Back in 2008, I was new to Los Angeles, the people and the vibes surrounding them. Although I was anticipating great changes, I managed to keep my mind calm and my heart open to new experiences. However, never in a million years had I thought my life would take such a interesting turn.
Here I was, in Los Angeles – the city where life happens. I had every opportunity at my fingertips. Little did I know at that moment that I was about to embark on one of the events that would cascade into a series of events that would change my life.
Standing in the middle of a hotel lobby, my mouth slightly open with awe over my surroundings, I could only imagine what I might have looked like to a stranger walking by. But I could not help it. This grand hotel, although somewhat intimidating, held promise – promise of something big; something that could change a life for the better.
While lost in thought, admiring the sheer beauty of the lobby and the elegantly-dressed people roaming it, I was snapped back to reality as I noticed an older woman making her way towards me.
She approached me and with a slight smile, and said, “You are so beautiful, Are you attending the Oscars?”
Baffled by her unusual question, I made a quick calculation and concluded that the Oscars was a mere few days away. Why would she be asking me, a random stranger, such a question?
“No, I am not attending.” I said politely.
“Well then, would you like to go to the Oscars with me?” the woman asked sincerely.
Not believing my ears but also not wanting to pass up such a huge opportunity, I asked her why she would invite me, “oh I have a spare ticket my love and you are so beautiful, i’d love for you to join me and my friends” curiosity and intrigue got the better of me and soon after we made our way to the polo lounge and had a cup of tea together, I found myself agreeing to go on this unusual adventure.
“Meet me here at this exact same spot the night before the Oscars. We would need to attend the pre-event as well to get into the swing of things.”
She kissed me French style of each cheek and breezed away out of the hotel lobby. I could hardly contain my excitement! It felt as if my chest might explode with all the possibilities that now lay bare at my feet. I was going to the Oscars and I would have the opportunity to not only be in the same room as some of the world’s best actors and actresses but I would actually get to socialize with them!
I decided to wear one of the prettiest dresses I owned – a black silk dress that accentuated my curves at all the right spots. I also made sure my hair and makeup was done flawlessly so I would be able to blend in with the professionals. My smile must have spread right across my face as I imagined the people I might get to meet and experience that lay ahead of me.
As agreed, the older woman was waiting for me at the hotel lobby the night before the Oscars, Giving me a slight smile, she motioned that we needed to leave the building and make one stop before we head to the party. We picked up a friend of hers - a large, well-dressed man. Giving him a slight hug and kiss on the cheek, I noticed her giving him a sly smile. I wondered if they might be a couple… Without wasting much time, we proceeded to the Beverly Hills hotel.
As we got out of the car, I noticed it was getting dark pretty quickly. I was readying myself to go through the front door of the hotel but instead, the woman and her friend signaled me to follow them to the back gate. I found this rather odd as any event would have the front doors open and secure for guests to enter and exit as they wish. I could imagine walking down a red carpet, cameras flashing and people cueing to get someones autograph…
But instead, I decided to follow the couple as we continued walking through a few side gates.
“Where are we going?” I started feeling a little nervous.
Instantly stopping, the older woman twirled around, put her finger to her lips and whispered. “Shhh…”
Finding her actions a little startling, I pulled back but the woman grabbed my arm. I could feel her nails biting into my flesh. It was at that moment I realized that her intentions were not as sincere as I’d hoped.
“Hey, let go of me!” I said, louder this time.
The woman started tugging at me to continue following them. For the size of her, she was quite strong as she continued dragging me behind her.
“Let go!” I tried one more time.
The woman just ignored me and kept tugging at my arm to follow them. Knowing I had to get away from the couple, I found a clearing behind one of the gates and darted down that path.
I was surrounded by darkness at this point and that made it hard for the couple to see or follow me. Once I was sure they were out of sight, I continued walking down the path. That was truly a narrow escape! Whatever those two were planning, I wanted no part of it.
Not far ahead, I noticed a table with the flickering light of a candle on it. Deciding to investigate, I headed that way.
As I approached the table, I saw a man, looking a lot like James Bond, standing beside it. He seemed lost in thought. He was tall and very good-looking. His black tuxedo and spotless black shoes spoke of elegance and importance.
Feeling a little intimidated by him but in desperate need of something to calm me down, I decided to approach the man.
“Do you have a light?” I asked, wanting a lighter for the cigarette I was about to devour.
Pulling a lighter from his pocket, I lit it so I could bring life to my cigarette.
“I like your British accent.” The man commented.
A few seconds later, his phone rang and as he answered, I heard him saying, “Hello Mom.”
It almost sounded funny for such a huge man talking in such a loving manner to his mother. Trying to recover from the close encounter with danger I had just escaped from, I started shaking. Taking another huge inhale of the nicotine, I could feel myself relaxing a little and I went to sit on a secluded table.
Once the man finished his phone conversation, he walked over to where I was seated.
“Are you attending the party upstairs?” he asked.
I laughed. “No, I am not.” I looked away and sighed.
A little hesitantly, he asked, “Would you like to come with me?”
