Paul Merrick is reportedly still trying to catch his breath after a visit to the Griffith Park Observatory yesterday resulted in the 32-year-old driving up, and then back down, the mountain in search of parking for a full hour before giving up and walking his out-of-shape ass to the top of the summit.

“Why isn’t there, ah, any, ah– hold on, just give me a minute,” said the pudgy accountant while his girlfriend, Elizabeth, looked on with a mixture of concern and embarrassment usually reserved for their monthly sex night. “They should, ah, ah, really add more parking, ah, excuse me. Parking spots, or at least a tram,” said Mr. Merrick immediately before throwing up a little and then frantically drinking half a bottle of water with a sense of urgency usually reserved for decathletes or the nearly drowned.

Mr. Merrick intended to bring Elizabeth to the Griffith Observatory to propose to the 28-year-old production assistant. “I know her, give me a second,” said Mr. Merrick. “Her favorite movie is Rebel…ah, I’m so out of breath, Rebel Without A Cause, so, love, me and her, engage.” But the romantic gesture was foisted, which may or may not be the right word, by his inability to climb the slight incline.

“It wasn’t meant to happen today,” Paul wrote on his phone and then showed me, the strain of talking while this out of breath just too much for him. “But I know when I do ask she’ll say ‘Yes.'”

UPDATE: Paul fucking died. I know, it’s horrible. Apparently, he had an undiagnosed respiratory illness which is why it was so difficult for him to catch his breath and not just because he was a fat piece of shit who ate In-N-Out twice a week as previously suspected.

“Paul was a really sweet man,” Elizabeth said in a statement to The Avocado, volunteering that she is still interested in dating if I know anyone. “I don’t want to sound callous, but I’m not getting any younger.”

UPDATE: Elizabeth and I are dating. As a reporter, I have been reprimanded by my editors for what they refer to as “a stunning lack of professionalism and tact,” but as a man, a man in love, a man in love with a woman, I apologize for nothing.

I met with Elizabeth days after Paul’s funeral to share my condolences and also get an update for our story. We usually wouldn’t write an update on a story like this, but our editors felt bad because internally we had made a lot of jokes about Paul prior to learning the cause of his death and felt we owed it to him. Elizabeth was devastated, obviously, and was surprised to learn that Paul had planned to ask her for her hand that day at Griffith Park.

“I had no idea he wanted to get married,” she told me. I asked her what her answer would be, to which she responded: “I would have definitely said yes.”

“The two of you must have really been in love?” I offered. But she said nothing.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes. Sorry. I was just–I was just thinking that I would have said yes, but I don’t know if, God, if I’m going to be honest, I don’t know if I would have been happy married to Paul. How awful is that to say?”

“It’s not awful if it’s honest,” I told her. She explained to me that Paul had been a perfectly nice boyfriend and was the kind of guy any girl would be lucky to marry. “But Paul dying has made me realize that life is so short and I don’t know if the life I always thought I wanted, settling down and moving to Burbank, having babies, giving up my independence – if that’s what I truly want. Maybe I don’t need to get married to be happy. Maybe I should just be single for a while,” she said moments before agreeing to go out with me that night on a date.

UPDATE: Elizabeth and I are engaged. While we have only been dating for two months, which I’ll admit is quick, it feels right. When you know you know. I asked her to marry me at the top of Griffith Observatory, the site of the climax of her favorite movie, Rebel Without A Cause, and less romantically also the site of her ex-boyfriend’s death. We took a Lyft to the top so we didn’t have to walk too far and I got down on my knee with the Hollywood sign and several other couples getting engaged in the background. It was the happiest day of my life.

No one likes Art, a study finds. Not a single God-damn person. A surprising revelation given the seemingly immense worldwide popularity of Art and the hundreds of thousands of people that attend Los Angeles Art openings each week. A survey among most attendees, however, found that despite over 98% of them responding “Yes” to the generic question of “Hey, do you like Art?,” 100% of those respondents confessed upon additional questioning that they thought Art was stupid and boring and that they just use gallery openings as an excuse to dress-up and go somewhere.

“Art is sort of gay,” said David Rubenstein-Smith of his bisexual cousin Arthur Totorro. “And he and I always talk about how awful attending someone’s gallery exhibit is.”

The study found that despite universal hatred for Art, attendance at Art galas is at all time highs because attendees like the secondary benefits of attending such events, particularly: exuding the impression of being cultured, European accents, drugs, not feeling like all you did this week was watch twenty episodes of The Office, the possibility of sex, complaining about traffic, selfies, and also drugs. Those, as well as the chance of running into Adrian Brody, the study found, are the only reasons people attend Art events every year. Not because they enjoy Art, which they don’t, because Art is stupid.

