Literally, it means “sprit of the stairs.” Figuratively, it’s what you should have said when you had the chance. But now that you’re on the stairs, on your way out, it’s too late.
I met Nancy Meyers at a dinner party off Via de la Paz. It was around Christmas time a year ago and we were all standing around the buffet making jokes about Gran Torino. It was sometime around my second drink that Nancy arrived. She was late, but she was so charming about it, so recklessly flummoxed, it was instantly forgotten. She claimed it was something having to do with the kids, and I believed her. Just one look at her big, black sunglasses, cashmere sweater set, and chunky leather purse, and anyone versed in the unspoken semiology of Brentwood would know: this person was a mom, and a cute one too.
We spoke only briefly that night. But, had that night been last night instead of last year, and had I been given the chance (and two more drinks), our conversation might have been completely different.
“Congratulations on the weekend. They say it was the best ever.”
“Oh, well, thank you, sweetie.”
“Some stiff competition and you did good, I think, right?”
“We did alright. A few more blue people and we would have done better.”
“Maybe. But you had Meryl.”
“Still, we should have made her blue. Or at least 3D.”
“She could have handled it.” I drink. “God damn her. She can do anything.”
“Yes, well – ”
I drink again.
“Sweetie, I want to get to that prosciutto before it disappears.”
“Okay, but before you do, I just wanted to say, I think you’re very courageous, going out there and making personal movies about… ” I hesitate. “I mean, romantic movies about women…of a certain – ”
“Older women. Yes, that’s just the – just the term I was looking for. When there’s Avatar, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Sherlock Holmes, I just wanted to say, I really appreciate it. I know a lot of people do.”
“Wow, well, thank you, that’s – ”
“Having said that, I would appreciate it even more if you made stronger decisions with the camera, cut out a good half-hour, hold off on the Williams-Sonoma kitchens, and not light the thing like it was a tampon commercial, but I really don’t want to split hairs here. You did the impossible, you made a personal movie in Hollywood, and that’s just fantastic.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
“Now let’s get some prosciutto.”
“I’d rather go alone.”
“Of course, of course. Merry Christmas.”
“Yes. Merry Christmas.” She starts to go.
“I loved Father of the Bride by the way.”
“Thanks, I’m going now.”