Find Your Silver Lining

Never meet you idol. But if you do...make sure you take full advantage of the opportunity.

. . .

I thought I was the luckiest girl alive when I found out that my college film project had won me the opportunity to not only attend the premiere of In Dark Times, the most highly anticipated movie of the year, but also meet and sit with Charles Patrick, the star and a lifelong hero of mine.

Charles Patrick has been in so many incredible movies and brought so much genuine emotion and grit to the characters he's embodied. Little did I know that every time he fantastically portrayed a mean, tempestuous lush, it was because he could just be himself. What a cliché. His real awards should be for the persona he puts on in interviews.

. . .

The evening began with me being escorted to Charles' hotel room by his assistant. The thorough NDA she had me sign beforehand should have been a good tip-off.

I trailed after her as we approached Charles who was leaned back on a couch - shirt unbuttoned, glass of whiskey in his hand, and the faint stench of cigar smoke lingering in the air. Again, a living cliché (though perhaps a bit of a dated one).

"Mr. Patrick, this is Candace Wright, the young woman who won the film competition and will be attending the premiere with you tonight." She looked towards me and said, "Ms. Wright, the car is pulling up downstairs so I'm going to let you say hello and freshen up if needed, but please meet me in the lobby in no more than ten minutes." With that, the assistant rushed out and left me star-struck and tongue-tied.

I looked towards Charles who sat unmoved, still staring ahead at the TV screen in front of him.

"Hello Mr. Patrick. I'm such an enormous fan, I have been for years. Your role as Drake in Shining Pines actually inspired me to go to film school and --"

"Stop. Just stop. Look kid, I don't give a flying fuck about your career aspirations or really anything else about you. Obviously my publicist or assistant or whoever the fuck figured this was a good idea for my image. That I need to foster some young pup for the night so that I can seem benevolent and helpful. You got a chance to fly out here and watch my movie so just hold up your end by not making me look bad and this will be over in no time."

With that, he stood up, buttoned his shirt, knocked back the rest of his whiskey and walked out all before I had the chance to pull my jaw up off the floor. Honestly, I wasn't even surprised at him not being interested in what I had to say so much as shocked at the rudeness with which he delivered the message and his unwillingness to even pretend for a second for politeness's sake.

I somehow managed to shake myself out of it and scurry over to the elevator just as it closed in my face, the doors narrowing in over a smirking Charles swigging from a flask.

When I finally made it to the front doors, Charles's assistant is pacing back and forth on her cellphone outside of a limousine. She smiled apologetically when she saw me, clearly used to Charles' antics. She gestured to the back door and mouthed 'please get in,' then walked to the passenger seat and opened the door.

I did as instructed and found myself seated with only Charles for company. How cozy. Luckily it was a quick ride spent in uncomfortable silence, the only noise coming from Charles' long pulls from his flask. As we got in the line of limousines for the red carpet, Charles looked me up and down. "The least they could do when they make me give up a date that would give me head during this ride is pick a puppy that'll look more like a thoroughbred than a mutt. They obviously didn't provide styling or finances for it. Just try to stand up straight and smile."

He took one final swig, walked out of the limo, and the show began. He held a hand out to help me out. My nails had left marks in my palm from how tightly I formed a fist but what else could I do? I lightly put my hand in his and stepped out. The lights and yelling voices were overwhelming but Charles led me through to a woman with a microphone on the side of the carpet. She asked him some questions about the movie and he soared through with charisma while I gathered my wits. Finally, she asked about me.

"Oh this? This is Candace Wright," he said, shocking me with his ability to recall my name. "She's a brilliant young filmmaker that won a competition to join me tonight, but really it's my privilege to escort her."

"Wow that's fantastic," said the interviewer. "Candace, how does it feel to be Charles Patrick's date tonight?"

My brain was finally back to fully functioning and I gave the interviewer my most gracious smile. "It's truly a dream come true. I never could have imagined getting this opportunity. This is already more than amazing but honestly," I leaned in as though I was sharing a secret and slid my eyes towards Charles, "I know I'm not supposed to share this yet, but Charles is just too generous and incredible." Charles managed to keep his smile on his face but his eyes looked at me suspiciously.

"Charles watched my film and was so incredibly touched by the message of spreading kindness that he promised to fund my next project. No. Expense. Spared. How incredible is that of a seasoned industry member to promote new talent!?"

The interviewer gasped and said "That is truly amazing!" She turned towards the camera and said, "You heard it here first everyone, Charles Patrick is more gracious than we ever even knew!"

As we walked away, Charles' hand was a bit tighter than comfortable on my shoulder as he steered me away. He leaned down into my ear and sneered, "You're not going to get away with this you fucking bitch."

I turned and smiled to him as I adjusted his tie. "I can't imagine that your publicist or assistant or whoever the fuck will find a way to pull out of this without you looking like a right asshole - an alternative outcome that I'm entirely okay with! Now just try to stand up straight and smile. You're making me look bad."

We separated as soon as we were inside with Charles making a bee-line for the bar. I chatted and made some great connections. Ten minutes into the movie starting, Charles drunkenly passed out.

The light snoring he's providing from the seat beside me is the perfect score to my own movie playing out right now. I can already tell it'll be a happy ending.

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