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My 15 Minutes
By Sara Alterman
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Sara Alterman
All right reserved.
"Grab that leg, Dan!"
"I can't, dude, she's moving it around!"
"Wait . . . watch out! It's slipping!"
"Oh, for Christ's sake, can't you just hold still?"
It was nine-thirty on a sparkling California Tuesday, and I was sweating desperately, anxious to get this over with as quickly as possible.
My couch was being a bitch.
I guess I'd be one, too, if two clueless guys and a frizzy haired woman were trying to shove me up a flight of stairs. Especially if one of the guys smelled as strongly of pastrami as Daniel did.
My name is Julie Jorlamo, and I've just promoted myself from a shelter mooching couch crasher to a status that's a little more comfortable. My new apartment is in Los Angeles. It seems cliché to shack up with friends in L.A. in order to scrape together enough cash for an apartment, but here's the twist: I actually grew up here. No soul searching, westward journey for me. I'm not corn-fed, not an aspiring actress, and certainly not looking to get addicted to smack. I'm simply too lazy to bother starting over in a new place.
To further the stereotype, I do have a large chest and work as a waitress, but the boobs are real and the job is temporary. I hope. I did go to college; the problem being that I majored in liberal arts and beer. I had imagined a postacademia life of coffeehouses and freelancing, of dancing my pinkie across a keyboard and procuring $10,000 advances on volumes destined to become international classics. Not having earned a degree in sorcery, alchemy, or gold digging, however, I have been unable to realize this dream of instantaneous cash flow. At least my hooters are big enough to warrant some generous tips, which generally accompany a pinch on my ass.
At the moment, that ass was squished against a wall in a narrow stairwell.
"Daaaan!" I whined. "You have to push. You can't just stand there holding the couch and expect me to pull the whole thing up!"
Dan is my mild-mannered brother. He had agreed to help me move if I bought him groceries for a week. He'd brought along his friend, Hoff (real name a mystery), who, thankfully, was built like a linebacker.
"Julie." Dan grunted, straining under the weight of my pink velvet Salvation Army couch. "What number is your place?"
"Um . . ." I flattened myself even closer to the wall and shimmied a hand down my pocket. "It's 4C," I panted, squinting at the tiny scrap of paper fished from the depths of my Levi's.
He dropped his end of the couch.
"Julie. We've gone up five flights of stairs!"
Forty-five minutes and a great deal of wiggling and straining later, we'd managed to backtrack the couch and force it through the front door, into my humble living room. The whole place was humble, actually, a cookie cutter rental. Minuscule kitchen to the immediate left, with a cutout in the wall that peered into the living/dining area. Oblong bathroom, pink toilet, mustard tile. One bedroom, sliding door closet, beige shag carpet. Waiting for me on the kitchen counter was a parking permit and the bright pink steering wheel club that my landlord, Al, had proudly offered when I signed the lease. ("Pink for the ladies, blue for the men!" he'd crowed. "They're complimentary! I'm the only landlord in town who gives a shit about my tenants' cars!") The apartment itself was sort of grim, but I didn't care. It was mine.
I'd spent the last two months playing houseguest in my best friend Billie's studio apartment, perched unabashedly above the Batik Boutique on Rodeo Drive. It was a cushy place, though a month of rent could have easily taken nine thousand Polynesian orphans off Sally Struthers's hands. It had been fun for a while, strutting amongst celebrity consumers, reveling in the surrounding glamour, but living out of a duffel bag leaves something to be desired. And, as much as I treasure Billie's friendship, I was ready to kill her after six days, when I discovered that her preferred method of housekeeping was to allow filth to accumulate in gigantic proportions until I would finally break down and clean up her mess. She's one of those people who buys new underwear instead of doing laundry. Maddening. Obnoxious. But that's just Billie.
Billie is my dearest friend. We met in eleventh grade, in the woods behind school, after I had sprinted, humiliated, from third period math class. It was April, the season of crowning glory for pollen, and it seems my allergies had planted a booger squarely between my miserable left nostril and my twitching, bloodshot eye. Thanks to Adam Sharpton for pointing that out to every jock in the third row. Asshole.
So, I bolted. First to the girls' room down the hall, where I scrubbed my face and bombarded my helpless reflection with insults. After I collected myself, I grabbed my Esprit bag from my locker and took off through a fire exit, marching away from that teenage hellhole into the forest, to sit on a log in peace and console myself with a Chunky bar.
I had a mouthful of raisins and chocolate when--
"Are you a fucking narc?" came a scratchy voice from above me. I almost peed myself.
"Jesus . . . Jesus!" I sputtered, trying not to choke on the brick of chocolate in my mouth. "You scared me!"
There in front of me, head cocked and gum cracking, stood the most spectacularly adorned girl I had ever seen. Eat your heart out, Cyndi Lauper; this girl had layered three pairs of colored socks over electric blue fishnets, over which she wore pink denim shorts. Her cropped, off-theshoulder top was festooned with safety pins, and her electrocuted hair, blond at the roots, was from her ears down dyed a magnificent tomato red ...
Excerpted from My 15 Minutes by Sara Alterman Copyright © 2005 by Sara Alterman. Excerpted by permission.
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