When confronted with the results of the survey, 24-year-old Christina Delmonico rejected its conclusion, stating that she “always loved Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night'” as well as other pieces she could totally name but doesn’t want to, but quickly conceded that Art is sort of overrated and pretentious and that she only went to her friend’s opening so she could say that she was doing something when people asked her what she did this weekend.

One of the events Ms. Delmonico attended was the “Overlord Hempmaker” exhibit at the Euphoric Gallery/Café/Clothing Store on Sunset. The gallery featured original (but highly derivative) street-inspired collages by “Overlord Hempmaker,”, an up-and-coming local artist better known as Daniel Schwartzman, son of real-estate developer Hershel Schwartzman, who owns the Euphoric Gallery.  “The pieces are meant to speak to the struggle of being a minority in this country,” explained Mr. Schwartzman as he vaped. When asked what inspired him to become an artist, the 27-year-old said that he always felt the need to express himself, but mostly he liked all the drugs and women that come from being a famous artist.

The Avocado asked Art historian Barbara Dunkin whether people always hated Art or if it was a new cultural development. “People never really loved Art, but they certainly liked it a little more before TV and the Internet came along. Before 1950, you have to remember, the only activity people were allowed to do was stare at Art or die of Typhoid Fever. As better options for entertainment became available, the world stopped having to pretend that staring at a painting for more than ten seconds was fun or emotional, which she admits it never was. “But people have always loved drugs and having people think they are cultured, so Art continues to maintain a veneer of popularity.”

LA’s new Davis Museum is set to open October 14 as the Echo Park showcase for Leonard and Anabelle Davis’ contemporary Brightly Colored Walls Collection, the founding couple announced Wednesday on their shared verified Instagram account, @lifebelikethisxo. Admission will be free with a $25 purchase of Anabelle’s custom-made wildflower goddess crowns.

The couple, who first met in 2012 while hooking up in a port-a-potty at Coachella after Anabelle mistook Leonard for the lead piccolo player of Mumford and Sons, say they couldn’t be more excited for the highly anticipated opening. “We, like, couldn’t be more excited,” said Anabelle in a video post that has reached nearly a thousand views at the time of print.

The museum’s permanent collection will feature walls in a vast array of colors and textures, promises Leonard. “We’ve spent years amassing the most extensive collection of photographable background colors imaginable. We feel so fortunate to be able to share this collection with the exquisitely beautiful people of Los Angeles and also with their less attractive friends visiting from out of town who also want to be photographed.”   

One of the biggest attractions comes from Fred Segal’s exterior wall florist Gilford Gelford who will display his newest work, “Ivy Growing On Side of Building in Like A Sexy Way” as part of the Exterior Walls Exhibit which will be featured on the Davis Museum’s exterior walls. “It’s the location that made the most sense,” says Leonard.

Other featured artists will include @noneforyouthanks, @holyshitazebra, and amateur lighting director for Carnival Karaoke in Van Nuys @guysandblowupdolls who will be showcasing his latest work,  “Studio Portrait Light Display” of a single portable ring light suspended in mid air.
Construction on the $163 million structure started in March 2017 to the dismay of many Echo Park residents who have called it a “neon-colored eye sore” and “desecration to the integrity of the Los Angeles landscape.” The six-story building is wrapped in an eye-popping, technicolor glitter shell made of fiber-glass and tulle. Approximately one billion Swarovski crystals spell out “love” on the north facing wall in that font used for framed inspirational quotes that mid-western women hang in their bathrooms. 

Upon entering the museum, visitors will encounter “Look At Me”, a permanent work of lights and mirrors crafted by Los Angeles artist Yaaaaaaaaaaaak aimed to immerse museum-goers in a setting of “literally the most perfect lighting” to encourage the “internal exploration of external worth and stuff.”

Despite skepticism from critics, Anabelle is optimistic that the museum will align with LA’s rich culture. “People are already saying things like, ‘Where is the actual art’ and ‘This is just an Instagram trap’ and ‘How exactly does this qualify as a museum’ and honestly, that’s exactly what we were hoping for. We, like, couldn’t be more grateful, it’s crazy.” 

Alsysa Jergens strikes a poses in front of “A Random Bathroom”

You, my friend, are making it in Hollywood.

You worked your way up the ladder of a shady production house in Van Nuys, are past the point of moonlighting on USC student films for “experience,” and proudly pay a union way too much money to send emails to your junk folder. Heck, you just won a Creative Arts Emmy for your work on either an under-appreciated scripted gem or over-rated reality show and nothing in between. You are living your best professional life.

Unfortunately, your personal life is still shit.

