Theodora L'Engle Knight

Theodora L'Engle Knight
Portland, Oregon, USA
July 02
Pack Leader, Her Royal Highness
Prozac On Paws: The Tale of Three Spayed Females
jewish writer/former screenwriter/recovering accountant from Boston now moldering in the rain in Portland, OR. and, yes, of course i should move but I battle with Agoraphobia and have trouble even leaving my apartment. but i'm blessed to have a fabulous 9 year old service dog Cocoa Chanel. Ella Fitgerald was my Official SD. she was 11 years old and so perky and such a trooper but she passed away in July. Cocoa has been stepping up and taking her job very seriously, which is so moving. so we now have a kitten. he drives us crazy and then he conks out wrapped around cocoa and we forgive him. we thought he was a girl. i named "her" Gloria Steinem and she was a feminist and a feline-est. but it turned out that Gloria's Balls had dropped. so his name is Gary Cooper or G-Coop. as annoying as he is much of the time -- apparently he's a Teenager now -- he takes our focus off of losing Ella, which was my intent when we adopted him.

JANUARY 10, 2009 7:42PM

Losing My Looks/When I was a 'Ho. Part One.

Rate: 38 Flag

“Joke ‘em if they can’t take a f***.”
Robin Williams
“Bisexuality doubles your chance for a date on Saturday night.”
Woody Allen 

My love and sexual history was already lengthy and complicated by the time I arrived in Hell Lay. I’d had way more than my share of conquests. I wasn’t even remotely healthy about men, dating, sex, about any of it, until my early to mid-thirties. Most people who come from extreme dysfunction have some trouble being intimate. I never quite grasped the whole delayed gratification concept – sexual tension made me nuts and I felt compelled to act on it immediately -- so I accumulated way too many male data points over the years. Now I tell people I’m a Recovering Ho, and they laugh because I’m so un-ho-like now, but I was a real player back in the day. L.A. was a major enabler for me. So many gorgeous men. So little time.


I was thirty-three when I moved to L.A. from the San Francisco Bay Area. Still an accountant, not yet in recovery.


I’d had my nose done, finally, partly to get a break from the hell that was the Big 8 accounting firm, but I was also burnt out on being called the girl with the big nose or hearing “you’d be exquisite if you just got your nose fixed”. And more than one guy at U.C. Berkeley telling me how much it sucked that there were no attractive women in our MBA program. “How terrible for you,” I’d say ironically, since I was technically still a woman even though twenty percent of the S.F. population was gay and I’d begun to say that I was getting a “Much Bigger Assholes” degree since at least eighty percent of my colleagues fit into that category. In my not-a-fan-of-Reagan opinion.


I believe strongly now that Asshole should be in the DSM IV or V, right under agoraphobia and anxiety. And that kind of asshole did not find me any more sexually desirable than the huge gay male population. They preferred waspy republicans.


So I’d had the rhinoplasty and was working in finance at Paramount Pictures and Universal Studios and having multiple brushes with greatness. I loathed my work but was thrilled to run onto the Solid Gold set beside Ted Danson to hear Julian Lennon – I also sneaked on to the Cheers set as often as I could. Access was easy when you wore a suit and looked dull. My downwardly mobile instincts were already in place, of course. So I was rude to a very hairy Martin Scorcese and didn’t let him use my phone right away, thinking he was a go-fer with a film canister under his arm.


And I took way too much of Sherry Lansing’s time – she later became head of Paramount – when I saw her under the dryer at the chi-chi salon. Both she and Marty could not have been kinder or more pleasant. Bolstering my theory that truly talented and successful people are cool. It was the social climbing Protestant wannabes from Des Moines who’d given me the hardest time when I was at Harvard. Back when I was so smaht, as they say in Boston, but, sadly, a Jew.


My finance job at Universal was even more hideous and dull than my Paramount one had been and I’d only lasted there for four months. So I decided to take a break and get liposuction on my upper thighs. It was not yet clear to me that I was exorcising my real estate developer and future ex-con mother  from my body. I wanted to fit into the slimmer-silhouette pants that I coveted. I wanted to Fit In.


Actually, my plastic surgeries are two of the least stupid things I’ve done in my life. Which is saying a whole lot. Clothes fit better. I felt prettier. I truly had solved some appearance issues.
“What kind of a nose would you like?” asked my artistic surgeon.
“Well, I don’t want that tiny nose. The one my cousins and Joan Van Ark all have…”
“Honey, you can’t have a small nose,” he said, not at all unkindly, “You have an enormous nose for your face.”


“Did you have something done to your eyes?” my lovely chiropractor asked a few weeks later.
“No,” I answered pragmatically. “You can see my eyes now."
He nodded, clearly pleased for me.


“Pull down your pants,” my shorter and even more saddle-bagged sister demanded when I was back east on business, dragging me into the hotel bathroom to see the fantastic results.
“Wow,” she murmured. “You don’t have to wear bell-bottoms anymore.”


