I Had an Affair with Aaron Echolls
a.k.a. Night of 1000 bizarre coincidences.
As written by my friend Lola:
I haven’t updated in a while, but this story is too bizarre and funny not to share. Seriously, this was the weirdest day of my life, and I’ve had some weird days in my years in Hollywood.
*name changed to protect the anonymous
So, Friday night, I was out with the girls (and one girl’s husband who was dragged along as the designated driver. I never thought a British guy could be so grumpy, but he knows how to hook up wireless Tivo, so I’ll forgive him while he is still useful to me). My young friend Stacy* just signed with an agent, so we took her out on the town to celebrate.
But first, the weird way I met Stacy:
My friend Boom knows everyone on the planet. She’s just one of those people (you will see why later). At her Christmas party, she introduced me to a girl who’d just been accepted into a TV writing program that I’m in. It’s a pretty exclusive group (although one of several, since almost every network/studio offers one), only about ten of us accepted every year, so this was the first time I had randomly met someone who was in the same program as myself.
So, fast-forward to Friday. We meet up at Boom’s house and start the evening with cosmopolitans while we wait for Boom’s husband to get home from work. We talk about writing and VM, and apparently I'm the only person in Marsdom who isn't emailing with Rob Thomas. And I know I’m hard on Rob, but I will give the guy props for answering all the billions of emails he must get, because I don’t even respond to half the emails I get, and I’m neither famous nor busy. Of course, I could suggest that Rob spend less time answering emails and more time writing episodes that make sense.
Then Boom’s husband, Mr. Boom, gets home, and we start discussing which restaurant/bar we want to hit. Mr. Boom doesn’t even want to go out and must be coerced. He claims that he is not grumpy but just tired from a long day at work, the W-word causing three semi-buzzed, unemployed writers to stare at him blankly over their martini glasses. Tired or no, I expect Brits to be a little more chipper than this, although I attest that later, at dinner, I would find a sardonic Englishman to be the perfect comic foil for a drunk, exuberant know-it-all.
After much debate, we decide to go to Koi, this amazing (albeit ridiculously expensive) Japanese restaurant at Melrose and La Cienega, the corridor of posh but hip eateries that forms the border between West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. I hadn’t been there in over three years (back when I had a more extravagant lifestyle than I do now), and Stacy had never been, but I told her that the best part of my last visit was that our waiter was an actor from The West Wing who played the young Jed Bartlet in flashbacks. (That’s how you know a good restaurant -- most of the waiters in L.A. are actors, but they’re usually not actors you recognize.) So we set off for Koi, and Stacy’s friend is going to meet us there, since she’s working right now, and the show’s wrapping up late.
We get to the restaurant, get a great table on the patio next to a fireplace (which I mistakenly assume will take the chill off the night air), and our waiter comes up to greet us. He looks really familiar, and I’m thinking, Nah, it can’t be the same guy. So we start chatting about where we’re from and such, and then I casually ask him if he’s an actor, and he says, “Yeah, I am, although I haven’t worked in a while because I’ve been focusing on rock-climbing.”
And I’m like, “Were you on The West Wing?”
He’s stunned for a beat, like he can’t believe someone would remember that, and then he says, “Yeah, I was on West Wing. And I did an episode of The Gilmore Girls.” (I don’t remember him from GG, but Stacy does. Something about Rory and a tree.) I look at Stacy, and we crack up. We can’t believe it's the same guy. His name’s Jason, and he’s hot and sweet and Boom immediately asks if he’s single (she’s one of those married people who are deeply devoted to matchmaking for all their single friends), but he has a girlfriend, and she says it’s just as well because I’m way too picky (read: bitchy) for a mild-mannered guy like him (seriously, the only really picky thing I did all evening was insist we get the miso-glazed cod instead of the sea bass -- well, that plus making Jason lug out an extra heat lamp, but it wasn’t my idea to sit outside), but Stacy is also single and much easier to deal with than high-maintenance Deps, and which of his single friends can he suggest for her? God bless Boom. She not only got Jason’s number, she got the names and numbers of all of his hot single friends. Remember how I said she makes friends with everyone she meets? This is foreshadowing, which I will point out because I have no sense of subtlety, and some of you are skimming and might miss it.
Sadly, I hated Jason by the end of the evening, when I learned that the crappy bottle of cabernet he recommended cost $85. (Nice guy, but a sommelier he’s not.) The sushi alone was $300 (totally worth it, though -- the kind of sushi where you actually have to *ask* for the soy sauce and ginger because it doesn't even need it and is almost an insult to the chef, and I will add that you haven't lived until you've had lobster cream roll). I am unemployed and cannot afford to live like this. Seriously, I have to forego health insurance this month to pay for that meal (again, totally worth it). I might never go to Koi again were it not for what happened later…
I order a cheaper bottle of wine, actually checking the wine list this time. Since the cabs all cost more than my cable bill, we have to downgrade to a merlot (I only drink reds unless there's something German on the menu), which is depressing, but not as depressing as the realization that Young Jed Bartlet’s tip will have a greater cash value than the jacket I’m wearing. (And to think, Stacy asked me why he was still waiting tables if he was landing roles on TWW and GG.) Then we move on to cappuccinos and dessert, chocolate and mango mochi balls and a delectable trio of crème brulees that are all the more amazing because I haven’t eaten sweets in a month, trying to get down to 120 lbs. and squeeze into size 4 jeans.
