Not gonna lie, I was a little spooked when I heard the footfalls catching up to me but I was pleasantly surprised when I turned around and Jared was behind me. My face probably showed an odd train of emotions traveling quickly from one station to the next. Surprise. Recognition. Joy? But my face went off the rails as I registered downright disgust.
Surprise because, hey, let’s face it, I was expecting a madman and instead I saw a pretty face. Recognition, because let’s face it, I could pick him out anywhere.
Joy, because, let’s face it, I was a fan.
And disgust, because let’s face it, what happened next was sad.
While I tell you my story, about this encounter, I need you to remember, this bitch ran up on me. I was simply walking up the hill on my own goddamn street to the vista that looked out towards the ocean. Well, kinda looked out to the ocean – maybe on a really good day – I mostly just saw rooftops and a few high rises in the distance but that’s what the realtor promised. And even though I haven’t seen it a single goddamn time since I moved in, I was walking up that way just the same. I can’t afford my own vista, not in this town at least, so I was going to borrow the one at the turnabout. Try to catch a glimpse of the Pacific. Maybe an inspiration. I needed something to look at besides the white walls of my house. And the blinking cursor on this blank page.
Anyway, this clown was in his feelings from the moment I walked past 8923 and I was just doing my thing, walking up a hill, oblivious to him, head in La La Land.
He ran to me.
To catch up with me.
Me, the person who was, mind you, minding my own goddamn business.
I felt accosted!
“This is why I never come to this house anymore!” he said with a thumb thrust towards my chest.
“That – ” he said and pointed right at my chest with his pointer finger this time, thumb pointing to the sky. So close to me I could shank him if I wanted. “It gives you all away, every time.” He acted like he was going to turn away, march off in disgust because he was done telling me off, but he didn’t. He waited for my reaction. A reaction that was probably a little slow for a girl from New Jersey. But I had been living in LA for 8 months now. That was practically a life time. And I had changed a lot. But not enough to apologize to the star I had unconsciously offended. I’m not a freaking pissant and in no way am I going to bow down. Even if the norm around these parts is to fall on your sword and re-establish the imaginary hierarchy, before anyone gets wind of your faux pas. Oh, hell no!
I couldn’t help but look down at my chest. Expecting to see remnants of my breakfast or something else untowardly and offensive. But it was just my favorite tank top. Old but still decent. I was confused.
“What?” I muttered like I hadn’t heard a word “What are you babbling about?” Palm upward to emphasize my question. Drop some knowledge in my open palm. Face scrunched when he didn’t oblige, reflecting that he’s an asshole, not a star – just like we do in the Dirty Jerz. I almost said “ah, forget about it” but I’m no cliche. I squinted my eyes instead. I unleashed my Who are you? And why should I care? attitude.
He didn’t my choice of words. “I’m not babbling. I’m telling you that this is private property! And you’re trespassing. On it. The private property!” Feet firmly on the ground even if his voice was shaking a tiny bit.
I had no trouble pointing out that we are in fact in the middle of the street because I am, in fact, a smart ass from smack dab in the middle of Central New Jersey (it’s a thing) and I kinda liked that he was getting perturbed.
“I’m not sure why you’re angry. But I’m just taking my walk. In the middle of this road. A shared road.”
“It’s not a public road.”
“Uh, I know that.”
I started to walk away because I still hadn’t seen the ocean and I didn’t like this guy’s whole entire everything. It was just pure ew. And if he was worried about me invading his private property, why was he standing so goddamn close to me as he yelled? Why did he think he had any authority to tell me where to go or not go in my own freaking neighborhood?
The idea of this encounter went very differently in my head when I learned I had purchased a home across the street from Jared’s compound. After a few months here, I thought it might be me that approached him first to chastise him for the unkempt nature of his property and the broken fence and the runaway weeds I was forced to look at every time I peered out a window of my house. Especially the window that sat neatly above my kitchen sink where I washed my pathetic single gal dishes at the end of every night. One glass, One fork, One knife, One spoon and One plate. 3 meals. One person. Depressing. Triggering. But I hadn’t seen him around. Figured he had moved on, or was a recluse. Or just another human being doing life their own way.
He had gotten to me as we stood in the middle of the road, that’s for sure, because I wasn’t able to write and I was hoping this walk would clear my head but he was accosting me. Here in Laurel Canyon. The epicenter for creativity. I had hit a brick wall mentally and now Jared was in my damn way with his self-appointed community watchman antics. Perturbed was no longer pretty, time to move on to petty. But I got my self together quickly and said “Not that it’s any of your goddamn business, neighbor, but I live here too” and then I walked away.
It was important that I remind him that he hadn’t introduced himself by calling him “neighbor” instead of by his name.
And even thought we both know I know his name, there’s something else about him that I also knew in that moment. A scary fact that he probably hadn’t yet accepted. While he thought he was on top of the world, I knew he was infected with tall poppy syndrome and everyone in this town was thirsty for a snip.
For whatever reason, I was mad at him in that instance for meeting me this way. It was oddly placed resentment on my part (and his too because he was wrong). Maybe I was the one that was being dramatic. But it was uncomfortable all around and goddamn it, he started it! I guess I had a second fantasy about the first time I might meet him. I thought he might recognize me from the old days. Remember how I used to tag him in all my stupid posts on twitter and he’d play along. Remember how he’d dm me to tell me something was good or going the right direction on my fan fiction blog. But this was all wrong.
