That Fall in 1996 When You Dined with Divas
Private dinner, Nobu, Tribeca New York
Martha arrives with Sharon, her Chief of Operations and dear dear friend. A single round of sake and Martha whispers in her husky oh so Connecticut voice that she’s in love with a married man who lives in London. You can relate, being married to a man you don’t love and having visited London. You bond. Sharon’s fresh off a Kilimanjaro climb with Sandi Pittman and a bunch of rugged socialites. It was prep for a big Everest summit. Martha swallows a slice of Otoro sashimi then cuts Sharon short, “You are NOT traipsing off to climb another god-forsaken mountain. We have a business to run!” (Good thing. Saved dear dear Sharon from disappearing Into Thin Air.) Another round of sake and Sam arrives. “In the neighborhood,” he says, jutting out his hand to shake yours as he slips you his card: Samuel Waksal, Founder/CEO Imclone Systems. As if Tribeca is around the corner from Westport. Sam’s crisp white shirt and khaki pants counter the thin strands of hair greased to frame an otherwise bald head. A strange man, but you can tell he is it for Martha, the older brother she never had, that she’ll follow him to the moon or at least to the federal penitentiary.
Party, Private home, Hollywood Hills
You’re in your zone—a director’s party, all talk, no show. Vodka tonic in hand, you drop into the living room. There, a rather stoned Oliver Stone lurches into your face, spitting a little as he barks, “Let me tell you how this town is run. By pricks! Pricks with no art, no heart.” Bob Altman and his wife, Kathy, come to your rescue. They look like a pair of accountants that wandered by mistake into a Hollywood party—the Price Waterhouse team that blinks from the stage at the Oscars. When you tell him you loved his recent film, Short Cuts, his brows lift and he smiles broadly. Kathy too. “Finally, someone who gets it. Unlike the critics,” he sighs and you chat about Ray Carver. You empty your drink, head over to the buffet, take a plate of Ahi tuna rolls, head outside. A few stars poke through the oak branches overhead. A woman asks if she can join you. It’s Madonna. She sets her plate down and eases into the chair next to yours. Her bare, pregnant belly glows like a peach, her breasts heave from her bra. “How’s it going?” you ask with a pointed nod. “Any day now. I feel like a cow,” she says, drawing out the ‘ow.’ “I’m exhausted.” As you talk childbirth and babies, she grasps your hand, lays it on the firm swell of her hard belly to feel her daughter’s dance within.
Presidential debate night, Private home, Santa Monica
Barbra’s barefoot in the kitchen, inspecting Hamachi rolls on the caterer’s trays. The hostess starts to introduce you, then steers you out of the kitchen and away from Barbra’s food rant. Later, she will train her ice blue eyes down her famous nose at you in greeting.
Then turn and drop her small body to the floor, sit cross-legged, back turned to all, facing the television. When Clinton’s introduced, Barbra shouts “YES,” fists raised, her thumbnails glinting like lighters at a concert. She rides out the debate curled in a muttering knot. Clinton survives, his ice blue eyes seducing a nation, once again. A decade later, over another dinner, you will gaze into those now-lidded glacial eyes and tell Bill Clinton this story as his hand stretches beneath the table to graze your knee.
started writing poetry in 2016. Since then, her work has appeared in over 40 journals and anthologies including Nimrod International Journal (2017 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry semi-finalist), The New Guard (2017 Knightville Prize semi-finalist), Penn Review, Timberline, Gravel (Best of Net nominee), American Journal of Poetry, as the political pamphlet Body Politic (Mount Analogue Press), on a Seattle bus and in her forthcoming chapbook Finding My Way Home (Finishing Line Press). She is on the editorial staff of The Adroit Journal and lives in Seattle.