Background

A Pool Hustler's Daughter grows up in subterranean America. She dreams big, hustles daily and loves her Daddy. With empathy, fascination and grace she navigates and inhabits every tier of society; sees beauty and hope and magic in all things; respects and lives by the "mitzvah."
A Pool Hustler's Daughter calculates the trifecta payout at the racetrack, hides money on three parts of her body, has an arsenal of "Uncles," and keeps a baseball bat by the front door. She values friendship, loyalty and experiences over "things." Like her father, she seeks to learn "The secrets of the universe" and believes "Life ain't on the square." She applauds the self-made and those who learn to "overcome" their circumstances. Her door is always open for a sofa to sleep on, a hot meal, or an eager listener for a life story.
























Monday, March 4, 2013

10 THINGS I WON'T DO BEFORE I TURN 40: CHAPTER 10 - WACKY WEDNESDAY

#1 HAVE A WACKY WEDNESDAY

I wake up in ten thousand thread count Italian linens that I can smell have been

sprayed with lavender prior to ironing. I feel well rested. Like the weight of the world

has been lifted off of my shoulders. I open my eyes and look beside me.

"Bonjour!" Guillame Canet whispers to me, smiling a bright, beautiful and

wrinkly Sharpei-sh smile.

I close my eyes again as I imagine…I am dreaming. I open them.

"Don't be frightened." Guillame tells me, “Today is going to be the greatest day

ever."

"Where am I?" I ask.

Then Guillame kisses me.
_____________________________________________________

When I open my eyes again, there is a sweaty Guillame sleeping soundly on my

chest, I try and figure out just where on earth this beautifully decorated room I have

found myself in is. Egon Schiele's The Embrace hangs above the dresser, under

soft lights. Cindy Sherman's giant photo still hangs between two large windows. Is it

possible these are orginals? There are floor to ceiling bookshelves (with a ladder)

reminiscent of Max Von Sydow's loft in Woody Allen's film Hannah and Her Sisters.

I look out the window and see the Empire State Building - in the far distance. Holy Shit.
I am in New York. I live in a gorgeous apartment. I collect art. I am apparently dating

Guillame Canet. This is kind of wacky - like Dr. Suess's book, Wacky Wednesday.

I crawl out naked from beneath the sleeping Guillame, tiptoeing in perfectly pedicured

toes. I pass by a mirror on my way to the bathroom. I am tiny. Is that, is that my body?

I run into the bathroom and step on the scale. It says I am one hundred and fifteen

pounds. What the? I have not weighed this since age thirteen. I'm nearly five feet ten;

that's like a size zero. How did this happen? I never wanted to be a size zero! I mean I

joked about it, but I like my curves, love them. I have no butt! And where are my DDs?

What the? This will never do. Sophia Loren's going to make me get a boob job. I need

something to calm my nerves - a Xanax, something; getting everything you want all at

once can be scary. That's why it is supposed to take years; there needs to be a build-up. I

open up the medicine cabinet and see rows of bottles with my name on the labels.

It's...all..speed? Apparently I'm addicted to speed. So that's how I got so skinny! Great.

All I need before turning forty is a trip to rehab.

A mobile phone in the bathroom rings. The caller ID says "Nikki Finke."

Nikki Finke is calling me? From “Deadline?”

"Hello," I answer.

"Cece. I need a statement from you. You're really starting your own movie

Studio; just like Charlie Chaplin did at United Artists? You, Mindy Kaling, Diablo

Cody, Amy Pohler… Tell me, why are you on the fence about Tina Fey joining you?"

I’m starting my dream all-female movie studio! NO WAY!

"I deplore Tina's potty humor. She's still insecure boys won't like her, so she

wants to appease their most base comedic instincts. She should go work for Judd Apatow

if she wants to do gross. Besides that, she's Greek and so am I. We're catty."

The line beeps.

"Thanks, Nikki, gotta go, other line." I hang up with Nikki and click over.

All I hear is screaming.

"What the fuck Cece? Why won't you let Tina in on this deal? She's got NBC

money and that means GE money. We need that to pay for your horny housewife

features!"

A man with a slight Chicago accent yells at me.

"Who the fuck are you?" I yell back.

"It's Ari, Cece. Don't play dumb," an irate voice tells me.

"Ari who?" I ask, dumbfounded.

"Ari Emanuel you blue balling Dago bitch. I'm your Agent, remember? How

many amphetamines did you take this morning?"

"None. I'm off that shit," I tell him. OMFG Ari Emanuel is my Agent?

I flush all the pills down the toilet.

"This deal is worth a billion dollars. Your all female run studio was the largest

funding on Kickstarter, ever!"

"People actually want to help fund my movies?" I ask, soooo happy.

"Yes, the movie, the books, the TV shows. You are starting your own network

for Christ Sake. You've even got Oprah scared."

"I'm scaring Oprah? YEAHHH! I love you Ari!" I start to jump up and down in

the bathroom.

"Yes, I know you hate Oprah, Cece." Ari laughs.

"Fine. Let Tina in. But, if she waters down the liquor, she's out. And no

more lamb on the spit in the green room!" I emphasize.

"Fine, see you tonight," he tells me.

"See you where?" I ask.

"The Tribeca Film Festival. Hello. Your movie is premiering. My assistant

will be sending over some dresses shortly. You have some interviews this afternoon.

Don't be an asshole. This is it," Ari tells me. "This is what it feels like to finally make it."

He finishes and hangs up.

I've made it, mother fucker's, I've made it!

I open the bathroom door to find Guillame standing there. He is bare chested and

his pajama pants are hanging low. All I see are the cuts heading down to his groin. I

gasp. He throws me face down on the bed.
_________________________________________________________

"I don't know if I can stand, much less walk out of this room to do those

interviews." I pant to Guillame. We both start laughing.

"You've made me feel so good. You have no idea. But, do I," I begin to ask

him, "Make you, feel good?"

"Yes, very much." he tells me, grinning. "But I do miss your old body. From

before you were so famous."

"And, you don't mind the role playing thing?" I ask.

"No, it is how we connect. I know it reminds you of a special time in your life.

We can do it forever if you like." he propositions.

"You know, I..don’t..." I begin, softly. "Please don’t take it personally, you’re

wonderful, your energy, is wonderful...."

He grabs my hand and squeezes it.

"I'm French. So, I know these things. I'm sure it will happen soon," he reassures

me, smiling. God he's gorgeous. I need to eat something.

"Oh, gosh. I need to get ready for these interviews."

"You! Jump in the shower! I will prepare breakfast! Fruit flavored green tea,

eight strawberries. eight blackberries and eight raspberries."

"Three eights!" I yell, excitedly, "You know about my OCD?"

"Yes, of course I know about your OCD. I think it’s adorable. And, just so you

know, I have read all of your favorite books, watched all of your favorite movies and

downloaded all of your favorite songs," he tells me.

"You have? But..but...I want to learn about you, about what you love. I want you

to teach me new things."

"Don't worry, I have strong opinions against a lot of the artists you do like. And I

am happy to teach you new things," he offers.

"Perfect. If you loved everything I loved, I would hate you for it." I answer.

"I know. Let's start with the French language. I will make you a Francophile in

no time," he curls his lips and flirts with arrogance. Strange…I have heard the

Francophile comment once before.

I walk into the hot shower alone. What am I thinking? I walk down the hall to

the kitchen, nearly slipping on the wood floors, and grab Guillame to join me.
______________________________________________________________

"None of the dresses fit!” I complain to the assistant. I never thought that clothes

being too big would ever be a problem for me.

"I'm going to look ridiculous!" I add to the assistant, Kitty.

"Listen, we will just safety pin the back," she tells me.

"Fine. Whatever," I relent as she pins me back into shape. I look in the mirror

and I hardly recognize myself. Is this the person inside of me that always wanted to

come out? I mean, the girl I have kept at bay all of these years? I start to cry.

"Oh, did I pinch? I am so sorry!" she apologizes.

"No, I'm fine. I've just waited so long for all of this. I thought it would never

happen. Like it was just an alternate reality that I created in my head; to get me through

day to day life. But, it’s actually happening and with lightening quick speed, you know?"

