This post brought to you by lots of cold meds. Lots and lots of cold meds.
Location: Glendale Galleria
Time: 4:58 p.m., March 7, 2010
The mall’s usually open until 7 on Sundays, but for the Oscars, they’re closing down shop early. But, as the night guard prepares to lock the doors at the entrance between Target and JC Penney, he’s knocked to the ground as a frantic gun-wielding Charlize Theron pushes into the mall.
“No!” she screams. “I will not be denied.”
Charlize, it seems has forgotten the Academy Awards. No designer gown prepared, no sparkling accessories on loan from Harry Winston. Frantic, she shatters the window at Cache’, grabbing the first gown she can. Her size. Charlize begins to breathe easier, but she can’t stand still.
She sprints upstairs to Claire’s Accessories, but it’s too late. The clerk has already pushed the button, lowering the grid of black burglar bars.
“Let me in,” she pleads. “I’m not a bad person. I’m a real good person.”
“I saw ‘Monster’,” the clerk calls back, cowering. “I know what you’re capable of.”
“Just throw out something from the ‘Pretty Please’ prom collection, and I’ll go,” Charlize pleads. Her voice is desperate now. At the Kodak Theatre, the red carpet is already rolled out. Ryan Seacrest has spiked his hair in an homage to just-awakened hedgehogs.
“I promise to come back and pay when the mall is open,” she begs. “I just forgot the Oscars were tonight. I have a movie in production.”
“Put the gun down,” the clerk demands. “No bling until you’re unarmed.”
The handgun clatters against the mall floor in surrender. A pair of earrings slide across the floor.
“The dress is too plain for a presenter, you know,” the clerk is softening now. Maybe some trim from the craft store near the food court?”
Charlize rushes up the escalator, taking the stilled steps two at a time. Too late. The rick-rack store is dark, sequined trim taunting her from the other side of shatterproof glass.
In the dark, deserted mall, she begins to cry at a food court table. Plain sheath dress, earrings from Claire’s. She can feel the sting from Joan Rivers’ barbs already. “What, did she forget it was Oscar night?”
Then, a voice behind her whispers gently. “I can help.”
She turns. In the darkness, the Cinnabon neon sign is glowing now. The girl behind the counter has hope shining in her eyes, and in her hands, two buns left over from a Valentine’s promotion. They didn’t rise quite right, but they’re glazed in a lavenderish pink that somehow complements the shade of the simple sheath dress.
“In the right light, no one will suspect,” the clerk promises. “They’ll look like rosettes.”
Desperate to believe, Charlize and the clerk affix the deflated pink Cinnabons to the bodice of the dress with extra royal icing.
“See? You’re beautiful,” the angel of the food court whispers. “No one will ever know.”
On the red carpet, she smiles.
“No, no one will ever suspect.”