But the Avocado can fix that. Now that you are part of Hollywood’s creative elite, it’s time for you to let the dating pool know. Just don’t be too obvious about it. A big part of being successful in Hollywood is giving off the impression that you don’t want all of the attention you desperately crave. I mean, I guess you’ll go to the Emmys since you were nominated. But you don’t really do it for the awards. You’re an artist. Oh my god, is that Rachel Bloom? Love her.

Update your profile picture, ASAP

First off, let me just say congratulations on winning a Creative Arts Emmy. That is a big deal and you shouldn’t let anyone diminish this accomplishment by telling you that it isn’t a real Emmy, because it is. And even if it isn’t, it is certainly more of a real Emmy than one of those local Emmys they’ll give to any schmohawk.

Whether you are trying to find your soul mate or just some quick action, your Tindr/Bumble/Grindr/Farmers Only profile pictures should immediately be changed to a photo of you in your Emmy outfit holding your award. You don’t want to seem like you are bragging, so make sure you have at least two other Emmy winners holding their trophies in the picture. That way the picture isn’t about showing off your victory, it’s about celebrating their victory. So selfless.

Be Evasive When It Comes To Scheduling Your Date

Success! Your Bumble profile got 20% more matches after you showed off your hardware, and it probably wasn’t only because your profile picture also had a better looking colleague in it and your matches thought they were matching with him.

Now that you matched, it’s time to start messaging. Go through the usual bullshit back and forth and then say something like:

“We should meet up. Are you free Saturday evening? I can meet you after 8:00 PM, I am busy earlier at a celebratory luncheon being thrown for Emmy winners.”

See what we did there? We didn’t say that you won an Emmy, we just mentioned you had an event to go to that afternoon for Emmy winners. Most matches will themselves play it cool and act like they aren’t impressed about the luncheon, but some may ask you directly whether you won an Emmy. “Oh, they give those things out to anyone ;-P” is the only appropriate answer.

Be cool on your date

Don’t mention your Emmy at the restaurant. It’s tacky. Instead, order the veal parm and talk about how close you are with your nephew Brandon. That will make it seem like you are nurturing and well-adjusted even though you are 36 and have not had any significant long term relationships or friendships. Ask your date if she would like to see a picture of your nephew. She will, and this is your opportunity: as you are scrolling through your photos, make sure you swipe through the 40-90 photos you took at the Emmys, including the Getty Image pictures you found on the internet and downloaded into your photo album. “Oh my god is that you and Kristen Schaal” your date will ask. “Yeah, she is such a sweetheart,” is the only appropriate answer.

Back at your place

If you followed our steps, your date should be back in your apartment. This is your chance to close the deal. Make sure your living room is uncomfortably covered with framed posters of all of the productions you ever worked on, and I do mean all of them. If you were a junior editor on Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Island Scooby right after college, then there better be a framed poster of Matthew Lillard and a fucking dog above your couch. For good measure, pepper a few copies of Infinite Jest and some Miles Davis vinyl records throughout the apartment so your date knows you are well cultured and literate.

As the two of you begin settling in for romance, offer her a glass of wine and no matter what wine you pour say something like “This was a personal gift from Jeffrey Katzenberg.” Next, encourage your date to put on some music. Point to the stack of records in the corner of your living room which, by a weird coincidence, happens to be right next to your Emmy.

“I think the Miles album is next to my Emmy,” you’ll say casually, adding “Bitches Brew is one of my all time favorites.”

“Wow, I’ve never seen an Emmy in person,” your date will remark.

“Do you want to…to touch it?” you’ll ask her as you approach. As she picks it up, she’ll remark on its weight.

“It’s so heavy,” she says as she inspects the statue.

“Outstanding Picture Editing for an Unstructured Reality Program?” she reads out loud. “What does that even mean?”

“I edited a news program about White Supremacists that aired on CNN once last June,” you’ll say seductively, leaning in, finally ready to make your move and connect with the person who could very well be your soul mate.

“Oh…they give Emmys for that? Jeez, it’s getting late and I have to wake up really early tomorrow,” she says unexpectedly.

“Oh, are you sure? You can’t just–”

“I said I want to leave. You’re making me uncomfortable,” she yells forcefully.

“Right, okay. Well it was nice meeting you,” you tell her as you slowly back away.

“Yeah, good to meet you too,” she says as she leave you to once again masturbate under the watchful eyes of the human and CGI cast of Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Island Scooby.

Like Zoinks!, you think. Such is life.

Saturday Night Live is holding open auditions for new cast members skilled at both impersonating celebrities and having absolutely no record of them existing prior to being cast on the show.

“We’re looking for a complete unknown,” said SNL Casting Director Lindsay Shookus. “Our ideal candidate is someone polished enough for live television that has never attempted humor outside of the confines of their own bathroom.”

“We’re looking for a toilet comedian,” said Ms. Shookus’s other Casting Director, Matt Mchugh, being unhelpful.