"I don't know, but I'm happy for you," she tells me.

"Tell me, how old are you?" I ask.

"Twenty four," she replies.

"And what, do you get out of all of this? What do you want to be?" I ask.

"I'm a writer," she declares.

"You're a writer? That's marvelous! Have I read any of your stuff?" I ask.

"No. I promised Ari's people I wouldn't bring it up in front of you. Didn't want to

bother you."

"Bother me? It's not a bother at all. I'd be honored to read your stuff. What do

you write?"

"I have blog." she answers.

"I started with a blog, too!" I shout.

"But I would like to write a screenplay. I have a short," she explains.

"Please, please, send it to me. Reading your work would make my perfect day," I

beg.

"Thank you. I E-mail my work to my friends and they never get around to

reading it. I almost feel like strangers are more apt to read than people who know me."

"Yeah. That’s kind of how it goes. Don't take it personally. In fact, I think it’s

better that strangers read you first. They have no preconceived notions. It is a pure

read."

“Sounds about right,” she says, as she nods and fixes my hem.

“Don’t let anything – ever - stand in the way of your writing! Do you understand?

This is extremely important. You are only twenty four years old. This is the time to

Live!”

“Understood,” she answers.

“Oh, and one more thing. Make sure you sleep with more than two men.”

“Not to worry. I surpassed that number at sixteen,” she tells me. Kids today.
_______________________________________________________________

An hour later I find myself sitting on a stage that I am sharing a couch with

Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda on The Today Show. I am shaking. I think I am going

through speed withdrawal. I am sweating through my dress and have a massive headache.

I am craving Swedish pancakes.

"So, Cece. Your movie is premiering tonight. How exciting! Did you always

know Sofia Coppolla would direct?" Hoda asks.

"No (bleep) fucking way. Sofia Coppola directed my film? Wow! This is a great

day," I tell the co-hosts even though I am cursing and apparently unaware of the details of

my own film.

"Yes, they say she might win a Best Director for it," Hoda engages.

"She should have won for Lost In Translation - before Kathryn Bigelow did.

But Hollywood has always been about (bleep) dicks before chicks," I tell them. Kathie

Lee and Hoda continue to smile. I feel light headed.

"Hey, Kathie Lee, do you have an extra line of Coke?" I begin.

She looks embarrassed, but is still smiling wildly, worried NBC security might

find her stash in her dressing room.

"Don't know what you're talking about," she replies, facing the camera.

"Really? Then how do you stay so damn perky all the time? I'm coming off an

amphetamine addiction and I am super sleepy. Guillame Canet (bleep) fucked me so

hard this morning that I can barely walk..."

"Okay, then, well, let's talk about your novel, "A Pool Hustler's Daughter: Book

1, A Head For Numbers." How did you come up with that ending? Remarkable! Is it true

it’s been optioned as a film?" Hoda asks.

"I finished my novel, really?" I ask them, "I don't know how it ended… I've been

stuck on it for months..."

"Okay, well, good luck tonight at the premiere." Kathie Lee tells me.

"Any last words you want to say to your fans?" Hoda asks.

"Yeah, Tina Fey! Who's my bitch now? You're my bitch, Tina!" I yell into the

camera.

"And, cut" the Director yells.

I look down at my IPhone to see the text from Ari.

"You dumb Dago Bitch."

Next stop: Live with Regis and Kelly.

Now this interview I am pumped for. I adore Regis Philbin. He is the most

successful Italian American on television, ever. And Kelly is a nice Dago girl from New

Jersey. They should take good care of me. I hope. Please let Reege jump up and down

for me - please!

It is a set break when I arrive and I see Kelly sitting up behind her desk. She’s

drinking a Stoli Splenda on the rocks out of a happy face mug with Censorship is

Blindness printed on it and ask "Hey, Kel. Where's Reege?"

"Didn't you know? Reege retired."

"WHAT? You're kidding me. I'm too late; too late to be interviewed by Regis

Philbin? Nuts!"

"Sorry, it was just a few months ago, too. Trying to fit this in before your Fortieth

birthday, huh?" Kelly asks.

"Yeah, how did you know?

“Barbara Walters was on my list of interviews before I turned forty. No deal."

"So, who's replacing Reege?"

"We have Fill-ins. Today it's David Duchovny."

"No way? Are you serious?"

"Yes. He loves it here. I almost can't get rid of him. It's a relief when he's in LA.

All he wants to do is talk about books. And I think he tries to trick me into looking dumb

on television."

“Hello again, Cece.” I hear from a tall, slightly leering David Duchovny in his

pompous, slightly effeminate New York accent. He smells like the Pacific Ocean.

Goddam Princeton Grad Pescatarian.

“Oh, yes, David. Hello there.” I acknowledge.

The production assistants move me on stage in between Kelly and David, behind

a large counter. I am nervous about the way I look now, the way I left things with David,

that one, crazy, hash brownie filled night…

“You’ve lost a lot of weight, there Cece. Nerves?” David asks.

“Oh, don’t worry David. All I need is one, two weeks tops to gain twenty pounds

back, I tell him, laughing. How about you break your Vegan pledge and take me for a

steak after this?" I ask him.

"Pescatarian" he corrects.

"Oh, yes, sorry, Pescatarian. No wonder you always smell so fishy," I quip.

"I'll take that as a compliment. All that fish oil keeps my skin smooth. Want to

feel it?"

"It?"

"My skin"

"Oh No."

"You're a regular ole Cinderella story, huh? Now that you're the famous writer

you always wanted to be. The famous filmmaker you always wanted to be. Do you think

you have suffered enough for your art to deserve this success? Don't you know there is a

difference between famous and great?" David digs.

"Can't you just compliment me once? Just once! Is that so hard to do for you;

will your internal organs fail or something if you decide to actually say I have value?" I

yell, as if I have wanted to say this to him for the past twenty years. Such a bastard, he is.

"Aren’t I just a peon to you now?” he asks.

“I would never use the adjective peon to describe you,” I answer, smiling.

“You two know each other?” Kelly asks as if she’s surprised.

“Well, we kind of have a connection. Am I right, David? Or is it all just in my

head?” I question.

“Yes, Cece, we have a connection. It’s like you and I are old friends who love to

talk about everything under the sun, who like to get under one another’s skin and its just a

matter of time, the time when one of us says screw it. Let’s just do this thing. Am I

right?” he finishes.

“Did you read the story I wrote about you?” I ask him, seriously.

“Yes, of course. Your writing is still a bit immature…” he begins.

“Oh, I’ll always be immature. Inexperience, I guess.” I tell him. I am smiling

and...blushing. Now, that hasn’t happened in sometime. David gets me. I hate that he

gets me, but I love it, too. He will always be the one I want to be locked away in a New

York apartment with, but I will never, ever have.

“I wouldn’t write about you unless I really cared about you. You know that,

right?” I tell my dear David.

“My case. It got dismissed,” he tells me. Looking right at me. God, he’s

powerful. I panic.

“Oh, good.” I say, trying to get the words out.

“I’m off the meds” he tells me and grabs my hand and puts it in his lap.

“Action” calls the Director and I am stuck with the camera rolling, with my hand

over David’s quickly tightening pleated pants and making chit chat with a drunk Kelly

Ripa.

David just smiles and asks me some off the wall questions, taking pleasure in

my awkwardness, pressing his hand down, harder, over my hand, in between his legs.

“Yep, Sofia Coppola, movie studio. All that Jazz…” I answer David who I am

hating so much right now; but wanting more than anything to kiss his sushi stained lips.

"Water...may I have some water...please?" I whisper.

“Well, alright then, good luck with the Tribeca Film Festival premiere tonight.

Tell Bobby DeNiro I say hi,” Kelly says.

“And…cut,” orders the Director.

“Okay, I’m off to do an appliance commercial” Kelly drunkenly slurs and leaves

the table. Ed McMahon over here.

David presses my hand down farther into his lap, like, he may even bruise me.

“Well…” David asks, leering.

And then he flips me over his shoulders and carries me toward his dressing

room.

“Duchovny, you bastard, let me down. I have another interview!” I scream.

