No more midnight bottles by G. Stermin
“Oh sweetheart put the bottle down, you got too much talent..” Kelly Clarkson sog played in the radio as I walked in the apartment to a very familiar scenario. And it was perfect for the occasion, so I repeated the verse to her. She looked at the rum bottle in her hands, already half empty and handed it to me, I got hold of it but her fingers lingered on, as if the liquor was her only salvation. Finally, she let it go, dropping a tear. That was not the first one, nor would be the last; I just wished she took it better after the third time. Not that it was easy, but I had warned her, the entertainment industry is tough. She would have her break, eventually.
I took the bottle to the kitchen, as she yelled: “Bring me the ice cream!” Always the same: the bitter of the alcohol and the sweet of cookies & cream. She ate the whole pot and then vomited everything. It had became a ritual and not a good one, I might add.
“You need to stop this”, I told Lila with a firm voice. “It will lead you nowhere. Just take whatever role they offer you, it is easier to grow from that.”
“You don´t get it! I don´t want anything! I want a good role, in a movie! Just that, is it too much to ask? No it is not!” She was screaming, the tears falling in the pot of ice cream in her lap.
But I did understand, the thing is, yes it is too much to ask for if you are someone who is completely new in the industry. She was the one who couldn’t accept it. I don’t know from where she got the idea she was so good anyone would hire her. And for a moment I regret accepting her moving in with me to L.A.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Lila, she has been my best friend for so many years. It all started with the acting classes we took together when we were little, we never stopped taking drama lessons since then. The difference is, I took it as hobby, she took as her future carrer. While I was in college, majoring in Communications, she traveled the world, worked in so many different things, did a lot of acting courses and finally, when I graduated with a very well paid job in the aspiring actors dream place, L.A she decided she wanted to move in with me.
I couldn’t say no, even if I wanted to, she dreamed about living in the City of Angels her whole life and I was not going to be the one who denied her the opportunity, especially being her best friend and listening her chatter about all the nice things about L.A. and how she was going to make it in the city. Until now she wasn’t making it. I have been jealous of her traveling, living this crazy adventure while I was studying. Not that college was boring, it was everything but, albeit, it was not easy either. Yes, I have had my share of travelling and I even got a minor in Theater, but nothing compared to her wild stories. But now I had a well paid job and she was striving to get a good role.
“Just accept whatever they offer, will you? You will see, people will start to notice you and then you can land on the big screen with a nice role”
She sat on the couch in silence for a minute, some Shakira song was playing on the radio now, I love the song, but I couldn’t find the strength to sing it or even to wait for Lila´s answer. All I wanted to do was take a long bath and get in bed. The day had been so stressful that having to deal with all the tears again was unbearable, so I left her there, to think about what I had told her. I knew what the next steps were, finish the ice cream, crawl to the bathroom, throw up, and get to bed. Wake up at midday, find something to eat, shower, acting class, maybe an audition… I was not sure my day was much better, well, no. I had a nice schedule, with a job I liked, happy hour with my friends, dance class, it was good. But sometimes, I got bored of it and just wanted to follow Lila and audition for roles. Have a superstar life, isn’t that what everyone wants?
But I knew it was not easy, I had always admired Lila for being so courageous and following her dreams. And to her struggle like that, I had to thank I choose the safe way. But, then, I told myself I was being weak, I would handle better than her.. or would I really? Was I just envy?
It was a hot Thursday night, in late summer, when I got from work and the dining table was set, a delicious smell came from the kitchen. “Grace, you are home!” Lila exclaimed with excitement and hugged me strongly. “Sit down, I have big news!” She told me with a singing tone. I had figured that out already. I mean, Lila cooking? She never used her cooking abilities, which were plenty. That girl could cook, but she only did it when she was in an exuberant mood. She had received good news, I knew that. So I sat down in the purple velvet chair, she poured red wine in my glass and went back to the kitchen.
Lila come back with a big salad plate and sat in front of me. I smiled: “Tell me, honey!” I was so curious. “They said yes! They said yes, they said yes!” she was bouncing , holding the chair as if she would fly if she didn’t. “Who?” I asked, getting of my chair and grabbing her so we could do our victory dance. Oh, the victory dance, it brought back so many memories! The first kiss, it was Lila, at the age of twelve; the first boyfriend, it was me, when we were fifteen; not a virgin anymore, me too, with that first boyfriend; traveling alone for the first time, that was her, when she was sixteen, to India… so many things! And now it was her turn again! I was the first one to get a really well-paid job, but she was the one who got a nice role. She deserved that victory dance and more. When we finished dancing we sat down again and she answered my question as I pushed my chair closer to get some of the delicious-looking salad. “I am working for ABC´s new series: Cougar Town!”
