Like it or not, I can't help but have drama in my life. Drama is my job and tends to follow me wherever I go. I tend to find myself in unusual predicaments. Lately, I've found myself to be something of a magnet for attention, particularly in my local Starbucks. Now, to many of you, I'm sure Starbucks seems to be a pretty whitebread, drama-free environment, but when you're a writer who spends several hours a day in one, you start to see the underbelly.
There are two I frequent: one in Beverly Hills, one in "Beverly Hills Adajcent." The one in BH is pleasant and attended primarily by older, well-to-do folk, few of whom have a full head of real hair or their original face. I like this Starbucks because when I walk in, they start making my drink without me having to order it, and often don't make me pay. One time, I met a fortysomething mild-mannered gentleman who asked if I was a screenwriter. We started talking shop, so I gave him my card. Later, he Gmail-chatted me that he would give me money to fuck his face with my foot, but it has to be at my place because he lives with his girlfriend of 7 years. He'd never been with a guy before, but he liked my hair. There was another time when a different guy (also a screenwriter) stood outside the Starbucks staring at me through the window until I came out to see what he wanted. (Guess what that was...) See? Screenwriters are freaks.
But for the most part, these incidents are few and far between in Beverly Hills. The other Starbucks, however, I have nicknamed "The Asylum" for the collection of strange people that collect there. There's a lady in a pink sequined cap who walks with a cane, even though she doesn't need one. There's a woman who charges her cell phone and somehow has a long-standing grudge with at least 5 regular customers. There have been a few escaped mental patients, I'm sure of it. And then there was the time an old lady asked for my help across the street, which resulted in a four hour quest to find a Rabbi to save her from the evil Indians who were out to get her (but that's another story).
It's strange. Somehow, above all else, I tend to draw attention from older women. Some are what you'd call cougars, and some are more like sabre-tooth tigers - perhaps distantly related to cougars, but old enough to be extinct. Most are too dried-up, I think, to possibly want to sleep with me. They tend to like to like to talk about my hair. ("Who cuts it?" "Who colors it?" "It looks fabulous!!") Sad as it is to say, I think the cougars want me as their young gay friend.
There isn't a word for that yet, is there? Well, there is now: I dub thee "sabre tooth tigers." It makes sense, though, because most of these women are old enough that their original gay friends probably died off in the 80's. Maybe that's why so many of their plastic surgeries are horrendous: their gay friends are not alive to tell them "Oh, honey, NO." One of the women started putting on her green eye shadow in front of me and asked me how it looked. Another said she always sees me on Tuesdays - "Do you go to Kabbalah?" They all ask me how to get on the internet, because apparently I look much more tech-savvy than I really am. Something about me seems to put these women at ease. I suppose I look harmless enough with my oft-color-treated hair and my little white iBook. For awhile I was flattered because I thought these women wanted to sleep with me, but I'm afraid it's time to face the facts: they actually just want to take me shopping.
Even this was fairly commonplace, though, until one of them turned out to be psychic.
The other day, a random woman came up to me and started chit-chatting and guessing things about me, like that I'm a screenwriter (well, yeah, I was sitting there on my laptop) and I write music. She asked my sign, year of birth - "Oh you're a Pig, you're very social" - and then told me that in "Summer 2010, everything's going to happen for me." Awesome, I thought. I guess I can stop wondering. The reason she came up to me, she said, is that she could tell big things were going to happen to me and felt like she should meet me.
Now most people might think this lady was totally nuts and want nothing to do with her, but I'm grateful to talk to anyone who thinks I'm going to be famous at any time, especially a total stranger. I was rather entertained by it all, especially when she told me her husband was a film producer who was currently looking for projects. In spite of her slightly nutty New Agey-ness, she turned out to be pretty legit and fun to talk to, a free-spirited artist type I can't help but get along with. I'm the exact same type, except I'm coming of age in a doomed generation during an economic depression instead of a movement of freedom and love, so, nuts to that. I would be pretty awesome as a hippie filmmaker, but I digress.
The really strange part, though, was that my friend had just left, and I had just been telling him about the perfect revenge scheme I had going for an ex of mine. (Trust me, he deserved it.) My friend advised that maybe I should just let it go, but I was all set to go with Operation: Annihilation until this lady came up to me and told me, out of the blue, to "turn away from the shadow."
I instantly canceled my plans for vengeance.
I mean, it's one thing when a friend advises you not to do something reckless and dramatic. That's a good friend's job - to tell you not to do something that will probably only cause you more trouble, but secretly hope you do it anyway so we can watch the amazing crash and burn that follows afterward. But when a complete stranger comes up to you in a coffee shop and tells you to not to "give in to the darkness," you better not do it. I'm pretty sure cosmic warnings like that are few and far between, and if you don't listen, you end up getting turned into a beast or an enchanted rose or something. It's true - my revenge scheme was a doozy, apparently so good that a messenger was sent to warn me against taking such action. I can't say I'm not disappointed, but I do know that following her advice was right. Who knows what would have happened had I proceeded? It must've been something bad...
The more I think about it, I'm pretty sure that sabre-tooth tiger just saved my life.