God, he’s strong. Thank God I’m a size zero. I can enjoy this Streetcar Named Desire

drama.

“Jon Stewart in an hour!” my assistant yells at me, right before David slams the

door in her face.

David starts to unbutton his pleated pants and remove his shirt as I walk

backwards toward the wall. He presses the play button on his tape deck and Sonic

Youth's Carpenter's cover of Superstar.

“Is this on a Playlist?” I ask.

“No, Mix Tape, I’m old fashioned” he answers.

“Title?” I ask, still walking backwards toward a wall in the dark, enclosed space.

“Cece, Projecting, Winter 2012,” he jokes as he walks toward me.

“That one beats the title, Cece’s Kickin’ Tunes ’91 or Lonely

’94, not to be outdone by Still Lonely ’95.” Sigh. I miss…titles...

“I’m going to make a new one,” he laughs “It’s called Cece’s Big O –

January.”

“Wait, wait, wait. This is all happening too fast...I like to process things,

David. Fantasize about them for months, years, sometimes twenty, before they actually

happen...” I rant, as my limbs begin to shake. I can hardly speak, even my lips are

trembling.

“Shut up!” he tells me.

“I’m in a serious relationship with the world’s most beautiful man, Guillame

Canet…”

“I don’t care,” he says pushing me against a wall, my hands keeping him at bay.

“Why, why do you even want me?” I ask.

“Because I’m in your head, Cece, and you’re in mine. Now all I want to do is get

in your pants. You just can't turn forty without...”

He starts kissing me.

"But..I don’t…" I whisper, embarassed.

He lifts me up in his arms and pushes me against the wall. He whispers

Hebrew into my ear.

“Oh, Jewish Jesus, that’s hot. Keep talking!” I yell.

I kiss him back excitedly; noticing a framed picture of a smiling Regis Philbin

on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson above the mirror across from our half naked

bodies.

I'm about to have sex in Regis Philbin's old dressing room with...David

Duchovny. The last thing I see is a tattoo of Thomas Pynchon's Trystero Symbol on

David's ass. I feel a slight pang of guilt and then...

“I’m glad we met again,” he tells me as he passes me a joint. A little while later,

we are laying on his couch and drinking Coconut Water.

“I feel like such a slut right now, you have no idea,” I confess.

“Ha, ha. I’m glad I am such a good influence on you. I thought you said you

wanted to be my really big slut?” He laughs.

“Did I say it, or think it? I’m getting confused.”

“Does it even matter, here, right now?”

“Seriously, I just cheated on Guillame. He’s a good man. A very good man in

fact. Like, I think he loves me. And that’s like – rare. I’ve never had sex with two

different men in the same day, much less the same decade.”

“How much time do you have before The Daily Show? I could sully you

further?” he asks.

“There is so much I want to talk to you about. That I think only you will

understand. Like, I really like Guillame, but, you know, I make him role play with me,” I

confess.

“You do, why? What are you trying to recreate?” he asks.

“My..first time. My first lover. Do you understand why I need to do this? You

have understood almost everything about me so far. I’m hoping you understand this,” I

press.

“I do. That was an awakening for you as a young woman. You are looking for

another one.”

“Yes, a part two.” I say.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

“And it is great – I mean Guillame’s great to me. For the whole half a day, he’s

been my boyfriend. But, it’s just not the same. And, first and foremost, I do not have an

intellectual connection with him the way that I do with you. Even when you’re impotent,

you’re exceedingly attractive. You’ve proven that to me, yet another reason why I hate

you.” I say.

“Well, thanks for the compliment. If you’re not hating me or threatening my life I

feel neglected,” he remarks.

“You, get inside my head. You know that, David. I feel naked, in your

presence.”

“Oooh, I like that. But all I really want to hear is that you’re writing. That is

what you always wanted to do; how you wanted to live your life. You’ve been telling me

this for over twenty years.”

“But David, I think I’ve only known you a few months. If even that long. I told

you, I’m starting to get confused.”

“Don’t worry about trying to figure anything out. That’s your problem. You

think too much. Try and live in the moment. Relax and clear your mind, Cece. I want

you to focus only on newness, on me. I want to make a brand new imprint for you…I

want you to record, not replay, when you are with me…”

“Goddamit you’re deep, David. I just had a kid complain that my after-sex talk

was too deep, but now that I’m with you, I remember how deep it can be and how

fucking good that feels…”

“I’m not always deep. Remember, I’m an actor. I’m putting you on most of the

time.”

"Ok, so I'm only telling you this, because I know it won't freak you out."

"What?"

"Marcello Mastroianni - the Italian film star from La Dolce Vita - he's a ghost."

"Really?"

"And we're friends."

"I think I can comprehend this."

"Well, any way, Sofia.."

"Loren or Coppola?"

"Loren. Well, she loved him so much, she brought him back to earth as a ghost.

Their friendship/love for the ages, well, it is La Dolce Vita."

"Whoa."

"I know."

"This is very Gabriel Garcia Marquez, isn't it?"

"Oh, yes, perfect reference. Are you trying to get me wet again?"

"Like One Hundred Years of Solitude." David finishes.

"Well, I asked Sofia - why she loves Marcello so much and she told me she loves

everything that comes out of his mouth, everything..."

"I like that. I like that a lot. Not everyone would say that or want that from

another person."

"But, I do. And when I spent that night with you I thought that very same thing

about you."

"Words. It's words you love. You're a writer"

"No, it’s more than that. Sofia knows exactly what I want; what makes me love

someone."

David reaches over and gives me a kiss.

"I say a lot of stupid shit" he smiles back at me.

"I know, I love that just as much as the witty things you say. Let’s face facts, I’m

a sucker for a Pedant..." I admit.

"And let’s not forget an exhibitionist,” he adds.

“Yep, hope you enjoyed humiliating me live on television.” I answer.

“Very much. So, what now?” he asks.

“Oh, I have to leave, get on with my life, and pine over you, David. You…well,

you’re unattainable. You’re the man I’ll always dream about, but will never actually

have, never actually own. Not that I want to own anyone, I believe in freedom, but, I still

want devotion. Guillame gives me that devotion.” I offer.

“Everybody wants someone to know them, Cece.” David starts, “It's the human

condition. We are afraid if something happens to us, we will have never truly been

known.”

"I think only Romantics think that way," I argue.

"Well, you are a Romantic, Cece. It's one of the reasons I like you so much."

“Why did I ever think I was so special in wanting to be understood? Everybody

wants that,” I reason.

"No, I didn't say everybody wants to be understood. Everybody wants to be

known. Being understood is a completely different objective and one only complicated,

over thinker’s torture themselves over; those who are in the midst of an existential crisis."

"Like me," I say.

"Like you. But that's why I like you. You're complicated. I mean the fact that

you need to role play with Guillame Canet, the world's most beautiful man. It's…well, its

hilarious." David laughs.

"Yeah, I guess it is."

We both start belly laughing.

Enter uncomfortable pause.

“I'm glad I got to see that," David says, seriously, looking deep into my eyes and

forcing a fight or flight response. Only one other person ever made me react like this.

"What?" I answer.

"Don't be coy after nearly deafening my left ear with your screams,” he chides.

"I didn't even put that on my list; didn't think it possible. What do you want me to

say – thank you?"

"Thank you, sir, would be better."

"Thank you, sir." I answer.

"Maybe your forties will be the start of something new. Not just professionally."

Duchovny remarks.

"Why? Didn't it happen sooner? When I was still young?" I ask.

"All that matters is that it can happen. You had to let go of a lot of anger to let it

happen. So many things you want Cece, can still happen. Trust me. You trust me

don't you? If you didn't that wouldn't have just happened,” he reasons.

"But you and I - we'll never be together, never be a couple?" I whine.

"It’s like you said, I'm unavailable. I'm the person you need to believe exists,

even if it’s only in a memory, or only in your imagination."

"It helps that I only thought of you, when I was with you." I add.

“That's how it should be....Hey, I’ll miss you, you know?” he soothes.

“Oh, don’t say that. I’m going to be fantasizing about you – or someone just like

you – for the rest of my life; pretending we live in New York as artists, screwing daily,

sharing witty banter and competing for the world's attention.”