“I wish we could just find someone that is painfully shy from a place without internet access,” said Ms. Shookus as she disqualified a promising applicant after NBC forensics discovered her 2002 LiveJournal account. “That’s how we found Bill Hader. Before SNL he only performed to himself in an Oklahoma mirror inconveniently far from the closest cell tower.”

Comedians without internet access interested in being on Saturday Night Live can apply to the show via telegram or by asking the switchboard operator to connect you to “Murray Hill 5-9975.”

“We know the next Beck Bennett is out there somewhere,” said Ms. Shookus, before admitting there will never be another Beck Bennett.

Weezer and Green Day took to the stage of the Whisky a Go Go last night to play a collection of hits and remind longtime fans in the audience that the passage of times stops for no one and that they too will someday die.

“I wasn’t expecting to have such a strong reaction to the show,” said 33-year-old attorney and longtime Weezer fan Jason Ireland, “but as I watched Weezer play “The Sweater Song” and “Say it Ain’t So” for what must be the 100,000th time, I realized that every aspect of my youth was over and that I would eventually cease to exist.”

Mr. Ireland’s existential crisis was exacerbated by the legion of teenage fans in attendance to see the apparently still very popular opening act “Fall Out Boy.” “I didn’t even know kids still liked them!” said Mr. Ireland, who was taken aback by the joyful energy of the mostly teenage audience during the Fall out Boy’s set.

“I was sitting there, having just watched all of these children scream along to every word of these Fall Out Boy songs and then watched with dismay as these same kids just stood there with palpable apathy as Weezer played songs that I remember singing at the top of my lungs at my first Weezer concert in 2001. It was then that I knew that my happiest days were over. I will never be a happy teenager at a concert again, and I need to learn to accept that.”

Speaking to The Avocado following the show, Weezer’s lead singer Rivers Cuomo said that Mr. Ireland’s reaction is a common one among Weezer’s older fans. “We all have to just accept that our time is finite and nothing lasts forever,” said the 50-year-old singer who just put out his 11th album about girls not paying attention to him in high school.

Donald Trump has vowed to ban e-cigarettes after the Center for Disease Control reported at least six people have died from vaping. 

“We need to do everything we can to protect our children,” said Donald Trump shortly before learning about the next inevitable school shooting. When asked whether the President would do anything to prevent the more than 30,000 gun deaths that occur in the U.S. every year, the President said “nah.” 

The use of e-cigarettes among middle and high school students has been steadily increasing over the last few years, while at the same time cigarette smoking has dramatically decreased among the youth despite still looking so fucking cool. The Avocado spoke to some young people about why they decide to vape instead of smoke. 

“I would gladly smoke a cigarette, but they smell so bad and are so noticable. Juuls allow me to vape throughout the day, whenever I want. Even in class. And I fucking need nicotine throughout the day or I’m completely on edge,” said 14-year-old vaper Carolina Fartface as she brought a Juul stick to her lips. The Avocado tried to ask her what on earth could make a 14 year-old so stressed, but our interview was interrupted by an active shooter drill. 

Newlyweds Desmond and Molly Jones were dismayed to arrive at the Santa Monica vacation rental they booked on Airbnb only to discover it was just a discarded mattress abutting the shore.

“The amenities aren’t what we expected, but you really can’t beat this view,” said Desmond to his wife, desperately trying to put a positive spin on the situation, “Look how close we are to the pier!” “Don’t you dare, Des!” said Molly, who begged her husband to spend the extra money on the honeymoon suite at the Shore Hotel on Ocean Drive. As she began to loudly cry, she woke the homeless man already sleeping on the mattress. “Get the fuck out of my home!” yelled the man at the couple before falling back asleep.

Desperate to find alternative accommodations, the Columbus, Ohio couple ordered an Uber but were similarly disappointed to find that the 2015 Toyota Camry that they had expected to show up was actually an old white Econoline mini-van driven by an elderly Turkish man listening to Justin Bieber too loudly.

“Can you turn it down!” yelled Desmond to the driver who just ignored him. “I don’t think he speaks English,” he told his wife, who couldn’t even anymore.

After being turned away from several luxury hotels without vacancies, the couple was told by Xavier Hernandes, a valet at the Hotel Casa del Mar who overheard their fight, that his parents in Canoga Park rented their place and could accommodate. “The San Fernando Valley is beautiful, you’ll love it,” said the valet. “See honey, things are going to work out,” smiled Desmond to his wife who at this point just wanted to go home and rethink some things.

After waiting for Xavier to get off of his shift, the 20-year-old drove the couple an hour and forty-five minutes to his parent’s rental property, which unbeknownst to the Midwestern couple was actually just several discarded couches lining a street of row houses.

