2nd group of excerpts from "Dreams Don't Die"
|November, 1994 "Eye Of The Storm"
Pedro toppled over the edge, plodding through the streets after me the other evening, barefoot and stoned out of his skull. I fled him for several blocks, banging on doors begging strangers for help. Finally someone let me in and called police. He disappeared before they arrived.
It was Ian who rushed to my rescue, leaving Manhattan and a nights commitments with the record company to personally drive the three hours out to Montauk to collect me.
We left under guise of night-in Pedro's temporary absence, piling my essential belongings into the back of Ian's car.
"Everything will be alright", he comforted, one arm wrapped around my shoulder as we drove off and onto the highway heading west. "You'll come live with me." Still, I sobbed all the way back to his place, fearing Pedro, fearing the man he'd become and mourning the man he used to be.
He's been calling Ian's house for three days now, begging to speak to me, begging me to come back to him, promising the sun, moon and stars.
"I just signed up for a treatment program", he cried, leaving the message on the answering machine. "Give me another chance, Mel. Don't I deserve another chance to be a father?"
"A hell of a father he'd make!", Ian remarked. He sat beside me on the bed. "I don't know what you were thinking getting involved with that loser." He ever so gently touched my slightly bulging abdomen, and whispered. "I wish it were my baby. We could say it is, you know. At least I could assure you would both be taken care of." Ian's love was never so obvious, his concern so complete, his devotion undeniable. Here I am pregnant with another man's child and still he embraced me. Is it any wonder I adore him?
I wept in his arms.
"Whatever would I do without you?"
I finally picked up the phone. Pedro was a mess.
[A LOT OF TEXT TO BE FILLED IN HERE]
"I wash my hands of you!", Ian dismissed, slamming the door.
"Please!", I pleaded, on the porch. "Try to understand. I'm carrying his baby!" Was this reaffirmation supposed to help my cause?
"You're a fool!", Ian exclaimed, emerging with my suitcase, which he tossed into his trunk. "Who's done more for you, Mel? Tell me!" I reached for him, refused. "You made your decision! You prefer to torture yourself!"
"Get in!", he commanded. "I said, get in! I'm driving you back!"
"I'm trying to protect you!" I had decided I had to spare Ian a potential paternity scandal. Pedro wouldn't go quietly away. He would have used his intimate association with me to attempt to ruin the star. But there was the underlying fact that Ian isn't the baby's father. Wish, pray and pretend as we might, he simply isn't. I couldn't let him assume a responsibility that wasn't his.
"As if an old has-been drug addict is any threat to me!", he grumbled. He wouldn't listen to any more, driving like a man possessed. Driving me back in the rain-back into the eye of the storm....
"Just Paint A Target On My Ass"
APRIL FOOLS DAY:
I so had it coming to me. I'd taped the kitchen tap to spray people in the face when they turned on the faucet; I saran wrapped the toilet. I'd placed half a dozen small pressure sensitive fire crackers beneath the area rug (I didn't know Dad could jump that high) and rigged the water temperature regulator to deliver freezing cold showers. I'd loosened the seams of my sister's favorite dress and she all but walked out of it at a party. Oh, I was dead meat walking.
I knew something was amiss the moment I walked in and found my favorite stuffed frog strung up with a belt and dangling from the ceiling fan. Around and around he sailed. I pushed up my sleeves and went in search of battle fatigues.
"This is war", I swore.
I underestimated my competition. Friends and family had banded together to plot against me and their combined wit had me tangled in trip wires and tipping buckets of ice water. They replaced my hairspray with vinegar and tainted my creme rouge with red shoe polish before a big date. They filled the cookie tin with vanilla-wafer looking dog treats-which I didn't think half bad at first-dunked in what I mistook for milk. (Don't ask. It's too disgusting.)The cout de gras-and I could hardly believe Mom was behind it-was the telephone glopped with an entire container of petroleum jelly. The phone rang, and when I picked it up and put it to my ear, there it adhered-a sticky, greasy, hair-mangled mess. The entire house was in stitches, stumbling out of their hiding places, Dad with his camera ready to capture this Kodak moment.
And so I looked at my family and dearest friends, standing before me with tears in their eyes-and Vaseline-vinegar-shoe polish-biscuit-crumb-covered I threatened to kiss every last one of them.
"Hey, where's everybody going so fast?", I laughed. "Let me share the love!"
Does anyone out there have any idea how to get this!@$^% off?