“That's a great fantasy. Don’t give up on that, okay?”

“None of this seems real except for that pounding you just gave me; I'll be

replaying it in my head a few thousand times before I hit fifty - for sure.”

We laugh. He kisses my forehead. He has a sweet side to him. He's not

all cock-sucking, Ivy League, pedantic bastard.

“Want another hit before you go?” he asks.

“I don’t want to be too baked before I meet Jon Stewart.” I answer.

“Listen, everybody on that set is baked,” he tells me.

I put my clothes back on. David just lies on the couch, watching.

"So, how much longer til forty?" he prods.

"What time is it?"

"Four o'clock.”

"Then, that would be in eight more hours," I answer as I place my foot into a heel.

"I'm having my movie premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, Ari Emanuel is my

agent, I'm dating the world's most beautiful man, I'm starting my own film studio, and I

just you know what with David Duchovny."

"You know what with David Duchovny? Not very wordsmith-like for a writer,"

he teases.

"Well, you know," I say.

"I know." he confirms.

"I guess I've done it all. I don't know what else I could possibly do before forty.

I've dealt with pretty much everything. Might make a good book, one day?" I ask him as

I throw my coat on.

"Cece, you haven't dealt with everything," he contradicts.

"No, I think I have," I tell him, grabbing my purse.

"I have!!!" I yell back at him.

"Hey," David starts. He grabs my arm.

"Let go of me. I said I've dealt with everything." I tell him as I remove his hand

from my now bony arm.

"I wouldn't be the perfect guy in your life, the one who understands you, if I didn't

remember this one last thing,” he continues.

"I can move forward without dealing with that," I assure him.

"No, you can't, Sweetheart, but there's still time. There's still time for you, Cece."

“Don’t call me Sweetheart! I’m never going to be your Sweetheart, David, so

let’s not pretend.” I yell back. I know he means well, but I can’t possibly

get over everything I regret or have missed out on. There are only a few hours of thirty-

nine left.

I walk out the door and follow my assistant to the next studio.

Next Stop: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.

"You are here to discuss you're upcoming book - Ten Things I Won't do Before I

Turn Forty,” she reminds me.

"But, I haven't even finished it. The last story, it's still being written, its

happening, like right now," I tell her.

"Do your best. Jon's a nice guy. Just don't let him suck you into politics. He'll

crush you like a bug," she warns me.

"I hate politics," I tell her.

"Keep that to yourself" she warns me again.

I am moved up to the interview desk to a smiling and incredibly short Jon

Stewart. I wish David was with me. He's so good at witty comebacks. My lips keep

sticking to my teeth. I have the munchies.

"And, roll 'em" the Director begins.

"And we're back," Jon begins to the studio audience, "Today we have a writer and

filmmaker extraordinaire. About to head the first ever woman run film studio. Her first

feature film, Not My Girlfriend is premiering tonight at the Tribeca Film

Festival and she is about to publish a new book called Ten Things I Won't Do Before I

Turn 40. Please give a warm round of applause for Cece Francona!"

The studio audience, they are clapping - for me. Yeah! Pop Tarts sound good

right now. I sit next to Jon Stewart. The Socialist.

"What's up Red?" I ask him.

"Red?" he asks, starting to drool like a dog over a bone. Psyched for the arguing

about to take place.

"You're a Socialist, aren't you?"

"Well, if I had to pick a party, then yes."

"So, you're like friends with Chavez and shit?" I ask

"No, I am not friends with Chavez."

"Do you like Communists?" I ask

"No, I don't like Communists. Don't you know I am obsessed with North Koreas'

Kim Jong? Now that he's gone, I need to come up with some new material" he replies.

"Oh, so you've got one of those George Orwell personas? George wrote Animal

Farm to condemn Communism but became a Socialist after experiencing and writing

Down and Out in Paris and London,” I elaborate.

"Do you…have a political party or philosophy you prescribe to?" he asks,

eyes beaming, so excited for this smack down.

"Well, I rarely vote and if I do, I write in names, like my hairdresser, or Hillary

Clinton." I tell him.

"Your hairdresser?" he asks.

"I trust my hairdresser with my life, don't you?" I ask.

"I can't believe I am saying this, but don't make a mockery of our political

institutions." Jon tells me.

"My hair dresser is a small business owner, lesbian mother of two from Detroit

who always votes. I think she covers a pretty good chunk of the American populace." I
counter.

"If you rarely vote then you're not allowed to have an opinion!" he states as he

stands up.

"But this is still a free country. And I am a citizen. I can have an opinion whether

I vote or not. I just don't like the idea of any other person making decisions for my

money, or my life, regardless of political party,” I spew.

"Hillary Clinton was pretty predictably Democrat," he says

"But she would have been the first woman president. I don't think we'll find a

woman that uniquely qualified for at least another fifty years. I wanted my daughter to

see it. I wanted to see it. I wanted women to go to work a little more confident than

before. It would have begun a seismic shift for the good of all women. You do know we

are half the population, don't you?" I ask.

"But she didn't win the nomination," he answers.

"So? And I was extremely hurt when the New York Times Sunday magazine

reported that if Hillary was president, the US would be in the same exact place as it is

with Obama. I mean, can't you just admit you made a mistake instead of finding excuses

that eliminate any possibility that perhaps you were wrong? I mean when did journalists

become fortune tellers?" I ask.

"So, who do you like - politically?” Jon asks.

"Ayn Rand's Fountainhead character, Howard Roarke," I answer.

"Jackpot! Ayn Rand - so you're a Republican?" Jon asks.

"No, I'm an Aquarian. I'm an individualist. I think we should disavow political

parties and stick to astrological signs. They're pretty straight forward," I contend.

"I hate to admit it, but that's not the worst recommendation for politics."

"I just think Roarke’s the perfect man. It does have something to do with my

sign. He’s not afraid of being unique or making mistakes. He lets nothing stand in his

way in accomplishing his artistic vision. Is there anything more attractive than someone

who is okay with their eccentricities? He's a hero. He's my hero," I reiterate.

"Alright, that has nothing to do with politics by the way,” he remarks, annoyed.

“I know, I’m sorry, Jon. I like you and I like your show. Even though I don’t

have cable. That damn David Duchovny, he was just messing with my head…” I begin,

zoning out, tired.

“You, like to talk a lot about heroes, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I guess I do. Do I sound like a little girl?” I ask

“Yes, you kind of do.”

“I still feel like a little girl. Even at…my age.”

“So let’s talk about your book. What happens to the Protagonist in the end?" he

asks.

"I don't know, Jon. I just don't know. I'm not even sure what we are talking about

anymore. These stage lights are hurting my eyes. Do you have any Visine? Do you

have any Funyons?" I ask. Desperation is setting in…
__________________________________________________

Next step on my itinerary is the Tribeca Film Festival. My assistant undresses

and dresses me while I take a nap. The price to pay to work your way up the ladder in

Hollywood. I guess she’s my minder. She had some good luck with the TV actor Keifer

Sutherland, so they sent her to me. Apparently I have a reputation for being a hard nosed

bitch who is always hopped up on speed.

When I wake up in the limo, I try and thank my hard working assistant, Kitty, but

before I have a chance, she sticks a straw attached to a giant iced Americano into my

mouth. I drink and start to wake up. Guillame sits across from me, speaking to Kitty in

French. I am kind of jealous that they can speak to one another in French. I feel left out.

The large lapels on the Yves Saint Laurent Tuxedo that Guillame Canet is wearing make

me happy. Tailoring is everything. Guillame’s hair is so soft and long and shaggy that

all I want to do is play with it; and kiss his nose. When I finish the Iced Americano,

he hands me a Kir - my favorite!

"I remember when my first film had its premiere," he begins.

He's so good looking this Guillame, I keep forgetting what a talented actor, writer

and filmmaker he is. I mean he won a French Oscar!

"How did it feel?" I ask him, smiling.

"Scary. I mean its scary having your dream come true. People are going to watch

and judge you. I don't know how one idea in your head becomes a film, or a book, but it

does," he replies.

"Guillame, this whole day has been kind of scary. I have always felt like I was on

the verge of something great. Always on the verge, and now I am actually IN IT? Do

you get what I am saying?"

