flinging some paint would make me feel better, and I had a new canvas all ready for my wrath. I turned up the stereo, to drown out the sound of phones ringing all over the house. I think the windows were bulging with the noise. I didn't care. I was in a frenzy of anger and disappointment, trying not to think about what it all meant. What I hate about trying to do something to take your mind off of your thoughts is that what inevitably happens is that you just end up focusing on the problem, making it the only thing you can see.
Why was I so angry? Not just angry but enraged, livid, seething, furious, outraged, oh what the Hell, I'm sure that you have a thesaurus. What Trent did, really had no effect on me. It's his life. Breaking his promise to me was not cool, but it didn't hurt me. What was it about Trent's betraying Bunny that made me feel the anger so powerfully? As red and orange paint flew around on the canvas, I realized that I wasn't upset with Trent because he was my brother, I was upset with him because he was a man. A weak man. Like so many other weak men.
I have always thought of Trent as a decent guy. Trent is sweet, quiet and shy. He has always valued women, and has respected every woman he has known, in some way or another. The idea that Trent would betray Bunny rocked my world. Not because it was Trent and Bunny, but because my whole notion of what Trent stood for as a person was turned upside down. If Trent could deceive Bunny, then any man is capable of anything. I sure didn't like where that road led.
If my trust in men is based upon the faith that I have in my brother, and he has shown himself to be untrustworthy, then what man deserved my trust? If no man deserved my trust, then no man deserved my love.
I felt tears rolling down my face, all I could see were the vivid colors of the paint as I smeared it around and around on the canvas. I had reached the point where I was exhausted by the emotion, everything I was thinking began to blunt, I was going limp. I sat on the wooden floor, sobbing, looking up at the image of rage and frustration on my canvas.
I don't know how long I was there, but I heard someone come through the front door. I didn't want to talk to anyone. I couldn't explain what I was feeling to anyone, I couldn't even tell anyone, because it was Trent's secret. The stereo was turned off, and I felt a man's arms around me. I looked up into Dylan's eyes and started to cry again. I loved him so much. What if he hurts me? What if he's not what I think he is?
He took me over to the sofa and held me while I bawled. He didn't say anything, he didn't do anything, he just held me. My mind was telling me to pull away, not to trust him. But I needed him to comfort me, no one else would do. I finally calmed down.
"Trent called and told me what happened. He's really worried about you." Dylan said softly.
"I hate Trent," was all that I could manage saying.
I was doing that thing where you try to catch your breath and talk at the same time. Dylan was stroking my hair, which was so soothing.
"It's okay, you can hate Trent." That made me feel better. There's nothing worse than someone contradicting what you're feeling. "He hates himself now too." Good. He should.
"How could he do that? How could anyone do that?" I asked
"I don't know honey. I couldn't do it to you." How did he know what I was thinking? "I love you Janey, and I'll always love you."
I sighed deeply. I couldn't tell him that I loved him. I couldn't be vulnerable yet. I hoped that he knew that I loved him, I hoped he knew that I needed him. I just could not get the words out.
"Come on, let's go for a drive, blow the carbon out of our engines. I'll put on some old Springsteen and we can sing at that top of our lungs." He pulled me off the sofa. We changed into our favorite, most comfortable clothes and took off in his car. He took the curves really fast as we headed out on Sunset towards Malibu. Soon we were tooling up the Pacific Coast Highway, he was singing, I didn't have the heart for it. I stuck my head through the sunroof and felt the cold air blowing through my hair. I felt like all my unhappiness, anger and disappointment were blowing away.
"Stop the car, I want to run on the beach." We were up to Zuma beach, there's good parking there, and no charge after dark. I got out of the car and started running along the water's edge, I ran back and forth, and when I thought that I couldn't stand it any more I started to scream. The waves were pounding the shore, drowning out my howls. Dylan sat on a dune and watched me. Finally I stopped, and went up to sit next to him. We sat for a few minutes, not saying anything. It was dark, and cold, but the sound of the ocean drew me in and relaxed me. I leaned against him, feeling his warmth, not just his physical warmth, but the warmth of his soul.
"Dylan, I love you too." I finally felt like I could say it. I didn't even think about it. It just came out. He smiled, and didn't say anything. He didn't have to.
Dylan and I stayed out all night. We found a motel up in Ventura County and stayed up there for the night, stopping for some dinner and a quick tour through the local Seven-Eleven for toiletries. I did not want to be anywhere where Trent could find me. Dylan called him and told him that we were fine, so that he wouldn't worry. Then he turned off the phone. We watched some cheesy television and enjoyed the Magic Fingers vibrating bed. Motels are so fun. I felt like I was taking a vacation from my life. I jumped on the bed.
When we made love that night, something had changed, I felt more connected to him than I ever had before. I've never felt so much in my heart. I'm usually thinking about other things, but this was different, and wonderful.
In the morning we went for breakfast. I didn't want to go to work, so we agreed to play hooky. We drove north, I decided that I wanted to go up Highway One and see Big Sur. We stopped at Wal-Mart and stocked up on some clothes and stuff. I was eating Doritos and drinking water. A road trip is a great way to perk yourself up.
The drive up the coast is beautiful. We saw pods of whales out in the Pacific, nice families all living and working together. I thought of us as a pod of whales. We lived together and worked together, not just Dylan and me, but Daria, Brian, Quinn, Jodie, the Band and although I was still annoyed with him, Trent. I thought about how it was that we all chose each other, how we decided that we would do this, to be a family. It's interesting how you can shape your life to match the vision you have in your head. I arranged it so that the people that I love could surround me. I was able to create my life the same way that I could create a painting, or a sculpture or a film. I wondered how far I could take this ability. How could I manage a happy ending out of such a screwed up situation? I decided to devote my creativity to this endeavor.
We stopped in San Luis Obisbo at a strange hotel called The Madonna Inn. The striking thing about it is that it's entirely pink, down to the soda machines. We went in to see if there was a room available, we were surprised to find that there were over 100 different kinds of rooms, each with it's own theme. We were studying the picture post cards of the rooms. They started out normal, Elegance, which was entirely in mauve. Oak, which had a theme that revolved around oak leaves. It then spiraled into silliness. A bridal suite with a gold cupid suspended from the ceiling. The Cave room that featured a shower that was a waterfall over rocks. Most of the rooms were booked up, but we were able to get The Oak Room. The picture didn't do it justice. It was beautiful. It was a suite, with a king-sized bed in the main room, and a double in the alcove. The bathroom featured hand painted oak leaves on the tiles. We settled into the room and then went to explore the rest of the hotel.
The hotel was very upscale, considering the roadside attraction quality of the pink building. There was a small herd of buffalo, grazing in a field next to the parking lot. They were part of the hotel, and nicely picturesque. There was a shop that featured Madonna Inn clothing and golf apparel. The main dining room was all rococo dominated by a gilded tree in the center of the room, and red velvet booths flanked around it. This was for a formal dinner. We made reservations for that evening. We checked out the coffee shop, and we decided that we were definitely going to have some pink cinnamon toast with our breakfast in the morning. Dylan had to use the men's room so he ducked in as I waited. He was usually an in and out guy, so after a few minutes I began to wonder if he fell in or something. He finally came out.
"Janey, you HAVE to see this." He said, as excited as a six-year old. He dragged me into the men's room.
"Dylan, have you lost your mind?" I protested. I looked around, the entire room was marble. I couldn't see any urinals anywhere, but there were a couple of stalls beyond. "Um, Dylan, where do you pee?" He directed my attention to a small trough in the floor. I looked at him and then looked at it. "No way." He waved his hand at around waist level and suddenly a sheet of water washed down the wall. "NO WAY!" I giggled. A guy came into the john, but didn't seem surprised to see me in there. I started to apologize.
