You know when you sit and debate whether or not to do something of questionable appropriateness, knowing full well you’re going to do it, but you have that conversation with yourself to prove that in some small way you’re not a total asshole? And then you go and do it anyway, feeling marginally better about having contemplated not doing it?
I had just such a moment today, in the playground after my girls were done with their gymnastics class. It was the first not-sucky day of the year and they were darting around like fireflies that had finally been released from the jelly jars they’d been trapped in. I was spotting Vivian on some equipment when my husband said, “Isn’t that [Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â ]?” citing a celebrity who I’d just been telling him would be perfect to blurb my book (MY FORMERLY HOT LIFE: DISPATCHES FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF YOUNG, which is coming out in September from Ballantine.)
I’ll call her Celebrity X, because I don’t want to compromise her privacy, but suffice to say that she embodies the Formerly Condition in the best possible way. She’s not what she was when she was in her young adulthood, i.e., “hot” in that cursory-glance way that the world looks at young women. But now she’s hot in that way that only a woman who has had some time on this earth to think can be.
I only know her persona, not her person, but from everything I’ve seen and read it seems like as a Formerly, she occupies her body and her self with the authority and security of a homeowner, rather than the way younger women sometimes seem as if they’re renting (or worse, squatting), prepared to abandon who they are entirely if a better option presents itself. I know I often felt that way in my 20s, as if I were shopping for a life, that I was often just a composite of other people’s opinions of me.
Anyway, as I stood a few feet from Celebrity X, my internal dialogue went like this:
Slimy, self-promotional Stephanie: “There’s Celebrity X! What are you waiting for? Go tell her about your book and how much she’d love it and how you want her to blurb it!”
Sympathetic lifelong New Yorker Stephanie: “Sheesh, she’s with her kids–can’t the woman enjoy a day with her family without someone like you hitting her up for something for their own benefit?”
SSPS: “You’re never going to get a chance like this again. Her publicist [to whom my editor sent the book] is probably not going to show it to her, she gets so much stuff.”
SLNYS: “I can’t just go up to her…if she wanted to be seen and stalked, she’d live in LA, not New York. Oh, geez, Vivian is going over her way.”
SSPS: “Go follow her! That’s what a good mother would do, right? Pretend you’re a good mother, just making sure your daughter doesn’t get hurt. In fact, tell Vivian to go play with her kid!”
SLNYS: “I WILL DO NO SUCH THING! That’s low, even for you. And I am a good mother.”
SSPS: “Then why is Vivian eating while she’s running and climbing. She’s going to choke. Look, she’s going to drop her Tigers Milk bar in the sandbox where the stray cats pee. And you know that girl is going to eat it anyway.”
SLNYS: “VIVIAN! No! Give me the bar. GIVE ME THE BAR.”
SSPS: “That’s right. Run up to her.”
SLNYS (feeling kind of ashamed): “Well, I guess if I happen to be right next to her, I could introduce myself. I really do think she’d love the book.”
SSPS: “That’s the ticket…go on and talk to her.”
SLNYS: “Well, OK. Fine.”
And so I did. After getting Vivian to surrender the bar, I plopped down next to Celebrity X and excused myself and nervously vomited out what Slimy, Self-Promotional Stephanie needed her to know about my book, and how I’d sent it to her publicist…and of courseÂ failed to say my name. Celebrity X very graciously put me out of my misery by asking for it, and gave me the opportunity to hand her a business card with my url on it.
Once that part was over, I could go back to being Sympathetic Lifelong New Yorker Stephanie and just sit with a fellow mom who happens to be an exceedingly famous actress and author and watch our kids dig holes to China in the cat piss sandbox. She was lovely and funny and normal and made me feel I could be, too. As normal as a woman who talks to herself can be, anyway.
So there. Maybe she’ll read it and relate, and maybe she won’t. But I’m glad I let the slimy, self-promotional part of myself drive, for a few moments, at least.