April, 1990 "The Show Goes On"
Tonight was the second night of the tour. Mr. Lanier called me mid-afternoon to tell me not to bother getting ready because he was replacing me with another artist for the night. Disappointed, I notified everyone and settled on an easy evening of watching TV. Two hours later, I received a second phone call.
"Get down here as soon as possible!", Mark instructed, getting right to the point. "You're on!" With a mouthful of potato chips, miss-matching sweats and a dust-mop for a hair do, I was hardly presentable. I made another round of calls and jumped into the shower. I warmed up my voice while slapping on my makeup, squeezed into my outfit and inhaled a plate of spaghetti.
Mom, my sister *Tanya and I climbed into the car and began the hour-long trek into Queens, picking up Anne and Karlene on the way... (Dad refused to join us, because the last club owner had the gall to charge him admission even though they knew he was my father.)
When we arrived, Mr. Lanier was nowhere in sight. In fact, the place was empty but for the bartender. When I stepped back outside to re-check the address, I noticed the cardboard sign taped to the door.
[TOUR CANCELLED DUE TO BUS ACCIDENT]
I rushed back inside and phoned the deejay. He informed me that the tour bus had crashed and one of the headlining bands, "Frick and Frack" were hospitalized!
Mr. Lanier had been unable to reach those already in transit-Troop (whose given name is John), Andreus and myself.
"What a nightmare!", I muttered. It was nearing the scheduled show-time and the tavern had by then begun filling up with guests. What was I to do? I recalled Mark's words of opening night: The show must go on... I couldn't help the girls-who seem to be suffering through the worst streak of bad luck in the history of a professional tour-but I could salvage something of the evening for the fans that'd already spent the money and taken the time to be there. "We'd like to perform anyway, if you don't mind", I offered Rennie, the deejay.
"We'll have to discuss payment", he mentioned. Payment? I'd understood this to be a promotional appearance for me, anyway.
"Don't worry about it-", I refused. "We're already here. There's no reason we can't give the people some music."
Rennie met us in less than a half hour. By then, the neon-lit pub housed several hundred twenty-something's.
"I never showered so fast in my life!", he panted, running in. "Let's get this thing going!"
When Troop 1 and Andreus strolled in, they too, were alarmed to hear of the tragedy. They settled down beside me at the tiny round table nearest the platform. Andreus had just received word that while on their concurrent European tour, "Public Enemy" had seen fit to toss out one of its main members.
"They actually did it?!", Troop exclaimed. "I didn't think they'd really do it!"
"And the accident tonight--", Andreus agreed, nodding his head. "That's some crazy sh-t." He turned to me. "You sign with Mark yet?"
"I'm still trying to find an entertainment attorney I can afford", I confessed. "And I don't want to sign anything until I know exactly what I'm getting into."
"Copy this number down-", he commanded. I scribbled on a napkin. "This is our lawyer. Talk to him. He looks out for the crew and he'll look out for you." The two men spent the next few minutes reluctantly signing autographs, as I looked on, fascinated.
"Turn around!", Troop laughed. "You're staring at me!" He seemed uncomfortable, even annoyed by the attention paid him.
From atop the deejay booth, Rennie introduced me. Anne, Carlene and I leapt forward, turning to face the audience. The music began, and we pumped out the performance of a lifetime. I was surprised that some knew the words, and were belting them out with me. We were absolutely soaring-the adrenaline pumping, the drums pounding-our now sweaty bodies moving in perfect sync...I could barely breathe by the end-gasping, but glowing.
We were mobbed at the door when we attempted to leave. Rennie called from across the room.
"So, did you have fun?"
"YES!", we rejoiced, waving goodbye. "YES!"
September, 1989 "Love Under Glass"
Though dramatic, it's not that I couldn't land myself a man before undergoing this transformation. I've had my share of boyfriends-a steady stream of unlikely relationships.
First there was Patrick. I was 14. He was 16. We'd met at the local roller rink when we quite literally collided. Perhaps it was due to an undiagnosed head injury but when the dust settled, he told me he thought I was cute and asked me out.
Pat gave me my first French kiss, and I threw up afterwards.
"That's disgusting!", I gagged. "Why would anyone want to do that?" An innocent young thing I was and he was intent on teaching me the art of making love. (As I look back I think it's funny that this inexperienced teen thought himself an expert on the subject.) My father overheard a rather provocative phone conversation we were having one evening, and determined to make sure he got no further than that initial kiss.
"You want to do WHAT to my daughter?!", he shrieked, on the extension. "I don't THINK so!"