"Don't worry honey, it's part of the tour, but if you don't mind…" He said politely. We left him to his business.
We found out that in addition to scenic US 1, that Hearst Castle was in the area. I figured that we could go check that out in the morning. I'd never seen it, and I'll bet it's really interesting. We checked at the desk about it, but they told us that we have to make arrangements through the US Parks service. The tickets are generally sold out months in advance. Oh well, next time. Trust me, there's going to be a next time.
We came home today. I left under the worst circumstances, and returned happy and content. True love will do that. There were a few loose ends, well, the rest of the world was a loose end, but I was confident that they would get tied up. The first thing I noticed was a Fed Ex envelope with the contracts I needed to sign for the book. I got a chuckle out of that. If I were Diana, I'd avoid me too. I'd have Brian look them over and get them back to her later. I returned some calls, checked my e-mail and got caught up on all the work that had piled up during my absence. I buried myself in the work, because I knew that Trent and I would have to discuss what happened, and I knew that it wasn't going to be pretty.
Trent called this morning, asking if he could come over to talk to me. I agreed. I felt like I was ready to hear what he had to say. He wasted no time in coming down. The coffee hadn't even finished brewing. I guess he really was struggling with his conscience.
"Hey Janey." He said to me while I poured in the kitchen. "I guess you're pretty pissed at me, huh?"
"What was your first clue, radio silence or the burning cross on your lawn?" I had been thinking about how this was going to go, and in my mind, I was going to be the model of patience and understanding. Oh well, funny how your mouth hijacks your brain.
"You weren't real subtle about it." He said, avoiding my eyes as he sipped.
"No, I guess not, but what do you expect? I was under the impression that you were going to think with your head. The big one."
"You're right, I don't know what happened."
"Trent, that's bullshit. I've heard that so much from guys. Like you have no culpability in this. You are responsible for your actions. Why not just say that you did what you wanted to do, and you weren't thinking about anyone but yourself?" I was letting my frustration with men in general turn into a personal attack. It wasn't really fair. But this was the only time I had the opportunity to work out all my demons, with someone who couldn't leave me afterwards.
"Okay, fine. You're right, I was selfish. I'm a horrible person. I made a mistake." He said. I had to be careful. It's a family characteristic to bolt when confrontation turns intense.
"Trent, you're not a horrible person. You're human. Look, I'm mad because I trusted you to be above stuff like that, maybe I was expecting too much. I don't know what I would have done in the same situation, maybe I would have done the same thing." He looked like he was going to cry. He was clearly hurting, and it was more than my disappointment with him. It was time to turn off my righteous indignation, and to turn on my sisterly compassion. I hugged him, and he heaved one of those big sighs, relief mixed with release. "Trent you didn't think I'd stay mad at you did you?"
"The whole thing was pretty bad, and when you went away, I didn't know what to think." He was fairly composed, which is normal for him.
"Well, no matter what you do, I'll always love you, and after I cool down, I'll always be here for you, so don't worry about that. I'm not going anywhere." I forget where he comes from. His whole life people have been leaving him, people that he counted on. Trent has some monster abandonment issues. I waited for him to say something, but he was just sitting there. "So, where is everything now?"
I had to wait while he marshaled his thoughts. "Well, Diana and I are still spending lots of time together. It's different than it used to be. Not bad, but not what I remembered."
"Well, you've been apart for nearly as many years as you were old when you were first together. Of course there are going to be changes. How does she feel about being another woman?" I didn't say it to intentionally hurt him, but I did think it was a valid point.
"Well, she knows that I still had stuff to work out with Bunny, she's giving me the space to do it."
"Well, that's good. So, how are you working things out with Bunny? Are you going to Florida soon? Is she planning to come out here?"
"Oh Janey." He blushed with shame. He knew that when he was with Diana, that he wasn't really doing anything with Bunny, except making excuses. "No, we haven't planned any visits. We just talk on the phone."
"Every night, like always?"
"No. Not anymore."
"Trent, you aren't working things out with Bunny, you know that don't you?" He didn't say anything. He just looked miserable. "Look, you need to decide what you really want. These are both smart women, and they aren't going to wait around forever."
"I guess I am just thinking of myself here. I love them both, I do, just in completely different ways."
"Listen Trent, I know that you've got a lot to work out, but one or both of them is going to wise up, and you may be left with no one. The real question is, are you more afraid of picking the wrong one, or are you more afraid of not having anyone at all?"
"Jane, you know me too well."
"Only you know your heart. You'll do the right thing, I know you will. Trent, it's not the end of the world to be alone."
"But I don't want to be alone."
"Well, don't let fear convince you of something that love couldn't prove to you, okay?"
"Okay. I hear you. Is there any more coffee?" He asked as he moved towards the kitchen.
And the subject was officially changed.
We were having an average day at home. Brian and Dylan were over at Daria's trying to put together a bookcase for the baby's room. Daria and Trent were sitting on the sofa, working on a song. Daria was reading some poetry, for inspiration, and to help Trent understand the mood she wanted to have for it. I was in the studio/dining room, painting.
Daria was holding one of her textbooks from college and reading to Trent, who was laying prone with his eyes closed, taking it all in. "Okay, now this is Matthew Arnold, he was your typical conflicted Victorian intellectual. He had all these modern ideas presented to him at school, which contradicted the strict moral code of the time. Throw in the fact that he had a passion for living, and the headmaster at Rugby for a father, and you can see where he could be a little tortured."
"Wow, that is a bit of a load." Trent agreed. "So a minor key then?"
"Oh yes, try to do one so low that the tears start to fall before the lyric starts. Okay, so this is one that everyone studies in school, Dover Beach, here's the part that resonates with me:
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! For the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
So the idea is that the world is a cold, harsh place, even though it's supposed to be brilliant and wonderful."
"Right, that's how I feel." Trent added
"Okay, and when we're with our lovers, we're supposed to have someone to share the fear and pain with, right?"
"Funny how that doesn't always work out." He replied, sighing a bit.
"Well, exactly. That's what the last lines are about. They refer to an incident in a war where two armies were fighting each other during the night. When dawn broke, they found out they were on the same side."
There was silence for just a minute. Guilty silence I thought. "Really? Wow, there's a metaphor."
"Well, think about it. Most of us approach our relationships with how much we can get from the other person, right?"
"Okay, I'll buy that."
"Well, what Arnold is saying is that we need to think about what we contribute to the other person. That conflict within the relationship is the same thing as an army fighting itself, rather than the enemy. Completely counter-productive. So, here's the follow up. Again, Arnold. This one is called The Buried Life, you don't normally study this one in school.
Alas! Is even love too weak
To unlock the heart, and let it speak?
Are even lovers powerless to reveal
To one another what indeed they feel?
But we, my love!--doth a like spell benumb
Our hearts, our voices?--must we too be dumb?
Again, it speaks to the selfishness of our fears. In the world, we're expected to wear the mask, to cowboy up so to speak, but the defenses should drop when we're with our lover. If we are too afraid to tell our lovers exactly how we love them, need them, depend on them, then we don't deserve to get the same in return."
"Oh shit." Trent said, sitting up. "Oh shit, it's my fault. Everything is my fault."
"Excuse me?" Daria asked.
Trent remembered where he was, and what he was doing. "Um, nothing, just a flash of realization."
Daria laughed, she had no idea what she had done or said, she just attributed his reaction to the poetry. "Yeah, that's why I like him so much. But if you really want a kick in the ass, I can read you George Meredith's Modern Love. I'll read this one to you, but you're not allowed near sharp objects for up to twenty-four hours afterwards."
