Denied!

My Liev as a dog

So there I was at Heather Graham's birthday party Friday night. I had tagged along with someone who'd tagged along with someone who'd tagged along with the DJ. That's right, people: I was just three degrees of separation from the help!

Well, there we are, waiting outside Tokio on Cahuenga Boulevard because it's jammed inside the tiny club, Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen are chilling on the sidewalk, and up walks Liev Schreiber!

Who? you ask. Because, really, he's not that famous.

Okay. He was in The Daytrippers? Where he played Parker Posey's boyfriend who wrote the hilarious novel? No? Okay. He was the ex-boyfriend in the Meg Ryan time-travel romance Kate & Leopold? No? Well, he's not that famous.

Still, he's one of the few (maybe half a dozen) actors I would freak out to see in person because he's so tall and Jewish and droopily handsome, and I even know how to pronounce his first name (rhymes with Kiev), and his parts are so witty and intelligent! (The Orson Welles biopic RKO-281? No? Okay.) He's so intelligent, in fact, that if you web-stalk him, you'll come up with this quote from the Yale website: "[Yale] had a huge effect on my life and my career as well," he said at some pooteriffic Yale shindig. "Yale has solidified my love of text."

See? Liev Schreiber "loves text"!

Now, we'd already been at a small cocktail get-together, poolside at the Avalon Hotel, for novelist, Vanity Fairguy and bona fide CG-pal Neal Pollack, who was in town pitching to the movie folk (and who got Vanity Fair to pay for it; clever Neal Pollack!). At this cocktail thing, we listened to girl agents talk about their $240 pants and say things like, "Well, you know, if I just need staples and I want to go cheap, then I'll go to Banana Republic." And then we listened to this woman talk about how Maya Lin (you remember Maya Lin from such projects as, oh, the Vietnam War Memorial) was redesigning her house. We decided the girl agents were probably less lethal. But then a weird thing happened! After the girl agents left to go to their pole-dancing aerobics class, we talked more to the woman with the house, and she turned out to be supercool and not nearly as pretentious as the conversation had at first suggested, and she was actually groovy and kind of reckless, too, and she invited us to go to Heather Graham's party with her because she knew the DJ! So that's why we were sitting there on Cahuenga Boulevard, waiting to get into Tokio, but not for terribly long: someone who promised to get us into a party, it turned out, could actually get us into a party.

So up walks Liev Schreiber! (Who?) And I'm freaking out, and I decide it's time to grow some balls and go say something clever and hopefully charming. He's outside because he can't get into the party (because, really, he's not that famous), and his back is to me when I walk up and gently touch his shoulder and say, softly, "Excuse me." That's when he turns farther away.

Maybe he didn't hear me. I slink back into line.

We get into the party a solid 20 minutes before he does because, really, he's not that famous, and we're having a fabulous free-drinky time in the soup of sweat coming from the dance floor. Well, finally Liev Schreiber gets into the party, and I decide to stalk him once more. He's not there with a date; he's not trying to finish a meal in peace for once, god damn it, just once; I am not waving a camera lens in his face; and we are guests at the same private party, even if I am tagging along with the help.

He's talking in a desultory manner—he looks bored, actually—with some guy he knows, and I go stand at his elbow, waiting for a break in the conversation so as not to interrupt. I stand there, the smile pinned to my face becoming less and less natural and buoyant, for five minutes. Maybe seven. Far too long. And there's no way to extricate myself gracefully from this situation because I have fearlessly stated with my presence that I have come over to say something clever and charming—something like "Hello!"—and he has clearly stated his intention to refuse to look down in the region of his right elbow and smile or nod or acknowledge in any way that I am a person standing there waiting to say something to him. I wasn't important, pretty or good enough even to nod to.

I'm sure I've been more embarrassed but never when it didn't involve accidental public nudity or an ill-timed vomit.

A tip for you, Liev Schreiber: way more famous people than you have also not wanted to talk to me. They do anyway. Because we're people, we smile. We nod. We exchange a sentence or two even if it's just "It's inappropriate for you to follow me to my home," or "Stop hitting me, Liza!" And then we graciously excuse ourself if need be. It's perfectly acceptable, and it's what people do. Think of all you miss—like my "text." If I had been all snobby and horrible and cold and cadaverous and incapable of human emotion, like you, I wouldn't have had any fun at Laguna Beach's Marine Room the next night. I would have shut myself off with a scowl from talking and dancing with the two 23-year-old, six-foot-three Marines trying to buy me birthday drinks (and succeeding—semper fi, darlings!). And I couldn't have danced joyously to the band at the Sandpiper, who were pleasing me with their poppy Oasis and Squeeze (and the singer had a funny constipated intensity) until my sister decided she wasn't having a Hessian enough time, and we had to leave. I would have no friends with whom to wander the night, no human contact whatsoever. Oh, well. You'll always have text.

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