Soiree on Sunset


If she were to put on that brunette wig she’d look like Gertrude Stein, but instead her long blond curls softly graze her triangular shoulders. She winks at me and mouths the words: “Check your text messages.” I ask her to repeat, just in case. I’ve just met this woman: I doubt she would be asking me to check my text messages, but sure enough, she is. I snap open my gray hand bag. Written in my inbox from Donna: “This woman is stalking me…. Help!!!”

We share an awkward smile as I try to pick out which woman of the plethora of intellectual types that surround her is, well, the stalker.

Is it the woman with silver and black hair and a pointed nose sitting cross-legged on a small chair, or the red headed woman wearing glasses who found out about the screening via Facebook, peering over at Donna and smirking? A man wearing pink socks and leather dress shoes — whose laugh is as equally boisterous as his hand gestures — laughs loudly and sips on the free champagne. Someone pointed out to me he manages Danish movie stars but very well may fit right in at the Mad Hatter Tea Party.

“Do you like it?” Donna fondles the wig as though it’s a precious kitten and peers over at me, counting on my opinion.

“I think it’s lovely.”

Donna smiles, relieved.

Donna’s starring as Gertrude Stein in a play spoken in Spanish in Spain; and then shooting over to Paris to do an independent film where she’ll be speaking French; and then flying to New York where her documentary premieres there … and she’ll be speaking English (although the documentary is mostly Danish).

I’m in awe of this woman who sits across the table from me smoking a Dunhill cigarette. We’ve just watched the humanitarian documentary film she wrote, directed, edited, and starred in. She wears a gray tailored pant suit that shapes her body as though she’s wearing a corset. She’s speaking to her admirers that stand by her side, explaining the importance of “helping others — even if only a little is all we need to do to make a small difference in the world.”

For the first time in a long time I’m finding myself speechless at a party. I’m so in awe of this European blonde power house that my tongue’s at a loss for words, but my feelings couple with shock. I just can’t seem to get over the display of intellectuals ooh-ing and cooing by her side: the famous casting director wearing something reminiscent of a tent, the kind of famous casting director sitting cross-legged and flamboyantly chatting up a storm with several of the handsome men at his table.

“Have you met [famous casting director]?” Donna asks me and exhales off to the side where the full moon adds an eerie glow to the smoke, reminding me we are approaching winter despite the open toed shoes and soft shells worn by so many here at this after party.

Donna takes my hand and introduces me to this famous woman who shakes my hand, but doesn’t look at me.

I heard somewhere once that I can “take what I like and leave the rest.” Although the party seems like a throwback to an “Invite Only” post-Renaissance elite soiree in Paris where Gertrude Stein would in fact show up, I decide to sip my wine and tell Donna how lovely she is, because this woman truly is lovely.

Alice can be reached at

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Tales of a Toluca Lake Actress

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