"That bad, huh?"
"That bad, if you're in a similar situation." Daria replied, eager to read him some more poetry.
"Then maybe we ought to save it for another day, I think we've got enough to get started. What's the phrase you've got, let's start working with it." Trent said, and not a bad save at that. I was happy that he was squirming, at least maybe he could learn from his mistakes.
"So far I've got 'autumn twilight, winter midnight, spring daylight.' Just a little foray into my rhyming dictionary, but I'm thinking there's some interesting images to mine out of it, especially if we go with some dark images to juxtapose with it. Give me a bit of the tune, and let's see what materializes." Daria got out her pad and she became contemplative as Trent began playing a mournful tune on the guitar. As always, Trent was working it out in the music.
Daria and I were in her kitchen, drinking coffee, as is our morning routine. Margaret had eaten her breakfast, and was happily playing in her pen with a wash cloth. We were trying to decide how we were going to spend the holiday.
"We could go to the party at The Cobra, that should be an event."
"No thanks, it's costume, and I don't have anything."
"Not to worry, I can help you out. We can wrap Brian in bandages, and you can wear a green leotard and a flower hat. You could go as a Mummy and a Poppy." I offered.
She cringed from the pun. "Uh. No. Besides you know how I feel about bars. How about we have a nice evening in? You and Dylan, me and Brian, Tanya and Penny, and Trent and his friend Diana, and Quinn if she doesn't have plans. We'll barbecue something, I'll make a salad, you can buy dessert. We can hand out candy to the neighbor kids."
"Hey that sounds nice. Yeah, okay. I'll pick up what we need from the store on my way home from work." I grabbed my keys, I had a meeting and needed to get going.
"Okay, see you later Ward." Daria said as she cleared away the dishes.
"Right June, see you later." I said as I started to head out. Right on cue, Margaret did one of those baby giggle-squeals. "Bye Beav."
"Don't get any ideas, her name is Margaret." Daria said as I tripped on out the door.
I came back a few hours later, laden with groceries. I had called everyone from the office and they all confirmed that they would be there. I figured we could have games and stuff. Diana offered to bring her tarot cards. That sounded like the perfect activity for Halloween.
As everyone began to arrive, Daria and I were bustling in the kitchen. I had poured the marinade on the meat, and Daria had poured the salad into a bowl, all we had left to do was take the top off the potato salad and we were in business. We sat around drinking wine and laughing. As it got dark, the kids started showing up. I had carved some pumpkins, so we illuminated them and placed them along the driveway, it looked downright festive. We took turns doling out the candy. Some of the kids had some great costumes. Margaret got a kick out of seeing all the other kids, she gave everyone big smiles. Eight o'clock was her bedtime, so we put her down. Trent went in to sing her a lullaby. I really wondered about Trent's resolve not to be a father. For someone who didn't want children of his own, he seemed pretty wrapped up in keeping this baby happy.
At around nine, after we had finished with dinner, and the kids had long since stopped coming, Diana broke out her tarot cards. We were all sitting around in the dining room. She took turns reading everyone's cards. Brian's reading was mostly about how he had a new challenge, new responsibilities and how although it was scary for him, that he was entering one of the most fulfilling times of his life. Tanya's reading revolved around her creativity. Penny's focused on her desire to travel more. Daria's was about strengthening her skills and talents. Quinn's was about power struggles. Knowing what I do about how she works, I had to laugh. We had to twist his arm, but Dylan submitted to a reading. It was full of love and sex. It made him blush, which I took to mean that it was right on the mark.
Mine was amazingly on target. I am concerned with keeping the balance of power in my relationships. I am ambivalent about giving up my freedom, but long for more intimacy. I am a passionate, emotional person, but at the same time, I try to act detached and uncommitted. I'm a walking contradiction. I can live with that. Dylan just laughed.
It was Trent's reading that was the showstopper. I knew that they had a special connection, almost everyone else just thought that they were friends. For the other readings, Diana had seemed professional, clinical, like a doctor. When she read Trent's cards, there was something about the way that she elaborated on them, like she could see things there, see the way things were going to be.
"This card indicates that you are surrounded by danger, but that you are capable of avoiding it."
Trent looked at the card, it was lurid, picturing a man, lying broken at the base of an erupting volcano. 'Disaster' was written on the bottom of the card. The card was upside down. There was no mistaking the message there. "How?" He asked.
"Well, let's see how this plays out. Hmmm, this card shows me that you have been hurt in the past, and that you don't trust easily now. Well, I don't think that there's anyone in this room that can't make that claim, but in your case, you are paralyzed by your fear. And look here, this card shows that you want to establish a household, this next card again, indicates fear and angst. You aren't getting what you want and need, because your fear is standing in your way. Your fear keeps you from doing, what you need to do to get what you want." Her eyes misted over slightly. The silly mood we had earlier had faded away. I don't think that anyone watching the reading was misunderstanding what was really happening. I knew that Trent's soul was tortured, but I don't think that he had properly acknowledged it.
As Diana read the cards, she tried to remain objective, but Trent was clearly hearing what she was telling him at a completely different level. It was no surprise to me when a card was turned over indicating a strained relationship with our father, and the subsequent issues that arose from it.
"You have tried to learn and understand your role as a man in the world. Because you didn't have your father around to help you, you are hesitant to take up that role, consequently, you are passive where you should be active. You let your relationships happen to you, rather than participate in them." Diana seemed to be speaking from the heart.
Trent was nodding his agreement with her statements. He knew that it was true. "So what do I do about it?" He asked, searching her face, trying to understand if she was telling him something, or if he was realizing something.
She flipped three more cards over. "Ah, you have a hidden passion. You hide this from the people you love, it's too private for you to reveal. It's linked to this card here, which indicates an aversion to conflict, even if that conflict will bring a resolution to a problem. This last card shows that if you were to address this situation, that everything that you hope for, everything that you want is in your grasp. But you have to take, you have to initiate it." She leaned back, exhausted.
"Wow. I guess I have some stuff to work out." Trent was quiet. Brian and Dylan came back from cleaning the kitchen and offered him a cup of coffee. He sipped at it, thinking. Trent did not seem happy with the cards. Since I was close to the situation, I could see why that might be. Diana looked troubled herself. After everyone had their reading the party started to break up. It had been a nice night, but it was time for everyone to go home.
Daria, Brian, Dylan and I stood in the driveway as the others drove off to their homes.
"Jane, so what's up with Trent? Did he and Bunny break up?" Brian asked innocently.
I measured my words carefully. "I think they're going through a rough time now. I don't know how it's going to end up."
"Ah, that's a shame. I'd like to see him with someone. He seemed happy with her." Brian was looking into the sky. It was a clear night, and there were tons of stars to see in the sky.
"I thought so too." I said, I felt sad for Trent. I wanted him to be happy too, and he was on the road to screwing it all up, but he was the only one who could save himself.
We said good night to them, and Dylan and I walked across the street.
"Jane, Trent seemed pretty shaken up by his reading. What did Diana tell him?" Dylan was talking to me while we brushed our teeth and got ready for bed. He had missed most of it while he and Brian were doing the dishes.
"Well, I think that she's figured out that Trent isn't conflicted about which woman he wants. He's got much deeper problems than that. I got the impression that she wants him to make a decision. I have to admire her, if I loved someone, I don't know that I'd have the courage to invite him to choose someone else. I think I'd just hang around and see what happens."