Although we'd been subsequently forbidden from seeing one-another, Pat and I planned to meet secretly one afternoon while my parents were out of town and my sister was at a friends house for the day. Time was of the essence and so Pat biked over, following a route that took him across the highway. On his way, poor Patrick was struck by a car and critically injured. I was devastated to learn of the accident but it was a week before I could arrange to see him in the hospital. I scarcely knew him, buried beneath the wrappings of a full body cast.
"You know", he said-murmuring through plaster and wire, "When I said I'd die for you, I really didn't mean it."
I was briefly involved with Chris, the delicious quarterback of our schools rival football team. (We'd met in church and yes, it WAS a miracle. His interest in mediocre me baffled not only me but many of our peers. He ultimately ditched me for a more popular cheerleader.)
Then there was Notorious Nick. After several enjoyable dates he stood me up. I griped to my sister *Tanya that he'd better have a good excuse. Well, imagine my horror when I sat down to watch the television news that evening and there was footage of my seemingly sweet seventeen year old lover being dragged away in handcuffs by police. He'd been arrested in connection with the robbery and murder of a local security guard!
"That's a pretty good excuse", my sister remarked, as I leapt from my chair aghast. I couldn't believe this was the same dark-haired Romeo who had written me pages of passionate prose, cut class to make out with me in the school's janitorial closet, and professed his love from the buildings rooftop one afternoon (to the alarm and astonishment of both students and faculty). I NEVER would have thought him capable of anything like this. Dubbed "The Long Island Breakfast Club Incident", it was national, perhaps even international news. I felt I had no other acceptable option but to break it off with him immediately. He was angry initially but soon decided on concentrating on the more important matter of avoiding prison.
There was Mike the blonde-haired race car driver, who liked his cars fast and his women restrained. He pinned me to the kitchen table, the pool table, the edge of the pool. I felt like the poor little mouse in that great classic "Of Mice and men"-loved, smothered, almost to death. He'd once ever so seductively duct-taped me to a chair in my room.
"Is this supposed to be turning me on?", I said, growing more and more uncomfortable. He licked my ear. "MOM!" And so he then He freed me with his teeth.
I once briefly dated singer Debbie Gibson's ex, a brilliantly talented keyboardist who later signed with MCA/Mechanic records. We met RIGHT after they broke up and he was so obviously still in love with her. He went on and on about her until I rather rudely told him off. (Sorry about that but let's face it. We both knew I couldn't compete with Debbie Gibson.)
Edwin was perhaps the only man my father ever wholeheartedly approved of. (Until I married my husband, whenever I complained about a failed romance, Dad reminded me, "You could have had Edwin. If you'd married him you wouldn't have had a care in the world for the rest of your life." Well-bred and well-groomed, he is a true member of the Spanish aristocracy. The eldest son in an extremely wealthy family residing in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, his has been a life of privilege-Mansions and Mazzarratis, servants and security, boats and jets with all the bells and whistles. He arrived on our shores at the tender age of 15, to obtain an American education while working in his uncle's crystal and jewelry business. We'd met only weeks later. He knew little English. I knew even less Spanish, and so we communicated in a strange mix of the two. We soon realized that what was most important could be quite clearly conveyed in our eyes. Our friendship flourished and we remain close to this day. A talented athlete, he is now a member of the American Tennis Federation and is awaiting a sponsor.
Last year I met television soap opera star *Michael Laino at a "hot bodies" contest my friend Laurie was competing in. I sat watching from the sidelines, rooting her on, while he sat nearby judging the event. The last thing I ever expected was Michael's voice suddenly whispering in my ear.
"Why aren't you in this?" he opened.
"Me?" I gasped, stunned by the question, as stunned by the inquirer. "They have laws protecting the public from things like that!" And he laughed.
"I'm Michael", he smiled, extending his hand.
"Yes, I know", I responded, impressed. "I'm a fan."
"What's your name?" I was so flabbergasted I actually had to think about it.
"M...Melody", I stuttered.
"I've heard of a Melody", he mused, "A local singer."
"That would be me", I giggled.
Our conversation continued at one of the nearby tables.
"I'm going out of town", he said, gazing into my eyes. "But I'd really like to stay in touch."
Now, this was when it got both glorious and impossible. Just as he took my face in his hands and leaned in to kiss me his agent appeared and yanked him away by the shoulder.
"Keep your mind on business!", he instructed. "Come on, it's time to go. You have a flight in the morning!"
"Wait!", he halted, snatching a napkin and pencil off the bar. "What's your number?" I repeated it twice but he couldn't hear me over the music. His agent-in true party-pooper form-prodded him outside. And he was gone.... gone like a thief in the night, with my heart and only half my phone number.
