I'm sitting across a dinner table from Andie MacDowell, and things are not as they appear. To see me, you'd think I was a Hollywood success, a mover and shaker, a man of wealth and taste. You'd think I was a friend of Andie MacDowell. Truth be told, I spend most nights eating dinner alone over my kitchen sink, and this is the first time I've seen Andie MacDowell in person. This is why living in Hollywood is great. You can be cloaked in hopelessness one night, and at dinner with an international film star the next. Things can turn on a fucking dime.
You should see Andie MacDowell in person. She's stunning. She makes me feel like getting on a treadmill and not getting off until Ford or Elite call to sign me. We're sitting at a big table, with lots of people. Andie and I make eye contact. She smiles, a movie star smile, slightly squinting. I'm worried she's thinking, "Why is he sitting at my table?" This question has worried me since junior high school.
A server appears and starts pouring wine. The alcohol hits me before the food arrives. There have been nights when this chemical reaction hasn't gone so well, but tonight it seems to be working just fine. Bob Dylan's "When the Deal Goes Down" plays in my head, drowning out the conversations around me. Bob's words are typically more interesting than what's being said in real life situations. My left knee has been hurting, and I'm just happy to be sitting.
Andie MacDowell smiles in my direction again.
I'm pretty sure I need arthroscopic knee surgery. This is what happens when you jog on the streets of Los Angeles for twenty years. I should get an MRI, but am terrified of the portion of the bill my insurance won't cover. I've been spending too much money on rent, living in a small place in a celebrity neighborhood. I struggle to maintain it so my Yorkshire Terrier can keep his fenced in yard. He loves to play fetch outside with his little, red ball, and I'm working myself to the bone -- and watching my bank account dwindle -- just to keep him happy. I figure I owe him. He greets me with euphoric joy whenever I come home. At the moment, he's the only one who feels this way about me, and I'm going to let him keep his backyard as long as I can, if it fucking kills me.
Andie smiles my way again. The same smile. The same quizzical squint. This has happened three times already. It's getting to be like Groundog Day around here.
As the dinner winds down, Andie stands, getting ready to leave. I've had a sufficient amount of wine. I don't know how much. The glass was never empty. Great server.
I've always enjoyed Andie MacDowell's work. She was great alongside Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, and terrific in Sex, Lies and Videotape, Shortcuts and Four Weddings and a Funeral. She even rocked a L'Oreal commercial not too long ago. She's currently doing a show called Cedar Cove on The Hallmark Channel.
I like the Hallmark Channel. It's a TV network that feels like a bathrobe and slippers. On Cedar Cove, Andie plays Olivia Lockhart, a court judge juggling her career and personal life in a lovely, coastal town in the Pacific Northwest.
I stand to talk to Andie, and a shooting pain rifles through my left knee. Is this really what I get for trying to keep myself in shape for all these years? I borderline gimp over to Andie, as she is putting on her coat. I definitely need an MRI. There's no avoiding it. Shit.
Andie MacDowell is even more stunning when you're standing face-to-face with her. Even her coat is beautiful.
I ask what the audience can expect from the upcoming season of Cedar Cove?
"So many things," MacDowell says. "The ideas for season two are strong and interesting, and I love what Olivia's going to be able to do in the community as an intelligent and strong woman. I'm sure there's going to be a lot more romance, too. You're going to see a lot more of what's happening with the people in the gorgeous town of Cedar Cove."
I want to learn more about Andie, so I ask what matters to her.
"I was talking with my daughter today about ego," she says. "At my age, if you haven't found what your ego is, you're in trouble. And I think I'm pretty in touch with mine and I'm thankful that I've been successful as a movie star, now on television. I feel like I don't have anything I have to prove. I'm hoping I can continue to work in the business and be successful. I'm very creative. I'm an artist, but, as I get older, I really want to do philanthropic work and help people."
I ask: Why?
"Because I've been so lucky," MacDowell replies. "I realize it. I'm not blind. I'm conscious. I realize that I'm in the top one percent of the world. I've traveled a lot. I've seen immense poverty in the world and I can't live with everything I've had and be comfortable with everything I have unless I do something for the rest of the world. And I'm running out of time. I have to do it."
I wonder: Who makes her laugh?
"My friends and my children," she says. "And anybody that loves and cares about me."
I imagine what it'd be like to be one of Andie MacDowell's children. You'd have a mom who was nice, beautiful, talented and in the top one percent of the world. If your knee bothered you, I'd bet an MRI would be ordered faster than you could say "meniscus."
I fantasize about Andie MacDowell paying for my MRI. Just the portion my insurance won't cover. She's a compassionate and philanthropic person, and I'm another human being in need, hobbling right before her very eyes. It'd make my life so much easier if she'd just foot the bill.
Shailene Woodley once told me that George Clooney goes around doing random acts of kindness for strangers in need, and takes absolutely no credit. They don't even know it came from him. I once met George Clooney in a restaurant in Studio City. He was super nice, but my auto insurance bill never magically disappeared.
Why can't one of these random acts of kindness happen to me?
I step outside and a gust of winter wind smacks me in the face. I realize my selfish train of thought is ridiculous, and understand that I need to stop confusing my bullshit feelings of self-pity with being someone who is genuinely in need on the planet Earth.
I also understand why I spend most nights having dinner alone.