So Isabella Rossellini shops at my post office right here in Santa Monica. Okay, not really “shops,” per se, I mean mails packages and buy stamps. And not really “Isabella Rossellini,” exactly, more like her much younger twin. And not really “Santa Monica” in the strictest sense, more along the lines of Crazy Town which is merely millions of miles from Hollywood.
Picture the scene. There I am, in line behind Famous Gorgeous Person (uh, that would be the Isabella Rossellini impersonator) and all I could think was, I have that same coat she’s wearing. I glance down at myself as inconspicuously as possible to verify if I am indeed wearing it right now (I am not). The coat is from Target (dark green with a subtle gold vine design and black buttons). Isabella Rossellini-clone shops at Target, just like me! This small brush with (semi-) fame thrills me.
My phone rings. My Isabella bubble has been popped. The four or five other postal customers glance in my direction, annoyed. I am wondering why they are not all staring at Isabella instead of at me. Great beauty is in your vicinity, people, and she is not wearing a baseball cap over greasy Mom-ponytail-hair!
I will my phone to stop ringing. Like the whiny child at the grocery store check-out line sensing disapproval and dismay but loving a potential audience, the phone ignores me and keeps on ringing. Normally, this would not bother me so much; I would simply not answer and wait for the caller to hang up in frustration. However, I can see by the caller ID that it is my sister calling and I know she will leave a long detailed voice-mail and (this part is important) I have a very terrible chime for my voice-mail and I would much prefer that Isabella didn’t hear it.
When I say the word “chime” I obviously mean long drawn-out song. Yes. The chime is some sort of disco redux that the lovely Phone Store Guy installed (possibly as a very unfunny joke) way back when I bought my cell phone. The chime is not one I would’ve personally chosen; in fact, the store was very crowded that day and I just wanted to get my new phone and get out.
The original ring was obnoxious as well (I think the standard setting song for my particular choice of telephone was “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen). I begged the Phone Store Guy to change that tune for me, and after much attitude and Olympic caliber teen-age condescending eye-rolling, he reluctantly agreed (“Fine. I will change the ring tone for you, but it will cost an extra $25. Honestly, though, m’am, it is so incredibly simple to do, you could do it yourself. Even my grandma can figure it out, and she is, like, about your same age, maybe even a little younger.”).
So my basic ring is a fairly generic one that approximately 97% of the population shares (imagine my phone ringing in the doctor’s office or at the bank—ah, yes, everyone fumbles for their phone, too). But my voice-mail reminder? This is where Phone Store Guy decided to have a little fun with me. Disco.
I used to be excited when someone would leave a message (I have friends! Friends that cannot wait to talk to me and tell me important things, and they are leaving me messages right this second!), but now I was … embarrassed.
I can feel the doctor or bank teller silently judging me (Disco is so not cool, who does she think she’s kidding?) and so I usually leave the phone in the car. The glove compartment has grown accustomed to the sound of my Disco boogie beat and rarely complains anymore.
I forgot to forget the phone in the car. The phone is in my purse. Ring ring! Persistent ring! Angry why-don’t-you-answer-me ring! Threatening if-you-don't-answer-quickly-it-will-be-disco-mania-time ring!
I fumble to unzip my purse and I flick the phone open with my thumb. “Hello?” I say cautiously, as if it is not my sister on the other end and instead someone has stolen her phone and I am talking to the potential thief.
“MOV! How are you? Where have you been?” she asks breathlessly. “I have been trying to call you all afternoon!”
“I can’t really talk … do you think, uh, would it be okay if I call you back in 10 minutes?”
“Sure, no problem,” she chirps, “but I just had to tell you who I sat next to on my flight this morning.”
“Flight? Did you go somewhere?” I ask, completely obtuse to my sister’s recent jet-setting ways.
“Remember I told you I had to fly down to L.A. for that UNICEF fundraiser? So, it was great, I met a ton of great people, we raised a ton of money, but then I was getting on my flight back home and it turns out someone else was in my seat. The flight attendant said there was a problem with my ticket and then she got the gate agent lady over there and they were discussing it for a minute and next thing you know, we are out of time and the pilot comes on the speaker and he’s all, we have to push back from the gate right now or we’re going to lose our place in line for departure and—”
“Next!” the postal clerk motions to me.
“Oakley, I have to go …”
“But anyway, I will tell you real quick, here is the absolute best part: they put me in first class—” I can practically hear her grinning through the phone satellites.
“M’am, it’s your turn, may I help you?”
I do the universal “I am giving crucial life-saving instructions to my intern on how to perform the surgery in my absence while I am away from the hospital to run my important errand” sign so the post office clerk knows I am not blowing her off with some lame unimportant and trivial phone call that doesn’t really matter.
“And then I am smack dab right next to Isabella Rossellini!”
That makes two of us.