"I'll never see him again", I feared, moping. (Well, I can see him onscreen every afternoon seducing an assortment of other blondes.)
"There are other fish in the sea", Laurie tried to comfort me.
"Yeah, but who wants to date a FISH?"
September, 1990 "Pills R Us"
I'm trying yet another medication regimen, hoping for better results.
"How many pills do they want you to take?" Angela worried.
"Three different kinds", I replied, rattling the bottles. "Two of each." An assortment of colors, shapes and sizes, they were almost pretty-almost, but not quite.
"Why do you need them all?" she muttered, shaking her head. "You're normal!" In most ways, yes. Sadness and anxiety are a part of life. I don't expect to be doing cartwheels, but I'd like to be doing something and my ocd interferes with everything from the way I eat to the way I struggle to exit a room. Back and forth. To and Fro. Up and down, spin yourself around. It's some sick children's game I can't win. It's annoying as hell.
"They're going to turn me into a zombie", I sighed. "A more acceptable zombie." I turned to Angela. "Are you crying?"
"No", she sniffled.
"I'm going to stick around, Ang", I comforted.
"Taking all those drugs...", she agonized. "ANYTHING could happen!" Maybe just maybe-good will happen. What other choice do I have but to keep trying?
September 7, 1991
Okay, this drug was different. I didn't stare at the ceiling. I slept. I just slept and slept and slept like I haven't slept since I graduated from diapers. I can't function on drugs. I can't function off of them, but I'm done with them for now. God, how I wish I could just tap my heels three times and return to myself....
I want to sing again.
January, 1991 "Hell"
I once again became dangerously underweight. I'm surviving, slowly gaining weight. This is partly because I've forced myself to eat, partly because I'm no longer able to vomit on demand. When I can, it is with considerable pain. My face is now pale and blemished. There are dark circles beneath both eyes. Overgrown bangs hang limply in my face, once naturally long, glamorous nails are now torn. My hands are chapped and bleeding, one finger so badly it's infected. I remain at home, lost in a pair of baggy sweats, unable to amuse myself with the same routine day after night after day after night... Dad, for all of his occasionally harsh words stared so tenderly, so sadly at me this evening, tears in his blue Irish eyes. He doesn't know what to do about me. And I don't know what to do about me and this whole situation is scaring the shit out of all of us.
My sister accuses me of "staging this performance" for attention. I get enough attention these days. Right now I want to slip out of sight.
Help Me, Jesus....
August 19, 1990 "Summer"
It's a glorious day! I learned I made the semi-final round of Long Island's Teen Talent Competition, and Mr. Lanier tells me EMI has expressed interest in a possible album deal! Thrilled with my new material, he had me play one particular song over the phone to him half a dozen times-the both of us shrieking with excitement.
"That's the one!", he exclaimed. "That's the one that's going to make you famous!"
This afternoon I lie outside under blue skies in the almost blinding brightness of the late summer sun and daydreaming...I am thoroughly intoxicated by the sweet lure of professional success.
August 14, 1990
The Teen Talent Competition coordinators called.
"Congratulations!", they announced. "You made the showcase!" I thanked them calmly, but as soon as I'd replaced the phone, I was shouting for joy. I met my mother in the hall, tears in her blue eyes.
"I MADE IT! I MADE IT!"
"I heard!", she laughed, embracing me.
"I had a feeling you were gonna do it this time", Debbie simpered.
"Newsday" published two full pages naming the twelve winners, but anyone who might have missed them couldn't have avoided my father. He's called everyone I've ever known in creation with the news, thanking Dino and Joe from church, for all they've taught me. I couldn't do a thing without all the support.
1993 "The Mother Of Mornings After"
While I'll never truly get used to the attention I receive from men these days, I am most astounded by the women who have sought my company. While I admit to being genuinely flattered by the interest, I have thus far fled from such advances like chicken shit in the wind. Being that my life seems a series of stranger-than-fiction occurrences, last night shouldn't have surprised me.
Diane is a good friend who lives only down the block. I thought nothing of spending the night over her apartment when my room was painted and still too fumy to tolerate.
In her boyfriends absence, she offered me the spare side of the double bed, which-as sloshed and sleepy as I was after being out at a party-I accepted. I was out the moment my head hit the pillow.
Two hours later, I was awakened, nearly bounced onto the floor.
"What the hey-", I murmured. There she and Eric were, going at it like a pair of pumas beside me. Where did he come from and when did the acrobatics begin? Before I could creep away, the two tried to draft me into the action. Diane slinkered over and spoke, her lips parted and nearing mine.
"Join us?", she invited.
