This Just In!
By Lake Stevens, Man About Town
November 13, 2005
Horn of Plenty
As I watched Lupita sweep up the last traces of smashed jack-o-lantern from the buffed marble steps beneath the porte-cochere of
my Brentwood home, I thought about how mean children can be at Halloween. How was I supposed to know they prefer hydrogenated
chocolate flavored sticks-o-crap to hand-dried Turkish apricots from Dean and Deluca? The magazines say there's an
obesity epidemic in this country -- I wanted to make sure the kids received a treat that contributes to a diet
high in vitamins and minerals. Though, living in Los Angeles, one would never suspect this "obesity" thing -- everyone here is delightfully svelte.
I commented to "the wife" just the other day how stunningly Nicole Richie's coccyx shone through her Michael Kors gown at the Young
Hollywood Style party. That girl's got a set of pelvic crests I would kill for.
"Oh, and Lupita -- make sure you don't miss any of the seeds that might have drifted behind the topiary garden.
I don't want any of those homeless bellying up to my front door and grazing off the scraps."
"Si, Señor Lake."
Lupita didn't look up from her scrubbing. She was always so serious. Seeing her hard working, calloused hands move back and
forth over the smooth imported stone, I realized that the next big holiday was nearly upon us.
"And cheer up," I told her, "it's almost Thanksgiving!"
It didn't occur to me until later that Mexicans probably
don't understand this holiday of ours. Which means there is really no need to give her the day off! After all, someone
needs to ladle the curried-ginger squash soup from the tureen at the Stevens' Holiday Table. Lupita might even get to have a bite of cranberry and
pomegranate chutney if she can ladle with a steady hand.
Last year her clumsiness guaranteed that Shannen Doherty would never dine at my abode again. In her simple
rusticness, Lupita didn't understand that "two tiny drips" of gravy on a Fendi Spy Bag is enough to break up a friendship
forever. The only reason she wasn't fired is because "the wife" is addicted to Lupita's handmade mole. There's
probably mescaline in it or something.
A holiday traditionally associated with family, Thanksgiving is an emotional time for The Stevens. "The wife's"
mother was put into a "retirement home" a few years back after she set her cardigan sleeve on fire while trying
to light a cigarette from the electric range top. The house burned to the ground.
Thankfully, living in The Home will ensure that if she takes too many Loritab, she's got a "retirement buddy" who
might or might not call the medics. More importantly, "the wife" and I no longer have to invent excuses as to why we're not joining Mumsy for the holidays.
The sole time we visited her
East Detroit home, I was squeezed into a dining room the size of a tab of acid. A Corningware trough of green bean amandine
sat at one elbow, a crackle glass
dish of cranberry sauce with the can ridges still intact was at my other, and Uncle Mervin's hand groped the upper part of my thigh. Uncle Melvin smelled like
an alleyway off of Sunset and couldn't stop talking about how lonely he'd been since returning from 'Nam. Why he looked so pointedly
at me when he said this last, I'll never know. It's not like I was a soldier. Mumsy will get to have her feast in the senior center/cafeteria
with all her friends. She won't have to lift a finger -- and isn't that what it's all about? I
think the retirement home staff buses in a few family-sized orders of Boston Market or something. The old girl will be okay.
My thoughts back squarely on my own predicament of pulling off an A-list meal, I immediately phoned my favorite meat man, Bjorn, and asked him to track down an Organic Wild Game Turkey
from a continent untouched by the bird flu. Bjorn has proven his willingness to go that extra distance for me.
Last summer "the wife" decided to host an authentic Australian BBQ. Bjorn
was sent Down Under to shoot and bring back a few of those delicious kanga-roos they have hopping all over the place. Someone told me it's illegal to
kill kangas...but I figure those Aussies won't miss a few. Aren't they
basically the equivalent of a giant, hopping rat? I'm simply helping with the Australian vermin problem. Besides, Kanga meat is so lean and silky -- it reminds of me of that afternoon
I spent with that vaporetto operator in Venice when I was in town for the Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica.
Papa mia, indeed.
