December 7, 2002
Quietly, slowly, cautiously, I am creeping up the stairs up to the attic door. My
heart is beating violently inside my chest. I am engulfed by fear. Yet an irresistible
force bids me to go on. I place a dainty gloved hand on the door knob and reluctantly
turn it. The poorly oiled door hinges emit a plaintive moan which makes all the
hair on my skin stand up. The attic room inside is dark and menacing. I take one
step forward, then another, until I am fully inside. The door cIoses behind me.
That's when they choose to attack!
Uggghhhh... Birds... Birds everywhere! Their high-pitched shrieks, crying out for
war against the human intruder, pierce my eardrums. The flutter of their wings as
they descend upon me gives me too little time to adequately shield myself... especially
my eyes. It's no use... There are too many against me. Their sharp claws have found
me, and are mercilessly digging through my scalp. Uggghhhhhhhhh.... Help... Helllppppp!!!!!
Just then, I feel a human hand tugging at my sleeve, shaking me, in an effort to
pull me out. But it's no use. I can't seem to move. Their claws are deep inside
now, drawing blood.
--"Naz!" My savior cries out žNaz, are you okay??? Naz!... Naz!!!!"
I finally manage to turn around and see my friend Chloe looking at me with concern.
Suddenly, the birds have disappeared. I am not standing in an attic room. Rather
I am lying in bed, in a strange room that I haven't seen before.
--"Naz, are you okay?" repeats my friend Chloe, žArtie and I heard you
Sheepishly, I manage to whisper:
--"Sorry hon... I think... I was having a nightmare that... I was being attacked
--"You mean... you dreamt you were Tippi Hedren?" Chloe asks with amusement.
She is right! Leave it to me to dream in celluloid! Even my nightmares are not
originals, only reenactments of my favorite films.
--"Yeah... come to think of it... It was exactly like The Birds... I
can still feel their claws digging inside my head."
--"Umm... I think that's just your hang-over Naz."
Chloe and I look at each other and start laughing. But the moment of relief is short-lived.
Sadly, this is not the first time I've had a nightmare involving monstrous creatures
attacking me. I always tend to get these during periods of high stress. These animals
preying on me, whether they are lions, birds, or spiders, represent the problems
in my life, and my vulnerability to them. I have a pretty good idea who this latest
incarnation of evil symbolizes in my life currently: She has green eyes, red hair,
goes by the name žShohreh", and used to be married to my boyfriend.
My boyfriend! Eeessshhhhhh.... Speaking of him, where is he? Where the hell am
I and how did I get here?
I try to get up and find out to my dismay that I am still wearing the black cocktail
dress I had on last night when...Oh it's all coming back to me now...The party in
Bev Hills!!!! Unfortunately, my mind is still groggy. I only remember snippets
of it here and there.
--"Chloe... Do you mind telling me what the...?"
--"Hon!" replies Chloe, žYou were in no shape to drive home last night.
So Artie and I put you up in Frances' old room for the night."
Seeing my face, Chloe sarcastically exclaims:"You're welcome!"
--"No...Chloe...Thank you, I mean it... but ... What is Ali going to say?"
--"Oh him? Don't worry, I talked to him."
--"I think he called you on your cell phone around 3 a.m. At that point, I
believe you had climbed your way up to the chandelier, and were doing a tap number
on the ceiling so...."
--"Please Chloe don't joke around!"
--"Okay, okay, but seriously, you were off somewhere either dancing or singing
or whatever... You certainly looked like you were having the time of your life! So
I just told him I would take care of you and not to worry."
--"What did he say?"
--"Nothing... Just thanked me very politely and hung up."
Arrrggghhhhh.... I am in soooo much trouble!!!
--"Chloe, I've GOT to get out of here, prompto..."
Within a few minutes, I manage to change into my own clothes, and run out the door.
Soon I am on the 405, which is where I should have been last night instead of going
to this stupid party... Oh my god, after everything that Ali told me, about his
past, his fears, his insecurities... What do I do ? I just go and disappear for
the night without so much as a phone call... I have displayed the same flakiness
that he hated so much in... his ex-wife!
Luckily the traffic is light, and I am flooring it, so I manage to get home in about
45 minutes. Unfortunately, Ali is not here. The only sign of his existence is the
faint scent of his Cigar in the air. As much as I hate the smell of stale nicotine,
I love the smell of Ali's brand of Cigars. I like tasting it on his lips, smelling
it on his favorite old sweater.
