We live in a high rise Condominium in downtown Los Angeles. Walking through the wide white marble lobbies feels like you are in another, more glamorous time. From our unit on the 11th floor, we have a privileged view of the ever-changing Los Angeles Skyline, which features three major construction projects that we can see from our windows. I recently told you about the decorating service which has left our lobby looking like a Christmas window at Macy’s – oh, wait a minute, the Macy’s Plaza Macy’s doesn’t have any windows- but they are rectifying that as we speak with a massive renovation of the Bloc, or old Macy’s Plaza.
Back in the early days of our courtship, Jimmie introduced me to the Thin Man movies, starring ever-so-elegant Myrna Loy and William Powell as Nick and Nora Charles, who solved crimes in between strolls along Manhattan streets, their dog, Asta, in tow. When we have a party, Jimmie or I say without fail, “Serve the nuts. I mean, serve the guests the nuts.”
The Thin Man was on TV the other night and we sat together on the couch, watching the familiar scenes unfold. The Christmas morning scene where Nora wears her new mink coat, and Nick plays with his new BB gun, shooting out the ornaments on the tree until finally one goes through a window. Saucily, Nora responds, “Well, I hope you are satisfied.”
You could say we have modeled our lives on the Charleses, but only in the past 6 years since we moved downtown, have we begun to attain the heady urbanity of our cinematic heroes.
However, notices appearing in our elevator threaten how we identify ourselves. First there was the gas leak notice, which necessitated shutting off the gas and losing our heat. The heat part doesn’t impact you when you live in a clime that is in the high 70s just days before Christmas. The hot water is more impactful.
Then the notice about replacing a gas pipe that ran the length of the building, 1st floor to 15th. The Gas Company, who was standing on call to restore the service, would do so once this work was finished. I began to make excuses to go down to the lobby so I could see the notices in the elevators, and report back to Nick about when the services would be restored.
Living without hot water isn’t glamorous at all. I don’t know how Nick and Nora would have dealt with this situation, but our current conditions look less like the Thin Man and more like the Howells on Gilligan’s Island.
Our morning ablutions consist of a first sacred kettle of boiling water mixed with cold water in the kitchen sink. Towel, check. Shampoo, check. Husband,…. – “Hey, honey, time for your shampoo!” Check. Then from the shampoo, off he goes to the bathroom sink, where another kettle of water fills a large ceramic salad bowl for shaving, and a third slurry for the sponge bath. Rinse and repeat as I then step in.
But hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
Today, we had lunch with our friends, Helena and Rick, Helena’s mom and their two daughters in our apartment. Helena was most recently the head of the hair department on the TV show, “Parks and Recreation,” and we were reunited after about 13 years; she and I had worked together in the Canon Theatre doing “The Vagina Monologues” for thirteen months in 2001 and 2002. We had created a basement cocoon for all those famous and wonderful Vaginas who came to perform in two week cycles over the course of that year. Helena did hair and makeup, and her easy banter relaxed the casts, many of whom had left stage careers for TV or film. I was the stage manager, and our friend Ando made the basement of the Canon Theatre a place everyone wanted to congregate, with fresh flowers and fluffy slippers for each cast member. Jim Freydberg, the producer, made that possible, and Jenny Sullivan, the director who put the women into the show. Our company manager, Friar, kept our spirits up as well. It was a great year, full of happy memories. When Jimmie was cast on Parks and Recreation, I was happy to reconnect with Helena. Their daughters were with them today, Eliana, whose baby shower we had hosted at our house in Van Nuys 13 years ago supported by many of the celebrities who loved Helena’s nurturing support of them.
Before they arrived, I ran to the grocery store and bought paper plates. My mother would be spiraling in her grave over this faux pas of hostessing, but you know, the damn kettle business was getting tiresome. And a girl’s gotta do….
Mom made do, back in 1981, when she decided after her divorce, to go to The Columbia School of Journalism to become a journalist. For that year she was in the program, she lived in a room in a very old woman’s upper west side apartment. She had one room, with a dark mahogany canopy bed and a private bathroom- pretty swank, but she shared the kitchen, whose patterned oilcloth table cloth didn’t hide the roaches that scurried around when you turned the kitchen light on. This was inconceivable for my elegant mother, Shirley. It was during a visit to her New York space that I learned that “a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.”
I will suck it up, and put up with this kettle business until it is repaired. And I will rely on Myrna’s wit to help me through.