hiatus, part 5
February 12, 2008
Lauren doesn’t know if she’s having trouble breathing. Lauren doesn’t know if she’s having trouble breathing because she’s really having trouble breathing or because she thinks she’s having trouble breathing. Lauren’s talking on the phone to Scott, her producer, about the situation, about the breathing and the bubble and the air. Lauren’s talking to him in the kitchen on her iPhone. Is she having trouble breathing because she’s talking on the phone? Should she talk quieter or not breathe as hard, does that make a difference, does Scott know? Is this plastic sheeting around the house, which Scott calls the bubble, is the bubble being filled with air for them to breathe? Is Scott sure about that, is someone checking on it, is there a clipboard where someone has literally checked off, in blue or black ink, “fill the bubble with air for them to breathe”?
Lauren’s talking on the phone to Scott, her producer. When she first found the bubble, she was scared and she called her dad, but he didn’t pick up. She called her mom but she didn’t pick up. Lauren didn’t know why her parents wouldn’t be picking up the phone. She didn’t know why her parents wouldn’t be picking up the phone on a Monday morning and it made her even more scared, like what are they doing that they couldn’t pick up for Lauren, their daughter, who they love? That’s when she started to have trouble breathing.
Then she called Scott and he picked up and she was relieved, at least sort of. Really it’s good that she called Scott, it’s better that she talked to Scott than them, and he agrees with this, because Scott is in LA and Scott knows things, especially things about her life, because that’s his job. Scott’s job is that he knows things about her life that are interesting for television, but that also means that he just knows things about life, like how the terror alert level has been raised to red (there should be an iPhone application to tell you when the terror alert is raised, like the one that tells you about the weather), like how the gas appeared and people collapsed on lawns and in parking lots, like how there is plastic sheeting around her house and her neighbors’ houses to protect them from the gas because they are in a high risk area, like how the gas is in some areas and not others, like how Scott is in an area where there is no gas but is blocked off from Lauren’s area, like how Lauren’s parents are fine but some communications are blocked right now because of the government, like why her cable and internet are out, like a lot of things. Scott knows a lot of things and Lauren is glad he knows these things. Lauren likes have all the information on a subject so she can make informed decisions – this is the way good business is done.
Does Scott know if there is enough clean air in the bubble for she and Audrina and Audrina’s boy all to live? Audrina and her boy are out on the lawn, feeling the edges of the bubble. Lauren is watching them through the kitchen window. The boy isn’t wearing a shirt, just pants. If he was good looking or if they were decent pants, it wouldn’t seem trashy. Do they need to weigh themselves to see how much air needs to be pumped in? Lauren knows from movies about space that it’s important how much you weigh because people who weigh more take up more air – that’s why they don’t let fat people into space. Lauren weighs herself every morning. Obviously she weighs more at the end of the day, but she doesn’t weigh herself at the end of the day because that’s unnecessary and can trigger body image issues and emotional eating. If Scott asks how much she weighs, should she tell him what she weighs in the morning or should she add some pounds to the number to be safe, to get some extra air pumped in? Lauren doesn’t want to make herself sound fat, but what if Audrina lies about how much she weighs? Audrina drinks too much beer at those bars and skips the gym sometimes and she might lie to Lauren about how much she weighs and if she lies then they might not get enough air and then they might die, unless Lauren saves them by pretending to be fat. Lauren always has to be the responsible one.
If someone has to stop breathing, shouldn’t it be Audrina’s boy? Lauren thinks of the reasons he should have to stop breathing so she’ll be prepared if she has to say them to Audrina in an important moment. One, because he’s bigger and a boy and so he takes up more air. Two, because he’s a stranger and he doesn’t have the close emotional bond that Lauren and Audrina have developed over several years. Three, because this is Lauren’s house and she paid 2.2 million dollars for it and now she owns it and it’s hers. Lauren won’t say three unless she absolutely has to, but if she absolutely has to, she’ll say three. Whenever she complained when she was in middle school, her dad would say, “When it’s your house, you get to make up the rules.”
