By Anthony Paull
You’re going to Sundance. You’re me, and your plane has just landed on an icy runway, but that’s fine and dandy because you’re ready to skid into Park City Airport and slide into your nicest shirt before heading out on the town.
It’s rather cold – freezing, to be precise – and your friend, your press badge and you, are bat-shit crazy from lack of sleep and a long flight. You can’t let that bother you, though. No, the only thing bothering you is you are so bat-shit crazy that you can’t shit at all. This always happens when you travel. You’re clogged, and you’re soon sitting on a freezing toilet in a lesbian bathroom in some fancy lounge.
You’re like Anne Heche waiting for a UFO. You know there’s something up there, but it never comes. You pray your never-ending fart is merely a hallucination.
“I can’t go!” you cry, calling your boyfriend back home.
He gives you some sound advice, like drink lots of water, and eat fiber. He feels your pain, he says. “But seriously, get your ass out there and party!”
You listen, and suddenly, you’re in the midst of a concert with lots and lots of people. Learning you’re a syndicated dating columnist, these people – these flashy, delicious scenesters – they want advice. They’re curious about love. “How do you know when you fall? How do you know when you’re in love?” they ask.
“You just know,” you answer. However, that’s pretty vague – kind of a cop-out. And you’re thinking of a better answer, but you’re drunk, and you can’t think too well. You’re watching Maroon 5 live, and you wonder how you got in without blowing the bouncer. Who knows? Maybe you’ll have to pay your dues on the way out.
Not this time!
The concert ends and, locating a back exit, you’re safe from sucking your way to the top. Instead, you find yourself running across an ice-ridden street to see Macy Gray play the role of a DJ at a posh after-party. She’s not very good, and your head is spinning to her spinning records.
Now you – professionally screwed-up you – know better than to talk dirty to A-list indie celebrities. Still, it’s such splendid fun that you can’t stop yourself. The late-night party is in celebration of your favorite film (“Good Dick”) premiering at the festival. And you walk up to the film’s lead, Jason Ritter, and tell him you loved the movie, but you really think he should shoot a sequel and call it “Big Dick,” because you, drunk you, you love big dicks, you tell him.
“Anthony, you can’t talk to celebrities like that,” your friend shrieks. “They will kick you out of here.”
Let them kick me, you think. Kick me into a toilet, and then kick me in the ass to relieve me of this painful, building pressure in my butt. Pressure! You’re under so much pressure; pressure to answer questions from strangers about love. They’re all looking for it – love – and they can’t tell if they’ve found it.
On another toilet, you’re pondering how you know when you’re in love. It’s a tricky thing, this love. When you initially connect with a really cool, attractive person, you often confuse newfound lust with love, but it feels so real, so fresh, so large, you can’t tell the difference. People are so desperate to be loved in this cold world – this cold canyon city – they toss the term out so quickly, so freely, it loses meaning.
As for you, you’re losing patience. “Baby, I still can’t go for some reason. It hurts,” you confide in your boyfriend over the phone.
“Don’t worry, baby. You’ll be home soon enough,” he says.
Yes, but first there are more exclusive parties and movies to attend, and what would Sundance be without a little swag? Later, reaching for a bag of complimentary goodies on an out-of-reach shelf, you find yourself balancing your body on a leather couch – dangling over Meg Ryan’s head – while praying you don’t crap your pants. You don’t mind risking your reputation until you discover the swag bag is empty, much like the interstate on the car ride back to the airport.
Most people would know not to take a taxi ride in such horrible weather. With the blinding snow falling heavy overhead, and the slippery-when-wet roads, most people would delay their flight. But you’re not most people. So you’re in this dirty taxi that smells like patchouli and suddenly you’re spinning out of control – like DJ Macy Gray – and you’re thrown in the way of oncoming traffic. Cars are skidding and sliding to avoid bulldozing over you. And you’re screaming for your life, for the taxi driver to do something, for just a few more years of life. In your head, you think of your boyfriend, of him getting “the call.”
“Your boyfriend had an accident …”
You shudder at the thought of your boyfriend getting that call. You actually hear the phone ring. You want to be in your boyfriend’s arms – home sweet home – when the taxi driver finally takes you to a safe place. And suddenly, you know how you know when you’re in love. It’s when you put that special person in your life before you, when the shit seriously hits the fan and you find yourself more concerned about how it will affect them, rather than if you will survive.