At least you can't accuse me of burying the lede. But there's preamble, so you'll just have to bear with me.
After the endless emptiness of the blue carpet, we were ushered into the event space (not to be confused with the tent space) for the Spirit Awards. A Lance-Armstrong-esque stretchy yellow bracelet was the sign that we belonged. As a nominee, though, shouldn't the H have some sort of VIP status? We decided to try to go to the cordoned-off area to find out. By this time, the H's agent had found us, so the three of us approached the stanchions. Guess what? We had the wrong bracelets. The H had some sort of extra credential on his tickets, but that wouldn't admit the wife or the agent. Ah, but never underestimate the power of celebrity or its rub-off. Just as we were attempting to negotiate with the powers-that-were at the entry, another headset-wearer and a photographer rushed over. "John! How are you?" No, not the H, his agent, also named John. You see, that John lives with a very famous actress, and so, for better (unlikely) or (mostly) worst, is known to every photographer in Hollywood. Guess what? They let us in, and took our pictures. Amazing.
After seeing just how dull the VIP area was (a bar! more product placement!) we decided to head into the tent for the awards. The biggest part of every Hollywood event of any kind is devoted to the schmooze. It can be fun, like when I ran into an old friend at the pre-awards cocktail party, and she reintroduced me to some people I'd known peripherally in my old life. Fun, no pressure: I wasn't looking for anything from any of them, and vice versa. We had nice conversation about why we left L.A. and what our new life is like (always a favorite topic of mine.)
But often, the schmooze is stressful. You see this phenomenon everywhere: as people enter a room, they start to scan. Who is here that they know? Who is here that they wish to avoid? Who here is powerful, holds possible keys to their success, and can they manage to have a conversation with that person? You can feel people vibrating with anxiety; the H and I call it the hunted look, and it's one of the things that I am most grateful to no longer have as a part of my life. It produces rudeness (like on my second date with the H, when an agent I knew shook his hand, and at the same time called to someone else over the H's shoulder: at the time, the H was an unknown, just the date of a low level executive--now people routinely do the same thing to me, cause I'm just the wife) and a palpable discomfort that pervades every industry gathering.
In the Spirits tent, the schmooze was in full swing. I am a good spotter--I have a great memory for faces and names, while the H's is somewhat less acute. So I looked for people he should say hello to, and helped him navigate. Because there's no longer any pressure on me, I actually kind of enjoy it now. We saw some friends, I saw some more former colleagues from my days at HBO, and we at long last met a writer/producer who is our neighbor (a weekender) here in the sticks and who we've been wanting to meet. Then, after a too-quick hello to the H's uncle, we started towards our table.
One other rule of Hollywood is that the famous people always arrive last. When we found our table, already there was one of the film's producers, and her husband. I have nothing good to say about her, so let's just call her Dorian and be done with it. I'm sure her husband is a perfectly nice guy, just like the other lovely producer, who arrived shortly thereafter, with his normal seeming doctor wife. Just as the festivities, if you can call them that were about to begin, the buzz of voices let us know that THEY WERE COMING. We were sharing our table with the (yes, clearly pregnant) Brangelina. The H and I were seated as far away from them as possible, between the doctor and the studio head. Dorian, whose power derives from her proximity to Brad, had positioned herself next to him, while Angie's longtime manager sat to her right. Celebrities need insulation. Everyone said hello, and then the stupefying two hours of rubber chicken began. I don't remember much, except that there were cameras over my shoulder the entire time (sitting directly across the table from the CENTER OF THE MEDIA UNIVERSE, you know) and that Cate Blanchett is ravishingly beautiful. Everyone wants to know what Brangie are like--couldn't tell you. I exchanged maybe ten words with each of them the entire time. They weren't there to make friends, and neither was I.
When it was (finally) over, the room started to vibrate again. Seemingly in an instant, half the crowd moved toward our table. Everyone wanted to be near Brad and Angie. Everyone wanted to shake hands, take a picture, and so on. They were incredibly gracious; I found their tolerance for this onslaught really impressive. It's the price (one of them) of the celebrity they've assiduously courted, but they pay it without complaint, or at least they did on that day. We finally exited the tent (only after they left--we literally couldn't escape the crowd surrounding our table until they did) and headed to the afterparty.
It was insane, packed with people, dark and hot and unpleasant. I saw three people I knew, and then I was done. I called for our car to take me the three blocks back to our hotel (it was pouring rain, I had no umbrella, and I was dressed up.) I found the kidlets, and Vous, and headed downstairs for a dinner. The H met us, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. The "vacation" was nearly over.
Posted by Paige at 8:06 AM