"What?" I responded. "You can't be serious!" She was indeed, leaning in to kiss me. "Hey! Stop that!" She stared at me with disappointment, her blonde hair falling about her shoulders and bare breasts. I sat there like Bambi in headlights. Appalled. Aghast. Slightly and unexpectedly intrigued. She was somehow beautiful in her momentary misery, her blue eyes filled with hunger I usually reserve for French fries after a fast.
"Aren't you even the least bit curious?", she tempted, lunging towards me.
"No, no, no!", I protested, scared out of my wits. I thrust her out of the way and ran for the living room. I lay in there for a moment, my pulse racing, body and mind confused.
Fast forward to four hours later, when I awakened for a second time, upon the couch. In my hazy state I assumed I was at home, and spooning me Ian, his strong hands in mine.
"Hey, sweetheart", I smiled. "Sleep well?"
"When I did", she yawned. She?! I leapt up with a scream, and scrambled to my feet.
"What happened?!", I demanded, standing over Diane.
"What do you think?" she mumbled, still drowsy.
"I don't remember!", I admitted. All I could recall doing was fending her off and sleeping. But there she was, snoring beside me. Living, breathing evidence. What had I done? Oh, Man of La Mancha, I feared. I'm going to hell.
I went into the bathroom to think, to plot, to plan my way out of this misconstrued Menage a trois. I imagined Chastity Bono and her legions of lesbians, carrying me out on their shoulders.
"You've got the wrong girl!", I cried. "You've made a terrible mistake! I like men! I love Ian!!" I bent over and heaved. Too many wine coolers. Too many fuzzy images shuffling around in my head. Too many horrifying possibilities. I decided to question Eric, but he had already vacated the premises. Without as much as a goodbye I too departed, quietly and out the back-praying all the way....
Three days later:
I was heading out the door when I saw Diane approaching.
"Oh shit!", I panicked, scrambling back in. Where to hide? I considered the closet. Nail the door shut, dammit.
"Mel!", she called. I peered through keyhole. Go away. Go away you naughty thing before I have to spend yet another Saturday afternoon in confession. "I know you're home. I just saw you on the steps. Why are you avoiding me?" I suppose I owed her an explanation, if only for the r hastiness of my exit the other day. I turned the handle and let her in.
"So, how do you feel?" she asked.
"About what?" I responded, immediately defensive. "Am I supposed to feel something about you?"
"Uh, no", she replied. "You were... puking at my place the other morning. Are you over it?"
"Oh, sure", I said. "No problem." Big problem. She reached for my shoulder. "Woah!" Don't touch me!"
"There's fuzz on your shirt", she explained, brushing it off. Someone beat me with a lint brush. I was losing my mind. "What's the matter with you?" It was time to get my concerns out on the table.
"I am pretty freaked out about what happened the other night-" I confessed.
"Yeah", she agreed. "That ass of mine knocked it good and hard." Color me alarmed. I had to sit down.
"Diane!", I gasped.
"I mean Eric the ass", she clarified. "He swiped the bottle clear off the night stand! He ruined the mattress, you know. I'll be sleeping on the couch until I can afford to replace it. You ever try to get red wine out of white satin sheets?" Hold up.
"Eric spilled wine on the bed?" I repeated, standing again.
"I cursed him out, he left and I went to sleep in the living room with you."
"THAT's why you were on the sofa with me?" I smiled. I grinned. I giggled. I sighed with relief. Thank God and big, beautiful, bumbling Eric.
"Oh you thought we got nasty-?" she tittered, winking at me. Uh, yeah. "Too bad you weren't into it!"
"My sexual exploration is limited to the opposite sex and that's all I'm looking for at this point in my life", I quietly maintained.
I confided in the only person I felt I could trust with this experience.
"Diane kissed me", I later blurted out, causing Ian to gag on his sandwich. It was only a peck but I swear it scarred me for life.
"Oh, really?", he grinned, aroused. "Do tell." He begged for all the lurid details, salivating. "I wish I had been there". I wish he had been there as well. The math would have been sounder. "How'd that happen?"
"Alcohol?", I cringed. "Alien mind control?" Give me a valid-sounding excuse and I'll take it. "I mistook her for you?" He cringed, momentarily insulted, I think. I of all people should know Ian in the dark.
"Don't worry about it", he shrugged. "It doesn't mean you're gay."
"Good", I responded. "I'm plenty messed up without tossing that into the mix." Now for all of his understanding and support, Ian is after all, still a man, which means even the most mature of conversations can suddenly head south without warning.
