The Longest Elevator Ride of My Life

So Jon and I are parking the car, and the parking structure is monstrous, one of those structures that goes five floors underground, and the only empty spaces are on the fifth floor in a remote cavernous corner.

And we don’t necessarily mind, because we’re going to see one of those arty movies that’s only playing at like three screens in the entire country, and parking doesn’t really matter when you get to see a movie that people in Oklahoma really want to see, but won’t get to see for a very long time because they don’t live in LA or New York. When you think about it, they live in Okla-fucking-homa, and I know that the wind sweeps down the plain and that everything is O-fucking-K, but they really should be living in LA. We’ve got arty movies here.

Anyway, we make our way to the elevator, and because we’re on the bottom floor of the monstrous parking structure, we have to wait a few minutes for the next ride. And Jon and I are looking at the three other people waiting with us, three complete strangers, and we’re all silent, and we’re all letting each other know through like telepathy or something that, yes, we’re all here for the arty movie. People like us, people like those who are waiting with us, we don’t have to talk about how cool we are. All you have to do is look at our arty vintage shoes.

So the elevator finally arrives and we all clamber in, all five of us, and the doors close and we go up only one floor. And the doors open to let in those waiting on the fourth floor and there’s this couple standing there totally making out, groping and fondling and everything, his back to the door, she’s facing the elevator.

And as the doors open she realizes that five people are watching this detailed reproductive display, so she stops kissing the guy and tells him to stop, stop, cut it out, stop, the elevator is here. But he really doesn’t care, he’s trying to get his game on, so he continues to grope and he’s very earnest about the groping.

And she’s getting annoyed, so she finally forces his hands off her body and stops him with one final “cut it out!” So he reluctantly gives up the groping and turns to enter the elevator and as he turns around all five of us in the elevator realize that this gallant groper is none other than Giovanni Ribisi.

And he realizes, shit, there are five people standing there watching this and he knows that we all know who he is, and so he gives us this pleading, furrowed brow that says, please, for the love of god, don’t ask me about the Mod Squad, I don’t know what I was thinking, can I please just have my dignity?

And all five of us are cool enough that we know better than to call attention to a celebrity. You just don’t do that here. Forget about people who refuse to speak English at garage sales, celebrities are the real victims in Los Angeles. Not only could he not get his game on, he couldn’t get his game on in front of five people who recognize him and have all questioned his legitimacy after he decided to guest star on Friends, who were all really touched by his performance in Saving Private Ryan. It was like he had just jumped off a diving board and belly flopped on the concrete below. It just hurt. It was hurtful.

We’re all hurting for him and no one is saying anything as he and his partner in reproduction step into the elevator, and the silence is hurting, and we’re all holding our breath, and I want to say to him, Gio, sweet Gio, it’s all good sweetie. We promise not to tell anyone.

But I don’t say anything, not a word. No one in the elevator is saying anything, and just as the doors are about to close some guy runs at the elevator and sticks his hands between the closing slabs of steel, forcing them open. And he steps into the elevator and sighs like, whew, glad I didn’t miss the elevator, and he’s standing face-to-face with Gio.

And like so many other uncomfortable moments in my life this one unfolds in slow motion. Like, everyone is breathing in slow motion, and we’re all thinking is slow motion guttural moans, oohhhhh gggooooooodddddd, pppplllllleeeeeaaaassseeee dddooooonnnn”””ttttttt. But the guy can’t hear us and we’re all standing there helpless, in slow motion helplessness, and he grins in slow motion, and he says to Gio in the same slow motion guttural moan, “Hhhhhhheeeeeyyyyyy, mmmmmaaaaaaannnnnn. IIIIIII lllloooooovvvveeeedddd tttthhhheeee Mmmmmooooooddddd Sssssqqqquuuuaaadddd!”

And Gio just stands there, in slow motion, nodding his head in slow motion, not saying anything in slow motion. And the doors finally close and we begin the trek up another three floors, all in the most fucking painful slow motion.

And the slow motion doesn’t stop until Jon and I are sitting in the theater 10 minutes later, but it feels like 45 minutes later because of all the slow motion. And we look at each other like, did that just happen? and like, some people can be so insensitive, and we feel better about ourselves because we’re never insensitive.