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Friday, April 24, 2009


Today, the final installment of the insane, unpublished, unrevised notes of grad school me working in Las Vegas. Tomorrow, I will be back answering YOUR QUESTIONS.


This part of the story is really the most embarrassing, where I became someone I did not know. I don’t know what did it. The exhaustion. Low blood sugar. Just being around someone with his own television show . . .

I returned to my table. The pyrotechnics guy had tried to claim my seat in my absence, and to add insult to injury—he was eating a sandwich.

“Out,” I said, pointing at the chair and the little red light that I took my orders from. “I push button. I get pellet.”



He got up, and the aroma of sandwich lingered in his wake. Some crazy music was playing. I looked at the monitor and watched the dancers in the tubey things doing some kind of impossible snake dance. I put on my headset and listened to my boss deliver a steady string of explicatives as he tried to light it without having the slightest clue what they were doing or when it would end.

I was disgusted with myself, posing for that stupid picture. There was nothing THAT wrong with it, but just being around all those people who were selling these medications for so much money, congratulating themselves. And I was so ABOVE getting all crazy about [the famous comedian]. I resolved to be as aloof as possible when his keeper finally let him come backstage.

He did come, just a few minutes later. I could just make out his figure standing across the way, politely talking to some guy who probably worked for us now. A woman had joined us—a nasty, icy piece of work who managed the dancers. She’d been sniping at people since she arrived and lurked over our shoulders. I gave her a “bug off” look and she gave me a “I haven’t eaten a full meal in 15 years and I pull hair” look back.


I whacked the com button on my headset.


“Is [the famous comedian] back there?”

“Yeah, he’s there.”

“Go tell him he has five minutes.”

Oh GREAT. GREAT. Now I had to go talk to the man again. His keeper would try to shove me aside and he and I would have another awkward moment together.

Aloof, I told myself. Go tell the man five minutes.

So I went up to him, and his keeper tried to block me. I stepped around her and told him he had five minutes, and he very politely said thank you. He talked to me a little bit, even though I could see this annoyed his little minion. I liked that.

I went back to my seat to get my headset to listen for further instructions. Some nervous looking guy in a suit that I had just seen in the back room was floating around, wringing his hands nervously. Obviously, he had to make sure things Went Right, considering he’d just hired [the famous comedian]. I nodded, indicating that we were professionals and On Top Of It. He nodded back his thanks.

Finally, the dancers finished whatever it was they were doing and slithered offstage, one by one.

“Would you just go!” my boss was screaming, largely to himself. “GET OFF THE STAGE. Maureen! They left some kind of crap all over the stage! GET IT OFF!”

I took off the headset and went on to the stage, while my boss made some swirly transitional light effects and the idiot announcer with the book he didn’t write said some announcer things. The dancers had shed some little bits of tubing, and I gathered them up, along with the guy in the suit. (Who was probably a VP of sales or something.) He took his off, and I was just finishing up, when suit guy ran back to me with a pint of bottled water in each hand.

“These are warm!” he screeched, shoving them into my hands. I stood there for a moment, unable to respond.

“They’re warm!” he repeated. “WARM!”

Frenzy is a catchy thing. One moment, I was just a person who didn’t really like [the famous person] very much, standing backstage at a sales conference in Vegas. In the next, I was a person on a stage in front of hundreds of people, devastated by the thought that I was somehow party to the fact that [the famous person] was about to be given warm water. This fact tore this man and I to pieces. We obviously had to do something. I took the bottles from him and pushed my way through the glut of people waiting around the stairs to get on stage, including the dancers covered in the copper tubing and the president of the pharmaceutical company.

(“They’re warm,” I said to the latter, holding up the bottles. He nodded nervously, as if he knew that I had done the right thing by pushing him aside. We all seemed to understand the nature of this emergency at once.)

I dove for the vat of ice on the refreshment table and plucked out two cold waters and ran back up the stairs. As I tried to get on stage, however, the nasty dance lady grabbed me by the arm.

“Where do you think you are going with those?”

“Get your hand off of me,” I snapped.

“Those waters are for my dancers.”

“Your dancers are finished,” I said, “and that water is for all the speakers and performers. Now get your hand off of me.”

She didn’t, so I pulled my arm from her grasp. Another backstage staff member shoved her from behind. I gave him the thumbs-up and made for the stage.

“It’s okay, really,” [the famous person] was saying.

Obviously, the man had also run up to the PA and given her the same message of warning, for she too was running for the stage, having obtained two bottles of water from somewhere out in the dining area. Meanwhile, the man himself had gotten some water. Observers were treated to the sight of three of us all running from different corners, all carrying two small bottles of water, all heading towards one small, rounded stool sitting center stage. The PA got there first and left her two bottles. The man and I reached the stool at the same time and considered the situation quickly. There was almost no room left on the slopped, padded surface, but we had run like hell with our two bottles each and we were going to look pretty stupid if we didn’t do something with them. We looked at each other. We each left one bottle, which overcrowded the stool, causing the four bottles to slide. We ran before they all fell.

I was finished by this point. I could have sat back and watched the show. But I missed [the famous person’s] entire act because I was stalking the back halls looking for the dance lady. I had no plan. I just wanted to run into her and DO SOMETHING. The days of no sleep, the constantly jangled nerves, the fact that you could pick up the phone and get tigers, or explosives, or fog, or fifty cars . . . it had CHANGED me. Now I was the kind of person who stalked back hallways with a headset on, trying to start physical fights with circus folk . . .

The account trails off at this point. The only thing I really remember is that I went outside for the first time the whole week . . . walked out to the crazy, pumping strip in the middle of the desert . . . and it rained. It NEVER rains in Vegas. But it rained that night. The streets flooded and people ran for cover and lightening cracked. I finally had some food, but I was so hungry, I didn’t want it anymore.

My boss came and sat next to me, smoking nervously. I’d had little sleep. He’d had none.

“Hey,” he said, twitching like a bug, “you did okay. We have a gig in L.A. in a few weeks. Wanna come? It’ll be easy. Easy. I promise.”

I stared at him over my sandwich.

“Yeah,” I said. “Sure. Why not? I’ll go . . .”

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Blogger delightfully mediocre said...

You WENT? (I just made one of these faces: o.O )

8:59 AM  
Blogger Hollishillis said...

haha oh maureen. this sounds so awful. I'm sorry. Hilarious to read though. I felt your desperation.

p.s. just ordered the paperback of scarlett!

9:09 AM  
Blogger Marvelous Maggie said...

I wish you would have found that circus lady. I feel like you are one of those people that could kick some serious a--. For real though.

And have you ever noticed that all your diaries trail off or mysteriously cut off? YOU ALWAYS LEAVE US HANGING. BUT! I like that.

By the way, one of my BEDA Buddies' comments is above me. Hello, Holly!


9:18 AM  
Blogger Candace said...

Two words: trapeze school.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Mush said...

I actually laughed out loud - and I'm at work :) Thanks, Maureen. Great story.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does this mean we'll see the L.A. diaries one of these days? Or were there no exciting stories from that?

And to think, now you'll be one of those "circus people" after trapeze school :-p Congrats, BTW, b/c last time I checked you were at #442.

2:43 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Noud said...

You made me feel so much better about my crappy job!

And I have to add that I would be really disappointed if you did not go to trapeze school. Trust me - it's fun!

4:28 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

trapeze school

With that said, was it carrot top? It's really bugging me that I don't know who [famous performer] is.

Oh and one more thing, TRAPEZE SCHOOL.

4:40 PM  

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