Floating Around Hollywood Excerpt

The Oreo Affair

It’s not my fault, but wherever I go in life, embarrassing things happen to me. I’m a magnet for them.

As mentioned earlier, I worked as an assistant to two writers on Bay Watch. It was a terrific job—my first in this terrific industry—and I felt very lucky to be working long hours for some of the nicest people in entertainment.

Writers’ assistants very often get swamped with revisions, script copying, script distribution and other details, so that occasionally lunch time will either disappear altogether or will be delayed until 3:30 or 4:00.

It was one of those days. Luckily, I worked in an office only a couple of doors down from a small kitchen area, so when it became apparent that my stomach wasn’t going to rest until it had leaned up and taken a bite out of my heart, I stepped next door to find something to pacify it. I found: ONE Oreo cookie. That was it. Other ravenous appetites had preceded me to the pantry. Well, okay—better than nothing.

The water cooler stood empty, too. But, hey, I grew up on a ranch in the Pacific Northwest and the forty pounds of water sitting in a large plastic jug on the floor held no terror for ME.

I put the ENTIRE Oreo cookie into my mouth (possession being nine tenths of the law) and strong-armed the five gallon jug onto my forearm.

I was just upending it onto the water cooler when the door opened next to me. I heard the Executive Producer’s voice: “Well, Kris!” You’re a STRONG lady, aren’t you?!” And he reached over and checked my upper arm for a bulging muscle. Beside him, grinning, stood actor Monte Markham.

I had never met Monte Markham until just this moment—and this was NOT the time, had I been given the option. There I stood with my mouth clamped tightly over a half-chewed Oreo cookie.

They stood expectantly, awaiting a reply.

I managed to respond (I hoped without mumbling AND without opening my mouth more than a fraction of an inch), “Oh, this is nothing. I grew up on a ranch.”

Monte joked, “Oh, nothing! I suppose you’ve been out there on the range abusing cattle and horses for years!”

It was a VERY funny comeback, and I desperately wanted to respond to it with a big grin and laugh, but I was still working (surreptitiously, I hoped) on that black cookie (without chewing), praying it would melt down soon. It was taking its own sweet time. I focused on trying NOT to smile, but to look…pleasant. Possibly shy. Yes. That might work…

Monte thrust his hand out and with a friendly grin introduced himself. “Hi. I’m Monte Markham.”

I took his hand and replied, “I know who you are.” (I could say THAT without opening my

mouth too wide. “Hello,” would have required an accompanying smile.)

I desperately WANTED to smile. I smile a LOT; it is my usual attitude and demeanor! And this was one of those situations where a smile seemed not only natural but MANDATORY!

But I knew better. I kept my mouth shut. “Hi..” I finally said, meekly.

The executive producer probably wondered why the normally ebullient Kris Smith had clammed up like a star-struck teenager. He carried the ball: “Kris is the assistant to the executive story editor and one of our other writers. She’s a great help and…incidentally, is a very nice gal.”

I was sure Monte was wondering about THAT by now! “Thanks,“ I mumbled.

After about a million years, they turned and left. I FLEW to the mirror and smiled into it. Not a trace of Oreo remained. I was relieved and upset all at the same time. “I COULDA SMILED! I COULDA SMILED!” I thought, and moaned piteously.

I went home, morose, and told my sad tale to a friend, who became absolutely hysterical. I admitted finally that, yeah, it was pretty funny, all right—if you didn’t happen to be the person harboring the Oreo cookie…

That evening, unbeknownst to me, my friend/my buddy/my pal/ my confidant wrote to “Mr. Markham” and EXPLAINED why the normally ebullient, smiling Kris Smith was closed-mouthed

and unresponsive the day he met her. No, she wasn’t star struck, nor was she experiencing the monthlies. And my friend, further, requested two autographs—one for herself, and one for me, his bizarre co-worker.

A few weeks after Bay Watch “wrapped” for the season, I received a large envelope in the mail. The cancellation stamp proclaimed MALIBU.

“Malibu?!” I pondered. “I don’t know anybody in Malibu!”

I opened it. Inside was a glossy 8 x 10 of— you guessed it.

The inscription read: “To Kris, the Oreo Cookie Girl. Your teeth never looked lovelier. Monte Markham.”

Once in a while, friends are for strangling!