"Yes, everyone wants to cross over, from wanna be to just be. You've done it."

"But, I haven't even seen the film yet. And I poured my heart and soul into that

script. What if it’s terrible?" I ask.

"Then you laugh. And laugh. This film will always be perfect in your mind."

"You're right, it will be. I often forget when I am hypnotized by your smile, just

how smart you are, how talented you are. I'm a lucky woman, being your girlfriend.

Even if it’s only for one magical day."

"I told you - the best day ever!" Guillame finishes.

The limo pulls up onto the red carpet. That's right, bitches, I am walking the red

carpet to my very own film premiere. Bobby De Niro is at the end of it and the world's

most beautiful man is on my arm. Sofia Coppola is my Director.

Billy Bush from the TV show Access Hollywood sticks a microphone in my face

and I punch him. I don't know, probably just a bad reaction to the fact that I hate him and

I haven't had a methamphetamine all day. I go to Ryan Seacrest, who looks like a baby

Gremlin, a "Ferbie," and give him a big hug.

Guillame charms everyone in my wake. I am a nervous wreck - all the flashbulbs

going off in my face - and the anemia from the giant weight loss I just endured is making

me feel faint. I see Ari Emanuel at the end of the red carpet waiting for me. He’s

pointing to his watch. No other than Marky Mark – aka Mark Wahlburg - is standing

beside him. Mother Fucker is short but cute.

"Hi, I'm Cece" I say to Marky Mark, "Nice to meet you."

"It is nice to finally meet you, Cece. I am the star of your movie."he says.

"WHAT???? How did that happen? Ari? The male lead, Gavin, is an East Coast

boarding school boy spewing arty pretense. Marky Mark is blue collar, GED –

maybe – main streamer who did hard time who loves the Patriots. Gavin

loves the Giants! The only thing Mark has in common with Gavin is that he is short and

Irish with a hairless chest." I stammer.

"That's all it takes" Ari tells me, "Now suck it, because it’s a great movie. Mark is

great in it and he even raps."

"What??? At no point Marky Mark should be rapping in my film! Unless he is

drunk and is serenading the protaganist, Cece, as a ghetto Leonard Cohen!"

"This is why I only make movies in France," Guillame confides to me.

"Just watch the damn thing and smile," Ari tells me. "Enjoy that you've made it.

Tina Fey is incredibly jealous of you. I mean, isn't it your birthday tomorrow?" Ari asks.

"At midnight, yes." I answer.

"Your forty, right? Now lighten the fuck up. I've got calls to make." Ari tells me

and walks out of the theater.

Bobby De Niro walks behind me as we find our seats in the theater. I turn around

and say, “You are a good man.”

“Well, thank you.”

“No, you really are.” I finish and smile at him.

I sit beside Guillame in the front row of the theater and Sofia Coppola sits a few

seats ahead of me. Snooty bitch.

Guillame holds my hand as the opening credits roll for my film, Not My

Girlfriend.

"Just remember, the film you created will always live in your head, even if it

doesn't make it to the screen," he comforts. He is sweet. I keep playing with his

soft hair. It’s this tactile touch that still makes me believe this night is real. And then I sit

back, and watch.
_________________________________________________

"That was good," I tell Sofia Coppola, who is a little cold to me.

"I'm glad it turned out so well," she answers me, over Champagne at the after

party.

"You know, I always wanted to be just like you. You were kind of my Italian

American role model." I say.

"Thanks. I am grateful I get to do this for a living," she admits.

"You should be. Today is kind of my Wacky Wednesday. All this success is

very hard for me to believe. And I have a sinking suspicion that when I wake up

tomorrow, my regular life will just go back to normal," I tell her.

"That’s too bad,” she commisurates. I guess she's not so cold.

"I just want you to know how lucky you are. You are so lucky to be able to write

and direct movies. And to be Mark Jacob's muse. Even when you are having a lousy

day, like your bagel isn't toasted enough, try and remember how lucky you are in your

career. I might never get that lucky."

I walk away from Sofia, back to Guillame and Marky Mark who are checking

sports scores on their smart phones.

"Well, Mark, you pulled it off. It was not exactly what I had imagined, but you

did it. Thank you for being in my movie, I guess," I add.

"Why so blue?" Guillame asks, "I liked the movie a lot. It felt so much like you;

the music and everything. I may not have understood all of the American references, but I

got the mood."

"Thank you, thank you, Guillame." I tell him and touch his face with my hand. I

need reassurance that he is real. I start to cry.

"Please, please don't cry. Don't cry my darling," he calms me by holding me and

stroking my hair.

"This isn't really happening is it? Either that or this starvation diet is making me

edgy. The only way I can have this happiness, this pleasure, this success, is in my

dreams. I am a dreamer. I know this."

"It all starts with dreams" Guillame whispers to me.

"This has been the best time of my life; just pretending my dreams were all

coming true. I am so sad to see it all end," I groan.

Guillame kisses my forehead. He feels bad for me right now. It hurts him to see

me this way - he is a part of me. I invented him. I made him up in my head. I made him

up in my dreams.

"I think I should go to the ladies room and freshen up." I excuse myself and head

to the powder room. It is an old fashioned one with pink Louis IVI chairs that are

covered in pink velvet. I pat my face with powder. I try and focus on my face in the

mirror, but my image gets blurry. I have always found it hard to focus on my image in a

mirror while I am dreaming. I look at the clock. It is ten o'clock. Only two more hours

left, before I am forty, before this dream comes to an end.

The door to the powder room opens. It’s David Duchovny. Again.

"David, what are you doing here? I like to have my nervous breakdowns all by

myself, thank you." I say trying to push him out the door.

"Just stand there and close your eyes." he tells me.

"I'm afraid if I close my eyes, my dream will be over and I'll wake up."

"I promise you, the night isn't over yet. You trust me don't you?" he asks.

"Yes, I'm just so scared, so frightened.”

I close my eyes, holding David's wrist tightly, squeezing it. I need to

feel his pulse so that I know I am still in the dream, that it’s all still happening…

When I open my eyes, I have a blindfold on.

"AHHH!" I scream. "Now you're freaking me out. I am so scared of small

places, of the dark!" I cry hysterically.

He takes the scarf off and holds me.

"Please, don't ever do that again. Please!" I yell at him.

"Okay, Okay, I'm sorry. Just come with me. I want to take you somewhere."

He holds me for a good long while until I calm down and then I hold his hand

and walk out of the powder room, walk out of the movie theater, onto a quiet, New York

street. There is a car waiting. I get in the car and David is beside me.

All of a sudden Leonard Cohen's Suzanne begins to play.

"David, my roommates placed a moratorium on my listening to Leonard Cohen

fifteen years ago..."

"Shhh," he interrupts, "It’s a beautiful song and reminds you of a beautiful

time in your young life. A first time, a new beginning. I want you to remember there are

still some first times left. There are still new beginnings," he whispers.

"I hope so, David. I need to believe it to be true," I tell him.

"Shh. Let's just listen and drive. I know how much you love New York at night.

No words right now. Just look," he whispers again, holding me in his arms.

The driver takes us through my favorite spots, up through Chinatown’s Canal Street,

Soho and past Thompson by Vesuvio playground. We continue on through, Little

Italy, the Angelika Movie Theater on Houston, the Bowery, the Village, past NYU and

Washington Square Park. We even stop at Ninth Street Coffee House in the East Village

for a Downtown Cookie Company Peanut Butter cookie and my favorite ice coffee in

town. What a scrumptious snack.

“See, I told you it wouldn't take me long to gain twenty pounds back,” I joke.

We pass by Bryant Park, and the ice skaters, where I tried and failed to make my

romantic dreams come true, year after year, waiting for a kindred spirit to walk up and

talk to me; comment on the book I read, stare at me, smile at me, make a

joke...something. We head up touristy Forty Second Street and then up to Saint John of

the Divine Cathedral in Harlem -the most holy of places for writers.

There are candles lit there honoring all of my favorites like Faulkner, Fitzgerald and one

zaftig Ms. Gertrude Stein.

