I walk off the plane, the weight of my bags tugging my shoulder uncomfortably. Flicking my eyes left to right, I notice I exited at the gate nearest to the baggage claim.
That never happens to me. Ever.
I follow the crowd and make my way to the escalator, watching the older gentleman in front of me move slowly and deliberately. I decide to stay close to him as he’s a bit wobbly. As we approach the moving stairs, three people push past me and halt in front of the older man who is now fumbling with his two bags. I worry, I cringe and finally I tap the oblivious young man in front of me and ask him to help.
The older man is seconds from falling down the stairs as the three discuss their favorite Fiddy Cent song, totally unaware of his plight. (Really? Fiddy? Fiddy? Gawd…Fifty.)
I step off the escalator, glad the older man made it okay and I see my driver standing there. I giggle because I have a driver. Maybe some of you are used to that, but I’m not. I have to fight the urge to clap my hands and jump up and down. He stands with a sign: Ms. Stuart.
That’s me. He’s waiting for me. I giggle again.
I’m quickly ushered to the waiting Town Car. “You’re headed to the Beverly Wilshire?” he asks. “I am?” I reply, all wide eyed and surprised. “That’s what the order said,” he answers back with a smile. He sees my awe.
And off we go, him giving me a brief history lesson on LA and me wondrous at the sights. I’ve been here before, but never under such circumstances. Always the tourist – never the press. This is different.
“There are three rules you need to know in LA,” he says to me, his eyes darkened by Ray-Bans.
“First, every actor is a god and is to be treated as such.”
“Second, if you’re invited to a party in the Hollywood Hills, never invite someone who doesn’t understand rule #1.”
“Third, be nice to everyone. You never know who’s going to be the next big thing. It may even be you.”
We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
He pulls up to the Beverly Wilshire and I can’t stop myself from humming Pretty Woman under my breath. I exit the car and am suddenly painfully aware of my black yoga pants and brown tennis shoes. They don’t even match. Paparazzi stand at the gates and glance my way, then quickly turn. I am not exciting to them.
I’m pretty sure it’s currently obvious that I drive a minivan.
I walk up the stairs and am greeted with a cold bottle of water. My bags are whisked away, I’m checked in and given my press kit. I meander through the hotel, my heart racing. These things don’t happen to a suburban girl from the midwest…who drives a minivan. The elevator door opens and I laugh.
There’s a bench. I fight hard against the urge to quote it.
“Oh look, honey. There’s a runner in my panty hose. I’m not wearing any panty hose.”
“Well color me happy, there’s a sofa in here for two.”
Instead, I adjust my sunglasses atop my head and push the 6. I’m cool. Can’t you tell? I do this all the time.
Drinks at the bar, a movie screening, more drinks and food. Someone says that’s Paris Hilton’s mom. I don’t believe them…but what do I know. Bruce Willis is here somewhere. I don’t see him. I do see Rodeo Drive out the lobby window, though. I make my plans to visit in the morning. I wonder if I could walk into a store and say, “I was in here the other day and you wouldn’t help me. Big mistake. Big. Huge.”
But wouldn’t that be fun?
It’s time for sleep. This bed is like a cloud. I might never wake up…