"I don't suppose we could call her-", he whispered, hopeful. "And then the three of us could-" WHAP! DREAM ON, CRAWFORD.
"Trust Me", I assured him, smiling. "YOU're all I can handle.
Tuesday, October 12, 1992
Death, MTV and the FBI. I dealt with all three in a single day of triumphance, tragedy and turmoil.
The day began with wonderful news. I had sought to audition for MTV years ago, but only recently encountered the opportunity. I actually made the cut--selected to appear on the music television giant's "Hanging With MTV" program as a dancer! I couldn't contain the excitement, romping around my room dressing for my first taping this afternoon, in Manhattan. Ripped, faded blue jean shorts, a tiny white T-shirt, ankle boots and a black leather jacket completed the ensemble. My blonde hair teased to new heights, I sprang through the house tapping, twirling and high-kicking away. I was ready to dance my way into pop culture history. I should have known it wouldn't happen...
Lights! Camera! Action! Disaster...
I was running late, delayed in the garage trying to pull Mom's old 10-speed bike out from behind piles of junk. Had I left for the train station on time I would have missed the phone when it rang. I ran back inside to answer it. The day took a terrible turn.
Max-from the hospital-was on the phone, calling from an undisclosed location.
"Max?" I responded. "Is that you?" His voice was so weak I could barely hear him. "What's wrong?"
"They put a hit out on me", he struggled, gasping between phrases. "They beat me with a pipe-gave me a needle."
"Who did?" I implored. "Where are you?" Silence. "Max!", I screamed. "Speak to me!"
"Everything's going fuzzy", he said, his voice fading out. "I can't see... My God, I can't see!" I broke into tears. "Help me!", he begged.
"Where are you?" I urged. "Where ARE you?!"
"If I don't make it I want you to know...to know that-, he strained, with his last breath. that I...I love you." I heard his body hit the pavement, the phone left dangling in the booth.
"Max!", I cried. "Hang on!" I immediately dialed the police but didn't know where to send them. I realized I'd heard a locomotive whistle in the background. "He mustn't be far from a train station!"
Two detectives with the FBI came to question me, and I was shaking when they entered. They'd found Max near the tracks. I learned it had been a lethal dose of ammonia that blinded him.
"I have no idea who did this to him or why", I explained, distraught.
"We were told you were his girlfriend", one agent informed me, suspicious. "You must know something." I thought he'd been mugged.
"I was only a friend", I corrected. "In fact, I barely knew him." Nonetheless, they advised me that they believe the murder was drug related and because he'd bragged to a number of people about knowing me I could be in considerable danger from the party responsible for taking his life.
My parents are furious. If I wasn't already shaken by the day's events, my father is ready to throw me out onto the street.
"How could you be involved with drugs?!", he thundered. "Now what are we going to do? You've put the whole family in danger!"
"I'm not!" I cried, disputing the accusation. "I would never do that!"
"They police said you were lovers!", Dad argued. Mighty misinformed for the FBI.
"That's not true!" I wept, "It's just not true!" It's horrible! HORRIBLE!
I couldn't sleep. Slouched against the foot of my bed in the dark, I wept. I hadn't seen nor spoken to Max in months. I knew he was depressed over the death of his girlfriend and their baby but I never would have imagined anything like this could be going on. Another thing troubled me. Fate on this day had dealt me a mixed hand. He had no idea I was heading to the train station-on my way to my first television appearance. I had no idea he would be there. If I had been there and we'd spoken I too might have ended up lying in a pool of my own blood. Who was this m man I'd innocently befriended, this troubled but seemingly sweet stranger slain by the light of day? Who could be capable of destroying him? Oh, why had Max chosen to call me? Among his dying words was a profession of love. Love I didn't pursue. Love I didn't return. Love that could conceivably get me killed.
September, 1991 "Why I Don't Drink"
Squinting through the peephole, I cursed Angela when she appeared at the door at eight this morning, eager to hit the beach. I was out until 3 a.m. attending another wedding reception with Edwin last night and my head feels like it's going to explode.
I'd gained weight since buying my black velvet, off the shoulder dress, and had to wrestle with the zipper to get into it.
"What women won't do!", I groaned, hopping around on one foot. I was afraid to eat even a bite before leaving, for fear of splitting the seams.
Edwin and I arrived to the ceremony late, creeping into the chapel as the couple was saying their "I do's". We slid silently onto one of the pews in back. Shifting, I accidentally knocked my purse onto the floor. It landed with a crash, its contents rolling out and across the aisle. I scrambled on my knees to collect everything. Edwin took one look at me in this dress-crawling after a lip-stick and burst out into laughter. Then I began to snort and snicker. We couldn't help ourselves, and we couldn't stop. The bride and groom paused to look. The Priest glared directly at us. He pointed sternly towards the back door, and so, smothering each-other, we made a hasty exit.