"No you wouldn't," Dylan contradicted me, "you'd find a reason to get angry at him, and then you'd dump him, and run as fast as you could in the other direction. You instigate conflict so that you can avoid rejection."
That pulled me up short. He was right of course. I felt like I should be mad, but I didn't want to fight with him. "So what are you, my shrink?"
"Nope, I'm the poor idiot that loves you." That's what I love about Dylan, he's always got the right answer.
The holidays have officially started. I hate the holidays, I always have. I used to love Halloween when I was a kid. We'd spend weeks planning and making elaborate costumes, then we'd spend hours trick or treating. I loved Halloween. Now it is the herald of the holiday season, which I find unbelievably gloomy. The Thanksgiving stuff starts on the first of November, then Christmas, then New Years, the triple-crown of depression. Trent and I have no childhood memories of holiday traditions. Sure we celebrated the holidays, but never the same way twice, and the more Lanes there were in the house, the more likely it was to end up in an argument, or with everyone storming off to parts unknown. One Christmas it was just Trent and me sitting in the living room, watching TV and eating leftover pizza. Ugh.
I didn't want it to happen again. Last year Brian and Daria were in Chicago for the Thanksgiving, and in Lawndale for Christmas. They aren't traveling east with Margaret this year, so they are hosting Christmas for both families at a ski lodge in Lake Tahoe. I don't know what Dylan is planning, but he better get his shit together soon, because I am not spending another miserable Christmas by myself. The upshot of the Christmas ski fest is that Brian and Daria will be in town to celebrate Thanksgiving. We've decided to have a small feast at their house. We haven't decided who's cooking yet. We'll work it out later. But I'm glad to have one holiday covered.
Trent was asleep on my sofa when I woke up this morning. I woke him up by brewing some coffee. I also had to grind the beans and turn on the stereo. Subtlety is lost on him. He was wooly headed when he woke up.
"Hey Janey." He sat up and ran a hand through his hair. It was all standing up on end, every curl and cowlick asserting itself. I handed him some coffee and we sat and sipped for awhile. Trent only ends up at my house when he's brokenhearted, bored or lonely. I wondered what brought him over.
"I broke up with Diana." He admitted. I was shocked. He broke up with her? Of all the combinations I envisioned for Trent, that one never occurred to me. I pretty much thought that one of them would give him the heave-ho, and he would end up with the other by default.
"I'm sorry. You must feel like shit." I didn't really know what to say, but I thought that was a safe assumption.
"Well, I'm not feeling great about hurting Diana. But I have resolved something, and that does feel good." He seemed proud of himself. "I still love her, but to be honest, I was trying to recapture what we had, and I don't think it's possible."
"No, I guess not. How'd she take it?" I was concerned. I liked her, and I hoped she was okay. Or as okay as you can be under the circumstances.
"She was sad, but she understood. I think she knew it was coming, she saw all that stuff in the tarot cards. Besides, I couldn't bring myself to take it to the next level, I have unfinished business."
"Bunny?" I asked.
"Bunny. I still love her. I've been a complete shit to her. She's pretty upset with me. But I'm leaving to go out there in a couple of days. I'm going to do it Jane. I'm going to tell her everything that I feel for her. I've never done that before. I'm scared to death, but I have to, I can't keep running from my life."
I was surprised, he had really thought about this. I guess there comes a time in your life when you just don't want to keep doing what you've always done. The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over, and to expect a different result.
"Great, so do you need me to drive you to the airport? Take in your mail? Water your plants?"
"Nope, I've got Cameron staying at my place, he's driving me so he can use the car."
"Cool. When are you coming back?" I asked.
"When she comes back with me." He answered.
Trent packed a bag and his guitar and left for Ft. Lauderdale on the red-eye. I saw him before he left and he looked scared but committed. I was working on some projects for the label. I had signed two new bands, and we were in the process of getting them booked into studios. We were actually doing it. We were going to release albums.
Mystik Spiral's contract ends on December 31 and we've met all our performance and album obligations. We are just biding time. They are ready to go back into the studio next year to record the soundtrack album. That should be a monster, we're going to use the guys, plus an orchestra. I think we could get another Oscar, wouldn't that be something?
Dylan has been working late every night, with spreadsheets. It's so cute the way he sits in bed, with his boxers, typing on his laptop. Sexy too. We are getting to be like an old married couple. I know he loves me, I know I love him, it's nice just to float through the day, thinking about how we're going to be together in the evening. I have this feeling that something is about to happen, but I don’t know what or how. I just know that soon, everything is going to change. It reminds me of that song in West Side Story "Something's Coming," where Tony is about to meet Maria at the dance, and he can feel the tingling in his bones. That's how I feel. I'm happy all the time. I'm trying not to question it. I'm just trying to enjoy it.
Trent called. He was feeling down. He and Bunny are working it out, but it's not going as smoothly as he thought it would.
"Janey, I thought that if I confessed everything, not just what I've done wrong, but what I feel, you know, the deep confession, that she would understand me, accept me and love me back. So far, it's not working out that way."
I really felt for the guy. He really did believe that just saying the words would win her back. I know how much Bunny loves Trent, but love does not conquer all. Smart women don't believe that love will solve their problems. But I was proud of him for sticking with it. She hadn't said no yet, so he was hanging in, trying to find out what he needed to say or do to win her heart.
She's very resistant to moving to Los Angeles, especially after the whole Diana thing. It was hard enough for her to deal with that when she thought she was the only woman in Trent's life. They hit a bad patch when he offered to prove his love at Tiffany's. Bunny likes nice stuff, but a big ring isn't going to smooth over a thing like infidelity. He's sleeping in the guest-room again. At least he's in the house.
Trent called again. He's much happier. He's at least not sleeping alone anymore, so that's a start. Bunny is still not ready to leave her life, but Trent is making it harder and harder for her. It seems that she loves it when he sings to her, so he's making up songs for her. Even he says that they're terrible, but she melts every time he writes another one for her. He sang me a bit of one, and it reminded me of when the band was first starting out, but hey, there's no accounting for taste.
Going out into the yard
Resetting the timer
Remembering is oh so hard
For something that is so minor
Conserving all that water
Is important to the birds
It's vital when it's hotter
Nature needs more than empty words
Sprinkler girl I love the way
You turn the water off today
Sprinkler girl save the Earth
Help the land with her rebirth.
If Bunny liked that, there was hope. She had to be in love.
Trent is home free. He was looking for a piece of paper, to write another terrible song for Bunny, when he came across something on her desk. It was a letter, apparently one of the kind that you write, but don't send. At first I was appalled that he would have read it. Correspondence is sacred, but technically it was addressed to him, so as far as he was concerned, it was up for grabs. Bunny had covered the page with her anger, frustration and ultimately her love for Trent. It was written a month or so ago, and she knew exactly what kind of hanky panky he was up to before Halloween. Points to me for knowing that Bunny had an inkling of what was going on. Points to Bunny for not freaking out on him. Those unmailed letters are a great preserver of sanity. The best part about them is that you can burn them afterwards, so as not to leave a paper trail. Oh well, we'll forgive her this time.
Trent is trying to decide if he should confront her with it, or just to play dumb. I figure that he's on thin ice, so he should just keep quiet, be patient, and wait for it all to play out. I think that he wants to do the intellectual version of whacking her over the head and dragging her into the cave. Is there an intellectual version of that?
As much as I believe in equality in relationships, one thing I find really sexy is when my boyfriend, overcome with love/lust/whatever, just grabs me. There is something about unbridled passion. Reminds me, I think it's time to jump on Dylan.
At any rate, despite my advice, I think Trent is going to throw caution to the wind, it's gutsy, I just hope it works.