Dinner finally over, accounts settled, tears shed, we head outside. While my head is swimming through the euphoria of wondering if the hazelnut crème brulee will be the high point of the evening or if it will be my glass-shattering rendition of "Take on Me" that I know I’m going to nail when we get to Karaoke Revolution, Boom makes a detour for the ladies’ room and along the way manages to befriend the bartender and four lit agents from CAA. I leave her to her hobnobbing and follow Mr. Boom out to the valet station to wait for the car. Stacy and Elana emerge and join us, but still no Boom . The valet brings the car around, and Mr. Boom ’s growing annoyed (more annoyed). The sidewalk’s getting crowded, and I’m feeling like we’re in the way. I don’t notice at this point that several of the people crowding the sidewalk are holding cameras. But the moment Mr. Boom says, “There’s Boom ,” a bunch of guys leap toward the restaurant entrance, and what feels like a million cameras start flashing. It happened so suddenly, I think I actually screamed.
I’ve lived in L.A. for six years, and worked in the industry for almost that long, but this was my very first encounter with paparazzi. I had no idea how frightening it is, and I feel so sorry for celebrities now. I’ve been around throngs of photogs on the red carpet at various premieres and such, but it’s a very different experience when you’re not expecting it. This was actually only about five or six guys, but their flashes are huge and you feel like you’re being ambushed.
After my initial shock, I turn toward the entrance to Koi to see who all the attention is for. And whom do I see emerging but Boom (of course), smiling beatifically for the cameras like this happens to her every day. Wrapped around Boom , his arm tucked at her waist, is a dashing gentleman in a silver-grey suit that plays off the silver patina of his hair. This gentleman is none other than Harry Hamlin, aka Logan’s dad.
They stop on the sidewalk right in front of the paparazzi, and Harry Hamlin grins and announces, “We’re having an affair!” The irony of Aaron Echolls and his many affairs hasn’t hit me yet, because I’m busy thinking, Damn that Boom works fast.
The photogs lower their cameras, as it turns out that Harry and Boom ’s liaison does not quite pique their prurient interest. I see now that Lisa Rinna is right behind them, looking somewhat put out (and very leathery – she’s so over-tanned, she looks about ten years older than she is). Harry lets go of Boom and turns around, blocking his wife as the paparazzi maneuver around to get an angle on her. Lisa seems annoyed by all this, and exchanges a few glances and unintelligible words with her husband. I guess Harry had grabbed Boom in an attempt to run interference for Lisa, but there’s really no way out of here, assuming they valet parked.
With an audible sigh, husband and wife turn toward the cameras and smile. “Ok, we’ll do some pictures,” Lisa says self-importantly graciously. As the flashes start up again, I’m thinking, This is so surreal! It’s Logan’s parents! But I can’t help also wondering why paparazzi, who make their money sneaking pics of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt naked on a beach in Brazil, would be interested in low-rent property like Lisa Rinna.
Then Mr. Boom tells me it’s because of Dancing with the Stars, which I’ve never watched, but apparently it’s become quite the hit, and she’s emerged as the star of the show. Mr. Boom later explains to me that the paparazzi weren’t there for anyone in particular but just camp out in front of a lot of restaurants frequented by celebrities and shoot whatever they happen to get. Also, all the stars are currently away at Sundance, so the paparazzi left behind in L.A. are bottom feeding this week.
And that’s when the irony really hits me. When Rob tagged them to play Logan’s parents, Harry Hamlin was a has-been actor with a slightly-less has-been wife. They never would’ve received this kind of attention, the kind of attention their A-list characters would be used to. But now, with VM revitalizing Harry’s career and Lisa doing her reality show thing, it’s like Aaron and Lynn Echolls just walked out of Koi.
I’m witnessing this all as if it’s happening to me, in part because I can’t get out of the way of the cameras. As much as I’d love to let Aaron and Lynn Harry and Lisa have the spotlight all to themselves, the patio wall is behind me, and I’m stuck between a heat lamp and the valet station. So while Boom is stranded over on the other side of Lisa, I’m now next to Harry. Remaining calm, I do what any obsessed fangirl would do in this situation; I whip out my blackberry and start furiously emailing everyone I know:
Subject heading: I am standing next to harry hamlin
Message: And paparazzi are taking pictures of us. I am noot [sic] fucking kidding. Oh my god.
I have time to get off but one email [to a friend] before it’s all over and Lisa and Harry jump off a bridge/go to prison/ ride off into the night. I turn to Boom . “What the hell was that all about?”
Boom shrugs. “All I said to him was, ‘I loved you on Veronica Mars,’ and next thing I know, we’re having an affair.”
Then she starts chatting up the paparazzi, whilst poor Mr. Boom tries in vain to usher us toward the car. Next thing I know, Boom ’s got the paparazzi taking pictures of us; my arms are around Stacy and Elana and we’re smiling as cameras flash and I enjoy my fleeting moment of celebrity, and as one photographer shows his digital screen to Boom for photo approval, I’m telling another that I want my name spelled correctly on Wire Image.
Lola [spelled correctly, if that were her name]