I can’t argue with him on that point. If I inform him of my current project, he’s sure to take his cigar and go, so I listen as he tells me that I should read Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky (I’d mentioned that my great-great grandparents were from Russia) and care about politics more. In L.A., I can’t help thinking, an actor guy would probably tell me I should read movie scripts about Russian submarines and care more about what’s in the trades. I nod flirtatiously, not bothering to mention that Notes From the Underground happens to be sitting (unopened, but there) on my bedroom table.
Since I have two games going at once, this entire exchange is happening in front of Magazine Guy and Peter. And so begins a fascinating verbal sword fight between Actor and Editor; MG makes a reference to a movie Actor was in and Actor counters that Mr. Magazine spends too much time watching bad movies. At first I think Magazine Guy is unsophisticated, like a fan who happens upon a famous person, but as the dialogue continues I realize he’s brought up the movie role both because smart people know the movie sucked and the Actor’s part was tiny. Actor seems completely indifferent. Is this a Sophisticated New Yorkers’ version of a dick swinging contest? When Magazine Guy wanders off briefly Actor grabs my hand, asking me if MG and I are serious.
“Please,” I say, shaking my head. “I just met him.”
Actor smiles. “Well, I’m going to get your number from Peter,” he says. “We’ll go out in L.A.”
He reaches to the pendant on my necklace, a picture of a naked woman (not me). “Get her dressed, will you?” he flirts, affixing me with that cocky gaze he’s done so many times on his TV series (which is nothing like Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy, believe me). I promise. He squeezes my hand. I leave with MG, figuring that’s the end of that.
Several days later, as I’m running through the streets of Brooklyn, my cell phone rings.
“Hey, I’m calling from the National Enquirer and I’ve got a story for you,” says someone in a guy-doing-a-flirty-crank-call voice. I hate guys-doing-flirty-crank-call voices.
“Who is this?” I counter, in my I-don’t-have-time-for-this voice.
He says his name, first name only, and I draw a blank. Only when he mentions Peter do I make the connection, trying to decide if the National Enquirer joke is funnier or less funny based on who it is. I decide less, then change my mind.
“Are you back in Los Angeles?” he asks, now sounding completely recognizable.
“I will be in a few days.”
“Are you free next Monday or Tuesday?” he asks. “Could we go out one of those nights?”
Monday and Tuesday pass without a word. But if LA has taught me anything, it’s don’t ever take an actor’s treatment personally. It’s almost a relief, oddly, to find out that the New York version is just as flaky as the LA one.