I enjoy our quiet listening. It calms me. Even the sound of the

tires running over puddles. David is giving me the opportunity to have one last day

dream within an already fantastic one.

I see we are heading to midtown. Rockefeller Center.

"This is the best day, ever," I proclaim.

We head up the elevator. The doors open and we arrive at the Rainbow Room at

the top of the Rockefeller Center. I hear Blondie's Pretty Baby playing in the distance.

I pass by a mirror to look at myself. My hair is bleached blonde with black tips. I am

wearing a spaghetti strap, white silk dress and high heeled, white flip flops with a white

band around my arm. I am Blondie, from the cover of the Parallel Lines album, or me,

as Blondie.

"Whoa!" I tell David, "What's happening?" I ask.

"You can be anyone you want to be tonight." he tells me, snickering, "It's like

CBGBs all over again!"

I look on stage and there's Debbie Harry, from over thirty years ago, and we are

dressed exactly the same. Her band is on stage; perhaps a ghost or two. I hear her sing, a

line about La Dolce Vita.

"They're playing for you." David tells me. "You wore a Blondie button on your

jean jacket at age nine. You always played the album Parallel Lines at slumber parties."

"I like the idea of Parallel Lines" I tell him.

"Yeah, I guess so," he comments.

I walk through the candlelit room with the marvelous views of nighttime New

York on all sides. It's a birthday party - for me. Prince is in a booth drinking a Yoohoo.

"He might just play some dirty songs for you later…" David announces.

Penny, my Sorority Doppelganger, and her boyfriend Chase are giggling on the

dance floor. Chan Marshall is handing out Elephant Buttons. Ne-Yo is in deep

conversation with James Lipton. R. Kelley is showing his bejeweled diamond handgun to

Little Bertha who is dressed as Ronald Reagan and is also carrying a fire arm. Sofia

Loren and Marcello Mastroianni are on the dance floor, embracing. Guillame, Ari and

Marky Mark are chowing down on Steak Frites and betting on the Knicks game. Auggie

Schulman, my prom date, is dressed in a tuxedo, filming Catherine Deneuve who can

never say no to a camera in her face, or to a cigarette.. "So Cool!" he whispers to me.

The ghosts of Serge Gainsbourg and Steve McQueen are hitting on the cocktail

waitresses.

"This, is amazing, David. Thank you. I'm speechless." I get out.

"If you're speechless, then I know I've done a good job. Now get up on that stage

and sing," he orders.

I hear an impressive drum solo. The Blondie song Dreaming begins.

"Get up there right now!" David yells and I nearly trip, climbing up to the stage to

sing my favorite Blondie song; my favorite song about...life; with a young and incredibly

gorgeous Debbie Harry. Her pale skin is luminescent. And what cheekbones! She

doesn't mind sharing the spotlight...what a generous artist. Another hard to find in film,

respectable human being from – the Garden State. I know they turned off my

microphone, but I will still sing as loud as I can. I hope Debbie doesn't mind I copied her

outfit.

My heart flutters in the happiest of ways; I allow myself this surge of pleasure, in

case this quest, these crazy dreams, are in fact coming to an end at midnight.

David dances for me, the loudest, the largest, in order to get the most attention; he

is happy for me, happy for my night. He's a really bad dancer but he’s cute for a fifty year

old. He makes me feel young. Auggie is trying to squeeze Catherine Deneuve’s bum.

He really needs to meet someone his own age. I hope I haven’t created a MILF obsessed

monster.

I look over into the audience and see Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore of Sonic

Youth walk up to the front of the audience. They look twenty years younger. They wave

to me, up on stage. They hold hands and smile. Ne-Yo points to them and gives me a

thumbs up. Kim and Thurston are back together; even if only for this one night.

"This party, what a send-off!" I cry out.

"Sonic Youth is up next, don't go too far. Teenage Riot on deck," David

announces.

"Um, greatest night...of my life. Thank you. Thank you." I chant. I feel

so incomprehensibly good; its liquid, fluid. I don't feel angry, I don't feel guilty, I don't

feel scared, I don't feel ashamed. I've been stripped, bare, to my creamy vanilla filling. I

let go. I let it all go…

"Don't, you know, forget all of us, when you wake up. When this dream is over.”

“So this has all just been a dream? Figures.”

“We're always here for you, you know, if you need us. We are all rooting for you

and your personal and professional success," David tells me.

"I love and will miss all of you. I haven't had this much fun before - maybe ever -

in my life. I'm usually so uptight. I never trust anyone. I feel good!" I howl.

I look at the clock. It is eleven. One hour left until my birthday.

My phone rings. I look at David suspiciously.

"One last thing..." David whispers and walks away. I take a deep breath and

answer.

"Cece, it's..." HE says on the other line.

My stomach falls down all the floors of Rockefeller Center. Vertigo…

"I know who you are," I interrupt, "I'll never forget your voice, remember?" I tell

him.

"Happy Birthday." he tells me.

"It's not my birthday yet,” I yip.

"I need to tell you something."

"Your voice confirms that this is all a dream. You calling me was the

least likely thing to happen on my birthday. I had a better chance of being in Prince's

Entourage, than to hear from you." I say.

"Hey, you're the one who said we shouldn't speak anymore.”

“I had the best intentions when I said that”

“It's hard to hear you. Can you find a quieter place?" he asks.

"Whatever?" I say walking into the kitchen.

He is standing there. I put down the phone. He is wearing a slightly worn gray t-

shirt with the word CONNECTICUT on it in bold letters. His hair is thick and fluffy

with specks of blonde in front. He is wearing pleated Khaki pants.

He releases a large gray canvas sack imprinted “U.S. Mail” from his hands. There

are letters inside. My letters. And stories. My stories. They are opened, multicolored

and spread across the black and white tiled restaurant kitchen floor.

"You're...here." I stutter.

"Yeah, it is New York after all. I love it, too."

"You've been..buried...in my head...for a long time," I confess.

"Well, you obviously didn't do a good enough job of getting rid of me. You'd

think that after sending me a dead fish that you'd know how to bury a body." he says,

smiling like a bastard.

“I’m totally over you,” I say, rolling my eyes.

“Really, I’m sad to hear that” he says, undressing me with his eyes.

"You know, I'm dating the world's most beautiful man now, Guillame Canet. Oh,

and I finally slept with David Duchovny. Very hot, both of them. Very smart, witty,

talented, athletic. Rich. Good taste in music, too. Very generous lovers...Oh, and I lost

my virginity, a second time, with an upcoming filmmaker, who is eighteen. He’s here at

the party. His name is Auggie; if you’d like to meet him. He even told me he loved me

after he popped my cherry, " I flaunt, “for the second time.”

"I'd say that's impressive if it wasn't me you've been sleeping with all along.

Afraid to say my name aloud? To even think it?" HE interrupts, playing with his

watch, nervously.

“My high school English teacher, Dr. Stone, warned me 'to name it is to give it

life.' I should have listened to her. My role playing with Guillame Canet opened up a

can of worms.”

“So, that's what I am now, a can of worms?” he asks.

“No, but it brought you back to me, in your real form. Not that of a thinly veiled

celebrity, or one of my fictional characters.”

“I'm very real, as you know, but I'm also one of your fictional characters. But you

are, too. Or at least this woman you've named Cece is,” he tells me.

I think I need to reread Tom Stoppard's play, The Real Thing.

“I've been wasting a lot of time pretending I'm some else, haven't I?” I say.

“Just be her already, and stop pretending.” he says.

Goddam New York Know-it-all bastard.

“All these letters, these stories. So many words. It’s... overwhelming. You

started me…writing…and you know so much about me……just from...my letters...I

always thought that was why you kept coming back to me. I was buried in your head.

When you returned from overseas, after college, it was the letters that brought you to me,

wasn't it? And, you felt a responsibility, to me...knowing so much...You never belittled

my feelings for you. You never denied them. You never denied that we have a

connection.”

“I take your words very seriously. I am protective of them.”

“I'm sorry if knowing me so well was ever a burden.”

“No, I understand...you...or at least I think I do.”

“I have always been an artist in your eyes, haven’t I?”

“Yes”

“Can't be a great artist without being hurt by love in your life, or at least that's

what Chan Marshall told me.”

