By the time we arrived, the award ceremony was over and the winners started to pour in, clutching their little gold gramophones. At the bar, we ordered margaritas and sat back, watching the light bulbs explode every time a winner or celebrity would make an entrance.
“Oh look, honey, there’s Kenny G.” I pointed directly at him with an exaggerated stiffened Strangelove arm and we both cracked up. Time for another margarita.
We walked around a little and spied Toni Braxton.
“Go smell her,” I chided Billy. He was on the upside of his brief Toni obsession but after her emotional meltdown a few years later, he’d use her as a reference point, “Don’t be goin’ all Toni Braxton on my ass.”
“You go smell her!” For whatever reason, this was funnier than it should have been and we got the church giggles.
“Less go ge nother margita,” Billy slurred, grinning ear-to-ear as he imitated my boss, the evil and alcoholic Katy Rothacker.
After getting our refill, we spotted John Waters. We had just seen Serial Mom and loved it so much, we had adopted many of its lines and moves. If ever I wanted to make Billy laugh for no reason, all I had to do was flap my legs like Kathleen Turner in the courtroom scene. I had never met John but he was, you know, my cultural hero. We slowly made our way to him as he was chatting with a woman in a business suit and he looked a little bored, or so we thought.
When his eyes wandered over to us standing next to him, I stuck out my hand and introduced Billy and myself. “I work with Bernadette Peters,” I said, as I knew he was circling her for a project at one point.
“Oh, you poor thing,” he smiled, curling his manicured little mustache upward. I laughed, rolled my eyes in silent agreement and happily nodded. John was looking at Billy whose attention was now toward the door.
“And I want to thank you for bringing the glory hole into mainstream film,” I confided to him.
“Well someone had to,” again the smile, each time punctuating what he knew was a cleverly tossed response.
I felt a tug at my arm from Billy. “Look! There’s Patti LaBelle!”
“Oh God, what is in her hair?” John wondered aloud. I laughed and saw Billy being drawn over, closer to Pattiland as if she were a giant pile of mashed potatoes on the kitchen table. I shook John’s hand again and thanked him for changing the face of filmmaking, and I followed Billy.
As we both neared Patti and her hair, I saw Meat Loaf coming up from another angle of the glass hallway that had become our vortex. I wasn’t the only one who witnessed this convergence, so did the paparazzi. As the two incongruent 80s icons neared one another, the shutterbugs started to yell their names for them to get together for a shot.
“Go over there and get in the shot!” I whispered to Billy, elbowing him into place.
“No,” he was all tittery but dying to do it.
“Go on! Sneak in there,” I nudged more and off he went. Just as the bulbs went flashing in a madhouse of fireflies, Billy stuck his head in. After Patti and Meat Loaf exchanged an uncomfortable good-bye, not really knowing why they had created all of the attention, I went over to one of the cameramen and gave him my card. I told him I represented many actors who needed headshots and I would love one of the pictures he just took. I pointed to Billy, who was still caught up in the aftermath, and told the photographer I wanted any picture that had him in it and I’d be happy to pay for it.
Both of us were flushed and drunk and it was a school night. We had to get up early the next day for work so we left the party. We stepped out into a light rain and before we grabbed a cab, I took Billy by the shoulders and roughly turned him toward me.
“Okay. I’m going to kiss you right here and right now. You can’t escape it. Now I can kiss you soft or I can kiss you hard. It’s your choice,” I tried to muster a stern look but between the margaritas, and his expression of complete and utter puppyness, I couldn’t come up with anything more than a tender smile.
“Hard,” he drew out the word. I did as I was told, standing right there in front of the Four Seasons on a rainy New York street, kissing him in the presence of God and departing Grammy winners. And there was not a single hint of Tweety.