I looked up to see the man pull two golden tickets from his pocket. For a split second, I imagined a scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Could I be this lucky- was this for real?
“My name is Louie. My job is to escort Don Cheadle down the red carpet for this event. But, in true Don style, he decided that he wanted to turn in early and would not be attending the party. Very last minute, I know, so here I am.”
“Can you can come in his place?” Louie asked me again. “I really want to go to the party, but I don’t want to go alone.”
For a split second, I thought that this might be too good to be true. Would someone this important really ask me to accompany them to such an elite party?
I hesitated for a few moments
“Ok, I’ll go with you,” I said as I looked into his big hopeful brown eyes.
He linked his arm with mine and together we headed toward the front entrance. As we began ascending the winding stairs, I couldn’t believe my luck! Here I was, sidestepping possible danger, to still have the chance to attend such an amazing event.
Armed with my golden ticket, I breezed through security and was able to move onto the main section of the hotel where the event was taking place. I was also given a Zip drive to insert into a machine. The screen flashed that I had just won a home computer system and I needed to phone a specified number to following day to claim my prize.
Louie motioned me over to a booth with a selection of free gifts. These gifts were not your ordinary complimentary scent sample or hairpins. What I found there left me gob smacked. My eyes settled on free gifts which included diamond encrusted converse sneakers and personalized crystal lipsticks. You name it; it was all there to be taken as free gifts.
We moved towards the curtains that parted as we neared it. It felt like a first-class scene on an airplane. Before I could hesitate, Louie led me into the party room. I was amazed at the sheer beauty of the décor. Fairy lights dazzled the entire room; almost as if we were transported right onto the pages of a fairytale book.
The room wasn’t that busy but with all the familiar faces, the room might have been filled to the brim with celebrities.
Ben Stiller and Cameron Diaz were standing in front of me while casually laughing and drinking cocktails. She was tall and elegant and he seemed genuine and happy. Cameron’s red dress didn’t have a single crease on it and Ben’s tux had a hint of red on it to blend well with his date’s dress.
As my eyes scanned the room, I found a whole lot of familiar faces. It seemed like I was the only non-celebrity attending the party.
As fate would have it, Orlando bloom, George Clooney and Christian Slater were standing near a huge painting; parentally inspecting it and commenting on the artist’s taste and line work. I spotted Harrison Ford taking a sip of his drink and motioning someone to join him from across the room. P Daddy, in all his glory, was talking to two young ladies that seemed to hang onto every word he was saying. I also spotted Wolfgang Puck running around while making spot-checks on the food quality.
“Do you want another drink?” Louie asked, pointing at an elegantly dressed waiter walking across the room with at least a dozen drinks on a golden platter.
I nodded as Louie got us two drinks from the platter as the waiter walked past. The sweet fizziness of the champagne made me feel like I was floating on a cloud. This wasn’t just any regular champagne. It had to be imported and very expensive. After all, celebrities were only used to the best of everything.
Funny enough, when I saw Steven Spielberg, I suddenly started feeling nervous. I would give anything to talk to him but the sheer notion of talking to such a famous person almost made me panic. As I looked at him and the people surrounding him, I could see other people seemed to feel the same way about him as I did. One could almost say he had a magical glow around him!
Moving through the party room, we went into the tent outside and I was encouraged to have Jack Daniels shots with Orlando Bloom and Billy Baldwin, who both knew Louie. Robert Downey Jr. was laughing and talking with our group as well. Robert was wearing a hat and kept his head down, but was super friendly when he finally opened up.
I was amazed at how openly these celebrities talked about their families, their lives and their current work projects. Billy Baldwin spent a good amount of time telling me how much he loved his daughters. For him, spending time with them was the only thing that kept him calm and relaxed. He told me that most of his inspiration stemmed from his children, thus if it were not for them, he would not have been as successful as he was now.
Harrison Ford was such a gentleman and when Louie saw him, he motioned me over because he would be walking him down the red carpet at the Oscars the next day. As Louie and Harrison started talking business, Harrison noticed that I was feeling a little out of my element.
“So, who might this beautiful lady be and to what do I owe this pleasure?” Harrison turned his attention to me.
I laughed nervously and told him a little about myself. I found Harrison very friendly and down-to-earth. Before he started talking to me, I found him rather tall and commanding but once I started talking to him, I got a great vibe from him.
Louie and I, together with a large group of celebrities, laughed all night a little like school kids, as we played a game to see who could kiss the cheek of the most guests. Overall, the party was a raging success.
I woke up the next morning with a hangover. The previous night carried with it the reminder that too much alcohol wasn’t a good thing but I would not exchange the events of the night for anything at all. As I got up, I found the morning paper on the kitchen table and decided to take a look at what was going on in the world.
On the front page, I saw a photo of the couple that initially asked me to go with them to the party. From the picture, it was clear they were not too happy and seemed angry. I gasped as I read the headline “LA’s first arrest for party crashers”.
I inwardly thanked my stars that I had decided to move away from that couple and go with Louie instead. How life can change in one night, I thought to myself, looking at the diamond covered Converse sneakers that lay beside my bed.