“What the fuck, Desmond! This isn’t the honeymoon I imagined!” said Molly, breaking down. “I’m not sleeping out here, it isn’t safe! And these couches are covered with cats!”

“Look, do you think this is what I wanted? I am trying my hardest to make this work.”

“Well, maybe this just isn’t…supposed to work.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“I just…maybe this is a sign, Des. If we can’t even do a honeymoon right, maybe it’s stupid for us to think we can actually build a life together.”

“Are you serious?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe we rushed into this.”

“Babe, it’s just, it’s just a mix-up. We’ll laugh about this one day,” said Desmond, tears forming in his eyes.

“I hope so, but I need to get back to Ohio to think about it,” said Molly as she ordered another Uber to take her back to the airport.

“Don’t do this, Molly,” said Desmond to his new wife as she got into what she was told would be a 2019 Prius but was actually a wooden rickshaw driven by a worldly Rastafarian type.

As Desmond watched his wife ride away Xavier returned from inside his house. “Hey man, your room is ready.”

“What do you mean? You said we had to sleep on these discarded couches,” said Desmond.

“Dude, I was just fuckin’ with you. We got a queen bed for you inside and in the morning my Grandma will make you breakfast. Hey, where’d your girl go?”

How was I supposed to know that Billie Eilish is a 17-year-old female pop singer and not a 40-year-old gay comedian?

The first thing you should know is this mishap was not entirely my fault. My wife, Christine, asked me to see about booking Billie Eilish to perform at our daughter Emma’s Bat Mitzvah. Truth be told, I wasn’t paying full attention when she asked me to do this. I was in the middle of closing a large deal at work and had also just learned via a text message from my son Greg that his mother, my first wife, had gotten engaged to her boyfriend Dr. Marvin Westover, DDS. To say I was distracted is an understatement. Despite all that was on my mind, I told Christine that “I said I would fucking do it, now can you please leave me alone so I can finish my work!” and wrote down “Book Billy singer for Bat Mitzvah” in my Newton. I then turned back to my work until I became so mentally distracted by the news of my ex-wife’s engagement that I started looking through photo albums from before our divorce. God, life was so much simpler back then.

The next day I asked my assistant to contact the booking agent for “the singer, Billy E-something, the one the kids are into.” I am a 52-year-old bankruptcy attorney who has almost no time to spend with his children, so I am not up to date with the latest pop singers or any of my children’s interests for that matter. When my assistant came back and said “Billy Eichner?” I questioned her, “Is that who the children are into?” She told me that he was in the new Lion King movie, so I assumed it had to be him because I remember how Greg and his sister Elizabeth, also from my first marriage, loved the Lion King when it came out. I also remembered that I had forgotten to invite Elizabeth to Emma’s Bat Mitzvah on account that she refuses to talk to me or Christine, but I was feeling nostalgic after looking through the photo albums last night and asked my assistant to call Elizabeth, tell her it was her fault the invitation didn’t get sent, and invite her to attend. I’m sure Christine won’t mind.

At this point, you may be asking yourself why I would think I could get one of the world’s hottest pop stars to perform at my child’s Simcha? Well, like you, I want to do everything I can for my children. But unlike you, I have the millions of dollars necessary to do it. You see, I am a Skirball, and us Skirballs are no strangers to hiring A-list performers for our family events. When Elizabeth got married I was on an extended honeymoon in Saint Tropez with Christine and could not attend, but still arranged for Michael Bublé to perform at her reception. Even though Elizabeth never thanked us for arranging it, I’m sure she loved having Michael Bublé perform at her wedding. Christine had told me Elizabeth was a huge fan, a fact learned from her days as Elizabeth’s college roommate.

Billy Eichner was surprisingly easy to book and much cheaper than Michael Bublé. Christine and I decided to keep his performance a surprise from Emma, but she was being a real brat on the morning of her Bat Mitzvah, so I told her we had booked Billy and threatened to call and cancel the performance unless she got up in front of everyone and read from the fucking Torah. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have yelled at her in front of the entire congregation, but you should have seen how quickly her attitude changed and she was up there sing-talking in Hebrew. She must really love Billy Eichner, I thought. I am a great father.

Emma never treated me better than those few hours between the service at Young Israel and the party at the ballroom at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons. As she got ready that afternoon she sang what I assumed was Billy Eichner’s music. It wasn’t for me but was kind of catchy in an unmelodic sort of way. I prefer the Eagles.

Billy Eichner arrived at the Four Seasons two hours before any of the guests. As per our contract, he was helping to set up the tables and taking care of odd tasks before the party. When I arrived I was startled by Billy Eichner’s appearance. I had been expecting someone that looked like a pop singer, not a 40-year-old man in a tuxedo shirt transparent with sweat screaming at my caterer for placing the bowl of cocktail sauce too far away from the shrimp.