“Cat Power?” he laughs, “For the record, I discovered Cat Power. I put In This

Hole on my Mix Tape to you. She's crazy. Almost as crazy as you.”

“You're like my own goddam Maude Gonne aren't you? Yeats's muse”

“I prefer to think of myself as Nora Joyce, James's wife. She provided the most

important act of oral sex in the history of the English Language.”

“You talked your way into coming over, that first night. I kept telling you no,

over and over again, but you wouldn't listen. I even left the bar without you, but you

showed up at my house anyway. Walked right through my front door, didn't even knock.

Walked straight into my bedroom and jumped me. Didn't you know I had never had a

man over before?”

“I liked talking you into things.”

“Your hands...on my skin...that night...I...couldn't...stop..shaking... I couldn't

breathe I was so nervous. You threw your soccer shoes off, undressed me in seconds and

forced your face between my legs. You forced me to have pleasure.”

“Yes.”

“I had no idea, until that night, just how much you desired me. Your hands, your

body, were so rough on me; I awoke that morning, with you beside me,

covered in bruises. You scared me.”

“You were a hard earned prize I had waited years for. I was so excited to finally

touch you. I had been thinking about it for a long time.”

“I was a gift,” I say.

“A gift,.” he whispers, “and one of my favorite people to talk to.”

“I always thought it was such a big deal that someone saw me naked for

the first time that night, but it’s equally important that you were the first person I saw

naked.”

“Yes. But it took a long time before I could get you to stop covering your eyes.”

“And once I did, you were done for…”

“Apparently.”

“I'm glad I made you wait so long before we slept together. There was so much

in my head, you being the first man in my life; so much to process.”

“I had never been someone's first time before. I was nervous, too, nervous for

you. You would look at me like a teacher, like your life was in my hands. It frightened

me.”

“You're the only person who ever asked me – no - begged me to let go. The only

one I felt comfortable letting go with. The only one who knew how much I was holding

back.”

“I wanted you to feel good. I wanted to know the real you. I wanted you to stop

hiding.”

“I had no idea what it felt like to be desired by someone. To have desire

myself...You're right. I haven't been the same since.”

“Andrew Marvell's poem, To His Coy Mistress, did hang above your night

stand. It was...Carpe Diem.”

He smiles brightly. I smile brightly. I want to reach my hand out to his, but I

don't. It was always better when he chased me. I miss holding his hand.

We hear Sonic Youth's Teenage Riot begin to play loudly in the distance,

muffled by the swinging kitchen doors. Not everyone would find the song to be

romantic, but I do.

“They got back together…” I state.

“No, they didn’t,” says Mr. Know-it-all.

“You look…old. Like an old woman. You’re turning into an old woman just like

Gore Vidal!” I scream.

“I am used to your insults. Usually followed by.. AHHHHH!”

He tries to scream like a little girl. He laughs at me while doing this. I'd like

to hit him over the head with something, anything. If only those kitchen knives were a

little bit closer. Oh, maybe I'll just slap him across the face. He always liked that.

"Let me stop you right there. Fine. Guillame Canet, David Duchovny, Cat

Power, Prince, Penny and Chase, my prom date? They're all just pieces of you, aren’t

they? Memories of you that I recreated, in story form, so I could be with you, even

though I should never be with you. There’s like this battle of wills going on in my

head. One side misses you and wants to fantasize about you; the other side thinks you’re

no good for me and tries to hide you away.”

He opens his mouth and stops for a moment, starting to smile. I want to pinch his

lips, make sure they are real. I want to slip my tongue in his mouth. I just want to close

my eyes and listen to him, hear his voice, but I am so nervous right now, I am jabbering

on uncontrollably. He makes me not fear the dark.

“And who is winning this battle?”

“It’s to be determined. I know how much you like to gamble so I’ll call you with

the over under. Jesus, Are you happy now? I am admitting I am an Asshole –

even in my subconscious. I feel like Charlie Kaufman…who’s work I love and am

greatly influenced by…I could use some eternal sunshine like right now!"

Shut up already.

Uncomfortable pause. For the life of me, all I can do is look down and stare at his

cute shoes, cutest ones of all, Sambas; I am not brave enough to look him in the eye.

“I’ve managed to not think about you for ten years, but I indulge myself and think

about you tonight, the night before I turn forty, and I go a bit overboard,” I say, breaking

the silence.

Uncomfortable silence. He did always enjoy a good build up, before he said or

did something alarming. He’d get me screaming, one way or another. Blondie.

"Frankie Valli was on The Soprano,s" he says.

"Yes...he was. Are you aware that The Sopranos have come and gone in

the time since we have last seen one another? The Sopranos! A cultural

institution. One that hits home for me, as you well know. I could carve out a whole

week of my life to discuss just the first season with you!"

"Yes."

"The Sopranos have come and gone!"

"Yes."

“You share a birthday with Fellini,” he tells me.

“Yes, another dreamer. But you are the award winning filmmaker, not me.”

“It’s not that big of a deal” he says, modestly.

“Yes, I'm sure that's what you tell yourself when you are kissing those statues

before bed every night.”

He smiles. It lights up the room.

"Is James Joyce's Ulysses still your favorite book?" he asks, changing the

subject.

"Yes." I answer, looking up for one second, trying to not feel his Steve McQueen

stare.

"And why do you love it so much?" HE presses further.

"I love it because even though Leopold Bloom experiences an Odyssey, with

surreal and unpredictable adventures, it is at its heart, a love story. He loves his

wife, Molly Bloom, and is trying to distract himself in an attempt to not think about her;

but she comes through, in one way or another, no matter how hard he tries to forget her.

Like I said, it’s a love story."

"And Molly Bloom?" HE asks again, melting my panties with his eyes.

"She's a dreamer. The last scene, her soliloquy, is all from inside of her head. It's

her reliving of her memories, the ones that make her feel incredibly sexy and young, and

loved, whether or not she deserves to be," I answer. I remember how much I love that

last scene of Ulysses, love Molly Bloom, feel a kindred spirit in her and her daydream,

and how only HE or the HE that lives in my subconscious, would know how much I love

her, too.

“I can't believe you share a birthday with James Joyce AND Ayn Rand.

Two of my favorite writers. The ones that speak to my life philosophy. Maybe

that's what drew me to you so long ago. Joyce wants the character Stephen Dedalus to be

uninhibited so he can become an artist. Rand wants us to be more like the character,

Howard Roarke, uncompromising and unique, no matter what. To have our own

thoughts. To have heroes. The Fountainhead saved my life a few years

back. It’s funny, isn't it? It never occurred to me that you were connected.”

I look right at him for that moment, wishing I didn't think of him that way.

"I'm sorry. For..." HE apologizes as he looks at the floor and holds back his

stare.

"Thank you, for saying that." I tell him, looking out the swinging kitchen

doors.

"I did love you, in my own way. We are still connected. We always

will be," he tells me.

"You could have been a better friend," I say.

"You egged my imaginary McMansion with Little Bertha," HE retorts.

"That was all her idea...And I didn't try to be more than friends, that was all you,

remember? Hey, don't you have somewhere else you have to be?" I ask.

"I'm going to stay here with you, until it turns midnight and you wake up. I know

how scared you are of the dark," HE tells me. "I know how scared you are of letting go.

You need to let go of the past if you are ever going to enjoy the present and the future."

HE tells me, in a non-patronizing way; perhaps for the very first time.

"I foolishly thought if we were together that all of my dreams were going to come

true. That's something only a young woman with her first lover would think, right?" I

appeal, starting to sound hoarse.

"I'm glad I was your first lover," he admits. "I'm glad I was your friend."

"I just had this dream. As you know I have dreams within my dreams. In this

one, I had three sons. One of them was learning to ride a bike for the first time and I was

going to teach him to ride it up a hill. Once you got to the top, there was a plateau and

you could rest. There were other accomplished bikers waiting on top. To reach the top

was a small feat, but a feat nonetheless. I biked up that hill with my son, hoping he

would make it, hoping I would make it… make it to the top. Those last few pedals that

finally got you to the plateau, those were the hardest, those were the most exhausting.

