Julia is small, maybe five feet, and a spry seventy-something — the perfect candidate for a Charlie Chaplin costume. The day she penguin-walked into our living room the applause was loud enough for the neighbors to hear.
The occasion was Louise’s annual Oscar party a couple of years ago. I say “Louise’s” because although I am co-host, I just don my tuxedo and do my best at approximating a master of ceremonies. Sort of an Ellen DeGeneres in drag.
The invitations go out soon after the first of the year. We start binge-watching the candidate productions as soon as they’re announced. By early February, Louise is working on her costume. I just hang on for the ride.
This year was an exception. We live in Mexico, far away from Julia and the rest of our friends. And although the nominated movies did play at the multiplex across the street, they were overdubbed in Spanish, eliminating the actors’ voices and, in the case of animated films, eliminating the actors altogether. It just ain’t the same.
Meanwhile across town, a sprightly group of expats operates the Paradise Community Center, bringing stage shows, live events, and even a Sunday church service to their stage throughout the winter high season. Thus, it befell upon them to host Louise’s Oscar party this year — or so it was in Louise’s mind. She dressed us up as Liz and Dick — if ever a couple singlehandedly built a city, it was Liz and Dick in Puerto Vallarta — bought our tickets, and drug me to the Paradise so that I might sit for five and a half hours in a plastic chair, rooting for movies that I’ve never seen.
It wasn’t the misery that I make it out to be. There was the requisite red carpet, and Marilyn Monroe, W.C. Fields, Jack Nicholson, Madonna, and Mae West were there. Champagne was poured, an excellent dinner was served, but ten minutes before the broadcast was to begin they lost the satellite signal. There were hoots and catcalls, and shouts for another round of drinks.
We never did get ABC back on the screen, but we nabbed the Vancouver, B.C. signal and watched pretty much the same telecast with Canadian commercials. On stage, there was a raffle, corny interviews with the “celebrities,” and a ballot to pick the winners. Louise seemed happy and so did the rest of the expats.
Me? I just hung on for the ride.