Authors: Chelsea Handler
Tags: #Relationships, #Autobiography, #Man-woman relationships, #Humor, #Psychology, #Form, #Form - Essays, #Entertainment & Performing Arts - General, #Entertainment & Performing Arts, #General, #Topic, #Family & Relationships, #Personal Memoirs, #Human Sexuality, #Biography & Autobiography, #Interpersonal relations, #Essays, #Sex, #Biography
Names and identifying characteristics have been changed.
SIMON SPOTLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
An imprint of Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020
Copyright © 2008 by Chelsea Handler
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
SIMON SPOTLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT and related logo are trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Are you there, vodka? It’s me, Chelsea / by Chelsea Handler.—1st ed.
1. Man-woman relationships. 2. Sex. I. Title.
Visit us on the World Wide Web:
To my mother.
I love you, chunky monkey.
I’d like to thank some people. Michael Broussard and his dog. Trish Boczkowski, Jennifer Bergstrom, and everyone at Simon Spotlight Entertainment. My family is very important, and even though you have very little to do with this book’s coming to fruition, you have very much to do with this book’s coming to fruition. Lastly, I’d like to thank Chuey. You are my nugget.
P.S. I’d also like to thank Regan Books for letting me out of my contract with them.
was nine years old and walking myself to school one morning when I heard the unfamiliar sound of a prepubescent boy calling my name. I had heard my name spoken out loud by males before, but it was most often by one of my brothers, my father, or a teacher, and it was usually followed up with a shot to the side of the head.
I turned around and spotted Jason Safirstein. Jason was an adorable fifth-grader with an amazing lower body who lived down the street from me. I had never walked to school, had a conversation with, or even so much as made eye contact with Jason before. After lifting up one of my earmuffs to make sure I had heard him correctly, I nervously attempted to release my wedgie while waiting for him to catch up. (A futile effort, as it turned out, when wearing two mittens the size of car batteries.)
“I heard you were going to be in a movie with Goldie Hawn,” he said to me, out of breath.
Shit. I had worried something like this was going to happen. The day before, I had forgotten my language arts homework, and when the teacher singled me out in front of the entire class to find out where it was, I told her that I had been in three straight nights of meetings with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, negotiating my contract to play Goldie Hawn’s daughter in the sequel to
The fact that no sequel to
was in the works, or that a third-grader wouldn’t be negotiating her own contract with the star of the movie and her live-in lover, hadn’t dawned on me.
“Yeah, well, that was kind of a lie,” I mumbled, recovering my left mitten from in between my butt cheeks.
“What?” he asked, astounded. “You lied? Everyone has been talking about it. Everyone thinks it’s so cool.”
“Really?” I asked, quickly changing my tune, realizing the magnitude of what had happened. It occurred to me that this was the perfect opportunity to get some of the respect I believed had been denied me, due to my father dropping me off in front of the school in a 1967 banana yellow Yugo. It was 1984, and my father had no idea of or interest in how damaging his 1967 Yugo had been to my social status. He had driven me to school on a couple of really cold days, and even after I had pleaded with him to drop me off down the street, he was adamant about me not catching a cold.
“Dad,” I would tell him over and over again, “the weather has nothing to do with catching a cold. It has to do with your immune system. Please let me walk. Please!”
“Don’t be stupid,” he would tell me. “That’s child abuse.”
I wanted my father to know that child abuse was embarrassing your daughter on a regular basis with no clue at all as to the repercussions. Word had spread like wildfire throughout the school about what kind of car my father drove, and before I knew it, the older girls in fifth grade would follow me through the hallways calling me “poor” and “ugly.” After a couple of months they upped it from “ugly” to “a dog,” and would bark at me anytime they saw me in the hallway.
Our family certainly wasn’t poor, but we lived in a town where trust funds, sleepaway camps, and European vacations were abundant, along with Mercedes, Jaguars, and BMWs—a far cry from my world filled with flat tires, missing windshield wipers, and cars with perpetually lit
The idea that showing up at school in a piece of shit jalopy led to me looking like a dog didn’t make much sense in my mind. It really irked me that I had to be punished because my father thought he was a used car dealer and insisted on driving us around in the cars that he couldn’t sell. I wanted to tell my classmates that I didn’t like his cars either, and I certainly didn’t like being called a dog. I hadn’t had a low opinion of myself before then, but after being called the same nickname for six months straight, you start to look in the mirror and see resemblances between yourself and a German shepherd.