“Why would you put the pigs in the blankets between the shrimp and the cocktail sauce?” he yelled. The caterer tried to explain that she always puts sauces at the end of the table, but Billy exploded: “No! These are thirteen-year-olds, you can’t put cocktail sauce next to ketchup, they aren’t going to know what to do!” When the caterer finally agreed to move the cocktail sauce closer to the shrimp, Billy yelled “You wouldn’t be so haphazard with the food placement if this was Jeffrey Katzenberg’s daughter’s Simcha Bat!” before muttering both loudly and under his breath, “Then again, Jeffrey Katzenberg wouldn’t serve shrimp at a fucking Bat Mitzvah!”

As I watched Billy Eichner rearrange the hors d’oeuvres, I asked our event planner Janet if she had ever heard of the man yelling at the caterer. “Yeah, that’s Billy Eichner,” she sighed. “He was in Parks and Recreation.” I didn’t know what that meant, but I assumed it was one of those song-and-dance shows. I later found out it was not and also that Billy had berated Janet earlier after being told he could not “call” a centerpiece to take home after the party. “I get a centerpiece of my choice! That is the one thing that is in my rider! These are contractually my succulents!”  

I approached. “Um, excuse me, are you Billy?”

“Yes, of course I’m Billy!” He yelled and then smiled at me in a way that made me unsure whether he was being threatening or felt threatened. 

 “Oh okay, great. You’re the famous singer?” I asked, to which Billy informed me that he had a song with Beyoncé in Spotify’s Top-10. When I gave him an encouraging “great” he flew into a rage. “Yes! I’m very famous! I have Judy Greer’s phone number! We text!” he said. I told him I didn’t know who Judy Greer is and he screamed “You would know her if you saw her!” and then exasperatedly walked away so he could write his initials on the underside of a centerpiece while Janet comforted our still crying caterer.

As I watched Billy write his name on a second, and then a third, centerpiece of succulents, Christine approached. “Honey, do you know when Billie Eilish will be here? The guests are starting to arrive.”

“Yeah, he’s over there,” I pointed and called over Billy to meet Christine.

“Who is that?                                                                 

“That’s Billy Eichner. The singer,” I said.

“But where is Billie Eilish?” Christine asked as Eichner walked over.  

 “Holy shit, Billie Eilish is coming? I hear Jeffrey Katzenberg couldn’t even book her for his daughter’s Bat Mitzvah,” Billy yelled. I felt like such an idiot.

Christine and I knew Emma was going to be upset that Billie Eilish would not be performing. We called her booking agent to see if she was available at the last minute, but was told of course she wasn’t and that the best we could hope for was NSYNC’s JC Chasez who would not only perform but also mop up at the end of the night. Christine and I decided that our best option was to let Billy Eichner perform. For his part, Billy didn’t seem to mind that he was not our first choice. “I recently got second place behind Chris O’Donnell in a People Magazine poll of who wore a pair of Mossimo khakis best,” he told us, “so I know what it’s like to be disappointed.”

After the Billy Eichner mishap and the resulting fight with Christine over my “complete and utter lack of attention” or something, I was not feeling very festive. Nevertheless, I put on a smile and greeted our guests. Christine had gone to the dressing room to tell Emma that Billie Eilish wasnt coming, a conversation I was very happy to avoid.

“How you doing, dad?” my son Greg greeted me with a hug. It’s been over a year since I last saw him.

“Oh, you wouldn’t want to know,” I said, telling him about the Billy Eichner mishap.

“I wouldn’t worry about it, Billy Eichner can’t be worse received than Michael Bublé,” he laughed. I didn’t understand his comment but hadn’t the time to ask about it when I saw my daughter Elizabeth walk up with her husband and two children.

“Hi, Dad.”

“Lizzie!” I yelped. I didn’t think she would actually come, it’s been so many years. She gave me a hug and introduced me to my grandkids, Jakob and Eva, whom she named after my parents. “I’m so sorry, it’s been so many–”

“Dad, stop. Let’s not talk about the past.”

I spent a few minutes catching up with Elizabeth and Greg. We laughed about that time we went to Medieval Times and Greg slipped in horse poop and for a moment I swear to god it felt like I had gone back in time.

“How’s your mother?” I asked.

“She’s doing well,” Greg told me. “Her and Marvin were supposed to see The Eagles at Dodger Stadium tonight, but he got called into surgery at the last minute.”

“Your mother always loved The Eagles,” I chuckled. “You know, we went to an Eagles show on our first date?” He knew.  

“Yeah, she was looking forward to it. She couldn’t find anyone to go with her,” Greg told me.

I don’t know what had gotten into me at this point, but the nostalgia of having my first two children around me caused me to blurt out “Call her up and ask her if she wants to come to the Bat Mitzvah.”

