The Woman Who Lives Behind Your Couch

Everyone in L.A. has celebrity sightings.

It’s as much a part of life here as valet parking at the mall.  Most Angelenos ~ those not toting 20-ft lenses ~ let the famous faces go about their everyday business without much fanfare.  Oh look, Robert Downey Jr. is having a coffee.  Cool.  But unless you’re Suri’s nanny, Mel Gibson’s housekeeper (poor thing), or George Clooney’s best friend (poor thing), chances of a star encounter in a living room are slim to anorexic.

Cut to:  A sunny Saturday afternoon in the early 2000s

Post The Royal Tenenbaums, pre Old School, I joined my husband on a house call to Luke Wilson’s place near the beach.  My husband is a hairstylist and dresses the tresses of many Hollywood stars.  As one might expect, I very rarely accompany him on his celeb style-making missions.   However, on this particular day we were already out and about together when the 9-1-1 call was received. Luke hospitably extended an invitation for me to come along to his house and I have to admit, he had me at hello.  Not when he opened the door, smiled and said, “Hello.”  Rather, when I looked over his shoulder and saw the mounted javelina head from The Royal Tenenbaums fastened on the wall above the staircase.    So right.

I took my place on the living room couch while the haircut proceeded in another room.  Luke’s oldest brother and a friend were watching television and three little kids were running around.  The guys had their eyes glued to a fascinating golf tournament, so there was not much conversation to be had.  “Did you see that monster?” asked a three-foot boy.   I joined the kids’ game of stay away from the dog and found myself crawling behind furniture and the adjacent drapes, half-pretending the taunted mutt wouldn’t find me.  I was lodged between the sofa and the wall when I heard a familiar twang enter the room.  So wrong.

While the rhythmic dance of the Texan voice played out conversational formalities I was calculating my next move.  Should I remain crouched at the base of the white sectional, hidden from all but the four-legged monster who now frolicked with the children outside on the patch of grass?  The longer I waited, I surmised, the more haunting the situation could become.  Like staying ‘til the end of Love Actually.  I hyper-consciously arose from behind the couch, playing girl out of the cake but actualizing phantom from the crypt.  Owen paled and dropped the remainder of his sentence.  We locked eyes over the couch.

“Hi!” I offered with a smile.  “Hi,” he said, his blond head cocked to the right.  And then, to the left.   His gaze wandered to the others in the room, seeking answers.   No such luck ~ Tiger Woods was on the green.  Finally, the man gave up.  “Who are you?” he asked.

“Me?”  I implored politely as I placed my hand on my collarbone, catching my heart en route to my throat.  “I’m the woman who lives behind your couch.”


© Jennifer Dowd 

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