Ari Posner,

Ari Posner,

A weeklong electronic journal.
Jan. 23 1998 3:30 AM

Ari Posner,

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       I'm still getting used to living on my own. For the last seven years, almost from the time I moved to L.A., I've resided in the same perfectly pleasant, two-bedroom/two-story town house. (I did the math and was shocked to discover that I've lived here longer than in any other home in my life.) Needless to say, these walls and I have been through a lot. The riots, which spilled over onto the next block when Sammy's Camera went up in smoke. "The Medium One"--the Northridge earthquake of '94--which barely rustled the airtight foundations of my 1920s building and knocked over a bottle of cologne I wasn't much using anyhow. Assorted romantic traumas. But until an embarrassingly short while ago, I'd always shared the house with a roommate.
       Now the joint is all mine, and some weird shit has been going down.
       A few weeks ago, just past midnight, I was surfing the Web at the computer in my study, when a noise at the window caught my ear. I looked out and saw, directly across the narrow alley that separates the back of my building from the one next-door, a naked woman, about 20 years old, waving at me and dancing. I knew the apartment: A pretty, young model had moved in there several weeks before--she is the daughter of Michelle Phillips (of the Mamas and the Papas) and already something of a legend on the downtown-New York club scene. Only this wasn't my neighbor waving at me; it was a nearly identical friend. A moment passed and then my neighbor, too, walked to the window and waved, naked as a ... very naked person. I waved back. The girls giggled, then flicked out the light.
       Not completely sure what hit me, I returned to my computer screen, shaking a little from the surprise. A moment later, the light came back on and so did the girls, with increasing boldness. Then lights out again. Then on. This continued, with them teasing and me casually glancing over, still pretending to be interested in my computer ("You've got mail"), for about 10 minutes. Then my little window friends grew bored, clutched each other in a final saucy embrace, and flicked off the light for good.
       Since then, no repeat performances and no out-of-the-ordinary communication. My neighbor and I have passed each other and grunted neighborly hellos. But my entire relationship with my home has been altered. I'm all alone here, but the place feels less than ever like mine. It feels like it's hers. I've never been much of a voyeur, but now it's all I can do to ignore any sign of activity beyond my curtains--a device, by the way that she does not believe in. I'm beginning to feel dirty, and not in a good way. It took me two weeks to tell my girlfriend, Jill, what happened, and though she's very cool and found the story almost--though not quite--as amusing as I did, I could tell she was disappointed that it had happened to me. Like it was my fault, at some level.
       After all these years, it finally may be time to move on.
       ******
       This afternoon I returned to my office at Universal one last time, to empty my desk and snap a photo of the sign over my parking spot. (It's silly, but I still get a kick out of having a "This spot reserved for" with my name on it, 15 feet from one marked "Mike Nichols.") The building where Something So Right had its offices lies directly in the path of the ubiquitous Universal Studios Tour, so every time a tram goes by you find yourself being scrutinized as a potential celebrity by dozens of prying tourist eyes and camera lenses. Once in a while, I've had fun with the tram riders by abruptly placing a hand over my face and averting my gaze, like Sean Penn trapped in a restaurant parking lot. People swivel around, desperate to catch a picture of the man they are suddenly sure must be famous--Johnny Depp? No, Rick Moranis!--while the guide drones on: "You are about to enter our world-famous back lot, where everything you will see is a façade, which is French for 'false front' ..." Over the months, as we've crossed from our offices to the soundstage where we shot the show, my partner, Eric, and I would provide phony tour-guide dialogue: "On your right are the funny Jewish people. Here at Universal we call them 'writers,' which is French for 'neurotic and underslept' ..."
       Moving out of my office could have been a bittersweet experience, but I've only been with the show for seven months and, well versed in the vicissitudes of TV life, I never allowed myself to get too comfortable. I didn't even put up posters. (A habit I learned from a woman who wrote for Cheers; one day she mounted something on her wall, and the next day she was gone.) From start to finish, the whole move took 10 minutes.
       On my way off the lot, I stopped at the company store to stock up on low-priced CDs and stereo equipment. Universal may have been purchased by Seagram's but, in what seems like yet another way in which Hollywood has ripped off the poor, over-their-heads Japanese, the company store still offers deals on products made by the previous owners, Matsushita. If anyone wants a bargain on something in the Panasonic or Technics product lines, let me know soon. My ID expires in April.

Ari Posner is a TV writer living in Los Angeles. He is currently writing for Something So Right, a midseason-replacement sitcom on ABC.