May 20, 2007

The other night I went out to dinner with Dan, the Hollywood producer. He thinks my life would make a TV show and he wanted to meet and talk about it. I figured that there's so little chance of it actually working out, why not?

Here's what will happen. I'll invest a lot of time and energy, get my hopes up, then after waiting six months he'll tell me it won't sell. Or maybe it will sell, and to be patient. Then another six months will go by. I'll feel disappointed because something I never thought about or knew I wanted didn't work out. Nobody's interested in my life? I'll be outraged. Then I'll remember it's just as well: I'm barely interested in it either.

We sit down in the Japanese restaurant and he asks about my job, but as soon as I begin talking, he's fumbling for something in his pocket. "Are you okay?" I ask. He nods. "Keep talking, I'm listening." Just then he pulls out a bottle of paracetamol and pops two into his mouth. "Don't take it personally," he says, "I have a terrible headache."

I didn't take it personally. Until he said that. Then all I could do was take it personally. The instant I begin talking, his head aches so badly that he can't wait until I finish my sentence before reaching for medication? Moreover, if a conversation about my life induces a splitting headache, it doesn't bode well for a television series. Mining this material for a show could be fatal. Then again, if it has the potential to make money, he can pay for a good doctor.

People say all the time that money doesn't make you happy, but that doesn't bother me. I'm okay with not being happy. And recently I've decided I'd rather be unhappy in business class. There's more room to mope.

If I'm going to stay home watching television, it might as well be on a flat-screen plasma in a bigger flat. I stay in bed all the time, so it might as well be on Frette sheets. I know money doesn't solve problems, but since I'm not solving them anyway, why not ruminate more luxuriously?

In New York, I tend to encounter a lot of people who are "fake poor". These are the people who, when you ask them what they do for a living, are always "freelancing". If you press for specifics, they smile and change the subject. But despite working on something they're not yet getting paid for - a book, a screenplay, putting a show together - they have endless cash. The giveaway is if you start to talk about being broke and how stressful it is, this blank look crosses their face. A fake-poor person will then suggest getting together for dinner to commiserate, and they'll choose a restaurant where a piece of sushi requires a bank loan. It's not that they think having money is something to be ashamed of, it's that they have the security but don't want to acknowledge it. Having security means they don't have to consider doing things they don't want to do, which is, of course, what motivates people to make money.

All of which brings me back to my dinner with Dan. He had enough enthusiasm about the project to convince me to write a synopsis.

There are many ways to look at it. I've chosen to embrace the positive.

When it fails, at least I can say I tried. And maybe this time, I might even get paid for my disappointment.