With the Wild Game Bird secured, it was time to decorate La Casa de Lake. Giddy as a schoolgirl just
offered a ride from a man in a brand new Mercedes SCL, I rushed to retrieve my prized Horn of Plenty. The antique porcelain Cornucopia
had belonged to my dear mother, bless her soul. Besides nature's rich bounty and the promise of fulfillment, the Horn of Plenty reminds of me chilly New England Novembers: the smell of roasted
pecans, the promise of snow hanging in the air, sleigh bells just around the corner. Every Thanksgiving, the Stevens Family
would gather around the crackling hearth to listen to Great Nana Stevens' stories of her girlhood on the Vineyard. She rhapsodized for hours
about the friendly games of stick ball and kick the can, the rock candy she and her sister purchased from the soda fountain/pharmacy, and how racial purity
actually meant something. Everyone could have stood to learn a thing or two from Nana.
I like to think that Nana lives on in the spirit of my modern-day Thanksgiving meal. As an Americana purist, I always insist on having as authentic a feast as possible. A few years back, I sent my man-servant,
Hans, on a top secret mission to Massachusetts to buy a slab of Plymouth Rock -- the hallowed spot where the Indians and White Man ate their first
meal of turkey and maize.
I didn't understand why the Governor had the reaction that he did -- something about historical significance and not squandering our proud history for the
sake of fashion. What? Doesn't the US Constitution guarantee
all Americans the right and privilege to embrace our history? Besides, if it's not fashionable, why bother?
Later Hans fulfilled his mission under the cover of night.
The slab, though not quite as flashy as I might have preferred, looks fabulous as the centerpiece of the waterfall rock garden in my entryway atrium.
Since we're talking history, any text book will
tell you that Thanksgiving was shared between the Friendly White Man and the Savage Red Skin who, with a bit of education, could
learn how God might help him change his uncivilized ways. Even though they never seemed to catch on, we still recognize the value of having Real Indians during the Thanksgiving
Season. I had my driver, Boris, take me to the Golden Acorn Gaming Casino on the outskirts of San Diego. This was further than I normally like to travel
outside of Los Angeles by car, but I thought that, with a name like "Golden Acorn," the tribal peoples were ready to do their part. You can understand
my outrage when, after I tried to strike a deal
with the owner to have a score of them loaded into the back of a truck and shipped to Brentwood, I was refused. Even with the promise of top shelf
spirits, the man wouldn't budge. It was all Boris could do to wrap his arms around my mid-section and drag me from the Gaming Room.
"Just be glad I got that syphilis thing taken care of last week -- I wouldn't have thought twice about leaving fluids on the slot pulls!"
Still smarting by the savage rejection, I decided that the next best thing would have to suffice. I told "the wife" to tell Lupita to sew up a
dozen Indian outfits for The Help to wear while they serve the guests. I suggested that sewing a few arrow heads or plastic tomahawks
would add a sense of Injun authenticity. Rico, my new personal valet, will look delicious in a buckskin outfit.
Next came the guest list. Thanksgiving is a holiday that requires sensitivity -- one can never be entirely sure when
a particular celebrity is "dieting" for a role and has restricted her intake to Gaulloise blondes and Coke with
Splenda. To be on the safe side, I always set the table with oversized serviettes in case I've misjudged who is
actually eating and who is balling up their semi-chewed stuffing in my linens. I am not one to judge. I just tell
the clean-up help to discard anything that seems unusually heavy or stained. It's not as though I'm going to use the linens again -- who would
be caught dead with the same table settings two years in a row?
"The wife" and I went over last year's list. Oprah was certainly out. I do not want a repeat performance of her gravy chugging contest.
Though she and Kirstie went toe-to-toe in that category, Oprah came out on top like she always does.
Angelina already phoned to say couldn't make it;
she'd be on a reconnaissance mission to Taipei -- something about trying to adopt a "yellow" baby. (When I told her she's already got a yellow one,
she corrected by saying that Maddox is "cinnamon-colored.") Angelina is certainly A-list, but her absence didn't disappoint me as you might expect. Jen and Vince were planning to attend
and I wished to avoid any unnecessary unpleasantries. A cat fight is always good fun to watch, but a flying forkful of glazed
parsnips would have spelled death for the antique Queen Anne chairs I'd just had reupholstered with Qing Dynasty-era silk.
"The wife" tapped at the list with her Cross Verve Platinum fountain pen. "What about Natalie Portman?"