Trent has been successful. I don't even believe it, but he has managed to convince Bunny to transfer to Los Angeles. They are now discussing whether or not she will be moving in with him (this is actually code for getting married) or if she will be getting a place of her own. The best part is that she will be out here for Thanksgiving, and she's volunteered to cook. Everyone is happy, because none of us wanted to do it, but we have no idea if she can cook or not. It's been a topic of speculation amongst us. Penny thinks that she must be a fabulous cook. Penny has fairly low standards though.
Bunny and Trent arrived a few days ago. Bunny assessed Trent's kitchen situation and promptly marched him out to Crate and Barrel, Williams Sonoma and K-Mart to get the appropriate paraphernalia for cooking. She also made him buy a proper dining-room table and chairs. The card table and folding chairs have been relegated to the storage shed.
Dylan and Brian nagged and nagged, finally they have been allowed to fry the turkey. They saw it on Martha Stewart Living (talk about too lazy to change the channel) and they have been talking about nothing else since. They ran out to buy a special turkey fryer, and a pallet full of oil to fry it in. This should be interesting. Bunny has faith that they will be successful with frying the bird. She has hedged her bets by getting some chicken cutlets for schnitzel. She also bought a fire extinguisher.
Our confidence has been boosted. Bunny at least acts like she knows what's going on in the kitchen. She says that if she's moving into the house, the kitchen must be brought up to date. I've seen the shows she watches on Home and Garden, she's probably got some extreme ideas of what that entails. Hey, that's Trent's problem.
She went out the night before, braving the crowds and returned with a car full of groceries. I did my part, I went to the Cheesecake Factory on Rodeo Drive and bought a pumpkin-pecan cheesecake. I also got a chocolate cake from a bakery on Fairfax, just in case someone doesn't like pumpkin, pecans or cheesecake.
Bunny started the night before. I sat at the kitchen table keeping her company while she chopped and simmered and whatnot. First she made cranberry relish. I thought it only came in cans, but apparently it can be homemade. All she did was throw ingredients in the pot, turn on the stove and in about ten minutes, the stuff was in a plastic container, cooling down enough to put in the fridge.
The next dish was the sweet potatoes. These she peeled, boiled and mashed. She added more sweet stuff than you could shake a stick at, pineapple, walnuts, brown sugar, orange juice, honey, nutmeg, cinnamon, maple syrup and butter. This was put in a soufflé dish, and topped with marshmallows. I was thinking that we would go into diabetic coma from it, but hey it smelled great. This was also put in the fridge.
She got out the bird and began by washing it, and getting all the packets of stuff out of the cavity. She then crammed seasonings under the skin, so that when it cooked, it would permeate the meat. I was beginning to think that bunny might have a clue about how to cook.
Next she enlisted my help in tearing up bread for stuffing.. Bunny chopped up celery, mushrooms, onions and dried fruit for the stuffing. I guess it was dressing, since you don't fry a turkey full of stuffing.
She sautéed everything in butter. She put it together, with some chicken broth and Grand Marnier, crammed it into pans, and we put that in the fridge as well.
We were only in there for a couple of hours, but the bulk of the dinner had been prepared. I was beginning to understand how Bunny had been able to balance her time so well. She was organized.
"The veggies we do fresh. Now we can enjoy each other's company, rather than be stuck in the kitchen tomorrow. " She sat back in the kitchen chair. I could tell by the look on her face that she was mentally replacing the dinette as well.
"So Bunny, are you going to move in here, and rehab the whole house?" I asked.
She was trying to be cagey, after all anything she told me was going straight back to Trent. "I haven't decided yet." She was smiling much too broadly. I don't think that Trent is going to be a bachelor for much longer.
We were all slated to show up at around 3:00 in the afternoon for the lighting of the turkey. They had set the fryer up on the deck, away from the house, and any trees. The fire extinguisher was conspicuously placed. I had my camera ready, as much as I wanted to have everything work out, a bit of a catastrophe would be amusing. Daria stood away from the activity, holding Margaret over her shoulder.
The propane was ignited and we were in business. In about 20 minutes we were ready to fry our turkey. The guys put it gingerly in the fry basket, and gently lowered it into the boiling oil. There was a very satisfying sizzling noise, but nothing beyond that. There was a slight adjustment of the temperature, and we had a frying turkey. Anticlimactic really. We sat around for a while, drinking hot mulled cider, and watching the turkey fry, but once we realized that we weren't going to have an inferno, it was kind of boring.
Bunny went back into the kitchen, to start the potatoes. Penny and Tanya followed her to help with peeling. I think they wanted to see how she threw everything together. Penny was also interested in getting to know her better, now that she was apparently going to be a member of the family.
The guys had to maintain turkey vigilance, you can't walk away from a fryer. Daria took the baby inside for a nap. "Hey, guys. Have you had enough of this apple stuff? Are you ready to switch to beer?" They all nodded in agreement. I went into the kitchen for a six pack. When I came out, Brian and Dylan were hassling Trent.
"So Trent, is she going to let you keep the sofa?" Dylan was referring to Trent's sectional. It was supremely ugly, but some one of his little girlfriends had picked it out for him back in the day, and he never got around to replacing it.
"She's already been to some French store, roach something, and picked out a new one." Trent said.
"Roche-Bobois Trent. They have lovely fabrics." Quinn corrected him. "We picked out some really pretty things. You'll like it."
"Heh, you won't recognize the place when she's done with it Trent. If you're lucky, you'll still have a closet. Not in the bedroom, but maybe down the hall." Brian said, he knew he was on safe ground, Daria wasn't into decorating particularly.
"She had a really great idea for turning that little bedroom next to the master into a dressing room. That way you can expand the bathroom too." Quinn's statement was met with laughter from Brian and Dylan.
Trent just smiled. "Hey, whatever it takes."
Quinn had the 'cat that ate the canary' look on her face. "Quinn, what? What do you know?" I asked.
Trent flashed her a look, and she became extremely interested in her beer. Ooh, something was up. Something good.
Bunny came out and everyone found something else to talk about. By 6:30, we were sitting down to eat. The table was made of rosewood, it expanded to fit all of us around it. Bunny had set it up with linen, candles and flowers. The dishes and glasses were simple, but elegant. The food looked like it came out of a magazine. In addition to the stuff we had prepared earlier, we had mashed potatoes, peas and mushrooms, green beans and almonds, and a relish tray. The table groaned with abundance.
We all gathered around it, most of us were in awe of the spread. The guys were fighting over who carved the turkey. They were so proud, it was a beautiful, crispy brown, and smelled amazing. It was decided that Brian would do the honors this year, Dylan would have his chance next year. I guess we had de facto decided that this was the place for Thanksgiving in the future.
Before the bird was carved, Brian wanted to offer a blessing. "Okay everyone, hold hands." We all grabbed each other's hands, we were a bit self-conscious, but it was a tradition. Brian bowed his head reverently. We followed his lead. "Lord, we thank you for your many blessings. We are especially blessed with our family here today. We all have so much to be thankful for, but we are most thankful for your love. Amen." He sat down. I was choked up. It was so sweet.
Bunny giggled, we all looked at her. "It's the first time in five years the blessing hasn't been in Spanish." She explained. Apparently she was used to spending the holiday with her Cuban friends in Florida.
"Okay, while I carve and you guys start to pass everything, let's go around the table saying what we're thankful for." Apparently this is a tradition of some sort. Sounded like a good idea to me.
To Brian's left was Daria. "I am thankful for all of you." She chucked Margaret under the chin, and gave Brian's elbow a squeeze.