My sister was practical about everything in life. My envy of her nature and her closeness with my mother knew no bounds. Her view was that if we’d been stretched on a rack, we’d have the perfect body. She did leg lifts religiously but, having the adoring husband and new baby, she felt none of the stupid urgency that I felt to try to be beautiful.


Of course no matter how lovely you feel or become, in L.A. you are average at best. Which was actually okay with me. It had been so long since I’d had any positive attention from men, from anyone really, since I was not popular among either the MBAs, the accountants or the financial analysts, that I felt like I’d been re-born.


“Do I have something yucky on my face?” I asked my two gay and San Francisco-familiar male friends. “People are staring at me.”
“Noooooo. they howled. “They LIKE women here!”
They were delighted for me, so I joyfully returned to being the Ho I’d been before business school. It was time to date again, to have enjoyable sex. Which did not turn out to be a challenge despite my not being a Perfect Blond.

I had traffic-stopping red hair. A homeless man actually ran up to me when my car was stalled at an Arby’s near Hollywood Boulevard and yelled, “I could see your hair from all the way down the street!” And a strange woman accosted me on  Venice Boardwalk, desperate to know my formula. They were not exactly my target market. i miss those days of knowing exactly how you were doing (Portlanders are all about Early North Face/Early Wilderness Expedition and never give compliments, which can really suck when you are older and invisible.) But a compliment means something in L.A.. I had a buff body, finally was at my fighting weight and a very slowly burgeoning screenwriting career since a TV movie I’d written with a partner was being optioned by NBC.


The relief I felt at being able to answer “I’m a writer” to the “what do you do?” question was palpable. When you say you work in finance, the other person’s eyes glaze over, It's painful when you know in your gut that you are more interesting and certainly much funnier than what you do implies.


There was no arrogance or attitude in my saying that I was a screenwriter. I felt buoyed by the knowledge that there was something I loved to do, at which I might possibly also make a living. I was naïve and had no idea about the angst-ridden years ahead, but that was a blessing and I had the glow of someone who’s learned that life might have positive possi-bilities.


So I had the glow and the vitality that made me feel radiant and irresistible. I was told over and over again that I looked like (pick one)Diane Wiest, Marsha Mason, Melissa Gilbert, Fran Drescher, and when I was blondish and in a dark Irish pub, Stephanie Powers, by both strangers and pals in the Industry whose job it is to know who people look like. Two visually impaired people insisted I looked like Sandra Bullock.
“But you can’t see,” I blurted, ungratefully, and then, "Thank you so much."


At the time I knew I must look like some celebrity whom people liked. A lot. It was so much fun. Strangers waved at me from their cars. Offered me free food in restaurants.
“Good luck on the Emmys,” said the ticket booth woman at the Beverly Connection Cineplex.
“Thank you,” I replied, modestly.


“Are you anybody?” asked a tourist, rushing up to me at  Farmer’s Market next to CBS Studios
“No. No, I’m not,” I’d say truthfully, the first few times it happened.


But they’d look so crestfallen, and, after all, technically, I was somebody. So I’d say, very humbly of course, “Yes, yes, I am.” And they’d run off shrieking to Harold or Irving that they’d just met ______. I never bothered to find out who they thought I was. It didn’t matter. It wasn’t about being famous or being taken for famous. It was about feeling visible, vital and viable in my life again.


Thankfully, there was no way to know then that my life would change so much after the riots and the earthquake and, well, everything that followed, and it warms my heart to know that I knew I was attractive and appealing and alive when that was going on. One of the cherished time periods that I don’t look back on with wrenching regret.


I’ll get to the marathon dating and to the sex in a minute, since I’m not a relentless tease. But first I need to describe what I was up against. How amazing it truly was that I was able to hold my own in that social scene and how satisfying it was, as superficial as it sounds now, and how much I sometimes miss it all now that I have lost my libido and my looks. After all, I had just found my looks and it was thrilling. Especially considering all the perfectly stunning blond actresses who always insisted on sitting next to me in bars and nightclubs since I was so scared of women (see above description of my "mother") that I had no desire whatsoever to compete with them.


So there I's be in a fabulously funky bar or dance club in Hollywood or on Melrose Avenue or the 3rd Street Promenade. The glow I felt gave me the confidence to go anywhere and everywhere by myself. Music and dancing, almost any kind, made me hugely happy. Jazz and blues were my favorites but the most fun venue was the Crush Club, where people of all ages could gyrate around by themselves, if they wanted, to Motown and 50s and 60s rock’n’roll.


There I would contentedly be, all ho’d up for the night, and in would walk a Perfect Blond. I’d smile at her instinctively, which she would inevitably misread as an invitation and sit down next to me.


“You are gorgeous.” I’d say, because it was so totally true.
“Thank you,” she would reply and be relieved and delighted that I didn’t seem to loathe her, which I didn’t. I was another species entirely, with my large pores – well, any pores at all because the Perfect Blond didn't have any. Well, I was human, and she was NOT.