I look in his study. Papers are scattered all over the floor. The remains of a
cigar are ashing slowly besides his old-fashioned typewriter. With great guilt,
I realize I haven't asked him about his novel in days. I've been too caught up in
my own drama to care about his problems. Suddenly become horrified at my self-centeredness.
Ali's been making all the efforts at patching up our relationship. And I just keep
retreating into my passive-aggressive dungeon.
I call his cell phone but it goes straight into his answering machine. I leave him
a half-stuttering message full of remorse, apologies, and pleas for him to come home.
I go into the bathroom and for the first time, catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
Which is very unlucky for the mirror. I am staring back at the creature from the
swamp. My eyes look like racoons, what with all the mascara and smudged eyeliner
running under them. And half of my face is still marked with the weird patterns
of the blanket I slept on, branding my skin with exotic triangle and circle shapes,
as if I just went through some sort of aboriginal initiation rite. As for my hair,
I am sure a few barnyard animals could be nesting there and I wouldn't notice, so
tangled and messy it has become.
Time to run some hot, steamy water in the bathtub, and fill it my strawberry-kiwi
bath bubbles. The radio is set on classical. Only a few minutes and I am ready
to literally let my hair down.
Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh... The birds have momentarily stopped digging at my brain. Vivaldi's
four seasons is playing faintly in the background. I close my eyes and dip my head
back into the water. My nostrils are drunk with the aromatic scent of exotic fruits.
Hmmm.... Speaking of being drunk, the scenes from last night party's are becoming
clearer in my head.
Last night, Chloe took me to my first ever žIndustry" party here in La-La Land.
It was at her boss' mansion in Bev Hills somewhere. The place was huge, with these
Buckingham Palace type gates around it. When we arrived, the valets were already
swamped with all the guest cars taking over the driveway. Ferrari. Porsche. Lamborguinis.
The valets took one look at my Honda Accord and actually sneered in contempt.
Mr. Piggy's palace was one of those horrendous examples of Hell-Ay architecture,
with influences from every corner of the world imaginable. The grounds surrounding
the place seemed to be a replica from the most ostentatious French chateaux circa
the Sun-King. And while the outside of the house was designed like a Mediterranean
style villa, once inside, it was as if you entered the world of Kama Sutra, what
with all the mosaics, inside fountains, and expensive statues of Hindu Gods and Goddesses
engaged in various carnal rites, illegal in most states.
As soon as you entered, a narrow hallway led you to a dance floor, complete with
DJ booth, a stage fit for a band, and strobe lights. It was essentially a nightclub!
This was not a home. Rather, an entertainment center purchased with the sole purpose
of throwing lavish parties. I didn't see any family pictures anywhere. Rather,
the walls were covered with framed pictures of Mr. Piggy standing next to a wide
array of A-list stars. Which was odd considering that I didn't really recognize
anyone famous at the party itself. Sure there were beautiful women here, looking
like they had just stepped out of the pages of Playboy. Mostly porn stars, and B
movie actresses, Chloe whispered to me. They all looked the same, as if they had
gone to the same boob doctor, and stylist. Live, human-size barbie dolls.
As for the men, there were a few types. First, there were the Suits. These
were studio executives, usually young punks who were full of themselves and liked
to flaunt it. Wearing Prada suits and more gel in their hair than Charlie Sheen
in the mid-80s, they were mostly carrying on conversations on their cells, roaring
with laughter and chomping on expensive Cuban cigars.
Then, there were the Leeches. These were the usual hanger-ons, losers, has-beens
or never-weres, acting as lapdogs to anyone with power. For them, their ambition
did not run further than getting a free meal and fun evening, and gathering more
invitations for the next shin-dig.
That left a few handsome young men, too broke to wear anything above Banana Republic
uniforms, hovering near the bar, ogling the Playmate bunnies. These were young up
and comers, waiting for their big break, mostly acting in soaps, or, gasp, the theater,
which in L.A. is not nearly as prestigious as tending the coffee bar at Fred Segal.
--"Chloe, don't you dare leave me alone... I feel so on the out..." I
hissed to my friend between my teeth while managing to keep a dazzling smile on.
--"Oh, don't worry hon!" Chloe reassured me.
Five minutes later, I was standing alone, cornered by an inebriated Mr. Piggy, while
my friend had disappeared somewhere, in search of an impressionable young director
with a five picture deal at Miramax, who would be willing to cast her in his next
--"Errr... How do you do?" I awkwardly offered to the short, fat man,
panting before me like a pig in front of his trough.