“Are you sure?” Elizabeth asked.

“Of course! She’s probably already dressed up, knowing your mother.” Did I even know her anymore, I wondered?

I excused myself from my family to say hello to some of the out-of-town Skirballs that arrived.

“Where the fuck have you been?” Christine ran up to me. “This is an absolute disaster, Billy Eichner has sung “Wind Beneath My Wing” three times in a row and keeps accosting Emma’s overweight male classmates and telling them that it gets better. “Look at me now, I’m friends with Beyoncé,” I could hear Billy Eichner scream at Jonah, one of Emma’s more portly friends. “Do you really know Beyoncé?” Jonah asked to which Billy screamed “We met at the Lion King premier!” before pulling out his phone and showing him Judy Greer’s phone number.

“I’m sorry, I was talking to Lizzie and Greg. It was so nice—“

“What the fuck is Elizabeth doing here?”

“What do you mean? I invited her.”

“How could you invite her without telling me?”

“Why would I need to tell you I was inviting my daughter to her sister’s Bat Mitzvah?”

“Step-sister, and maybe because she has tried to undermine our relationship since the moment we got together.”

“Christine, her dad divorced her mom for her college roommate. You have to see it from her perspec–”

“Oh, so I’m a homewrecker now? Like you were so happy when you decided to fuck your daughter’s roommate!” Christine screamed as she walked away, saying the last part loud enough that a group of cousins from Scarsdale gave me a look of utter disgust. “She’s talking about Elizabeth’s roommate. Not Emma’s,” I said, feeling that while this explanation may have confirmed I was a scumbag, it at least let them know I was not also a pedophile.

I went back into the banquet hall to see how Emma was doing. To my surprise, she seemed to be having a great time. By this point in the night all of the kids knew the lyrics to From A Distance and were singing along with Billy. I had not seen Emma look so happy in years. Then again, I hadn’t really seen much of Emma through the years. I had thought I was done having kids when Christine got pregnant. She wanted to keep it, which was her choice, but rather than fully embrace fatherhood I decided to focus on my work rather than be at home. In some ways, as horrible as it is to say, Emma is the manifestation of the biggest mistake I ever made. I wouldn’t have married Christine if she weren’t pregnant, and certainly I wouldn’t have missed Lizzie’s wedding and all of those years with her and getting to know my grandchildren if Christine and I didn’t have to ourselves get married so quickly. As I watched Emma cheer Billy as he started into From A Distance again–he really did have a nice voice–and watched as she laughed with her friends, I felt grateful she had turned out so great despite having me as a father. But I guess that is true of all of my kids.

It had been twelve years since I saw Diane, but as soon as I placed my eyes on her it felt like no time had passed.

“Hey stranger,” she said as she walked up to me. “You’ve gotten old, Dave.”

“It’s good to see you Diane,” I kissed her cheek. Her hair smelled like I remembered and I couldn’t help but think of how different our lives could have been.

“Are you sure it’s okay for me to be here? Christine won’t mind?”

“Of course it’s fine,” I lied. We took each other in for a moment.

“Who’s the singer? she asked as we both took a minute to watch Billy Eichner really lean into the crescendo of The Rose. “Oh, that’s Billy Eichner. He’s great,” I said as Billy dabbed sweat from his forehead and then screamed at Janet for a cup of honey tea and paprika. “Shakira swears by it!” he yelled.

“I was worried you were going to have Michael Bublé show up again.”

“You know, Greg made a comment about Michael Bublé too. What does that mean? Does Lizzie not like Michael Bublé anymore?” I asked.

“Are you serious?

“Yeah?”

“She’s always hated Michael Bublé.”

“What, no? Christine told me it was her favorite.”

“Look, Dave, I’m not one to come between a man and his wife,” she basked in the irony of the statement, “but from what I was told Michael Bublé was Christine’s favorite and she would go out of her way to play his music in the dorm when they were mad at each other.” This was all very shocking.

“So, when Michael Bublé showed up at her wedding,” I said.

“She was devastated. Elizabeth just wanted her dad at her wedding. Instead she got Michael Bublé as a reminder that her roommate took her dad away from her.”

“I had no idea,” I said, which was true. “But it was wrong for me not to be at the wedding anyway. Everything about the situation, the affair, it was all wrong. You didn’t deserve it. None of you did.”

“Thanks.”

“But we weren’t happy, right?” I asked. 

“I was happy.”

Diane excused herself to go find Greg and Lizzie and I perched up against the bar. Emma was laughing with her friends and Christine, who had evidently seen me and Diane talk, was giving me a death stare and on her way over. How could she have gone out of her way to ruin Lizzie’s wedding day?

