Max had just come home and promised to clean his room.  But first,—any and everything else comes first—he had to call Neal and find out if they were still getting together to write their TV pilot. 

      I was finishing my lunch and Max was sitting nearby on the phone, expressing disappointment and frustration that his friend would not have time to see him.  Neal was in New York with his family to attend the “Wolf of Wall Street” premiere, in which his father had played a role.  Apparently, Neal had to leave earlier than expected for the festivities and would be flying home to LA the next morning.

     Suddenly, my son’s expression changed.  He stopped scolding Neal for not meeting him earlier. There was a long pause. “You want me to come with you to the premiere?”   Max asked, obviously awestruck and trying to process what was apparently a spur-of-the-moment invitation.  Later I would learn that Neal’s sister was too sick to go, so there was an extra ticket.   Neal’s mother had overheard her son’s side of the conversation and suggested he invite Max.

     My son smiled like he’d won the lottery. “I’d LOVE to!” Max blurted, his blue eyes, popping with excitement.  “Dude, I mean if you want me to,” he backpedaled. “That would be great.”  

     From my son’s expression, I could surmise that Neal had offered him some sort of challenge.   But Max was still smiling and so was I.  It had to be about the dress code.  I could imagine Neal warning my son: “You’ll have to wear a suit, and you probably don’t have one…”   Like most young men his age, my son hated to get dressed up.  Max rarely wore anything fancier than an untucked flannel shirt with jeans and always griped if he had to wear a blazer—or worse still—a tie (heaven, forbid).

     “I have a suit that’s perfect.” I heard Max announce with glee. “My Uncle Andy bought it for me to wear to the job I still don’t have.”  

     I thought about the elegantly tailored, black designer suit that Andy had so generously given to Max. There was also a beautifully tailored white shirt, skinny black tie and expensive dress shoes. The outfit was going to be exactly right for the red carpet affair, and –for all the same reasons— exactly wrong for an entry level job.

     “Mom, I can’t believe I might be going to meet Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese!  Do you think I sounded too excited?” My son asked, ever afraid of sounding uncool.

     “How could you NOT be excited?” I enthused.  “Your friend’s life is filled with famous people.  For him this is just another family obligation.  For you, it’s a unique experience.”  I knewI’d be excited if I could meet Leo DiCaprio.  And who knew how many other handsome men might be attending this premiere?  I had to make sure Max looked his best.

      It was a mad race to plow through the mess in Max’s room to assemble his outfit.  First, the shirt was MIA.  After rummaging through a mountain of laundry, Max extracted the lovely-but-wrinkled Dolce & Gabbana.

     “Should I wear it anyway?  Maybe we should try to iron it.” My son wondered aloud.

     “That would mean looking for the iron first.”  I couldn’t help smiling.  “Even if I manage to unearth it, I’m not very good at ironing, and you’ve never ironed in your life.”

     “I see the ironing board.”  He persisted.  “It can’t be that hard.” His lovely, square jaw was thrust forward with that same, stubborn, devil-may care attitude he’d had as a boy.

     “Trust me, you don’t want to burn a hole in that Dolce & Gabbana shirt or arrive looking wrinkled and disheveled at the premiere.  Borrow a shirt from Dad.”  I handed my son his father’s shirt, only slightly short in the sleeves and tight in the neck, but Brook’s Brothers, white, crisp and clean. “Wear this.”

     “Do I have to shave?” Max studied his face in the mirror.  “I already have razor burn from shaving yesterday.”

     I smiled, knowing Henry would be horrified if his son didn’t shave for this event.  Henry believed Max should shave every day to be well-groomed. “How about if we touch it up a little?” I offered as a compromise. “Here, let me. “  I took the razor and gently went over the area above his pouting lips and around the mole under his left ear, where he always left a patch of stubble
     Next, Max struggled with the tie.   “I’m terrible at this,” he complained.  The knot was crooked, and the tie was askew. 

     “Just take your time.”  I buttoned the collar and pushed the back of the tie underneath.

     After three or four attempts, the tie looked reasonable.   Maybe a beautiful actress would come over and fix it for him later.

     “If only I’d had time for a haircut,” Max lamented. He layered on mousse in an attempt to push back the long hanks of brown hair that kept flopping forward. 

     “Do I look okay?  Please tell me I don’t look like a greaser.” 

     “You look stunning.  And I’m not just saying that because I’m your Mom.”  Even if his bedroom looked like a slum hit by a hurricane, my son was capable of transforming himself into a strikingly handsome young man.   Max was 6’1,” 180 pounds with pale denim-blue eyes framed by dark eyebrows and hair.  Some people said he looked like a young, Nicolas Cage. 

     “I don’t have a dress coat,” he fretted.

     “The coat doesn’t matter,” I reassured him. “It’s snowing, and you’ll take it off.”  I dug out Henry’s old black parka, which looked infinitely better than my son’s stained, khaki down jacket.   “I bet you’ll meet at least one beautiful actress tonight.”

     For once in his life, Max left early,allotting an hour and a half to get to his friend’s house.   He wasn’t taking any chances on being late for the premiere.  Plus he had the best excuse ever to postpone cleaning his room.  

     “Have fun.” I waved.   Watching him eagerly depart in Dolce & Gabbana, I couldn’t help thinking my son was as handsome as any movie star he might meet.

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