If it had been mild teasing, I think I probably could have handled it. But it was incessant, and started from the moment I got to school until the moment I left. After a while, most of my friends in the third grade would avoid being seen with me in the hallways because they didn’t want to be blacklisted too. My best friend, Jodi Sapperman, was the only one who would walk with me to every class and defend me when the fifth-grade girls would come over to our table in the cafeteria and ask if I was eating Alpo for lunch.
“Well, I shouldn’t have said ‘lie.’ That’s the wrong word,” I told Jason. “I’m having trouble getting the trailer size I want. Goldie’s being pretty cool, but Kurt is so mercurial. He doesn’t understand why a nine-year-old needs a Jacuzzi and a personal chef,” I said nonchalantly, with a wave of my mitten. “These types of things always take time.”
“You get your own trailer?” he asked.
“Yeah, you know, your own little house when you’re on set. Every actor gets one. There’s sooo much downtime in movies, you really need a place to unwind. In my opinion, it’s not nearly large enough to live in for three months, but it’s my first major role, so I’m willing to settle for a little less than the crème de la crème.”
My vast knowledge of movie-making at the age of nine came from spending every free minute watching television, movies, and reading any book about the filming of
The Breakfast Club
I could get my hands on. I think when you grow up in a house surrounded by cars from the previous two decades and parents who insist that ten dollars for a pair of jeans in 1984 is excessive, you have no choice but to immerse yourself in a world where money is no object.
“I didn’t even know you were an actress,” Jason said. “How did you get the part?”
“It’s ‘actor’,” I said, correcting him. “The thing is, I was in a little Off-Broadway production with Meryl Streep.” I took a long pause, allowing him to interrupt.
“Meryl Streep?” he asked. “The one from
“Is there another?” I asked, rolling my eyes at his naivete. “Anyway, she and I really clicked. She recommended me to the director of this movie. That’s how Hollywood works—one thing leads to another, blah, blah, blah. But they’re having a ton of creative issues, so who knows if it will even go.”
“Go where?” he asked.
“If the movie will even be made.”
I could tell Jason was disappointed and I didn’t want to lose his attention, so I hurried to keep him interested. I had always dreamed of becoming romantically involved with an older man and thought Jason not only had the makings of a wonderful lover, but also of a dedicated father to the two black twins I had planned on adopting from Ethiopia. “I mean, it will go, but it could take months. Maybe you can visit me on set.”
“Really?” he asked, his eyes ready to pop out of their sockets.
I had to think of something quick to recant my offer after realizing I would never be able to pull it off, so I quickly added, “Well, I mean if your parents will let you fly to the Galapagos Islands.”
“The Galapagos,” I said, trying to come up with a reason they would be shooting the sequel to
surrounded by turtles. “They have a ton of rare animals there, so the movie’s going to be more of her roughing it in the water with jellyfish and sea horses. It’s basically a cross between
!” Jason screamed. “This is so cool!”
“Darryl’s a complete mess,” I told him, shaking my head.
“Don’t even get me started,” I snorted.
Once we arrived at school, I played it cool and left Jason with his mouth agape, as I told him I’d talk to him later and went on my way. It felt great to get attention from him. Even if our star signs didn’t end up being sexually compatible, he was cute and popular, and it would definitely not hurt to have him as a friend. He could be the perfect ally to help get the evil fifth-grade girls to show me a little respect.
By lunch, almost every person at school had asked me about the movie. Not only did the fifth-grade girls skip their daily harassment, one of them even said “hi” as she walked by. Not one person had made fun of me or barked at me all day. Before Jodi and I could even sit down to eat lunch, kids were scrambling to come up to my table.
“What’s Goldie Hawn like?” one of the other boys in fifth grade asked me.
“Tiny,” I told him. “We’re practically the same size.”
“Really? She seems so much taller in the movies.”
“She’s like a mom to me. We totally get each other.”
Once we had a minute to ourselves, Jodi finally confronted me and said she knew for a fact I hadn’t been in a play with Meryl Streep, never mind the Off-Broadway version of
, which by lunchtime I had cleverly renamed
“I know, Jodi, but look at it this way: This is the first day in months that I haven’t been called a dog or ugly by the fifth-graders, and I’ll be honest with you, it feels pretty sweet.”