She had heard my advice and went for it. I couldn’t be happier for her, or could I? That Friends episode of when Phoebe and Rachel are discussing how happy they were Monica was getting married to Chandler, “80% happy, 20% jealous” Rachel confessed to Phoebe, and the numbers kept going toward equalizing.. “50%, 50%” Rachel would finally confess.
“Oh my god!” it was the only words that could possibly fit the moment. Tears were coming down from my eyes, from hers too, we hugged again, jumping up and down. Then she ran to the kitchen, saying something about how she had forgot about the chicken, so I sat down to enjoy the salad on my plate. I ate it beaming with her good news and crying for myself.
She came back with a fervent dish of chicken and potatoes. Delicious, she knew I loved the combination. Thank you, Lila, you are truly inspired today, well, why wouldn’t you be? She sat in front of me and served herself with chicken and salad and then started telling me the story about the audition she got from this guy she met in a party she went last week, “do you remember?”, O didn’t, I just couldn’t keep up with her crazy schedule. She continued pretending I knew what she was talking about. “Anyways, this guy gave me his card and told me to call him, because he thought I was the perfect girl for the series. So I called him the next day and he told me where the audition was and when. I didn’t really want to work in a series, you know I wanted a role in a movie, but I heard you advice and gave my best in the audition. They called me today and told me I got the part and they would send me the script so I could be ready on Monday for the first shooting day. Isn’t it perfect?” She was talking really fast, between the bites and the chewing, the chicken in her open mouth was really distracting and normally I would day: “Manners girl!” but not today, no, she was too happy for me to care about that little detail. I just smiled at her, agreeing: “Lets practice together, so you can be perfect on Monday.” No more midnight bottles, no more giant pots of ice cream, no more tears on the couch.
Part of my was jealous, thought, really jealous. It is mean to confess, but at the same time it was sad seeing her drink all those bottles when I got home, I assured myself of the reasons I didn’t take the same path as her, as I had promised when we were young.
In our first play, someone told us we could be big and famous actresses, we believed and make each other a promise that we would travel the world auditioning and acting and taking acting classes and working in whatever we could find. By the time we finished High School and Lila said she had our adventure all planned out, I chickened out and confessed I had applied to college. We had a big fight and it took six months before we came to terms again.
It was in December, she had come back from England, the first place she went to after graduation and I was back from California, where I went to college. We met in our usual spot, at the fountain in front of the Dallas Museum of the Arts a day after Christmas. We hugged, cried and apologized and then everything was fine. We sat on the fountain and Lila told me all about England and I told her all about College life. She was envy of the college parties, the drinking, the frat parties, I was jealous of her crazy adventures, all the crazy people she met. But we both were happy to be talking again. We spent the rest of winter break together, before I had to go back to College and she headed to her next destination: Brazil.
I wished I could go with her, but I didn’t regret choosing college. I opt the safe path, she choose the crazy one. At least one of us did. Four years had passed since that December, well almost four. I had the perfect job on the City of Angels, but it was not acting and now she had one just like the guy had told us back when we were young. And now I just wanted to quit my job and pursue the theater career.
“What is going through your mind?” Lila broke my jealous thoughts. “I am just happy for you”. I decided, yes, more happy than jealous.
We rehearsed Sunday the whole; Lila cooked delicious food between the lines. I read everyone else but Lauren, her character in the show. A blond, goofy, sexy, flirty girl, my best friend does resemble her. Other than her dark brown hair, she was such a flirtatious, funny, sexy, and easy to get along, so out there. I enjoyed reading the lines with her, doing different characters, but I wouldn’t be on set with her. When she asked me to practice for the eleventh time with her, it was too much for me. I just wanted to cry, because she was the only one who would be on set. She will be the one on set, the phrase kept repeating in my head, so disturbing.
“Soooo?” Lila asked me after waiting some seconds for my answer, her voice was excited, but also goofy, she was setting in the character. “Sorry, cant, too tired” I said and got up from the couch, the tears almost falling from my eyes on the last word. I couldn’t let Lila see, I know just how she would go about it. Hug me, say don’t cry and then tell some funny story to try to make me laugh, when I didn’t she would give up and say: “oh, don’t be such a pussy”. Why am I her friend again? “Grace, don’t go! I am still not perfect on it-what if she is more frertatious, more aggressive, or..” “Good night” I cut her and close my bedroom door.
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