Dylan was next. "I'm thankful for Jane, and for all my friends here. I'm also thankful to be a rock and roll accountant." We all laughed.
It was my turn. "I'm thankful for Dylan, for all of you. I'm also thankful for loud music."
"I'm thankful for finding Penny, for my Academy Award and for that amazing looking turkey." Tanya said.
"I'm thankful for Tanya, for my family, for my friends and for the trip that we are taking to Honduras next month." Penny added.
"I'm thankful for all of you, that my parents are well and happy and that the Pashmina is dead and gone." Quinn said while loading up on the veggies.
Bunny looked around at us. "I'm thankful for all of my new friends. I'm thankful for all of my old friends. I'm thankful for everything, and I'm especially thankful for Trent." She blushed, and looked at Trent.
Trent looked really nervous. Brian was hacking away at the bird, but the rest of us were waiting for Trent. He looked around the table, and we looked at him expectantly. For some reason, all plate filling activity stopped. He took Bunny's hands. "Bunny, I wanted to ask you, in front of everyone that is important to me, if you would please marry me."
Bunny's eyes got wide. She was not expecting to be formally asked. They had been arguing about it, back and forth, heck that was common knowledge. We all knew that she had made her decision, Trent was forcing her to declare it.
She composed herself. Brian had the knife poised above the carcass. Everyone's attention was on her. She got up from her chair, and pulled him up from his. "I'm sorry guys, but if you'll just wait a minute, we'll be right back."
She dragged him out of the room, into the kitchen. We strained to hear what was going on. I was really hoping she just wanted some privacy, because I didn't want to leave this dinner uneaten. There were some whispers, and then an exclamation. "Oh my God!" Bunny cried. "Are you out of your mind? That thing is HUGE." I started to eat. I was guessing that everything was going to be okay.
Quinn laughed. "It's a total of eight carats, in platinum. Tiffany setting. One square yellow diamond, and two white triads. Please pass the cranberry sauce."
I'd say that it was Quinn's fault, but she didn't have anything to do with it really. We went to the mall for a spot of shopping. I was trying stuff on, and I guess I had gained some weight, since my usual size seemed tight. One or two outfits can be like that, because of differences in manufacturers, but not every single one. I was thinking that I needed to go on a diet, when Quinn interrupted.
"Jane, when was the last time you got your period?" She said it in that voice of hers, the one that makes you feel stupid.
I did feel stupid. I couldn't remember. With everything that had been going on, I forgot to have my period, and then I realized. "Oh no. No, no, no. Oh shit." I sat down in the fitting room. Quinn pulled out a bottle of water and offered it to me. I was trying to determine if it was possible that I could be pregnant. I sipped the water slowly and tried to figure it out. Then I panicked. "Quinn, I can't, I can't."
Quinn stood there with that maddening calm look she has. "Jane, anything is possible. Let's get a test. Can you hold off your freak out until then?"
I nodded and we ran across the street to Rexall. I wanted to do the test right there at the store, but Quinn convinced me to wait until I got home. We had to go past the baby stuff section; it was cute when it was for Daria, now it just looked sinister. Thank God Quinn drove. I was a mess.
Instead of going to my house, we went directly to Daria's. I had guzzled the whole bottle of water, out of nervousness mostly, but at least I knew I wouldn't have a problem peeing on the stick. I ran past Daria directly to the bathroom.
"What's her problem?" I heard her ask Quinn.
"We'll know in a minute. So, how are you doing?" Quinn diverted her attention and I could hear Daria tell her about Margaret's latest achievement.
My mind was completely blank. I was hiding in the bathroom waiting for the results. Daria and Quinn continued to talk. I could tell that Quinn was stalling. I hyperventilated. Quinn knocked on the door and I let her in. We sat there, waiting for the stick to turn color. It did.
"Daria, come in here." Quinn called. "Go ahead Jane, freak out as much as you want."
We were a sight, all three of us crammed in the powder room looking at a stick.
"Oh God. Jane?" Daria just looked incredulous. She was actually at a loss for words. We all were, unless they were swear words.
"How did this happen? I'm so careful." I looked and looked. There might be a mistake, but the more I thought about it the more improbable it seemed that there could be. I hadn't had my period since October. I felt tired and dizzy on a regular basis. I was gaining weight. If I weren't pregnant, I didn't know what it could be. Daria looked at me, waiting for my explanation. "We stopped using condoms after we got blood tests. I've been on the pill forever. How? How?"
"Well, nothing's one-hundred percent, and there's lot's of stuff that interferes with the effectiveness of the pill. Sometimes things happen." Daria remained the voice of reason. Quinn was rubbing my back to comfort me. Daria just smiled beatifically. "At least our kids will be close enough in age to play together. If yours is a girl we can dress them alike."
I started to cry. At least I have friends and family who love and care for me. I knew that no matter what, that we would be okay. What about Dylan? What would he say? This was going to gum up the works for sure.
Daria, Quinn and I worked out a plan of action. I called my doctor and scheduled an emergency appointment, we all piled in the car and drove over there. A short office visit confirmed it, I was about two months pregnant. I was lightheaded, after having time to get used to it, I realized that I was excited and happy. When we got back to Daria's she called Brian and told him to come home and bring Dylan with him. They must have broken the land speed record to get there. Brian barely took his car out of gear before bailing out of it.
"What's the problem?" He said as he rushed towards Daria.
"Nothing with me or the baby, I told you that. Now come into the house with us, Jane needs to talk to Dylan." Daria lead him into the house.
I looked at Dylan and decided that my best friend's driveway was a bad place to have a serious discussion with my boyfriend, especially with all of those picture windows she has. We went to my house. He looked grim.
"Honey, there's no easy way to say this, so I'm just going to blurt it out. I love you and I'm pregnant."
Dylan took a second to assimilate the information and then he smiled like a sunrise. That was a surprise. "Jane, really? Oh, that's wonderful." He looked at my face, and I guess I still looked freaked out. "Isn't it?" He went from elated to crushed in just a second.
I was scaring him, and I didn't want to do that. "Of course it's wonderful, I just didn't know how you would react. I was worried."
He sighed with relief. "Oh, for a second I thought… Oh, never mind what I thought." He embraced me and kissed me passionately. I knew I didn't have anything to worry about. He was a keeper.
"So, um, where do we go from here?" I asked. I didn't even know myself what the next step should be.
"Jane, this isn't the way I wanted to do it, and believe me I do want to do it." He got down on one knee, it was corny as Hell, but it was so him. "I love you, will you make me the happiest man on Earth and be my wife?" He looked so adorable and silly I just started laughing. He kept looking at me, holding my hand waiting for me to answer him. "Come on Janey, I'll stay here all night until you answer."
I smiled at him, I couldn't believe that I was going to have a husband and a baby. Not all at once. I was so incredibly lucky. "Yes Dylan, you can be my husband."
We kissed and then we went across the street to announce our engagement. In a fortuitous coincidence, Trent and Bunny were just pulling into my driveway. I invited them to come with us, so we had a little party already to go. I wondered what Trent was going to say.
We gathered in Daria and Brian's living room. I stood there like Donna Reed while Dylan made the announcement.
"Well, this will not come as a surprise to most of you, but I am in love with Jane, and she's in love with me, so we've decided to get married." He paused a moment for the obligatory cheering. "In an interesting twist, we also find ourselves expecting a baby, so we have two reasons to celebrate." Everyone congratulated us. I looked at Trent to see how he was taking it. He looked dazed and confused, but happy.
Again, Quinn turned out to be the practical one. "So, when are you guys going to get married?"
