Some dreams are worth retelling. In this extract from Chris Parker’s new book Here For a Good Time: Organised Thoughts From an Unorganised Mind, he does just that.
I find listening to people’s dreams about as interesting as listening to that friend who doesn’t have a tattoo and doesn’t want a tattoo tell you at length that if they got a tattoo what it would be – that is to say, incredibly dull. Like I’m sorry but I just don’t have the energy to pretend that your idea for a hypothetical “take a risk” tattoo placed where no one can see it is a radical idea.
That being said, I had a dream the other night that was so vivid, so visceral, that it left me waking up feeling sick to my stomach. The dream seemingly came out of nowhere, I hadn’t been hanging out with anyone who featured in the dream earlier in the day. I can’t seem to draw any parallels as to why my mind subconsciously came up with it while I was sleeping, and that in a way almost makes me feel like it could have been a premonition. So with that I need to tell you all about the craziest dream I had the other night.
The Julia Roberts dream
It was a Wednesday afternoon, nothing out of the ordinary, just a day like any other day. Living in the beating LA heat. That’s right, I live in LA now.
I’m in my sun-drenched LA apartment, catching up on the morning news, scrolling through Twitter and downing a smoothie that I have definitely put too many ingredients in. It’s thick, almost too thick to drink, it really is almost like batter, a big fruity batter in a glass. Why am I doing this to myself? I don’t even like smoothies, I’m a toast guy, always have been, always will be. Why am I suddenly obsessed with forcing these healthy smoothies down my throat when all I really want is two pieces of Marmite toast with loads of melted butter. Oh yeah that’s right, I live in LA now, and you can’t buy Marmite in LA.
My phone rings, which is shocking, who even calls in 2022?
NO CALLER ID. It’s an unsaved random number. I’m afraid to answer. Could this be immigration? Am I going to be sent back home? Or is this what I think any call from an unsaved number is, someone calling to offer me a job that will solve all my financial concerns?
I immediately answer the phone. ‘Hello, Christopher Parker speaking.’ I’m instantly mortified by the formal phone-answering manner that my father instilled in me from a young age. No one answers the phone like that in LA. Why couldn’t I have just answered with “Hey” or “Sup?” This is going to be a real put-off to this potential LA agent who was going to cast me in the next Marvel movie that was going to launch my career into the big time.
“Hi, sorry, is this the Chris Parker from New Zealand?” says the Unknown Caller with a thick American accent.
They already know who I really am, a good sign.
“Yes it is,” I answer, trying to play down my suspicions.
They inform me that they’re a personal assistant to a very well known celebrity in America. That this celebrity is a fan of my work, they have been watching my funny videos on Instagram with a secret anonymous account and they want to meet me in person.
They tell me this isn’t a work thing, this is strictly social. This celebrity is looking to be my friend.
“You have my interest,” I reply on the phone, “but one question – who is this celebrity?”
And they answer: “JULIA ROBERTS.”
I’m told that a private car is going to pick me up and bring me to Julia. That I don’t need to bring anything, not even a polite bottle of wine, in the way that people do that without any intention to drink it. I get myself dressed in the finest clothes I own that don’t have food stains on them. For some reason it’s a turtleneck, as it’s suddenly very autumnal in LA. There is a honk outside my house and a black Mercedes waiting in my driveway.
I arrive at Julia’s house in the late evening – the sun is setting. Glaring through the windows and filling her warm, open-plan, surprisingly Scandinavian house with a gorgeous orange hue. I always thought Julia’s house would have been more grand and what I would consider more classically American, maybe with a ginormous kitchen island she never cooks at and curved archways throughout. Her assistant opens the door. It’s a large wooden door that swings open, it feels a little excessive but then again this is Julia Roberts.
“You must be Chris. Ms Roberts is waiting for you. You may call her Julia.”
Julia. My heart skips a beat.
“Do I leave my shoes on or take them off?” I ask the 19-year-old assistant who wears head-to-toe black clothes in the way that you don’t know where the shirt ends and the pants begin, but also in the way that you know that every single item she is wearing, which could be anything from one piece to nine, is ridiculously expensive.
“SHOES OFF,” a voice echoes from a distant hallway. I’d recognise that voice anywhere. It’s Ms Roberts. Sorry, Julia.
She doesn’t introduce herself to me – she barely looks me in the eyes, she just dives straight in.
“What do you drink?”
“Water,” I answer.
She laughs back at my face and asks me again.
“What do you drink? Vodka? Whiskey? Rum? Gin?”
I’m freaking out – I should just drink whatever she’s drinking, I don’t know why when faced with Julia Roberts I’m becoming such a puritan. I tell her I’m not much of a drinker, which is a lie.
“OK fine then, Aperol Spritz.”
Julia throws a quick look to her assistant in black who races off to pour the drinks. Julia then turns to me and looks directly into my eyes. I’m looking right into those Academy Award-winning eyes, those eyes that stole the hearts of the world, those eyes that can only be topped by that smile.
“Come join me outside, Chris.”
I can’t believe she knows my name. She takes me outside to her large fire pit, a big bowl with an open flame and low bench seating all the way around. Gorgeous, but in all honesty just not my taste.
We talk all night, blankets delicately laid over our laps, drinking back Aperol Spritz after Aperol Spritz. I’m telling her stories, she’s throwing her head back in laughter. That laugh, the laugh that won her the title of America’s sweetheart.
It’s getting late, the sun has set and Julia and I are left alone in the dark, the fire is the only thing keeping us lit, that and the light within Julia’s eye. She turns to me, grabbing my arm. There’s a glimmer in her eye. A devilish glint that makes me nervous. Even though there’s no one around, she whispers to me.
“Would you like to see the original printed screenplay of Pretty Woman?”
Now I’m freaking out. It’s the first time tonight that she really acknowledges who she is, who she is to me. Julia Roberts.
I’m trying to play it cool but there is a ringing in my ears.
“Excuse me?” I gasp, feeling my stomach turn inside out.
“I’ve got the original printed copy of Pretty Woman, would you like to see it?”
Before I can answer, because she knows the answer, she grabs my arm and leads me into her house, up the wide staircase with random terracotta pots casually placed on them, as if to say, “Whoops I forgot I left my terracotta pots on the stairs, but funny how nice they look there.”
We now stand in her giant but not excessive wardrobe. I can’t recognise any of the dresses hanging up, she must have them in storage somewhere else. It’s just casual cashmere sweats and the odd coat that she wears around the house. How reserved and humble of her. She opens a drawer and pulls out a distressed white box. In black vivid on the box she’s written “Pretty Woman Script”.
She opens the box and inside is the script. I touch it with my shaking hands.
She looks at me with that same devilish glint. “Shall we burn it?”
“C’mon don’t be weak, let’s burn it. Fuck it you know it’s just a script, it doesn’t define me!”
I feel sick to my stomach but I cannot say no to those eyes, that smile, the greatest smile in Hollywood. Surely this is just a game, a weird joke she plays on all her soon-to-be-best-friends to test them. I try to call her out on her bluff.
We race back down the stairs and out to the fire pit which now violently roars. She holds the script over the open fire pit. She laughs manically, but it’s Julia Roberts so it’s still beautiful.
“Fuck it,” she says and throws it into the flames. It catches light immediately, the fire grows in intensity. The paper curls, ignites and then turns to ash.
Then she stops laughing. Something has changed within her.
She turns to me, grabs my arm firmly, looks me dead in the eyes and says in a cold tone, “Why did you make me do that?”
And that’s when I wake up.