MY NIGHT WITH CHANNING
This is a true story.
I spent my thirty-first birthday in Los Angeles with a group of my sorority sisters and Channing Tatum, in a bar situated perfectly in the shadow of a Channing Tatum billboard. And when I say with Channing Tatum, I don’t mean he was at the bar we were at, but that we were with him.
There were five of us. Six if you count Jenna Dewan-Tatum. We were waiting for our table in the bar of a LA restaurant when she arrived, looking every inch the star of Witches of East End and Step Up and Channing Tatum’s wife. She wore an enormous white fur vest, leggings, huge sunglasses, and her hair pulled back into a giant bun. I hugged her tightly and said, “you look like a furry ballerina,” and she looked at me like she had no I idea who I was. We’d met many times before, even way back in the early 2000’s when she was still a back up dancer and not married to Channing Tatum and I was in a phase where I would rap Salt N Pepa’s Shoop any time there was a mic and a boombox and she’d seen me do that at a gay bar during karaoke night, and trust me, that shit’s memorable so I don’t know why she always pretends she doesn’t know me. We share a bestie, Jenna and I. She and Channing had seen me give this amazing maid of honor speech at this bestie’s wedding and he’d said to me after, “Great speech,” and I’d said, “Thanks.” And I’d seen them on the big screen and in the pages of US Weekly; obviously we know each other. So I looked at her like, oh hell no, bitch this is my birthday party, and then it was time to be seated.
Following Jenna’s lead, we ate very tiny bites of food and were quickly very drunk. The bill came and Jenna Dewan-Tatum subvertly/obviously called someone on her cell phone (her manager? a publicist?) and a man in a suit ran over and took the bill away to make some adjustments. The end of the night was near. But then Jenna took another call and said, “Do you guys want to meet up with Chan?”
Fuck yes we did.
It was my birthday, so I rode up front with Jenna Dewan-Tatum in a gigantic SUV that she practically had to be hoisted into by a valet man. I wanted to pump her for information on LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian, since she was on a short-lived show with him called The Playboy Club where she was given the kind of heavy actorial lifting of throwing tampons at the other bunnies. Jenna says that Eddie Cibrian is the stupidest man on the planet but not to quote her on that and we agree that he’s still pretty fucking hot.
We arrive at the bar, and as we join the crowd of people waiting to get in, Channing’s gigantic face looms over us from the 21 Jump Street billboard. None of my friends seem to find the meta-ness of the billboard all that interesting. There’s a razor with it’s head snapped off in the gutter, and I’m like, you guys, it’s all about buying things, you know? Like this razor? We’re shaving our legs because of this Channing Tatum billboard – and they’re like, dude, shut up.
Channing comes out in a trucker hat and we saunter in with him, cool as fuck. The bar is packed and I’m hyper aware, like, do these peons know this is Channing Tatum? Are they staring at us? Why aren’t they taking our picture? Do they know my dress is from the Gap? Do they see this Channing Tatum billboard right there? People try to stand by our group, try to chat up us underlings, to get a glimpse of greatness. Channing’s pounding beers and by the way, he’s so nice, he’s always so nice, but you can tell he’s a wild, like the kind of dude who would start doing drunken back flips or keg stands and he gets occasional warning glances from the fur vest.
I’m talking to Chan’s producing partner and I’m like, what do I need to do to get in the biz, bro, because I could write a better movie than The Vow. And he’s like, yeah, Chan wanted a chance to work with Rachel McAdams, he thought he could learn a lot from her, and I’m like totally, totally, I could see that.
Some guy comes up to me and is like, hey, what do you do, and I’m like, I’m a writer. And he’s like I’m a writer too, I write for The Glades. And I’m like, what the fuck is The Glades? And he tries to explain it to me but it’s loud so he googles it and apparently this is a crime show on A&E with the tagline “Sunny with a chance of Homicide,” and I’m like Oh my god, did you write that? And I’m dying, I love LA so much.
All of a sudden the bar is closing, there’s a flurry of activity, hugs and empty promises to read spec scripts, and we’re hustled into a cab and we settle in for the drive back through the valley to West Hollywood, resting our heads on each other’s shoulders and closing our tired eyes, awash in the fading glow of celebrity.