Sitting on a curb in front of the elegant driveway at the Park Hyatt in Chicago, I waited for the valet attendant to fetch my jalopy. I was driving an old beat up Ford Escort and clearly didn’t fit in with the chic hotel clientele. The attendant had probably parked my car illegally outside Cabrini Green, realizing he wasn’t getting a tip. Judging by the time it was taking to deliver my old Betsy, I was going to be loafing around a long while.
It was early on a Saturday morning and I had just finished a side gig—styling for Shape magazine. I was tired, holding a tool box that had an IN-N-OUT bumper sticker on the lid, perched next to my professional clothing steamer. A few snobs raised their high brows and looked at me with suspicion. All except for one, who was clearly curious about what I was up to…
Jaime Lee Curtis stood next to me, beaming and waving to fans who yelled things like, “we just love your books Jaime!” Yep, that was her. I quickly shot her a nonchalant glance and took note that she was wearing black hush puppy shoes and a smart black suit.
I was too tired to be interested in a celebrity and this probably annoyed Curtis. “What are you doing?” she asked me, in a way like she was interested. Not like, “What the hell are you doing polluting my day girl? And why aren’t you asking for my autograph? Are you stuck up, because you are making me feel like a hack.”
I was shocked that she would acknowledge me, a commoner. I instantly looked at her and flashed back to her scene in the movie Trading Places where she flashed her perfect, naked rack. I thought, “I know way too much about you lady, and yet nothing at all.”
“I’m waiting for my car (I said this like “caviar“). I just finished working on a photo shoot for Shape magazine. I have been working as a wardrobe stylist for a woman who has been slowly loosing weight over the past year.”
“REALLY?! Are you having fun?” she asked.
I admitted to my madness and said that I was. Finally, my car pulled up looking more ratty and scuffed up than I remembered. I got up and handed the valet his 50 cent tip. Curtis, seemed genuinely sad that I was leaving so soon. “Can I help you put your gear in the car?” she asked.
I said, “No.” and that was it, except that it shouldn’t have been.
What was I thinking? Opportunity was knocking at my car keyed Escort door! Stupid, stupid, stupid! There was no turning back, I was off driving down Chicago Ave, towards Cabrini Green realizing I could have been looking at a terra cotta sunset in Beverly Hills if only I’d played my deck right. I could have been BFF with Jaimie and worked as her personal stylist. She would introduce me to all her fat cat friends who would all adore me and think that my tool box with the, IN-N-OUT bumper sticker was so cute. They would ask me to get them cheeseburgers on the sly, and I would. I would have become fantastic and stuffed my mattress with money.
Instead, Curtis stood waving to me with her thin princess hand and ate my dust.