It’s hard for me to get that iteration of her face out of my head, even now, almost three years later. Was it an overly stuffed turkey or Goldie Hawn’s “plumped” with various synthetics skin? I still don’t know for sure. All I can really say, as one of the “Ecuadorian” extras on the set, is that it was difficult to tell where Goldie’s neck ended and her visage began. It seemed, at certain moments, like one vast expanse of white leather that had been dyed orange.
I had been an extra many years ago on one of her last “viable” films, The Out-of-Towners, and thought that her face looked pulled and stretched to its brink, even then. She was fifty-four at that point. At seventy-two she had seemed to decide to one-up Meg Ryan on discarding completely the person she used to be. Of shedding all traces of her corporeal self in favor of something that could best be described as a skin suit. A more moldable and pliable flesh prison. As long as it meant ironing out all the wrinkles. Never mind if it ironed out her entire person. If eradicating “Goldie Hawn” meant, with respect to Hollywood relevancy, remaining “Goldie Hawn,” then she would have to make the trade. Sacrifice whatever was left of any residual trace of her original appearance to the gods. Which, in the movie realm, meant plastic surgeons.
Goldie had several: one for when she only wanted “light maintenance” (meaning the doctor was generous with regard to telling her just how much nipping and tucking she would truly need to make a dent), one for when she wanted to be insulted (which meant he was brusque enough to tell her just how many hours and procedures it would take him for her to notice any visible change) and one for when she wanted the potential for a sexual bonus (which typically involved extra money and a trip to North Hollywood, a place and population generally known for having less discernment).
In Goldie’s defense, I, too, might have fallen prey to the same “self-improvement” path if I was a woman of her age and once great star caliber. What’s more, to her, I probably also looked drastically different than from the last period during which we had seen one another. Except that I’m a man, and there are certain allowances for me to age disgracefully. For I had actually allowed the aging process to occur. Still, I had perhaps foolishly believed we shared a genuine connection. That she had seen me as more than just another cabaña boy to temporarily fill the void caused by Kurt Russell having no real interest in her. I was an eager and willing sieve with which to help stop up that emptiness inside, still naive enough to think that my services might later down the road result in a more “elevated” position in the film industry. How doltish I was indeed, failing to fathom how immaterial Goldie had become.
Yet at that time in my life (and New York tenure), I was still so incredibly jejune (a mere twenty-two). However, as a forty-year-old extra, I had since lost all illusions (or rather, delusions) about achieving the cinematic greatness I once thought Goldie was capable of–and, in turn, would aid me in being capable of by osmosis. Seeing just how far she had fallen (starting in 2002 with The Banger Sisters) was more eye-opening about my own drab circumstances than anything else. Though I suppose there were worse places to be than Puerto Rico for a shoot (not many, but still, it could have been worse–and yeah, sure, it would’ve been nicer if I had been called upon for the segments shot in Hawaii as opposed to this other godforsaken U.S. territory, but I wasn’t). So yes, I really did try my best to stay positive despite just how much Goldie (and her indelible expression a.k.a. lack thereof) was a constant reminder of how much time had passed and how little I had achieved during it.
Goldie’s egregious attempt at preservation only made me feel worse. Until I remembered she wasn’t even the star of this inflicting-the-loss-of-IQ-points movie. It was someone who actually needed plastic surgery: Amy Schumer. Amy Schumer who, even in the midst of sexually harassing me, would insist she was in a deeply committed relationship. I usually managed to escape her trailer feeling only minorly molested, but it did little for my morale when Goldie wasn’t able to remember who I was long enough to at least be jealous. To at least honor me–and all that I did to make her feel as young as she was in the 70s while on the set of The Out-of-Towners–by having the courtesy to vaguely exude a bit of greenness with envy. But no, her eyes were pulled so far at the sides, she probably couldn’t really see anyone at all. Just distortions of people. That’s what an audience is to an actor, and what an actor is to an audience.
On the last day of that horrendous filming, I allowed Schumer the privilege of ogling and fondling me one last time in her sad little trailer. And, once again, I walked out of it right as Goldie was sauntering by in a manner that emanated confusion rather than confidence. As though she might be perpetually dizzy as a consequence of her face’s tautness. It was that day, the only day when I refused to bore a hole into her body with my penetrating stare, that she finally admitted to herself that she had been noticing me (and my attention to Amy) the entire time. That she loved me just as much as ever–even more so than when we first “came together.” Alas, because her perma-countenance gave no such revelation away, I ambled on.
She, figuring that she could catch up with me right after finishing her scene, did not realize I was about to board a chartered plane filled with other extras that was bound for New York. I never saw her again. Nor did I ever learn of how she felt until I visited the Third Avenue psychic. Still, I often thought of her face in Snatched. Though I never had the wherewithal to see the movie on the big screen, least of all at that bed bug-ridden Union Square theater. It was, without question, the worst thing on both of our resumes.
I wonder if we might be together now were it not for her overly pulled back flesh and its incapability of communicating to me that she cared. Of communicating much of anything to anyone with regard to elucidating that there might be any brainwaves flickering behind that plastic mask. The one that assures she can never cry those tears that all clowns shed internally as they do their best to provide a sense of levity. Maybe that’s the real reason she keeps crystallizing her face. It guarantees that she’ll never be able to reveal the pain. The pain of having lost me forever.
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