I sat down. I had just reached overload. I could not think beyond that moment. Dylan took over. "I'm one of four kids, so I think I can be off the hook for a big wedding. Jane, do you just want to go to Vegas? We can do a church thing later, for my folks. By the way you wouldn't happen to be Catholic would you?"
I just looked at him. Catholic? Was he kidding? I don't think he was. "Vegas is fine, can do it immediately? I'm not Catholic. Is that a problem?"
"Not to me, we'll explain it to my mother later. Vegas it is. Road trip everyone?" He was giddy.
Everyone pulled out their cell phone and we each started to make arrangements. I called my parents, or rather their answering machine. They either made it or they didn't. Trent and I divided up the siblings and band members. Summer and her latest husband were coming, Wind would be there, alone. Penny and Tanya would follow us in their car. All the guys and their mates were going to be there. Daria called Jake and Helen. They were already at the airport. Dylan called his parents, who promised to gather the clan and be there with bells on. Quinn called a hotel and arranged everything. By this time tomorrow I'd be a married woman. For a Las Vegas wedding, we had quite a guest list.
We hit the road first thing in the morning, after getting very little sleep. Quinn reminded me that I had a dress that would be perfect for the ceremony, so I didn't have to worry about that. We took the Tank, for the four-hour trip to Las Vegas. We were meeting everyone at the hotel at noon. The ceremony was scheduled for seven that evening, with dinner afterwards.
The hotel was beautiful and there was a tropical fragrance in the air. We sipped fruit juice while waiting to check in. We had adjoining suites, presumably so we could run back and forth between the rooms, like when we lived in dorms. We each went to our rooms. I wanted to nap with Dylan.
After a lovely snooze, the phone in our room started ringing non-stop. Everyone had arrived, even my parents. I was thrilled. Considering that they missed my High School graduation, it really was up in the air as to whether or not they would bother to come. Dylan's parents had shown up. Thank God I had met them at Daria's wedding, at least they knew who I was. I wondered what Dylan's Mom must think of me. I hoped she wasn't too angry about our surprise wedding. Dylan had gone to their room to be with them and his sisters.
We met at one of the hotel bars, just to say that we saw each other before the wedding. His Mom, Eloise, pulled me over for a private conversation. I tried not to have a heart attack.
"Jane, I can't tell you how excited we are to have you as a member of our family." She kissed me on the cheek. "Dylan has talked about you so much, I just knew it was a matter of time."
"Really, you're not angry?"
"Angry? Why? He loves you and that's good enough for us."
"But what about the baby?"
"You're kidding, right? You aren't the only woman to find yourself in that situation. At least you're mature enough to start a family. Gordon and I were babes in the woods. You couldn't find a bigger pair of idiots than the two of us. Oh, but we learned. We had our moments, but all in all, it's been great."
I didn't know what to say. I was relieved. It's always good to start off on the right foot with your in-laws. Now the only worry I had was with my parents. We hung out for a bit, but we all needed to get ready for the wedding.
My room became the meeting place for the women. Quinn helped me with my hair and make up. Daria sat in the recliner, feeding Margaret one last time before the ceremony. My Mom had brought some of her poetry books and was giving me readings that she thought pertained to love and marriage. I love my Mom, but it was really annoying, listening to her recite Carlos Casteneda. Helen stepped in, which was good, because if it had gone on any longer, there would have been bloodshed.
"Amanda, tell me about what you've been doing with yourself. We haven't seen you in ages." Helen took her out into the living area of the suite. Quinn and I were in the bathroom, fixing me up, so Daria had to deal with them. It didn't take long and I was ready. I had an ecru lace dress that I bought a while ago for a party that I never attended. It was tea length, with long sleeves and I found an old fashioned boot to go with it. Quinn styled my hair in curls, so I looked like a 1920's society girl. I even had a long strand of pearls to wear with it. I liked being costumed for my wedding. The ceremony wasn't formal, so each of the girls just wore a pretty dress.
We all went downstairs to the wedding chapel. It was nice in a generic way. At least I wasn't going full on tacky and doing the Elvis, Blue Hawaii ceremony. Maybe for our anniversary. My parents both walked me down the aisle. We did the Lohengrin wedding march down. The ceremony itself only took a few minutes, which was just fine with me. I said I do, Dylan said I do, some Mendelsohn, and we walked back up the aisle as a married couple.
The whole group adjourned to a fancy restaurant, where we ate, drank and made merry. It may not be the wedding you dream about when you're a little girl, but for me it was like a storybook.
Dylan and I enjoyed our wedding night. I can't believe that I'm pregnant and married. I woke up early this morning scared out of my mind. It was too much. What if Dylan woke up and realized that he didn't really love me? It was still dark outside, so I went to the window to see the lights. I looked down the street at the flat, winking landscape. I wanted to be home. I wanted my old life back.
"Hey Janey, what are you doing?" Dylan said sleepily from the bed. I sighed. How could I tell him? I didn't realize it but there were tears in my eyes. "Come here." I went to him and he held me close. "It's going to be okay, you'll see. I really do love you, I love our baby. It's going to be fine."
We fell asleep and when we woke up, I felt much better about everything. We all went to one of those breakfast buffets that Las Vegas is famous for. It was fun getting everyone together like that. After family togetherness time, we all had to go our separate ways.
We piled back into the tank and drove home. I was feeling really weird. Daria had time to get used to the idea. She and Brian dated for four years, then they had an engagement that lasted four months. They had time to know that they really were ready to be married. I knew that I loved Dylan, I knew that I wanted us to be together, but all this rushing around was making me doubt everything. It didn't help that I was having hyper-emotional issues from hormones. It sure was nice to have something to blame my mood on. I brooded for most of the way back.
I've settled down somewhat. At least I don't wake up in the middle of the night, expecting Dylan to have escaped in the night. He's usually lying there, face buried in a pillow, snurfling quietly. I've come to love that sound. So far being pregnant hasn't interfered with my good time. I still drive around town like a mad woman, blasting music with the sunroof open. I am making a concerted effort to eat more veggies, Quinn gave me some books. I draw the line at juicing.
Dylan has made some attempts to move his stuff over to my house. I have to rethink that, OUR house. I suppose I have to find a home for all that stuff he has. There's an unused storage area under the house, maybe we can convert that into a den or something. I might have to get a new sofa too, but guys aren't as territorial as girls are in that respect. And nobody is as territorial as Bunny is.
Bunny is settling into her new position. She works out of the house, so they cleared a room out for her to use as an office. Dylan says that it could be a good tax deduction for them.
I've been thinking a lot about how different my life is now than it was at the beginning of the year. All of us have made major changes. Except for Quinn, she remains as she ever was. I think she's got a date with Tom Cruise tonight. She will never change.
I guess I have to start thinking about Christmas. Eloise called and invited us to stay with them in Chicago. That was nice. I'm still in my first trimester, so I shouldn't travel. She was disappointed, but she understood. Besides, I've been through enough, dealing with holiday travel is too much. I knew that Dylan and I were going to be alone for the holiday. I asked him what he wanted to do.
"So, since we can't visit your family this year, what did you want to do?" I asked him at dinner one night.
"I haven't given it much thought to be honest. What's Trent doing?"
"I don't know, did you want to celebrate with Trent and Bunny?"
"Could be fun. I don't know, do you have a problem with it?"
"No, as long as we actually do something, and not sit around all day."
"We could go to the movies." I made a face. "Janey, what do you think people do at Christmas?"
I thought about it. There is no secret that I have felt ripped off on the holidays. The contrast between what is on TV and what real life is like is too stark. I wanted the Osmond Christmas Special. Snow, presents, and a talented singing family around me, all getting along. "I guess I want the Christmas as portrayed by Hollywood."