“You invited your ex-wife too?” Christine asked.

“I did. You knew Lizzie hated Michael Bublé?”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“At Lizzie’s wedding. You told me that she loved Michael Bublé, but that was a lie. She hated him and you, what? Made me book him as what some nasty act of revenge?

“Oh, so this is what your ex-wife does? She crashes my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah and brings up drama from 13 years ago?”

By this point, Christine had become aware that people were watching us fight. “We’ll talk about this later. Try not to forget this is about Emma today. Not your old family.”

As I stood at the bar I found myself standing next to Billy Eichner, who was halfway through his tea.

“You ever look back at your life and wonder how you got here?” I asked.

“I was a gay, overweight theater kid from Forrest Hills that would go on to share several on-screen kisses with Fred Savage. I think I know a thing or two about life being unpredictable.”

“You’re a great performer,” I said and at that moment our eyes connected and, as I think he realized how emotionally vulnerable and confused I felt, his façade softened.

“Tell Billy what’s wrong,” he said, and I did. I explained to him all of the complicated family dynamics, the revelation that Michael Bublé ruined my daughter’s wedding, and the overwhelming feeling of longing I had for my old life. “Don’t I deserve happiness?” I asked him.

Billy took a final sip of his tea and gave me a long look over. The serene, comforting spirit I felt from him as I opened up about my familial inadequacies was instantly replaced by the sort of blind sexual rage that I would come to find out is the very essence of his public persona.

“No! Of course you don’t deserve happiness! Malala deserves happiness and she was shot by the fucking Taliban! You made a bad decision and are living with the consequences of it,” Billy yelled. “But you aren’t in prison, like those S.O.B.s who shot Malala deserves to be. So if you aren’t happy then make different decisions and live with those consequences!”

Billy had worked himself up and was heavily panting. “Uch, I got to get back on stage, I promised Jonah we’d sing You Don’t Own Me again when I get back.” I thanked Billy for his advice and made my own song request. He objected at first, but agreed after I told him he could take another succulent centerpiece if he sang an Eagles song. 

As Billy grabbed the microphone I started walking toward Diane’s table.

“Can I have this dance?”

She gave me a bemused look as the band started playing Take It To The Limit. It was the song we first kissed to on our first date and also the song to which she started giving me an inside the pants hand job that was interrupted by an usher, also on our first date. Diane took my hand and for the first time in thirteen years, since before Christine, since before Emma, since before all of my selfish horrible decisions, we held each other again, as if no time had passed. As we danced Billy sang. 

All alone at the end of the evening
And the bright lights have faded to blue

“You still can dance, Dave–

I was thinking ’bout a woman who might have loved me
I never knew

“Let’s give it another chance, Diane.” I couldn’t resist.

“What are you talking about?”

And it’s so hard to change
Can’t seem to settle down

“You and me. It was a mistake, all of, all of the last thirteen years. It was a mistake. You and I should—“

“Dave, stop. This is your daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. Your wife is watching us and doesn’t look happy. And I’m engaged.” 

But the dreams I’ve seen lately keep on turning out
And burning out and turning out the same

“Yes, but are you in love with him? The dentist?” I asked.

“Yes, Dave. And more importantly I’ve put this, I’ve put us in the past.”

So put me on a highway and show me a sign

“But it was a mistake,” I told her.

“There are no mistakes.”

And take it to the limit one more time

Diane let go of my hand and told me she had to go. “It was nice seeing you, Dave. Take care,” she said. Billy Eichner was still singing and I just stood there swaying on the dance floor, surrounded by teenagers who did not seem to appreciate the Eagles as much as Billy’s Midler showcase.

“How was your dance?” Christine came up to me. She was angry but let me take her hand. 

“It was a mistake to invite her here, I’m sorry for that.”

“And Lizzie?”

“It wasn’t a mistake to invite her. Look, I haven’t been fair to you or Emma. I haven’t been there for you like I should.”

“Thanks. But let’s not, let’s not have a whole thing right now. Look at our daughter, isn’t she beautiful?”

“Yeah,” I said. “They grow up real fast.” 

Christine placed her head on my shoulder and we swayed with each other as Billy sang the song me and my ex-wife fell in love to. Maybe this was where I was meant to be all along, and fetishizing my old life and my old marriage had just gotten in the way of my ability to appreciate all I have now. And I have a lot. Maybe Billy Eichner was right, I had made a decision, and now I have to live with the consequences of that decision. And it seems, at this moment, that the best decision I could make is to live with the consequences of that decision.

As Billy Eichner repeated the coda with his surprisingly angelic voice, Christine and I kissed. As we did I could see Diane gather her things to leave. Our eyes connected one last time. It was the last time we saw each other, and I was okay with that.

So put me on a highway and show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time…