One fateful Tuesday before the Emmy Awards, Larry Miller got a call with an offer he thought he could refuse.
“So, is one o’clock okay for your foot massage?”
Every so often in life someone utters a line that just can’t be beat, and I think that’s one of them. A team of writers could work all day, every day, for the rest of their lives, and never top it for pure emblematic idiocy. I picked up the phone at the office, said hello, and that’s how the voice at the other end answered, with no preamble: “So, is one o’clock okay for your foot massage?”
True, the initial question was delivered with a splash of facetiousness by the caller, a voice I knew well, my publicist and friend, and noted dueling enthusiast, Michael Hansen.
This was no idle offer, though: This was a business matter, and one that went beyond the normal pampering so casually passed around Hollywood like syphilis at a Fatty Arbuckle party. It was Emmy Awards Sunday, you see — one of the big days and nights here in the Dream Factory — and there were three reasons I looked at the phone blankly:
- As Hansen knew, I don’t spend an awful lot of time in life hunting up strangers to rub my feet. (There’s nothing wrong with my feet, by the way).
- I wasn’t nominated for anything that year.
- I wasn’t going.
Yet here I was being handed (or footed) an apparently much-sought-after top-shelf amenity, and only one among the dozens of other free gifts available to me at the same time, courtesy of HBO, as part of their annual, pre-Emmy Sunday Afternoon Splasheroo at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills.
Another irony: My wife is a multi-award-winning television writer, with one of those awards coming for a great series on HBO, “Dream On,” and the only one in our family ever nominated for an Emmy (twice). But in this case Hansen told me I couldn’t send her in my place to cart off a tumbrel-load of free stuff, and that someone wanted me to do the hauling personally.
Well, the foot rub was okay.
When I walked out front for my car, things were really heating up for the Emmys, with limos and flowers, and publicists barking orders into cell phones. I loaded the bags into the trunk, and rolled slowly down the driveway of show business and back over the hill to the sunny world of Little League.
My wife was in the stands watching one of the kids, and she kissed me and told me he was really hitting the ball hard today, and how the little one had made a great catch earlier. She asked how it went at the Peninsula, and I handed her sunglasses, and she put them on and smiled, and I told her there was lots more, but, boy-oh-boy, just wait’ll she sees my feet.
This excerpt is adapted from “Spoiled Rotten America: Outrages of Everyday Life,” published by Regan Books.