Personal Essays

Some of This Is Made Up

Sharing your name with a celebrity can be frustrating, especially when the two of you pursue the same occupation.

Last Thursday afternoon, I treated myself to some takeout at a vegetarian restaurant in Midtown, where I saw Sigourney Weaver eating lunch. Later that night, I went to a play downtown—a totally different neighborhood!—and who walked into the theater right in front of me but Sigourney Weaver? Twice in one day.1 How special! Clearly Sigourney thinks so, too.2

When I got home from the play, I decided to call my cousin James Frey3 to tell him about it4. Things have been tough for him since Oprah smacked him down5. He got rougher treatment than even Terry McMillan’s now-gay former boy-toy ex-husband6.

James told me, yeah, that’s some crazy shit about Sigourney but that he had to go because he was in the middle of cleaning off the coffee a cop threw at him. Again? I said, humoring him. Yeah, they do it all the time7.

We hung up8 and I was left to wonder whether I had some role in all the bad shit that’s happened to James in recent months9. We both had difficult childhoods10, but his was all that much harder because he had to keep up with me11. I mean, I really set the bar for bad-kid-dom in our extended family12. I think James’s exaggerations in his memoirs were his last effort at saying to me, “Lauren, anything you can do I can do better.”13 Even if what I do well is drugs, whores, and time behind bars. I’m serious. Ask the whores. They’ll tell you14.

But James, listen. I’m really sorry15. Please consider this my public apology. I shouldn’t have stolen the spotlight from you the time you almost hit the light pole. I shouldn’t have one-upped you when you smoked that pot16. I just couldn’t help but be bad17. Really, really bad. I just wanted the attention18.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, FTBSIDWTTDA. Or: Fuck this bullshit, I don’t want to throw down anymore19.


1True. Weird, right?

2False. Unless Sigourney subscribes to Sirius, it’s unlikely she knows I’m even in existence. Which is sad in a way, how lopsided our awareness of each other is. I mean, I’ve seen her fight stomach-hatching alien babies, and she didn’t even side one way or another on my choice of soup. Dumpling and vegetable, by the way. It was delicious.

3False. James Frey is not my cousin. We aren’t related at all. I wish he didn’t have my last name because as you know, I’m a writer, too, and now I have to tell publishers that I, unlike my fellow Frey, am not a “falsehood maker-upper” who will earn them money at first but then cause tons and tons of trouble. Quite the contrary, except the bit about the money. I have tons of earning potential.

4False. After the play, I went on a double date at a sushi restaurant, where I ate a giant slab of raw tuna that was uncomfortably priced at 50 percent off. My boyfriend is the one who’s had to hear me tell the Sigourney Weaver story over and over.

5Probably true. I don’t know the guy, but I imagine him smoking crack to ease himself through these hard times.

6True. Oprah doesn’t like liars, and apparently she especially dislikes liars who discredit her book club. Will Frey ever get his groove back? I wonder. Stella has not had an easy time holding onto hers. My groove would certainly lose its woody—so to speak—if I married a younger, sexy boy toy, only to learn that he both preferred boys and had dibs on half my possessions. Goodbye, IKEA coffee table. Goodbye, yard-sale lamp.

7False. We don’t talk, James and I. But I bet I mimicked his style exactly.

8False. I was still eating sushi at the time this conversation would have taken place. And I never talk on the phone when I’m out with people. That’s effing rude.

9False. I wish I had some role in it because that would make me Important. It would make me a Figure of Interest. Maybe even a Criminal, which if you’ve read AMLP you know is kind of a cool, status thing.

10Debatable. I can’t speak to many of our similarities except that both our moms are really, really nice.

11False. But if James had known me in high school, he might have been intimidated by my very powerful performance as Lady Thiang in The King and I.

12Practically true. My extended family is full of weenie do-gooders.

13False. I can do lots of things better than James Frey. Such as riding as unicycle. Eat that, Criminal!

14Mostly false. Though I’ve recently discovered that some of my ex-boyfriends were kind of whore-y.

15True. I’m sorry if this publication upsets you because you’re rich and you have my last name, so if I don’t alienate you there’s still some hope I’ll get an inheritance when your liver fails.

16False. How could a good kid like me one up almost hitting a light pole or smoking pot? That’s some far-out badness.

17True. Sometimes I eat lots of ice cream and then regret it.

18True. Attention is my drug of choice. That and coffee.

19True. Sorry I picked a fight with you, James. Does it make you feel better that this story is fiction, not memoir? If it were a real memoir, it would have been boring.