A friend of mine once tried to start a magazine. He explained to me how magazines became successful. You take some niche topic (Golf, Fishing, Teenage Girls’ Fashion, Investing, New York City Upscale Mothers) and you write articles which make your readers feel insecure. This way, they’ll continue to read your magazine and buy your advertiser’s products, hoping that ONE DAY they could be as successful as the person on the cover.
I pretty much use the same technique here at Citizen of the Month. I know that for many of you living in god-forsaken places such as Montana, Pittsburgh, and Staten Island, I must be the single most glamorous person you’ve ever encountered. After all, I live in the star-studded entertainment capital of the world — Los Angeles. I open my shades every morning and hear the birds singing, smell the ocean air, and see Lindsay Lohan walk her dog. My life is all about glamour. Sometimes, I think of quitting blogging. But then I remember all the “little people” — people like you — the ones who depend on a little elegance and sophistication to add meaning to their small-town lives. You can easily compare me to a Fred Astaire movie of the 1930’s — top hats, champagne, and Cole Porter — letting the sad, Depression-era audiences have a little bit of taste of “The Good Life.”
My Sunday began like many others in the beautiful City of Angels. As I awoke, a beautiful Hollywood actress walked out of my shower. I admired her perfect naked body. She was exotic, with a sexy foreign accent.
“Remember to watch Windfall on NBC this Thursday,” she said, reminding me about her upcoming appearance on TV.
“Of course, Sophia.” I said.
Los Angeles. City of Dreams. The sun. The beach. Famous actresses.
I was living my dream.
“How about we go have some brunch?’ I asked her, as she combed back her hair, her highlights shimmering like the crown of a goddess.
Those of you who live in boring places like Washington D.C., Atlanta, and Paris probably don’t understand that this is a complex question. Los Angeles is filled with some of the most fabulous and cutting-edge restaurants in the country. I know that for most of my readers, going “out” means shlepping over to “Mr. Pizza” at the mall with the kids. But for someone like me, going out means choosing from one of the hippest and trendiest eateries in town. For us Angelenos, eating out is important. Like clubbing and shopping on Rodeo Drive. You need to be part of the scene. “See and be seen” is our motto.
“How would you like to check out ‘Chicago for Ribs’?” I asked my naked actress friend.
“Is it any good?”
“I have no idea. But I received a two-for-one coupon in the mail.”
“Cheapskate, as usual”
Although I don’t mind using a coupon (Men: only use a coupon ONCE you’re married), I’m always embarrassed giving it to the waiter. What to do? Make you wife do it.
“Here’s the coupon.” I said, as we entered Chicago for Ribs, trying to shove the coupon into Sophia’s hand.
“Be a man for once in your life. You give him the coupon!”
I sighed. Sophia was right. How difficult can it be to give someone a stupid coupon?
We were greeted by Frank, the maitre d’ (can you call the guy who takes you to your booth in Chicago for Ribs a maitre d’?) . He was a sourpussed man in his forties who looked like he took a summer job at Chicago for Ribs in 1980 and never left.
“You should give him the coupon NOW,” said Sophia, as we went to our table. “They like to get it before you order.”
I hemmed and hawed.
“Give it to him now,” she repeated.
As we sat, I showed the coupon to Frank.
“I received this coupon in the mail. Is it OK to use it today for lunch?”
“Yes. I’ll take it. ” The stone-faced maitre d’ replied, not really giving a shit.
Our waiter approached.
“Hi, I’m Jamal!” he said with a smile. Finally — someone friendly!
Sophia ordered beef ribs, with side dishes of corn and coleslaw. I ordered chicken, with side dishes of baked potato and beans. Originally I was just going to order a sandwich, but since Sophia ordered something for $12.95, it was mathematically important that I order something for the same price — or the whole point of a two-for-one coupon is lost.
The meal was both decent and mediocre. Real BBQ lovers would have probably thrown the “Chicago-style ribs” from the top of the Sears Tower. But Jamal was a nice guy, who kept on refilling our iced tea. Jamal also had great teeth.
We received the bill. It was $35 dollars, with drinks. There was no discount for our two-for-one coupon. I looked over at Sophia.
“No way! You handle it, once in your life.” she said.
I waited for Jamal to return.
“Um… We wanted to use a coupon with this.” I told him.
“Sure. Just give it to me and I’ll take care of it.”
“Um… Actually, we already gave the coupon to the other guy when we first walked in.”
“I think so.”
“OK, I’ll ask him for it.”
A few minutes later, Jamal returns, shaking his head.
“Frank said you never gave him a coupon.”
“Isn’t Frank the guy at the door?”
“I’m positive I gave it to Frank when we sat down.”
Sophia was getting impatient with my method of “taking care of things.”
“Could you bring Frank over here, please?!” she asked.
Jamal returned with Frank. This was the same sourpuss who I gave the coupon.
“You didn’t give me any coupon.” he said.
“Of course he did!” said Sophia.
“I told you I got it in the mail,” I added sheepishly, hoping he’d remember our conversation. “I asked you if we could use it at lunch…”
“And I told you ‘yes.'” Frank said. “But I never took the coupon.”
I quickly went through all my pockets, emptying everything onto the table.
“I’m POSITIVE I gave you the coupon.”
“I SAW him give it to you,” said Sophia.
“I don’t have it.” said Frank. “And I really need that coupon for accounting purposes. Let me check in the back one more time. Although I certainly don’t remember you giving me any coupon…”
Sophia and I were left there with Jamal. Sophia was getting pissed.
“What is the big deal with this goddamn coupon? Do we look like we would sneak in here, couponless, and FAKE having a coupon?”
“Don’t worry. I’ll just take it off. Frank loses everything ALL THE TIME. The only reason he works here is that cousin is the owner. Frank’s a moron.”
Jamal took $12.95 off of the menu and we went on our merry way.
The rest of the day was equally as fabulous. We went to E-Z Lube and got an oil change. At night, I played in a high-stakes Texas Hold-em tournament with five women. At the end, I beat an eighty-two year old grandmother in heads-up action. I won the $100 pot. The grandmother deserved to lose. She was a card shark.
I do LIVE the LIFE! Don’t hate me because I’m glamorous.
A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Learning from Barbra Streisand