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.