Lauren M.

Freelance Rick Moranis lover

42

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The Non-Affair

He followed me to my room, a suite at the Toronto Four Seasons. I was giddy, a little inebriated; it was the third time I had ever tasted alcohol. Why my young, boyishly handsome boss was walking me back to my room, my 20-year-old brain couldn’t discern. All I knew was that he intimidated me, in the sort of way that makes your pulse race. I was his personal assistant, but not a confident one. He was reserved, stoic, more often cold. Did I admire him? I wasn’t sure, but the answer became clearer after this evening.

Looking back, it was the first time my boss had showed any interest in me. Not just romantically- a word I use loosely here- but as a human being. I had moved from my small Northeastern town for this role as his aid, leaving behind a boyfriend, a tight-knit family, a last year of college. Los Angeles can be a lonely town, and it never feels lonelier than when you’re a personal assistant. I was on call 24/7 and spent much of my available time eating out, alone, whale calling to see who else was there. My role as someone’s confident I took seriously, and I gave it my all. No one understood the swivet I was in. Not even me.

He climbed into my bed and made small talk about the film festival we were at. Had I seen Wayne Gretzky in the bar earlier in the evening? What did I think of the party hosted by the recent Oscar nominee? He motioned for me to sit next to him. As I made myself comfortable on the bed, he took my hand and put it on the firm mass bulging at the top of his pants. It was the first time I felt such concentrated energy. When he kissed me, I flinched from the limpness in his lips. They were wet and soft, void of any affection.

Nothing else happened that night, and he retreated back to his hotel room where his girlfriend of many years, a woman I was getting to know and admire, slept unaware of what transpired between her boyfriend and his assistant.

The next day, though exhausted from lack of sleep, the warm blanket of affection carried me through the airport and onto the plane back to Los Angeles. No acknowledgement was made between my employer and I, and I searched his girlfriend’s face to see if she knew. Everything was normal, except for the newfound layer of complexity added to the already complicated boss-assistant dynamic.

Months went by and nothing. I was still rattled by this man, who had grown noticeably more irritable towards me. Though plagued with guilt that I had physical contact with someone who was all but married, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I anticipated such an occurrence happening again. And it did. Several times.

This was the period I like to call “The Great Disappearance.” As a power player in Hollywood, I took his lead in how you behave: cold, calculating and indifferent. When my mother visited me for the first time, she left in tears, professing, “I don’t know who you are anymore!” I didn’t know who I was either. Last I knew I was a good girl from a small town. Now here was this irritable young woman who had become a stereotype. She had become something she never thought she could ever be: “the other woman.”

But “the other woman” isn’t an accurate term. What proceeded over the next year was a formidable liason between the powerful and the powerless. Sex was never had. Instead, I was asked to relieve his “tension” and as the bright-eyed, dutiful assistant, I obliged, all because I was afraid to say no, and all because a piece of me longed for the modicum of attention. Who was this person that a strong single mother raised? Where was the girl who dressed like Stevie Nicks and Dana Scully as a child? How did her internal compass break? I searched for her in all the cliché California locales: while driving down Sunset Boulevard at night, sitting on Venice Beach, laying on my living room floor with a bottle of vodka resting by my side. Her disappearance drove me to near madness.

As time wore on, my boss nitpicked my mistakes and often reminded me “there’s a line of people outside that door waiting for your job.” Tension grew until one morning I said, “You’re verbally and emotionally abusive.” He told me to go home. I told him that I quit. He told me that I was fired. We took a break as employer and assistant, and when I came back, I demanded more respect. I got it. The non-affair was over, and I took on a different role at the company. In a long conversation, the only long conversation we ever had, he apologized but wanted to make sure that I remembered “it takes two to tango.” Though I still do not discount my role in the relationship, as a woman now in her 30s, I'm easily infuriated by the chauvinism that often reveals itself in Hollywood. To my former boss, there are two types of women: the kind you fuck or the kind you call “a cunt.” He continues to get his cake and eat it too, and I regret being too young and dumb to smash the dessert in his face.

Though I'm disappointed in the choice I made, this was my bildungsroman. As far as I know, the girlfriend never found out, and she has since moved on to a better life after discovering that her partner was having an affair with a starlet (one of many); however, once in awhile, during the quiet times, the ones in the shower, while sitting in traffic or before drifting off to sleep, I flinch thinking about the young woman who had lost so much respect for herself, who could disrespect another woman. My breathing stops and I hold on to the thought of what she had done. I release the air when I remember that I buried her in Los Angeles.

 

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