Jewish Journal

I Can’t Hang Out

by J.D. Smith

Posted on Jul. 18, 2002 at 8:00 pm

I went to a big Hollywood party last week. My girlfriend, Alison, was out of town. The occasion had something to do with a photo shoot for a fashion magazine.

I don't know why this would occasion a party, but why not? Beautiful people love to party, and almost any excuse will do. There was valet parking, of course, a small army of black-suited, ear-pieced security, four bars, a DJ playing unfamiliar music with a thunderous beat and a wait staff that looked like they just dropped out of modeling school. Catering was by In-N-Out, an inspired choice -- slumming amid so many riches.

This was a gorgeous-people party. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the front door security made everyone bare their abs before allowing them in. An occasional average-looking person made it past the palace guards and we greeted them with a sense of wonder, as if they were from another planet -- the planet I live on.

There was, of course, the mandatory smattering of celebrities great and small: an aging rocker, a Brazilian supermodel wearing a "skirt" that would be called a "belt" in any other culture and a bunch of people who all looked vaguely familiar. Everyone seemed to know everyone else. Maybe they're all on the same WB series. It's possible. I may never know.

In Los Angeles, there is an uneasy sense of "Don't I know you?" Everyone looks familiar, and with good reason -- they may have been your lover or they may be on a national commercial. The reason everyone looks familiar, is because everyone is familiar.

It seems the women stay the same age at these parties and the men get older. It looked like everyone was attending a post-op breast-enhancement surgery reunion. The only thing missing was Hef.

I used to work with a young woman who dutifully reported every Monday morning that she'd spent the weekend "hanging out."

"What'd you do this weekend?"

"I hung out with my friends."

I wanted to know how, exactly, does one hang out? I might be doing it right now at this party, but I'm not sure. At what point do you cease to "hang out" and enter into the realm of "doing something"? Could one be a multitasking hanger-outer?

There, among the tattooed backs and ironic cheeseburgers, I'm told that I'm hanging out. You can just imagine my surprise. Hanging out is exhausting and very time-consuming.

The right thing to say while hanging out at these parties, where you can barely yell over the thump-thump-thump of the ignored DJ, is, "Nice to meet you." It doesn't matter if you're coming or going, if you've chatted or not. "Nice to meet you" is shalom.

Everyone -- while thoroughly fabulous in their own right -- was looking over the fabulous shoulder of the person they're talking to in hopes of spotting someone more fabulous when they come in. Either that, or they were on a cell phone, which says to the uninitiated: I'm here, but I'm so cool I don't even care.

It looked as if the party was going to rage all night, but I just didn't see the point of it. I've lost the will to swing. I'm not looking to score and even if I were, these girls looked like they were going to spend all my money, smoke cigarettes in the car and then leave me for someone else -- maybe the kid on "Smallville." Ever the optimist, I believe this sad scenario is almost "best-case."

When I became aware that I was really trying hard to have fun, it was time to go home. I finally got inside the temple and I felt like a tourist. I have nothing to wear. My haircut is all wrong. I'm too old for this nonsense. It's not as though I had anything better to do at midnight in Malibu and, for an absolute certainty, there was nowhere else to be. This was the party on that night. A model named Giselle was making her way in just as I handed over my ticket to the valet. She seemed to be surrounded by an invisible protective shield that mere mortals from my planet cannot penetrate.

Surrounded by belly buttons and long, shimmering legs, gigantic waifs (if you can still be waifish at 6 feet tall), everything a red-blooded Jewish boy could dream of, I was thinking about my girlfriend, Alison. She would feel even more out of place at this party than I, which is how I now come to face the music: What happened to me?

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