--"Right... You don't look like one of Hef's girls... Are you with Vivid? Or
--"... Ummmm... noooo...."
I took a step back. He took one forward.
--"Honey, I don't know who you are but I like your look... real exotic... Wait,
I know where I've seen you. Weren't you the nurse in Saving Ryan's Privates?"
Couldn't believe this guy! What exactly was he a producer of?
I took two steps backwards. But he just kept getting closer.
We continued like this for a few minutes. He kept insisting he had seen me among
his obviously vast porn collection. Suddenly, the Return of the Attack of the
Killer Tomatos didn't look so bad for resume purposes.
I kept backing up. Three steps back. Then two steps back. But je just kept advancing.
His whiskey-filled breath was starting to suffocate me. I took one more step backwards
but this time I bumped into someone. Before I could turn around and apologize, I
felt myself and the stranger behind me losing our standing. We both fell backwards
and the next thing I knew....
We had fallen into the swimming pool.
For a second, every sound came to a standstill. The band stopped playing, The suits
stopped yapping into their cell phones. The leeches stopped gorging themselves at
the buffet table. Everyone was staring at us.
--"Oh my god... I am so so so so sorry!!!!" I managed to utter to my unfortunate
I was suddenly face to face with a pair of blue eyes, a mop of dirty blonde hair,
and the most engaging smile I had seen all night. The young man floating before
me still had his glass in his hand when he said to me in a charming British accent:
--"No problem, luv! My martini was too dry anyway."
Before I could respond, I heard a loud shriek from the onlookers. Apparently, one
of the bunnies had taken our mishap for some sort of signal. Faster than you could
say žgrotto", she started running towards the diving board, shedding every piece
of her (very little) clothing on the way. She then executed a perfect summersault
in the air before splashing into the water. The band started playing again with
more gusto than before, and before long, the whole party had joined us in the water.
I was mortified. Gavin (that was the name of my cute victim) helped me out of the
swimming pool before Mr. Piggy could grope his way towards me.
That treacherous Chloe finally re-appeared. I could have strangled her but fortunately,
she had the presence of mind to bring towels with which we could dry ourselves.
I was so embarrassed that I wanted to leave right away but Chloe and Gavin pleaded
with me to stay. A couple of Voxx on the Rocks sealed the deal. After that, I vaguely
remember dancing and music, and some more drinking. And next thing I knew, it was
morning and I was not home yet! Ali would never forgive me!
I looked at the clock. An hour had passed and still no phone call from him. He
was obviously giving me the cold shoulder. Screening my calls, I thought, my heart
sinking. Where would all this miscommunication lead us?
After my bath, I felt a whole lot better physically but my mind was worried with
thoughts of Ali's reaction. Where was he? Had he left me for good?
I walked into our bedroom and my heart leaped. There, on my pillow, lay a sheet
of paper folded in two. Ali used to leave me love notes all the time, but this was
the first time since New Year's Eve that I had found one.
I eagerly opened it.
Paris at Night
Naz, do you remember Paris at Night?
I see you there every time I close my eyes.
Your eyes were full of hope, and
Your lips were full of love.
Your face was the moon that lit
The path back to my heart.
I thought I had lost it forever.
Do you remember it Naz ?
Do you remember Paris at Night?
I see you there every time I close my eyes.
I sat down on the floor, leaning against the bed, and reread his words, my eyes
full of tears. I didn't need to close my eyes. Instantly, I was transported back
to last summer, when Ali and I had found our way towards each other in the City of
Lights. It was without a doubt the happiest time of my life. He was right. I was
full of hope then, as I had been all the time with him since.
to think all this time, I worried that we would have a big fight. Instead of being
rightfully mad at me, he had written me this beautiful love note. He was a wonderful
man who was too good for me. I was so stupid to let our relationship be ruined by
my immature actions. I went to the phone to try him again, thinking now that he may
have simply missed my call. At that precise moment, the phone rang. I instantly
knew it was him! Another one of our žNaz/Ali" moments, when our minds were
so in synch and we could predict each other's wishes and thoughts without one word
I picked up the receiver and greeted him lovingly:
There was a second's hesitation before he responded.
Finally, I heard:
--"Ummm... Hello Cherie... I hope I'm not disturbing you... But I thought we
needed to talk..."
I froze. The voice on the other line was Shohreh's.
TO BE CONTINUED.