It went really, really quickly.
A handful of celebrities, double-digits of martinis, far too many dollars, several stints in the 90210 zio code and one illicitly obtained Gilmore Girls script later, our holiday is over. At 6:27 a.m., I dropped off Julie at the airport after roughly twelve days spent together tooling around Los Angeles, having a fantastic time and being utterly fabulous and laughing until our stomach muscles sued us for harassment. We had a fantastic time together, and my friends universally loved her, as predicted; still, despite the length of her visit, it's never truly enough time.
We saw the Getty Center, a sprawling museum funded by a millionaire art fanatic set atop the hills of Los Angeles. The views, on a clear day, are of downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, UCLA, trendy Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean, all in one packed vista capped with azure skies and wispy clouds.
We spent one Friday on the Warner Bros. lot, a mini-city of gigantic beige, windowless buildings -- sound-stages -- labeled with placards boasting of the movies, new and old, and television shows that were and are filmed there. We roamed the surprisingly expansive and detailed streets of fictitious Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls, watching as leads Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel filmed two takes of a scene from the show's season finale. We snagged a copy of the day's call sheet -- a miniaturized script of the scenes slated to shoot that afternoon ? and chatted up an extra who went to Notre Dame. We strolled the outdoor generic sets for the Old West, New York City and Chicago, peered into The Drew Carey Show set and strolled past the star's Porsche, and peeked at one unrecognizable The West Wing setpiece. We befriended a grip building the set for a new pilot, Two Families, and he snuck us onto the Friends set. We roamed bits and pieces of ER's set and the Gilmore Girls interiors, notably Chilton and the entire Independence Inn. We snapped illicit photos in front of the ER ambulance bay and Luke's diner in Stars Hollow and Lorelei and Rory's mailbox. Scott Patterson, who plays Luke, walked past me and looked directly into my eyes with a faint polite smile on his lips.
We drank martinis in a trendy Hollywood hotspot. A week later, Michael, Julie and I drank various highballs at a slightly divey local bar with red vinyl booths, crammed with a young, so-hip-they-don?t-look-hip crowd and a piano player that takes requests. We were the last group to leave both bars. We gulped martinis at trendy clubs like The Standard, a gorgeous hotel patio bar with a stunning view of Los Angeles.
We drove the Pacific Coast Highway, inhaling the cool air tinged with salt and sand, through Malibu and up past Zuma Beach, past Cher's surprisingly un-eccentric house perched on the ocean, and past the high-up campus of Pepperdine University. We zipped by Aaron Spelling's gigantic house in Holmby Hills, the largest single-family dwelling in the state, and I pulled a three-point turn in his driveway so we could pop around the corner to ogle Hugh Hefner's well-protected Playboy manse.
We drank a thousand chai lattes from The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. We ate In-N-Out Burger and Fatburger and the Houston's signature spinach and artichoke dip. We made turkey burgers and sandwiches. We ate New York-style slices at Mulberry Street Pizzaria in Beverly Hills. We made lip gloss in the microwave and watched my show and ate cheesecake at 1:30 a.m. in the most wee hours of April 12, Julie's birthday. We bought balloons and decorated the apartment as a surprise for when she finally woke up at 9:30 a.m. later that morning, and we dined that night at a garlic restaurant called The Stinking Rose after dropping past The Beauty Bar for its $10 martini-and-manicure special. Julie got purple glittery polish, I got midnight-teal, and Lauren got hooker red.
We saw B-list actor Josh Charles -- of Sports Night and Dead Poets' Society but most recently in the papers for dumping A Beautiful Mind's Jennifer Connelly the week prior to the Oscars, thus causing her sullen demeanor and joyless smiles at the event -- jog across the street in front of our car. We pointed at him. Good thing he was already running.
We cruised the mall Westside Pavilion, seen in the movie "Clueless." We passed the Jim Henson headquarters housed in a sweet tudor-style building on La Brea -- that once was home Charlie Chaplin Studios -- topped with a statue of a dancing, delighted Kermit the Frog. We (okay, I) left a stupid message on Michael's voice mail because we (okay, me) were so focused on saluting Kermit that we (okay, I) forgot we (okay, I) were on an answering machine. We visited the famed Beverly Center shopping structure and the brand-new Hollywood & Highland mall that's adjacent to the Kodak Theater that now is home to the Oscars. Next door is Grauman?s Chinese Theater, which we snapped photos of amid pressing our feet into cement imprints of celebrity shoes. We saw the Hollywood sign and Barbra Streisand, Ronald Reagan, Robin Williams and Julie Andrews' stars on the Walk of Fame, among countless others. We spent time in the hopelessly hip Fred Segal department store ogling the cosmetics and bath products. And we strolled Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, weaving in and out of costly boutiques the likes of which wouldn't serve a short-skirted spandex-clad strumpet even if she looked like Julia Roberts and knotted a men's shirt over her tight dress. We'd never seen that strip before, prompting Julie to crack, "This is the only time I've ever been to Rodeo Drive and not bought anything."
It?s a damn good thing Fox can't fine people for quoting The Simpsons, because my sister and I would be sued pants-less, broke and left to roam the planet in whatever fraying, once-saucy underwear we'd have left from the glory days of our Victoria's Secret sprees. At dinner last night, and several times previously, my sister and I ended up swapping Homerisms and favorite Simpsons moments, while Michael (my old roommate) and Lauren sat there laughing politely, wondering why in God?s name these two seemingly reasonable people can't remember the day of the week, yet can recite entire segments of an animated television series.
My sister met my friends -- Lauren, Michael, Jessica, Grant and Kim -- and got to see Doug again, which she loved. She hopefully saw what I did, which is that nobody could seem to get enough of her and everyone adored her and her bright, sharp sense of humor. Hopefully, somewhere deep down inside herself, she understands that she fits into this world seamlessly and that people want her in theirs.