"That doesn't exist. I love my folks, I love my family, but the holidays suck. You sit around a hot house all day. If you're my family you've been to Midnight Mass, so the kids are all wound up from lack of sleep and over-stimulation. All of your siblings are getting on your nerves, and everyone is drunk by about 3:00 PM."
"Oh, it's a wonderful life after all." I said sarcastically.
"Jane, everyone is disappointed by the holidays. We eat too much, drink too much, spend too much and expect too much. I think we should have a low expectations Christmas. Just a quiet day at home. If Trent and Bunny want to come, ok, but no Christmas music, no egg nog and no pressure."
"How romantic." Actually, I could see where he was coming from, and to tell the truth, Thanksgiving was as much as I was willing to risk. What were the odds I could have a nice Thanksgiving and a nice Christmas. "Ok, that's fine. I leave it for you to plan. Otherwise it's a Swanson pot pie."
"Fair enough. I'll call Trent and see if he has any ideas." Dylan looked happy.
Dylan moved all of his stuff over today. I cleared out one of the guest room closets for him. That'll teach him to crack on Trent. We are temporarily storing the trappings of the bachelor pad under the house, until we can firm up the construction of the den/office/lair. Dylan seems really happy. I guess some guys are just meant to be in relationships. Thank God I married one of them.
I've been feeling tired. It's not uncommon, but I hate it. Just when I'm about to get out, run errands and take on that world, I've got to lie down and have a nap. Dylan has been helping me out, which makes him a wooly baa lamb in my book, but I just want to feel better. I asked Daria if she had the same thing.
"No, but I know other women have. I felt pretty good actually. Except towards the end, then I just felt, huge and useless and unwieldy, so you have something to look forward to." She explained
"Gee, thanks for the encouraging words." I replied, barely able to get my head off the sofa pillow.
"Hey, at least you don't have morning sickness, I hear that's a real bitch."
"Thank God for small favors." I said, sighing.
"You might be dehydrated. Want a water?" She offered, going to the fridge for a bottle.
"Yeah, all right." I said weakly.
"Okay Camille, but you do realize that you can't milk this forever. Right?" She said as she pitched the bottle at me.
"I can try." I said as I tried to twist the cap off. I held it out to her to open for me.
"You know Lane, it's interesting that you didn't have any symptoms until AFTER you found out you were pregnant. I'll indulge you now, Brian and I are going to have another one some day, and you are going to do the same for me." She said, handing the water back to me, sans cap.
"Deal." I said taking a slug of water.
We sat around the rest of the day, watching TV and playing with Margaret.
Daria, Brian, Margaret and Quinn took off for Lake Tahoe today. We wished them well, and I silently thanked God that I didn't have to spend the holidays with a mob of people, in the snow. It was quiet now, and I didn't have anyone to keep me company in the house during the day. Bunny worked, and in the evenings she was working with a designer, trying to come up with a way to make Trent's house more workable. Trent was in his studio, working on some tunes. He was on a roll, so I didn't want to disturb him.
It was cold, and the evenings were damp, with swirls of fog blowing around the canyon. I was thinking about the coyotes, hoping that they all could get what they needed from the garbage. I didn't want to leave dog food out for them, but I didn't want them to starve either. It must suck when your eco-system changes, and you have to stay behind and deal with it.
I was exceptionally weepy today, and Dylan came home, from slaying dragons to find me on the sofa crying about coyotes. Poor guy.
We had a nice evening, eating soup in front of the fire, and talking about our baby. I had the feeling it was a boy. It was too early to know for sure, but I had a feeling. I was overwhelmed by a wave of love for Dylan and the baby. I was warm and happy. My husband was a saint. What more could I want?
I woke up this morning, later than usual. Dylan, Bunny and Trent were in the kitchen, they were eating cinnamon buns and coffee. It smelled wonderful. I padded downstairs in my sweats, still feeling a bit woozy. Dylan gave me a bun, some juice and a glass of milk.
"Merry Christmas honey." He kissed me good morning. Our first Christmas as married people.
We dawdled over breakfast, everyone else was in jeans and sweaters. "Hey, what's up with the clothes?"
"We're going to the snow, find something to put on so we can hit the road. Also bring something to change into for later." Bunny said, she was really excited to be going somewhere. Then I remembered, she liked being in the car.
I got dressed. We piled into Dylan's SUV and we headed to Bear Mountain. The drive was fun. I sat up front, so I wouldn't get sick. Bunny and Trent were snuggled in the back. It was peaceful. We sang Christmas carols, and of all of us, Bunny was the one that knew the words. She also could kick the ass out of some of the high notes. Trent especially appreciated this, since Bunny apparently was an alto. We stopped at Pea Soup Anderson's. They are aptly named for their famous Pea Soup. We were well fortified for what was to come.
We got to a place where there was a sledding hill. We bailed out of the truck and in the back, Dylan had packed Coasters. Coasters are plastic versions of garbage can lids. Bunny put on her headgear. I swear, the girl never gets tired of surprising me. She was wearing a board hat, the kind of hat that snowboarder's wear. This hat was covered in what looked like fat, yellow Vienna sausages, it tied under the chin. She looked silly, but what the hey, we were having fun.
We spent a couple of hours trudging up the hill, and sliding down it. We were soaked. It started to get late, and we wanted to be on the road before dark. We found a rest stop so that we could change into dry clothing. We were pleasantly exhausted. The stereo was playing great music, we were warm and dry in the truck and we had spent the day like little kids. All good in my book.
I was starting to get hungry, we were still about two hours away from home. Dylan activated the GPS, and the disembodied voice directed us to the nearest Chinese restaurant. We ate a feast, and we were so hungry, it was the best tasting Christmas food I have ever had.
We were all quite on the way home, everyone had a contented smile on their face. Even the baby was smiling. Don't ask me how I know, I just do.
I can't believe that the year is over. I've been looking over this diary, I can't believe all the stuff that has happened. I can't believe how much I've changed, how much we've all changed.
I was watching a TV show one time, about fake psychics. One of the tricks they employ is to ask the client, "So what happened in (insert random year.)" Usually the person thinks for a minute, and then, "Oh! That's the year I got married," or "That's the year I graduated from college." The point being that every year brings awesome changes. You don't have to be psychic to know that.
I thought about how things would change for me next year. I'd be a mother. I'd be directing a movie. Every year there was an opportunity for great things to happen.
I looked over the list of resolutions. Some of them I actually accomplished some I didn't. That Theremin has been untouched in the green guestroom for months. Hey, there's always next year. Nothing was going anywhere.
I thought about what I'd resolve to do next year. But then I thought, why make a list of resolutions? It didn't really matter; things were accomplished, whether or not they were on the list. I put aside my paper and pen.
I looked up at my husband, I thought about the changes the years would bring. I was looking forward to next year. I got up and kissed him, it's nearly midnight, and as far as I'm concerned I'm ringing in the New Year a bit early. I've had two great holidays this year; I'm going for a hat trick.
I don't do author's notes as a rule, but I wanted to thank a few people. Medea, for beta reading, great advice and magickal oil. Everything helps. Thanks to TAFKA the Dragon, for reading one beta version, and for setting me off on completely revising it. I think it's a much better and truer story now. Me Scribble, for being one of the first beta readers. Thanks for the in depth notes. Mr. A, thanks for the encouragement. Bea, thanks for the guest appearance.
Also, yes, Mary Sue. So what?
Okay, now, for those of you who are curious about the Theremin. Check out www.thereminworld.com.
Thanks to everyone who reads this. I admire your tenacity.