“I know,” she said, “but what are you gonna do when they find out you’re lying?”
“They’ll forget about it,” I said, loving the attention. “I’ll just tell them it shoots over the summer, and by the time everyone gets back next year, they’ll have forgotten. Plus, all the fifth-graders will have gone to middle school by then, so they can suck it.”
“Yeah, but what about everybody else?” she asked. “Isn’t there a way you could actually get to meet Goldie Hawn and at least get a picture with her?”
“That’s a great idea,” I told her as I unbuckled my Ms. Pac-Man lunchbox to find a peanut-butter-and-cream-cheese sandwich. “What the hell is this?” I asked, unwrapping it and then slamming it down on the table. “My parents are the worst.”
Jodi and I had been friends since kindergarten, so she was used to this kind of mix-up. As sweet and loving as my mother was, she had the organizational skills of a sea lion and could never remember to make me lunch. So every morning I had to tell my father to make it for me. He, in turn, had the culinary skills of a sea lion, and no matter how many times I repeated the phrase “peanut butter and jelly,” he always somehow managed to fuck it up.
“Do you want half of my sandwich?” Jodi asked, offering me the other half of her ham and cheese. Had I not kept kosher my entire third-grade year, I would have dove into it headfirst.
“Just forget it,” I said, skipping the sandwich and taking a bite out of one of my Ding Dongs.
The day grew more and more insane as well-wishers and new fans were approaching me left and right, prying for information. One first-grader even asked me for my autograph. By the end of the day, not only were we filming in the Galapagos, but Soleil Moon Frye, a.k.a. Punky Brewster, would be playing my sister in the movie. Then I realized that her dark hair and freckles were in stark contrast to my blond hair and blue eyes and quickly made her my stepsister instead.
By the time school let out, everyone who lived in my neighborhood was racing to get one-on-one time with me, and I walked home with eight other children. The great thing about this attention was that it was coming from all the older kids, who I always believed were my core demographic. I always felt older than the kids my age, and I would get so frustrated when the other third-graders showed no interest in trying to help me figure out what really went down during the Nixon administration a decade earlier. I remember having this feeling early on, during my second day of kindergarten. It became apparent to me that all of my classmates had the necessary faculties to play a serious game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, but had no designs on how to forge a late note from their parents.
I constantly had visions of skipping a grade or two, becoming a trailblazer of sorts, and possibly inventing something along the lines of Cabbage Patch Kid “Plus.” Once patented, it would look and feel like a regular Cabbage Patch Kid, but would also be able to help you with chores around the house. It would be able to speak different languages like Spanish and Farsi, and if you poked it in the eye, it would shit out a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich on rye.
I walked into my house that cold December day floating on air. “Hi, Mom!” I said as I triumphantly threw my backpack on the ground and skipped into the kitchen.
“Chelsea, sweetie, your father just got off the phone with your principal, Mr. Hiller.”
“What kind of meshugas is this, Chelsea?” my father asked, using one of his two favorite Yiddish phrases. “You’re shooting a movie with Goldie Hawn and flying to the Galapagos?”
My whole day deflated in a matter of seconds. “Mrs. Schectman was making a big deal about me not doing my homework and the Goldie Hawn story was the only thing I could think of,” I told them.
“Well, why didn’t you do your homework?” he asked me.
“Because, Dad!” I wailed, bursting into tears and stomping my left foot. “It was the season premiere of
Charles in Charge
! Are you out of your tree?”
“Chelsea, sweetie, you don’t have to make up such farfetched lies,” my mother said in her ultracalm tone. “Couldn’t you have come up with something a little more reasonable?”
“I know,” I told her, defeated, and walked over for a hug. My mother was always a softie, and once I got over to her I knew my father would cease being such an immediate physical threat. “But everyone started to believe it and all the older kids were asking me about it and I got carried away.”
“Well,” my father said dismissively, “you’re just going to have to go back to school tomorrow and tell everyone the truth.”
The problem with being the youngest of six children is that my father had me when he was forty-two years old, resulting in what I like to refer to as “severe generational gappage.” That, coupled with the fact that he was born without the embarrassment gene, left us little in common. It would have seemed completely appropriate to my father for me to hold a press conference in the school’s auditorium the next day, wearing a helmet with a maxipad stuck to my forehead while announcing into a microphone that I’d been a “bad, bad girl, and I’ve also been known to shit my pants.”