"Find everything?" Edwin sighed, smiling.
"I'm not going back in there for anything!", I assured him. He laid his arm around me and walked me back to the car.
The reception was held at a beautiful, lakeside restaurant, with a grand entrance preceded by a long, curved staircase. I felt like Cinderella, my Latino Prince Charming leading me by the hand. And like Cinderella, I left behind one of those wretched heels, which tumbled all the way down.
"I wonder why you invite me to these things", I grumbled. Thank God Edwin has a sense of humor. He tossed me over his shoulder and carried me over and into the service elevator. "I can walk! I can walk!"
We were surprised to find our good friend Victor working there. Thin, with buzzed blonde hair, he met us in uniform, smiling proudly.
"Would you care for something?" he offered, in his most elegant demeanor. He added aside, "I'm learning to mix drinks!"
"Hmm", I hesitated. "I don't normally drink." Oh, but I made up for lost time... "Just a taste, then. What would you recommend?"
"A strawberry daiquiri", he suggested. It was good-sweet. "Try this!", Victor implored, running over with another concoction. "I made it myself!" I took a sip.
"Not bad", I complimented. "What's that one called?" He brought me another, then another. I slurped the red devil, sucked the foam off the pina colada, and choked tasting the screwdriver.
"Give her sex on the beach", Edwin said. "She'll like that." Victor's eyes shot out. "It's a drink."
"Oh, darn!", Victor exclaimed, laughing. "Now, I thought you were being a bit liberal with your girlfriend!"
"Actually", I hiccupped. "I think I've...burp...had enough!" I tipped in my chair. "Sit still, would ya?" I had to use the ladies room, and so they gave me a push in the right direction.
One would think I'd been pumped full of liquid dynamite. The heels came off and the uninhibited party animal in me emerged. I was anything but shy, dancing with my skirt cinched up.
"Get off the table!" Edwin laughed, embarrassed. He led me onto the dance floor where he determined to show me a thing or two. He spun me around a little too fast and I went flying into his elder cousin Xavier (who is a dark-haired, green-eyed model by profession). He caught me, startled.
"Well, hello!", he laughed. "Where did you come from?" I steadied myself. We'd met before, but he didn't recognize me in this condition. "Mel?! I'm in shock! You're so...different tonight!" Yeah, drunk.
"I've sampled everything at the bar", I told him. "EVERYTHING. " I tottered back to Edwin, who didn't seem to mind me dancing with anyone willing to hold me up. It didn't get really ugly until after I flashed the groom, or so I've been told.
"I'm sooo sorry", I slurred, stumbling into the limo for the ride home. Though he could have scolded me, Edwin only kissed me ever so gently as I drifted to sleep on his shoulder. "So sorry...."
I won't be seeing as much of him for a while. Now a member of The United States Tennis Federation, he's training for his first professional tournament, and looking for a sponsor. He's invited me to accompany him to The "Virginia Slims" Open this fall.
I have stopped the medication. It may work wonders for some but isn't doing me any good. Dad is of course, furious.
"Are you gonna be a bum all of your life?" he chides. "I knew you wouldn't make it in music. You'll never amount to anything." You'll never amount to anything..... Those words resounded in my head, as they did many times before. I fear I will never be enough of anything to please him. To he whom I most want to be proud of me, I am a complete and utter failure.
February, 1991 "We don't have sex. We're British."
I love her dearly but Mom is losing her mind. I have the flu.
"Are you pregnant?", she drilled me.
"No", I moaned, bracing myself over the toilet bowl.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure", I weakly responded, retching. "Do I look as if I've been up to no good?" I shouldn't have asked.
"I'm taking you to a doctor!"
And she did. So, I am not pregnant. I am innocent. I am pure. I am liable to jump the next cute guy who bats an alluring eye in my direction.
December, 1991 "Food For Thought"
We spent the evening at my Godparents house. It's always warm, inviting there, with its blue walls, crackling fire and big hugs at the door. I entertained everyone at their piano until dinner was ready. Weak with hunger, I surrendered, consuming several helpings of fresh, tender ham, steaming vegetable casserole, scalloped potatoes-dripping with melted cheese and three slices of chocolate cake for dessert. I sat back, bloated but satisfied. This is going to stay down, I decided. I would not retreat into the little bathroom, kneeling as if before some pink porcelain god.
