I got engaged in Hawaii four years ago this week. To celebrate, I'm telling our love story. This is the beginning.
In a dingy and dimly lit office in the Charlie Chaplin studios, I was wrapping up production on my first television job, a one-hour comedy special for MTV.
I had lived in Los Angeles less than six months and was finally getting my footing. I had a pretty apartment, had made a few friends, and tv production seemed to be something I could handle in spite of my lacking experience. The country was still shaky and emotional from the September attacks a few months earlier, but my personal heartbreak over the previous summer's break up was getting less raw every day. For the first time in a long time, I didn't need to journal out my feelings daily.
Our crew on the television special was so small that it didn't take much to make an impression. The executive producer had already asked me to work on a movie that would start shortly after the first of the year, and I was grateful to have the promise of a job after the holidays. Freelance work, as I was only just learning, requires nerves of steel.
At the close of the workday, someone called me into a back office. "This is your new boss." Sitting in a chair just inside the door was an unshaven man wearing an oversized brown coat and with scraggly dark hair peeking out under a hat. Were we not sitting in the middle of a secure studio lot, I might have assumed he was homeless.
He didn't make eye contact. He nodded at me and tapped his hands on the armrest, looking at the floor or past me into the hall. I was nervous, probably because the word "boss" still hung in the air, and I was glad that I was wearing a skirt that day.
I picked up Chinese food on the way home and settled into the couch with my roommate. With no television and no cooking ability, nightly chats and takeout were our ritual.
"I met my new boss today," I told her. She raised an eyebrow over her sesame chicken. "And?" she asked.
I thought for a minute, then crinkled my nose. "He's dirty."
Part II will be posted later today. My first impression of The Gorilla wasn't entirely favorable, but you'll never guess what caught his eye about me.