As it usually does, the impetus came from my dad. “What happened to Jenn? How come you don’t talk anymore? I miss seeing her.” he said. I tried to explain to him that there had been a misunderstanding. I had tried to tell her something in Spanish one night about bacon and it came out horribly wrong. Never discuss pieces of meat in a language unfamiliar to you. Just sayin’. I had been thinking of talking to her because I had been watching her on Real Housewives-Beverly Hills and figured if I was hanging out with her, I might get invited to Mohammed’s house and see if he had a million or so he had left in the corner of the house. I figure every guest got something like that. No?
So, with an all you can eat buffet fortifying my courage, I sent her a little message just to see how things were going and it was like no time had passed and all pork product conversation had been long forgotten. The thing about Jenn is that she is exactly like you have seen her in all of her television appearances. Amazingly, unfailingly, sweet. Way nicer than any person in Hollywood should be considering what she has been through. I have never met anyone who has even spoken to her for five seconds who was not convinced that they were the only person that mattered right that second. Try that with most celebrities in Hollywood and you will be ignored or treated like a gnat at Honey Boo Boo’s house.
When we were texting, I got the idea in my head that she would be the first in a very irregular series of Lunch With… because it sounded like fun and I am always looking for a good excuse to eat as many meals as I can. In this case, Lunch With… didn’t happen because there were no days we could make it work because it is really tough for me to get out of my office chair once I finally work my way down into it in the mornings and her weekends were full. So, it actually turned into Dinner With… A very long dinner. Four hours worth of dinner. Did I tell you I like to eat?
We met at one of our favorite spots. I’m not going to tell you the name, but for those of you who live out here, it is in West Hollywood and you feel like you have been transported into the 1970’s basement of your creepy neighbor, but with decent food in a place so loud that if you hear a story about Taylor Armstrong it might be left up to you to fill in the blanks. Stories are way much more fun that way. “Horses?” “Ohhh, courses. Well sure, that makes much more sense, but I liked it the other way much better because I was wondering how that would work, but yeah, anyway.”
Some disclosures as I get into this. I get a lot of Real Housewives gossip and blinds, but none that I have published has ever come from Jenn. I have had Celebrity Rehab gossip and blinds in the past and none of that has come from Jenn either. I say these things because trust and confidentiality are important to her. As part of her job as a counselor, she learns a lot and hears a lot and I don’t ever want some person who is seeking help for their addictions to hesitate in going to Jenn for fear she will spill their secrets. She doesn’t. Do I know some truly spectacular things about Real Housewives? Things that keep me awake at night because they are so spectacular? Yeah, but none from Jenn. This piece might seem Kneepadian in nature, but, anyone who is willing to suffer through my eating and dining habits for four hours gets some love. Then again, I don’t think there are very many people I would want to dine with for four hours, so maybe this Lunch With…thing won’t happen very often.
I have always told Jenn she should write a book. Yes, celebrities always have books, but this one would actually be good. As I ordered five appetizers for myself, Jenn told me that she is in the process of finally writing her book and it was going well, but was very hard emotionally because it was opening all of the wounds from the past. The wounds which saw her go from being the youngest person ever on the cover of Elle to supermodel and making out with Johnny Depp in the movie Blow to spending nine months in rehab after everything came crashing down. Her best friends from those days before getting sober are still in her life and still are her support team. Names like Cameron Diaz and yes, Brandi Glanville too. She loves them all. She never has any bad words for anyone in her life. I know what you are saying. Gossip can only be fun if there is bad. Many times I would agree with you, but it is the stories she has and the people she interacted with through the years that make me beg her everyday to finish the book. She promises it will be finished soon. In the meantime, the steady stream of people stopping by our table to all say hi to her continues. It is always the same. They want to thank her for helping them to get sober or being an inspiration in their lives. This is a woman who was at the very top and had it all taken away and somehow managed to pull herself out of it all and make a life for herself. It must have been overwhelming and the people that stop to thank her tell her that she has given them hope that they can make it too. No one wanted autographs or photos, they just wanted to thank her. So, while they were busy thanking her, I might have helped myself to the few remaining pieces of food she had managed to get on her plate.
Jenn started talking about movies then. She loves being an actress. She is a really good actress. You don’t get scenes opposite Johnny Depp and Tom Cruise unless you can act. You just don’t. She has started working her way back into movies and is loving it and wants everyone to know about Chastity Bites and Birthday Cake. It is acting that helped her on Celebrity Rehab. For those of you who watched it, there was one particular season where one of the celebrities really gave Jenn a hard time and was physically abusing her. It got to be so bad that she was going to quit. It was exhausting, mentally and physically and it was just too hard. One of the producers suggested that instead of feeling everything as Jenn, she should do what she does best. Act. Be the counselor but as an actress and think of it as a part and think of the physical abuse she was receiving as something that would happen if she was in a role. When thought of in those terms, it became much easier for her to finish the rest of the season.
The past two years, Jenn has found her way into a handful of Real Housewives-Beverly Hills episodes with her best friend, Brandi Glanville. The two have been through absolutely everything together and have always looked out for one another and being on the show together has just made that bond stronger. I’m hoping Jenn gets an expanded role next season so more people can get to see her and ultimately give her a bigger platform for helping others.
As we finished dinner, there were just a handful of patrons left in the place. The waitress had given up on us an hour earlier and when we stepped outside it was pouring rain. It never rains here, but when it does, it rains hard. As the valet came up to Jenn and got her ticket for her car, they spoke in Spanish for several minutes with buckets of rain coming down on them and she hugged the man and gave him her phone number. It turns out that his daughter was having issues with substance abuse and Jenn had told the man to call and she would do her best to help or find her a place where his daughter could get help. One great way to start Lunch With…