There’s a saying I grew up with — “country come to town” — but I never thought it would apply to me. I was the big-city girl from Atlanta. And, in the case of one overprotective mother from Roane County, I was the predatory big city girl out to steal her son.
That all changed when my agent asked me to meet her for water at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.
Through a strange chain of events, I managed to move to L.A. shortly after being contacted by a literary agent who said she had a book in mind for me. She wanted to a little “face time” before any promises were made, however.
In preparation for the meeting, I had my hair cut and bought a new dress. I knew there was no way I could pass myself off as someone who frequented the Beverly Wilshire lounge. (“Pretty Woman,” which was filmed at the hotel, had been released the year before.) Still, I didn’t want to look like a total rube. Ha.
I picked out a professional but understated navy dress, which I wore with taupe (popular at the time) hose and ballerina flats.
It was about a 40-minute drive from our apartment at Hermosa Beach to the hotel. Just as I got too far to turn around, I realized my half slip was slipping. When I stood up, it would be hanging below my hem, so I stopped at a restroom. I ditched the slip, looked in the mirror and realized I looked like a flight attendant. Not the look I was going for.
When I pulled up to the hotel parking lot, there were two cars in front of me waiting for the valet to take the keys — one a Mercedes, the other a BMW. I was driving a brand-new Toyota Corolla. When I pulled up to the valet, he sneered at me and said, “What?”
No way I was turning my key ring, complete with a World War II-issue P-38 can opener, over to this snob, so I found on-street parking.
When I walked into the lounge, I recognized my agent immediately. She was the 40-something in the black leather mini-skirt. I reflexively tugged at my skirt, but there was no way to disguise it — I was country come to town.
My agent was most gracious. We ordered bottled water and talked business, then she said a friend was joining us. Soon they were chatting about 40th birthday parties. The friend’s party had been quite the affair. She rented a chateau in France for a period costume gala and wore one of Glenn Close’s dresses from “Dangers Liaisons.” Not a copy, but the actual dress.
I didn’t offer that I had worn a garbage bag affixed with fast food wrappers and soft drink lids at a recent Halloween party; I went as “Tennessee Trash.”
The two “big girls” told me to walk around nearby Rodeo Drive and come back and tell them what I thought.
Like Julia Roberts’ character, I got the deep freeze from shop clerks. They didn’t ask if they could help me; they knew they couldn’t. I felt as if I were in an alternate universe.
As I rounded the block, I saw a “street person” and smiled at her. She gave me a hug and said it would bring me luck.
I think she recognized a fellow traveler on this alien planet.
Jan Hearne is the Press Tempo Editor. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.