Once, I was on Gossip Girl. By once, I mean twice. Twice. I was on Gossip Girl twice. This is something that I do not really mention very often, but it was at that time, the highlight of my life. I also believe that, highlight though it was, you may or may not be allowed to talk about appearing on Gossip Girl (you sign a bunch of forms), so, let us say that this is a fictitious and delightful story that I am spinning out of lies like a spider of deceit.
I rarely talk about this, because it is the kind of story you are supposed to make very, very funny (as Sloane Crosley did) . Like many stories in my life from that particular 2008 period, it is mostly a story about being young and confused, with a sort of wall-papery backdrop of cocktail waitressing.
You have to understand that Gossip Girl came out when I was only acquainted with New York in the vaguest possible way. My experience of New York basically consisted of getting lost trying to get to my apartment around Gramercy Park. Over and over. Literally every time I tried to walk home. I don’t know why this happened, because Gramercy Park isn’t actually that complicated, and the streets around it are laid out on a grid, just like everything else in New York.
But, that was me. I tried to get writing jobs and cocktail waitressed and was afraid to walk more than about 4 blocks in either direction because I was always getting lost.
And I loved Gossip Girl. I wanted to live in Gossip Girl. I wanted to live in a place where everyone wore purple trimmed suits (no one does this, no one has ever done this, this is not a thing) and made puns based off of their own names. I did not want to live in a New York where people had to work and figure things out. I just wanted to live in a world where, seriously, the proper way to insult someone was based on some sort of manhandling of their surname (“he’s Chuck Bass-tard” – a phrase I am at least 78% sure appeared on some episode of Gossip Girl). Life in New York was very limited, and I had not really moved there to sit in my apartment and worry. I had moved there to be some sort of modern day version of Myrna Loy. I had moved there, in short, to be Blair Waldorf.
And then, through a series of odd circumstances I ended up being on Gossip Girl. Twice. It was in its second season at the time, and I don’t think I could have been happier about anything.
The first time I was supposed to be a model in Eleanor atelier. Playing that role taught me that models have incredibly convivial relationships with the people dressing them and do not actually do anything else. It also taught me that I was not able to wear one of those dresses that Blair and Serena wore in that scene where Blair is a fashion model. Those are hard to wear, you guys. They had me change back into my own clothes. I wore a brown leather jacket that I had bought at BCBG, because I was pretty sure that was what models wore. Just very light, very insubstantial BCBG jackets. I am not entirely sure this was wrong, really.
It took about four hours, and I went home, and, if you watch the episode, there is a moment where I walk by.
OH WHAT A MOMENT.
This was during a period where I was also cocktail waitressing and generally panicking about life, so it was a cause for unbelievable excitement. I think it paid around $100, and I photocopied the check, so it’s doubtless lying around somewhere. I kept waiting for them to turn my character into a full time role. I figured I could be Blair’s wacky nemesis. I could wear my incredibly flimsy leather jacket and, I don’t know, steal her headband. That was the kind of plot that seemed to happen on the show a lot, then. Wacky mayhem would ensue.
Honestly, looking back on it, I don’t know how any of the plots on Gossip Girl worked as well as they did.
I think everyone who has ever been on any TV show fantasizes about being turned into a major character. I think this has happened to maybe one person, in the history of cinema, and I think she probably blackmailed the director by taking pictures of him having sex with a potted plant. I don’t know how you do that, exactly, but I think you begin by looking for the ficuses who are dressed the sluttiest.
Then, some time later, I went back to be on the winter ball episode. I seriously considered wearing my brown leather jacket again. I felt pretty good about the way my character was pursuing a career as a model but still making time to go to her high school’s seemingly bi-weekly black tie parties.
I was not allowed to wear my brown jacket, so, if you were searching for this subplot, it might be lost on you unless you watch the episodes in very slow motion.
But when I got to the actual set, I couldn’t help noticing that it looked, well, that time, a little bit fake. And then I realized that all drinks in martini glasses were made out of water and various kinds of grape juice. And they kept being reused over and over, so that the glasses would get vaguely sticky and revolting throughout.
And, while I knew the scene would look great on TV, as it did, everyone who was actually there looked really, really tired. The shooting started very early and could go on for a good 12 hours. I mostly just remember people beginning to droop like houseplants that had let themselves go. It occurred to me that at any party in real life, people would leave if they were tired, and they would not be made to cling to the same damn martini glass for twelve hours.
Real life is fantastic that way.
Remember that scene in The Producers where Leo says he just wants everything he’s ever seen in the movies? Sure you do. It’s one of the best scenes in cinema, which there is inexplicably no YouTube clip of. I think it was only then that, while everything you see in TV is great, I realized everything might be a little bit better in real life.
And, I mean, hell, a major upside to real life was that you could have an actual martini.
I started going out a good deal more, after that. I think it made me bolder. I still got lost a lot, and I’ve never found any group of people who make puns involving their own names, because no one does that. Nor have I found anyone who wears purple tuxedos, because no one does that either. But I have met some people who I think could, theoretically, pull that stuff off, if they were called upon to.
So, that worked out okay.
Incidentally last week I was walking around Gramercy Park – I was having breakfast at Maialino, which I’d bet good money has been featured on Gossip Girl at least once, I was feeling successful and very New York in that moment – and I thought “isn’t it funny that I used to get lost trying to navigate my way around the streets around this park?” I thought that as I walked entirely the wrong direction. I went back and I retraced my steps and managed to hurtle off in another wrong direction. I stared up at the sky, angrily. Then I hailed a taxi. I think it’s what a modern day Myrna Loy/Blair Waldorf would have done.