Lauren wishes she could talk to her dad, her dad would know what to do, he would take control of the situation. Her dad was always strict, but rules and discipline are what make dreams and wishes possible. Scott keeps telling Lauren to calm down. Lauren hates it when people tell her to “chill” or “chill out” or “cool off” or “cool it” or “calm down” or “relax,” she hates all of those phrases. Some people are not naturally calm and relaxed – some people are naturally anxious and sympathetic, some people are naturally devoted and lonely, some people are naturally caring and stressed, but this doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with them, it’s just who they are. A lot of people who are naturally calm and relaxed are often lazy or stupid or don’t have the drive to succeed that other people like Lauren have and so who is better now, these calm and relaxed people? Lauren doesn’t think so. If you have lemons, you make lemonade. Lauren never had a lemonade stand when she was a girl, but she always liked the idea when she saw it in movies.
The conversation with Scott ends because he’s getting a call with more information about her situation. Even though Scott doesn’t seem to know everything he should, Lauren likes the idea of people caring about her and trying to find out information about her situation. She likes the idea of Scott in his office with a folder that says “Lauren Conrad” and inside the folder is information and notes about her situation and maybe some pictures. She likes the idea that he is having his assistant and interns call the authorities for information about her situation. She likes the idea of Team Lauren, she loved when that happened, she kept the t-shirt they gave her it even though it wasn’t the right fit.
Lauren sits down at the kitchen table with her magazines and a container of non-fat strawberry yogurt and a bottle of water. She spreads her magazines out in front of her on the table, all of them, Lucky and Us and InTouch, Cosmo and Cosmogirl, Vogue and Teen Vogue, Seventeen and and YM, Self and Shape. Lauren loves her magazines, each and every one. She has subscriptions to all of them and she loves how subscriptions work, she finds how subscriptions work comforting, mail arriving at her home at certain times every week and every month, on schedule, on time, in thin wrapping and envelopes that you get to tear open like presents.
Lauren tries to read the new issue of Cosmo. She tries to read the new issue – she flips through the pages as she eats her yogurt, but she can’t connect to any of it, it doesn’t mean anything to her, now, in this moment. There’s no advice about how you should act during a terrorist gas attack, what you should wear, what shows you should watch, good songs to listen to – there’s no quiz to take. Lauren looks out at Audrina and her boy on the lawn. They are kissing, Audrina and the boy with his shirt off, sitting in the grass. The position they are in, the way his arms are around her, is actually really unflattering and makes Audrina look even fatter than she is. Audrina never listens to Lauren when Lauren tries to give her style tips, even though Lauren is kind of an expert and a lot of people think she is stylish and she has been quoted in magazines. Audrina always gets really bitchy about it, which is so rude, especially since Lauren is letting her stay in a room in her new house for free.
But at least Audrina has someone, even if he is ugly, even if he doesn’t dress well, he is someone, he is a person, he is a male person, with arms and strength. What if there is more gas or an explosion or what if there are real terrorists that come to the house, men in hoods with guns? Even though Lauren is a strong and successful and attractive and independent young woman who has a lot going for her in her life right now and doesn’t need the distraction that a stupid boy would provide, it feels important to her to have a stupid boy right now, with muscles that she can hold on to, with things to grip. That should have been an article in Cosmo, how it’s important to have a boyfriend in a terrorist attack.
Lauren put her fingers on her neck to try to check her pulse, like in gym class in school, but she doesn’t feel anything. In gym class in school, she didn’t feel anything either, she just pretended to and copied the pulse rate of the girl next to her. It didn’t seem important to have a pulse then, but now it seems very important to have a pulse; Lauren wants a pulse so bad, she wants to feel the blood moving through her neck in rhythm, on time. She knows that she has a pulse, she knows that she wouldn’t be sitting up and eating yogurt and breathing and pressing her fingers to her neck if she didn’t have a pulse, but all the same she just wants to feel it so she can really know that it’s there. Lauren presses her fingers against her neck and waits to feel something.