Upon turning twenty-seven, Scott Leighton, an actor beloved throughout the world, fell into a great depression. He hadn’t been on an unpublicized date in years, and the loneliness was becoming too much to bear. In the middle of shooting his latest film, he had a vision. He saw himself growing old with deep wrinkles on his face. His fans had abandoned him, and he had no one to sit beside him on his theoretical porch-swing. He would have two dogs that he loved beyond words, but they still wouldn’t take the place of a woman with whom he could get into silly arguments.
When he finally regained consciousness, Scott immediately sent for his agent.
“After this film, I will need time off,” Michael said, “to find a woman to share the rest of my life with.” His agent was not pleased to hear what his best client had planned.
“If you leave the spotlight your fans might forget about you,” Michael’s agent said, “You don’t want to sacrifice one part of your life for another, do you? What if I go out instead, and set you up on dates with three great women.” Scott felt nervous about this, but wasn’t in the mindset to argue. So, he gave his agent free-reign to call up three of Hollywood’s hottest actresses, and leave messages with their assistants.
The first call was to Jordana Walsh, America’s Sweetheart. The second call was to Melanie Burbank, “Sexiest Woman Alive,” and the third call was to Jennifer Cortland, “The Girl Next Door.” Jennifer was out shopping at that moment, so he spoke to Mira, her assistant.
“Is Jennifer available this Saturday?” asked the agent, “Scott Leighton would love to take her out on a date.” Mira took out Jennifer’s schedule, and penciled Scott in for “Dinner” Saturday. The agent’s job was complete. He had landed three dates for his top client. One was scheduled for Thursday, one Friday, and one Saturday.
When Thursday rolled around, Scott met Jordana at a fine Italian. From the start the date was a disaster. Jordana talked non-stop, and mostly about shoes. She asked him nothing about himself, and took a total of nine phone calls. Needless to say, Scott never wanted to go out with her again.
On Friday, Scott met Melanie for a private tour of the Griffith observatory.” His intention with this date was to try and look past her stunning exterior. In this way, Melanie was a disappointment. She didn’t listen to their tour-guide, and she broke a knob off the massive telescope. Needless to say, Scott never wanted to go out with her again either.
When Saturday morning came around, Mira knew she was in trouble. She had yet to tell her employer of the date with Scott. Jennifer always seemed to be running off somewhere, and Saturday ended up being more of the same. By the time Mira arrived at Jennifer’s home, there was a note saying that she was going on a “spur-of-the-moment trip to San Francisco” and wouldn’t be back until Monday. Mira had to think fast. She called up Scott’s agent, but when he picked up she was at a loss for words.
“Will Jennifer be coming tonight?” asked the agent.
“No.” said Mira, “but she will be sending a friend in her place.” Mira figured she could use a little excitement in her life.
“Is she famous?” asked the agent.
“Yes. She is very famous… but not here. She is beloved by all of India. She is a Bollywood star,” said Mira.
“Does that mean she can sing and dance?” asked the agent.
“She sings like an angel, and she dances more beautifully than any other woman in all the world,” Mira said, and, in truth, she did dance occasionally.
“She sounds almost too good to be true,” said the agent, “What is her name?”
“Nelatinka Princhalafan,” Mira said, completely off the top of her head.
“Beautiful name,” said the agent, “What does it mean?” Mira thought quickly on her feet.
“It means ‘most beautiful and talented.’”
“That’s a very fateful name,” said the agent.
“Indeed,” said Mira, “Tell Scott he can pick her up from Ms. Cortland’s at seven.” She hung up the phone and ran to Jennifer’s closet to find something suitable, maybe even traditional, to wear. She found a long yellow gown that fit perfectly and covered it with a long shawl to make it look a little more like a sari. She braided her hair, and put bright makeup on her face. By the time she was finished one might actually believe that she was visiting from Mumbai.
“This is going to be fun,” she thought as she heard the doorbell ring. When Scott saw her for the first time he was astonished by how uniquely beautiful she was, but he was not about to let that thought lead him astray.
“My name is Nelatinka Princhalafan. It is an honor to meet you,” Mira said, almost believing herself. Scott opened the car door for her, and drove her to the Italian restaurant from Thursday. As soon as they were seated, there was no lack of subjects for them to discuss. Unlike Jordana and Melanie, Nelatinka gave him the opportunity to speak, and be understood. Mira was having a good time as well. She found herself telling him secrets she’d never told anyone. Their careers hardly came up.
Having passed the first-date test, Scott decided to take her to the observatory, and again she was impressive. She listened to the guide and even asked questions about the constellations she saw through the telescope. Again, Scott was impressed. So, he decided to take Nelatinka someplace she would feel more comfortable—a dance hall. Ironically, this was what Mira had been dreading the most. When Scott asked her to dance, she wanted to say “no,” but he was quick to scoop her up. So, she danced the best she could, and Scott didn’t complain. She soon felt so comfortable in his arms that she began to hum to the tune of the music. Again, Scott didn’t complain, so she assumed her voice was good as well.
When they final sat down to take a break, Scott looked into Mira’s eyes.
“Who are you really?” Scott asked. Mira looked terrified. “You let me share in conversations, you enjoy learning new things, and you dance and sing like an angel. You’re amazing, but you’re not an actress. I researched you online this afternoon, and you didn’t come up anywhere. I even tried several ways of spelling you name. Not a trace.”
“You knew I was lying about who I was and you still agreed to go out with me?” Mira asked.
“I decided I’d walk up to your door, and see what happened from there. When I saw how much you committed to your character, I thought we might have a good time. Then you just continued to impress me,” said Scott. “So, who are you really?”
“My name is Mira, and I am Ms. Cortland’s assistant. She couldn’t make it tonight, but I wanted to meet you. You can leave if you want, but please don’t yell at me.”
“Don’t worry about it. Something tells me we’ll have plenty of time to yell in the future,” Scott said, and he led her back on to the dance floor.
This Story is dedicated in loving memory to my Grandfather, Harold Roemer.
This story was written by Alex Schattner (7/30/12)