December 21, 1990
I rose from another sleepless night. My stomach burns. My eyes are fatigued and unwilling to focus. I helped Mom trim the tree, but haven't the energy for much else.
October, 1990 "Lies & Make Up"
I met with highly regarded entertainment manager "*George. Randall." in his Long Island office this afternoon. He was well recommended, reputed to have paved the way for many well-known artists. (I never actually signed with Mr. Lanier, and so I am legally free to seek other representation.)
Mr. *Randall's office more resembled a living room than a work space-carpeted, with two plush sofas and a stereo against one wall. Numerous gold records and other awards adorned the other, evidence of the man's success.
He emerged from a second office, smiling as he shook my hand. Wearing a stylish sweater and sneakers, he immediately put me at ease. He was uncommonly (and refreshingly) kind and straightforward.
"I'm not your average manager", Mr. Randall explained, sensing my surprise. "I'm very laid back, honest." I smiled, pleased to hear that. "Take a seat. Tell me about yourself and the Teen Talent Show. I hesitated at first, nervous. How would you classify your style of music? " he asked. Who are you influenced by?"
"I'm primarily a dance, pop, country and new wave artist", I smiled. "I guess I fall into the Alternative category." I hate placing myself in a box. I'm a musical mutt, my sound born of many influences, including the mainstream and the eclectic-Erasure, U2, INXS, Times Two, George Michael , Michael Jackson and Madonna, (What young woman of this generation can avoid being influenced by Madonna?) various folk singers of the 60's and 70's and the local dance-freestyle artists who rule the New York night. It is heart. It is soul. It is pure energy on vinyl-er, in my case, on tape..... I fidgeted in my seat as Mr. Randall reviewed my tape, studying his face for a response.
"The recording quality isn't very good", he commented. "It's difficult to hear your voice. Maybe if I recorded it, it would be easier to tell...I'll think about it." I sighed. "By no means stop with me...Mail it out to everyone. You've got to be a real pain in the ass."
"Oh, I don't know the meaning of the word quit", I assured him.
I'd been advised to dress to the hilt when addressing industry people, and so I'd decked out.
"Did you ever consider modeling?" Mr. Randall inquired. "Stand up a minute." I obliged, blushing.
"I'm only 5'4", I pointed out. "I'm short!" Between the hat and the heels, people often think I'm loftier than I actually am.
"Yeah, you're too short!", he agreed. Then Mr. Randall prepared me for a rather personal discussion, asking my friends to leave us for a moment. "I think you ought to know I received a few phone calls this morning from a man who refused to identify himself. He said a lot of nasty things about you." He had my full and undivided attention. "I was advised not to work with you. The caller said you were dishonest and told me you-to use his word, screwed your last manager." He meant 'Screwed' both professionally and personally. My jaw dropped. I had to slap myself to resume breathing.
"Me?" I gasped, mortified. "I can't understand why anyone who knows me would say such a thing. I'm not that kind of person!" I was never-I repeat-NEVER romantically involved with Mr. Lanier. (Nothing personally against the man, but I know better than to cross that line.) I never did anything to jeopardize our working relationship. I performed when and where asked to--and free of charge I might add. I looked forward to a promising future under his guiding wing, as artist and producer of others....I liked the man-before the Jonnie mess-and I'd have to have been a complete fool to do anything to lose his favor.
"I'm not here to slap your hand-" he interrupted. "You seem like a nice girl to me. Listen-who knew you were coming here today?" I thought for a moment, shaking my head. I'd have suspected Mark, but it is unlikely he had knowledge of my plans. We've had no direct contact for some time now. A wave of nausea came over me. Was Jonnie so tormented by the potential loss of his own singing career (with the throat cancer) that he would jeopardize mine? No-I refuse to believe he or any of the few close family members and friends I'd confided in would be capable of such backstabbing. "All of it's completely untrue!"
"There's a lot of professional jealousy among industry people", he enlightened me. "There's no telling what someone-even someone you thought you could trust-will do if they see you getting ahead." I listened, taking his advice to heart. "In the future, I wouldn't mention to anyone when you have an appointment. And I wouldn't suggest talking to anyone about this. Let the rumor die here."
What a terrible first impression! I'm not even signed yet and I'm subject to scandal! Embarrassed, I excused myself to the bathroom. Staring into the mirror, I wondered whether he could see through the lies and the makeup. I passed him in the hall on my way out.
"It was nice meeting you, Mr. Randall", I said. "Thank you for listening."
"George-", he smiled, touching my cheek. "Good luck to you!"
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