“Listen,” he softened “I get a lot of stalkers up here and I just figured because of your tattoo…its too much of a coincidence, don’t you think?” He thumbed at me again.
“Oh? That.” I said over my shoulder. “It’s old.”
To be transparent – I had completed forgotten I had it. If I’d remembered, the whole encounter might have actually made sense. It was a memento from another life time. I often forget I have any tattoos unless I’m looking right at them. And I’m hardly ever looking right at myself anymore. At least not for an extended period of time. I’m just not that in to me these days. Much older than I was when I first heard the name Jared Leto, but still younger than his confrontational ass.
My triad tattoo sits on my upper left clavicle. About the size of a quarter. Inked in a simpler time when I was a thirsty fan girl deeply entrenched in a major time waster. Distracting myself after a terrible divorce. Attending show after show. Small clubs at first, churches later. A quirky group of peers packed inside pits that maxed out at 500 bodies – shoulder to sweaty shoulder – enticed by easy access to the star, making signs and waiting backstage after the show for attention and free merch. A grass roots effort that believed in the band and fan sourced so much content. We bonded and we traveled and we reveled together. More about one another and less about the band as the years went on. Cheesy, really, especially at our age, but an awful lot of fun. But it all changed when they started selling out. From clubs to pop radio to arenas and we had less and less access. Less and less attention. It felt like, as soon as we got Jared to exactly where he wanted to be, he pulled back from all of us. Cut off access and left at lot of us feeling used. Used as fuck, really. Which probably isn’t entirely fair but hey, we’re all human. And most of us, in that little fan cult, were damaged in some way. Thusly, so were our opinions.
I hadn’t thought about the tattoo in years. So embarrassing now in retrospect. All that hullabaloo…it was so stupid…and as I looked at this over inflated ego having clown with crows feet and thinning hair I realized even more deeply than before, that he’s just a guy with some talent and a really bad PR team.
It made sense that he was angry. Even if his approach was off. He had changed but so did the fans.
“Yeah, sure.” was what he said next, while I didn’t say anything.
Now it was his turn to walk away. And walk away he did. Or so I thought. I decided this encounter wouldn’t mess with my objective; it might have even energized me a little bit as I restarted my slow trek up towards Crescent. The sun was peaking through the trees and I had been looking forward to checking out the construction on the monstrosity up the hill. I wish I’d had the inside track on that property before the original cottage was razed but now my imagination was perking up – thinking about a new character. Maybe I’d write about someone who would have lived in the old house. Perhaps, someone like me? I would have loved to have made the original house my own home. Would have been a delightful writer’s garret. Maybe she would be a writer. One with her first script just picked up by a big studio. She’s renting the cottage for pennies while she writes the next big thing… in pencil! A lucky pencil that is getting worn to the nub. Does she have another story in her, does the pencil? Oh, what do I know. Old Hollywood isn’t *it* anymore. No one even writes their shit – they just rewrite someone else’s shit, which was, incidentally, culled in a cottage, not a monstrosity. But, I digress. Again. And likely the square footage is to accommodate a family, not a lonely writer whose family is all grown. And writes on their Macbook because she’s allergic to pencil.
I had brushed off the encounter and reached the summit. There was a haze on the vista that removed all possibility of sneaking a peek at the ocean but I was reinvigorated just the same. I figured I’d write a little about my pencil wielding female protagonist. Or even, perhaps, some fan fiction about an egocentric star with a cult following. Just to get my fingers typing and my imagination awake. I was thinking about the possibilities as I walked down the road, a much easier trek especially with a little pep in my step, and I saw him before he saw me. Sitting atop an electrical box outside his compound, gate open, cars on the tarmac, eating something purple out of a glass bowl.
“You’re back.” He said, like he caught me trying to steal my second cookie from the cookie jar.
I ignored him and he stood up. “Where’d you park your car?” he asked “At the school?” as he followed me.
I raised my eyebrows but didn’t stop walking. His property stretches several lots. It’s an old military compound. Old studio. Old property in disrepair. To my left was his compound to my right were 6 homes in a row with driveways and kitchen windows each facing his land. Mine was the last one before a new row of homes began on either side of the street.
I stopped to look at him – dead in the face
He took a bite of the purple shit in his bowl.
I guessed he was eating acai and walked on.
“Get a fucking weed whacker.” I said as I walked towards my house. I reached in the mailbox I almost never check (because paperless is life), and just for emphasis, slapped the door shut tightly as I walked up the drive. Owning it. Junk mail in hand. Eyes on Jared. Flipped through my junk mail for emphasis. This is my shit! I was saying with every move I made. I pressed the security code on my garage door. It opened up swiftly. I didn’t need to go in there, but I did. Deposited the junk mail in my recycling container. Closed the door on the lookie loo. Thought about how sad this encounter was, and how much sadder it would be when I had to reopen the garage door to sneak around to the back of my house, which is really the front of my house, because there’s no entrance to the inside of the house from inside the garage. Fucking Californian builders! Sigh.
**This is a silly fictional writing exercise that I shared for shits and giggles. Jared has always been very funny and solicitous the different times I’ve met him through the years but the man does need a landscaper something awful. His address is very very very public knowledge – shit, even the NYT outed him – but that doesn’t mean you should seek it out.…k?