Monday — Indigenous Peoples’ Day
This has been a tumultuous weekend. It started Friday with a long email from Miss X. Miss X is an Asian woman. Not young and not really great at English. But good with a nail clipper and scissors. She’s been my pedicurist for about ten years now. She’s a superb pedicurist and she has a pleasant smile. But she has decided she wants to leave Los Angeles and live in Las Vegas.
The reason is unclear. But although I pleaded with her to stay, she drove off on Friday morning, supposedly forever. I’m super sensitive about getting my toenails clipped. Now I have to find a new slow, methodical pedicurist. I’ll miss Miss X. I’ll really be hysterical if my new pedicurist cuts my toe and makes me wince and bleed.
Then another woman, whom I will call Miss Y, started sending me emails about how much she hated me. This is a woman whom I have helped on a titanic scale for about 25 years (yes, 25 years). She has my sympathy because her family suffered horribly under Hitler. Also, she has my sympathy because she is a great conservative and she has a super sweet daughter. Alas, the daughter is far from being a Republican. She’s in her early 20s and is a model human being, except that she works tirelessly for left-wing causes. And Miss Y, in a good mood, is a delightful companion.
Anyway, Miss Y was feeling extremely ill and had not slept for a few days. Naturally, since I am the kindest and most forgiving person she knows, she took out her fatigue-generated fears and frustrations on me. She sent the most awful, confused emails anyone can imagine to me, her benefactor. However, I knew it was because she was ill and so I did not call her and yell at her. I just urged her to rest.
In my own life, I find that sleep is probably the supreme, unchallenged finest remedy for any illness, physical or mental. If I were running things, I would require that everyone get at least 10 hours of sleep per day. Seriously, I find that life is unbearable without a vast amount of sleep. My mother used to tell me this, and so did my father, and they were both right. It’s astonishing how often they turned out to be right.
Finally, Miss Y apparently took my advice and signed off. But her angry emails had left me unsettled and jittery, so I had to sleep, too.
Then dinner with a magnificently beautiful, extremely tall friend. We ate at Petit Four, a medium-priced open air French and Italian restaurant on Sunset Plaza, always jammed with people speaking foreign languages. The food was great and the service was okay. But the evening was wrecked by young men racing their unmufflered Ferraris and Lamborghinis back and forth in front of Petit Four. It was like working in a noisy factory to be there. Loud noise upsets Miss Z, my guest, and me. It would upset almost anyone.
Speaking of factories, the beautiful dinner guest, Miss Z, a great pal of my chronically ill wife, told me about her life before she moved to L.A. She had worked at an automotive assembly plant in the Upper Midwest. She did hard work on the line, lifting heavy things, manhandling (so to speak) big engine parts, and often working a night shift. “I always came home with cuts and bruises,” she said. “But I never cried and I just went back there the next day and worked some more.” The other workers jeered at her and tried to touch her and shouted at her in whatever language people speak in Somalia.
Her pay for this? Fourteen dollars an hour. “I worked there for two years,” she said. “I got two raises so at the end of the second year I was making fifteen dollars an hour. One Christmas we got a bonus of a hundred dollars and after that, no more bonuses.”
That was when she decided to move to California with her boyfriend and their baby. But I kept thinking, “Wow. That’s hard work. I would much rather be a clerk at a government library than do Miss Z’s work at the auto plant. The bureaucracy is a big friendly puppy dog compared with what Miss Z, with her great height, dealt with at her factory.”
My grandfather worked on the line at Ford in Detroit and also at GE in Schenectady. My Pop always told me his father had strong, muscled arms. What he must have gone through so that my Pop and I could work with our minds and not our backs. I barely knew him. But I know he was a hero fighting in the Philippines in the Aguinaldo Insurrection. He was in the cavalry and when I think that any close ancestor of mine was in the U.S. Army Cavalry, I can scarcely believe it. How families change and adapt is amazing.
Anyway, poor Harvey Weinstein. He’s a huge success as a producer but apparently could not resist unwanted sexual advances against young women in Hollywood. I’m not really surprised. Hollywood is set up to be the perfect model for men to exploit women. The men have most of the power. The men have the money. The men can make a woman’s life either heaven or hell. And the women who come here without money and family connections soon learn this. Hollywood is all about using power and money to get sex. That’s the essential dynamic that powers the show biz industry.
This is only in some cases. My wife was an extremely high power in Hollywood for a time and she is stunningly beautiful. But she was a lawyer. (I guess she still is a lawyer.) She had the knowledge of how to make a deal and write it up in a contract that allowed her to rise to a high position without her having to offer sex. Besides, she was protected by my longtime pal, Don Simpson, former head of production at Paramount. He, in turn, was a friend of my former agent, the genius investor, George Diskant. And all of them admired me at least a little for my pitiful accomplishments. So my wife was off limits. Plus, she was — and is — a devoted super wifey. So, no one attempted anything with her except for one actor who used to be on “Taxi.” But she brushed him off in about ten seconds.
Again, though, her situation was unusual.
For the usual attractive woman who comes out here, she is just catnip for the big tigers who roam the Hollywood jungle. And the women soon learn it and somehow adjust to it. My advice to all young women who come out to Hollywood is to not do it at all. Just stay back home in Baltimore. It’s too painful and difficult here for an attractive young woman who appears without money and without family connections. It’s like a college campus where the professors just give out Easy A’s for any girl who will be their play thing — only the rewards here can be money, fame, prestige. The girls — young women — are moths to the flame and then they just either leave or accustom themselves to it. Or, they stay true to themselves and somehow either make it or don’t.
But, again, to be surprised that Harvey Weinstein is in trouble for sexual harassment is like being surprised that there is baseball going on at Yankee Stadium.
And now for the saddest part of the diary. My Jo-Jo, our longtime companion German short-haired pointer, had to be euthanized last week. She had a lung infection that just would not get better. She sank and sank although she was being lavishly cared for. She would not eat. Would not drink water. Our vet sent her off to eternity. We still have my girlfriend, Julie, the most beautiful GSP on this earth. But we miss our Jo-Jo. We had her for about 13 years. She was an abandoned dog and she barked a lot. She was fiercely protective of Big Wifey. She often tried to bite me when I was bending over to kiss Alex. But. But. But. Now she’s gone and the house seems lonely without her. How I miss that cunning little face.
Dogs are not human. In their beauty and loyalty, they are super human.
Oh, and the pedicurist is back. She didn’t like Las Vegas so now she’s back and she wants to move to Florida and open a nail salon. She wants me to pay for it. Uh, I somehow don’t think that will happen either.
But let’s say a prayer for our dogs, the best friends we will ever have.