But I pushed through and made it to the top and my son made it to the top. We had

accomplished something major. The view from the top of the hill was beautiful. And I

realized that I always gave up on that last push. You know the last push to the top of the

hill? I always let something drag me down; like my family, lack of money, a lack of

confidence. Those last ten pedals. That's what makes the difference in getting or not

getting what you want. That's the time you have to overcome all of your fears and

believe you can do something you've never done before. You find the strength and the

belief in yourself and you just do it. I'm ready for that last push to get what I want. I'm

inspired by these adventures. When I wake up from this dream, this wonderful,

wonderful dream…”

We just look at each others faces and get reacquainted. It has been so long since

we have seen one another. I shake uncontrollably. No one has ever affected me

this way, nor probably ever will. I am almost forty now. I have to face facts that the odds

are slim that I will ever feel this way again; this young, hopeful, vulnerable and fresh.

“I told Ne-Yo..”

“You mean me” he says.

“It’s hard to find a best friend at 40” I stutter.

“I was your best friend.”

"I.." I try and begin.

"Shh, it’s almost midnight."

We are both silent and turn to hear Sonic Youth in the distance:

Please kiss me. Please, please kiss me. I am bubbling…

"This song was on my tape to you, the one I sent from overseas..." he whispers.

“Sorry, it was destroyed in the fire,” I say.

“Your house was on fire?”

“No,” I answer.

Uncomfortable silence. The kind when you can feel someone’s body suffocating

your own body even though they are not touching you – yet. Please touch me and let me

get out of my head.

"I always look toward the future. And you are always in that future. I don't know

why."

"Because you said you would find me again and we would be together when we

were old. Like Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza cruising down the Orinocco river,

reunited again, in their old age, in Marquez's Love In The Time Of Cholera.

You read that book when we graduated college. It made you cry. You said when we

were old, you would take care of me...”

“Any book that ends with the last word, Forever - is a Masterpiece,”

“You overuse the term Masterpiece,” he snickers.

“HELLO – Romantic over here!”

“That image of life coming full circle for old friends. That's your version of La

Dolce Vita..."

"La Dolce Vita…"

"You trust me, don't you? You have always trusted me, maybe even

when you shouldn't have,” he concedes.

“I still trust you and think you are inherently good when it comes to me. I’m such

an asshole for believing that but that must be why I took you on this quest with me,

tonight. You, more than anyone, are uniquely qualified to know exactly what I want.

The quest isn't just about becoming an artist, it’s about connecting my interior life

with...someone...it was my quest before we met...before we became

friends...you just gave me a glimpse at what that would feel like...a glimpse....and I have

been trying to find it again ever since”

“You feel like you can be yourself with me don't you? When David Duchovny

told you to trust him, you were just trusting me, weren't you?"

"Yes."

“You’ve found me again because you need me. I was your first

everything...for a girl....for a woman...."

"The first night you slept in my bed, I didn't sleep a wink. I didn't know the

protocol. I just watched you sleep - and snore - loudly - and tried to picture you as a lot

more than I had ever imagined. I couldn't believe I would ever know you in such a

way...."

"We were intimate..."

"I miss feeling overwhelmed by your desire....you...took my breath away."

"You were on my mind...a lot. Even when we were apart. You felt that."

"The first time you asked to take my clothes off with the lights on, I almost had a

panic attack. My heart never beat so fast...You pushed and you pushed...I couldn't look

you in the eye..."

"You hid behind my couch, you hid in the closet...you did a lot of hiding....but.."

"You dragged me out..."

"I helped you come out of your shell...You want to come out of your shell again.”

“I do like the idea of life coming full circle. Like it has for Sofia and Marcello.

La Dolce Vita. A love of voices, stories. A love for all eternity.”

“Sofia and Marcello are real, but not entirely. You invented their back story.

You want to believe a love like that can exist.”

“Someone within me cannot bear to give that idea up,” I concede.

“That idea, that possibility will always be buried in my head, too. Your letters,

well, you made sure of it.”

“I did, didn’t I? I can be rather brave when I’m writing can’t I?”

He smiles.

“Yes, you can, Sweetheart.”

“I’m married, aren’t I. But not to you?”

“No, not to me.”

“And you, you’re married?”

“Yes.”

“With children? Just like me?”

HE nods, but never stops looking into my eyes. HE is present and not afraid of

me. HE likes to reassure me, of my - self. HE and only he has ever seen HER. Such

characters, those two. Just by chance, that one night, that I replay constantly, and the

relationship that followed. It has always transcended time, distance and expectations;

reality. So many...words.

"You don't need me or the thought of me to accomplish anything."

"I wanted to be your Schecherazade, the storyteller Queen from A

Thousand and One Nights? Remember? Except, I would write you ten

stories, instead of one thousand, which would postpone your execution of me; while not

realizing you are falling in love with me," I explain.

"Still a romantic. I'm starting to think it is an affliction." he jokes.

“You're a romantic, too. You did cry during Dr. Zhivago”

“Who doesn't?”

“I don’t want to end up like Sigourney Weaver.”

“Sigourney Weaver?”

“She plays Catherine, the failed romantic in the film The Year of Living

Dangerously.”

“No, that’s not you. It will never be you.”

“How did I ever become so cold, so empty?” I ask “When I loved you, when I

was young, I was so full of life…I was bubbling.”

“Percolating,” HE corrects me, “you were always pensive.”

"I associate whatever I thought I was missing, what kept you from loving me

Fully…”

“We were kids. And you were so inexperienced, you weren't ready…”

“I feel like my failure…”

“Stop calling it a failure.”

“Well, it’s kept me from pursuing my dreams as a writer. Like it’s inextricably

linked. I can't be a successful writer unless you love me and you won't love me

unless I am a successful writer," I explain.

"That equation ends - tonight - for good," he tells me.

“You drew this girl I am trying to recreate out of my body. You helped me give

her life. I want you to do it again.”

"Two minutes left," he tells me.

"I love you. The idea of you, of us…” I start to sob, “The idea of me. The person

I wanted to be when I was young. You wanted to understand me. I miss loving someone

for their…words…"

We start to kiss, after nearly twenty years, and I am reminded of Ne-Yo’s earlier

remark, there’s nothing like a first kiss with someone, is there?

I run my fingers through his hair. It is softer than Guillame's. Like silk, like the

boy I knew and never stopped loving. The first one to notice me; the girl I am trying to

resurrect here through my dreams, that can still exist if I just let her. The one I miss so

much, on the verge of turning forty. I want to take the best parts of her back to reality

with me. Having befriended so many ghosts already, I had forgotten twenty-year-old

me is a ghost, too.

"Good bye,” I sigh, looking at the clock as it turns midnight, closing my eyes,

being squeezed in this man's arms tightly, like a child, as I have always felt beside him,

trying not to be afraid of the dark. I try and lose myself in the Sonic Youth guitar solo

behind the doors.

"Bonne Nuit, la Superstar," HE whispers, HE who has been inside of me for so

Long. It’s hard for him to say goodbye, too.

"Bonne Nuit, XXXXX…" HE whispers, as I hear his pet name for me, in his

voice, not Guillame's, one last time, before fading into obscurity, no longer buried, but

released.

I open my eyes, happy and sad, looking into his; blue, green, hazel, brown; strong,

reliable, compassionate, optimistic; as the lights dim and his face turns into my own.






Epilogue.

I wake up on my unkempt bed with two little rug rats sleeping on the floor with

their blankets. Dr. Suess's book Wacky Wednesday is on my chest. Cat Power’s

Schuba’s concert poster is framed in front of me, above my dresser. Carole King’s So

Far Away plays on my clock radio. I see the piles of paper next to my bed, the stories,

the scripts, my novel. All me on the pages. It is my birthday. I am forty.

But…it can’t be? I feel tingles. Good ones. Real ones. Electric. Is it? Is it

possible? I have brought back the dead; like Mary Shelley before me, like Dr.

Frankenstein. Please, God, let me be more than...on the verge. Let me be IN IT.

Goosebump Goddess

"Tell me, the dream , again..." "Well, it's night, and New York is particularly quiet. It's not necessarily late at...