The Miss Jobless Chronicles: Where’s Nicole?

Ed. note: “The Miss Jobless Chronicles” is a weekly series written by Caitlin O’Toole. Read the rest in the series here!

My friend Laura lives on 23rd street in London Terrace, a swanky, exclusive full-service Chelsea apartment building that was built in the 1930s. The schlep to her building from mine always seems to take forever — the blocks between 8th and 10th avenues are long and smell like dog pee because everyone in Chelsea has a dog. Every morning, maintenance workers hose down the sidewalks, but in the summer, the piss smell permeates the thick, hot air.

Laura pays me to walk Consuela, her horribly overweight Chihuahua. She doesn’t really need a dog walker; most times she’s just trying to justify giving me money because of my underemployment. It’s like when I was five and my dad would pay me fifty cents to shine his shoes — he didn’t really need them shined; he was just creating work for me to keep me busy and justify giving me spending money. Laura pays me to file, walk Consuela, and meet her at La Grainne Caffe on 9th avenue to “collaborate” on various TV projects. We sip $5 iced lattes and eat tartines with exotic jams and shoot the shit. It’s less about work and more about belly laughter and excellent people-watching.

Sometimes in the spring and summer, Laura gives me keys to her chic crib, which is full of original Warhol prints and Hockney drawings and antiques I am afraid to sit on. I once sat on a $10,000 moss green chaise lounge and my rather substantial rear end left an imprint in it that stayed. I tried to fluff it up, but the butt print wouldn’t go away. Her husband came home and was like, “Whose ass print is on the chaise?”

There’s an amazing indoor pool in Laura’s building that few people ever use. Annie Leibowitz — who used to live in the penthouse — used it for a photo shoot once. She photographed Laurie Anderson there. The pool is completely art deco. Beautifully designed. For $12 I can get a day pass, which I usually milk and use for the week if Roberto the doorman is in a good mood and lets me in. Every so often I buy him a lotto ticket to keep him happy and liking me.

Nicole Kidman has been in town shooting a movie. For some reason, she’s been spotted in Laura’s pool — I guess it’s ritzy enough for her but exclusive enough so the press doesn’t know about it. Knowing that she’s been around, I’ve been swimming a lot to try and secure a Nicole sighting. Having worked at Star and the Enquirer, my tabloid nature has asserted itself and I’m wondering if I can make tons of money by selling some revealing shot of her.

These days, I head to the pool every morning. She’s been spotted in the 8 am range, so I make sure to hit the lockers around 7:45. Then I can be home at 9 or 9:30 and start my day of networking, “working” for Laura, and selling shit on eBay.

There’s this website that lets you design your own t-shirt and buy just one (as opposed to a bulk amount). I decide to design one for Nicole that says LONDON TERRACE SWIM TEAM and on the back says NICOLE. It cost $22.95 plus shipping, which I totally don’t have to spare. I debate over fonts for a long time, but finally settle on the “athletic” font for the front and “comic sans” for her name. So the t-shirt arrives and I decide I want to put together a little “Australian” care package for her, to make her feel welcome. I take an old basket from my kitchen and put a little scrap of flowery fabric at the bottom of it. In the basket I put all things Aussie — a can of Foster’s, an INXS CD that I burn from my own collection, a stuffed Koala bear, a container of Vegemite and the shirt.

The big question, of course, is to figure out whether to leave it for her at the front desk, strategically leave it in the locker room for her to find, or give it to her in person. I’m pretty star struck, so when I meet celebrities I tend to shake. I met Bob from Sesame Street last spring and I almost fell over in convulsions; I can only imagine how it’d be if I met an A-lister like Nicole.

One morning, I head to the pool a little earlier than usual. Good thing I brought my Australian welcome basket with me, because Roberto informs me that Nicole is, indeed, inside swimming. All of a sudden I feel like throwing up. My legs go weak and there is a jolt of electricity that goes from the pit of my stomach to the tips of my toes. I think I’m going to faint.

The only thing I can really think at that moment is I hope I don’t see her in the locker room — I don’t want her to see me naked!

The locker room is empty but for one person. Where’s Nicole? It’s like a more fabulous game of ‘Where’s Waldo?’

As I enter the pool deck, I spot her. She’s wearing a half-wetsuit — long sleeves but with shorts. (Where does she think she is, Brisbane?) She’s thin and pale and absolutely stunning, even without all of the flashy red carpet accoutrements.

The lanes of the pool are all filled, and I see Nicole meekly ask a woman swimming in one of them if she can “share a lane” with her.

“Fine,” the woman huffs. “Just stay on THAT side.”

Nicole plunges into the pool, wetsuit and all, lowers her goggles and starts to swim. And she’s not kidding around — she seems like a serious swimmer.

I jump in the lane next to her and wait for her to get to the other end before I start swimming. Then we can pass each other underwater! Maybe I’ll wave!

I begin to swim slowly towards Nicole, and she swims towards me. Time seems to slow down as we approach each other in our opposite lanes, everything becomes slow motion. I pretend to do a slow breaststroke and stay under as long as I can so I can see her swim by. I turn my head to the right and see her squinched up face beneath her greenish-black goggles. Then, her creamy white thighs kick past me. I SO badly want to wave! Or grab one of her legs and then go, “just kidding”! Or ask her to play Marco/Polo with me!

This goes on for about ten laps, and then I decide I’ve had enough excitement for the day. So, apparently, has Nicole because she gets out of the pool before I do, grabs a red tote bag that she’s left next to the lifeguard, and heads towards the locker room. I wait a beat or two, and then I head there, too.

Where’s Nicole? No sign of her. I do, however, see her red tote bag on a bench! I figure she must be showering.
Now, what I’m about to do is what I call “reverse stealing.” It’s putting something in rather than taking something out. Time is of the essence — I can’t dilly-dally. Problem: the basket is too big for the tote bag. So I make a quick executive decision to leave it next to the tote bag, close enough so that she’ll know it’s for her. And I scurry out, and back up to Laura’s apartment. I smile to myself knowing that I had just made Nicole’s day.

Or someone else’s.

Two days later, I head over to London Terrace for a swim and I see a rather plump woman busting out of a t-shirt that says LONDON TERRACE SWIM TEAM and NICOLE on the back. I must have picked the wrong tote bag. I hope she enjoyed the Vegemite.

Caitlin O’Toole is a New York City-based writer and editor. A native of Washington, D.C., she began her illustrious journalism career as a Washington Post paper girl. She has since written and edited for Sesame Workshop Digital, Star Magazine, The National Enquirer, Glamour,, and Washington’s City Paper. Her work has also been featured on Fox News, ABC, MTV and VH1. She lives in Chelsea with her two cats, Lucy and Ethel. She can be reached for work at her LinkedIn page.

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