I rolled my eyes. "No way. Do you want to be bored to death again? No one wants to hear about her Ivy League education.
Until she starts boozing at Element, I don't want to know."
I crossed off her name.
We continued down the list. Kate Cruise had emailed that she would be alone this year...strongly hinting that it
was somehow my problem. Tom was going to be on another "Scientology retreat" with his "best friend," Lars. I sputtered
in disbelief when "the wife" said I shouldn't turn away a woman with child. This was exactly why I shouldn't invite
the little tart -- I couldn't chance some kind of weird silent miscarriage during the meal. What would Jude and Sadie think?
Plus, I would probably be expected to feed and listen to Kate's Scientology handlers and that annoying Cruise sister/recently-fired publicist. Too risky.
Kate Moss, on the other hand, was a no brainer. She looks so radiant since getting out of rehab and she always has the best coke. However, for appearances, I'd have to
remember to have Lupita clean out the downstairs loo and make sure the coca was removed. I don't want to be considered an
Would it be rude to invite only one Olsen? They say they're trying to do more things separately these days. I'd
love to have MK, but don't want the fat one to hold a grudge. When "the wife" added Mary Kate to the list,
I made a mental note to be sure to remove all the laxatives from the cabinet in the downstairs loo. Again,
being an enabler just doesn't look good. I've got a reputation to protect.
We rounded out the guest list with Sandra and that burly bear of hers (I have a weakness for tattoos), Justin and Cameron, Minnie, Keanu, Mike Ovitz
and Cheryl Tiegs. Against my better judgment, "the wife" convinced me that I should try to bury the hatchet and let bygones be bygones with Elton.
"Ok fine. But if that old queen starts to so much as complain even a little bit that there's not enough nutmeg in the creme fraiche-topped scalloped
potatoes, I'm going to stab him with my fork."
I gazed at my list, satisfied. I was about to have Lupita draw my nightly bath and whiskey when I realized I had forgotten the most important thing.
Thanksgiving is about being thankful! Living this fast-paced celebrity life, I sometimes forget to smell the roses and consider what really matters.
I immediately sat down to my Louis XVI writing desk and crafted a list of the top five things I was most thankful for this year.
1. The police think it's Boy George's coke.
He knows I've got his balls in a vice should he ever reveal the true owner's identity.
Though I'd hate myself for awhile, I am not above a smear campaign.
2. Mike Jackson in Bahrain.
Bahrain is the perfect place of solitude for The Gloved One. Where else can he get time alone to write a Hurricane Katrina charity single?
More importantly, young boys and their parents can regain their naíve and innocent trust in celebrities. Soon,
no one will bat an eye if I invite a youngster to my beach house for the weekend. Eating ice cream and reading magazines with today's youth
is hardly cause for a five-alarm call to social services. There are terrorists out there who want us dead -- isn't that more important than whether
I did or didn't give him a taste from my tumbler?
3. Paris Latsis is single again.
Three words: Greek. Shipping. Heir. I'll just ignore the fact that he's permanently scarred and diseased.
4. French 75's
A delightful refresher on a warm summer evening.
1 ounce gin
1/4 ounce lemon juice
1/8 ounce simple syrup
5 ounces chilled champers
Hmmmm... Number five, numero cinco. I thought long and hard about what should round out the list. Though Ferragamo slippers and cruelty free foie gras rank high,
I wanted to probe deep into my
heart and find what really mattered most. As Lupita brought in a tray of loganberry scones and a nip of cappuccino I suddenly had it.
Without these strong-boned and deportable individuals, I would not have the "Indians" I needed for the big feast! Who would bring my toddy
while I conferenced poolside with M. Night Shyamalan about screenplay ideas? I certainly couldn't live without having my bunions shaved down every six
months. And who else would be there to park the Miata when "the wife" and I returned home from a refreshing Pacific Coast Highway jaunt to pick up
fresh avocados and figs from a roadside stand? Like the Indians they sort of are, the Mexican people truly make me grateful. Even if I have to
listen to that cumbia music spilling out of the servants' quarters on their half-days off, I realize that we all have to learn to make
sacrifices to survive together peacefully in this world. But then, if it wasn't Mexicans, it would probably be the
Guatemalans. And I thank my stars every day that this isn't the case.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!
-Lake Stevens, Man About Town