“You’re very pretty too,” she’d say, because she was not unkind, had no reason to be, as the bartender drooled nearby. “Well, thank you for saying that,” I’d demur. Then take a breath and a beat.


“This is awkward but do you think you could sit somewhere else?” I’d ask the PB very politely. “I won't meet anyone with you here." Not mentioning that I was in heat or what a giant ho I was. The PB would nod knowingly and move on to another bar stool or table where she would be most welcome if there were no other women around.


These kinds of interactions became second nature. But this pattern did come to a ridiculous head, even for me, one night in the hip and trendy Ladies Room of a hip and trendy restaurant in Santa Monica. I was washing my hands and blotting the sheen off my post-rhinoplasty nose in the strategically and fashionably oddly-angled metal mirror and feeling particularly okay about myself since I was on a date with a very cute guy who looked like he might be able to both pay for dinner and be a lot of fun later on.


So, of course, in walked a Perfect Blond. She was a brunette actually, but she was so stunning that she might as well have had the golden locks. And she was crying. Not the full out ugly cry, of course. But there were tears.
“My boyfriend doesn’t like my new dress. He says I look hippy.”
I stared at her in the mirror, mesmerized. She didn’t have any hips to speak of. She was perfect. The designer dress was cut just right. She was beyond gorgeous.


I’ve always wanted to write a play called the Ladies Room where there are women looking in the mirror and talking to each other while they polish themselves, but then there are women on the other side of the glass who are the ones truly doing the talking. Since women never look at each when they talk at the sinks. Their reflections do the speaking and the listening. And women bond in those rooms in ways that men and children will never ever understand. Maybe because we don’t actually look at each other. Our reflections do it all for us and that makes us feel safer.


“Your boyfriend is an asshole,” I said, with complete and total conviction. “You look perfect. You could not look better if you were framed on a wall. You are beautiful.”
She smiled at me, hopefully. “You think?”
“I know,” I said, wishing I didn’t have so much more faith in other people than I did in myself, as much as I actually did like myself in those days. “I do some screenwriting. I’ve worked at the Studios a bit. Seen lots and lots of amazing-looking women. You’re right up there. Tell him to fuck off.”


She wiped off the tears. Re-applied her lipstick.
“Thank you so much.” And, then, on her way out the door, “You’re very pretty, too.”


When you find yourself comforting PBs in the Ladies Room when you are not remotely that way yourself, that should be a sign that it’s time to move on. Up, up and away from L.A. I did do that eventually, only got myself an hour and a half north, but it felt at the time like a whole other world. But I was still in L.A. and I was intoxicated with maybe being somebody. I had just found my looks and I wanted to make use of them. 


Which all led, inevitably, to the dating and the fabulous dysfunctional sex…


                                    To Be Continued in Part Two


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screenwriting, dancing, sex, ho, hell lay

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Sometimes, you have to be "somebody" before you can be "nobody".

You sure write well for a "recovered accountant" :)
Extremely well written, Teddy. I'm not going to comment much because I never have understood girl/women things (ask Sue) and whatever I say will either be wrong, dumb or trite. Better I enjoy the read and let you write. Good job. I felt like one of those spy cameras watching every move.

Ooops! that ra was actually "rated" but the computer ate the "ted." No double entendre (sp?) intended. But this is good for the feed.

Great writing---great story.

I,too, live in LA---even worse---Malibu. I, too, was that accountant for a while---in the Industry for a while---(know that eye glaze over look well) surprised I didn't swallow my own tongue to end it all on some days. Finally figured out that the round peg was never going to fit into the square hole. Got into marketing---distilled spirits---that particular industry---it's got a little "rock star" quality to it---but soon it became "rock star legends in our own minds" quality.

Looking forward to another installment of your adventures.
Great post - look forward to number 2. Thanks for making me smile :)
Fantastic. I live in Southern California and always felt "other". (Or as M.A.H. said, "a round peg in square hole".)
I’ve worked my entire adult life in L.A., in the motion picture industry: From business and finance, to production and distribution, both at the minors and now at the majors. So what’s particularly fun (at least to me) about reading this is how the parts about the business and L.A. truthfully come from that insane world. Your humility and your sympathy and good humor for those in that world who are in need of ‘self-image repair’ is, well, heartwarming. (Classically funny bit, the return comment to the chiropractor).

This is fairly wonderful stuff. Bravely (and painfully) funny, as well as illuminating. Thank you for sharing it.

(Used to love the Crush Club up in Hollywood. One night a week they’d spin just soul and R&B after 11 PM).
You wrote this so well that I don't even mind that I didn't get to read about the sex this go 'round. You are a very intelligent and naughty ho, knowing just how to get us coming back for mo.
david decker -- how very cool that you know the Crush Club. i've missed it so much over the years. is the mint lounge still there or harvey's? i love blues. thank you so much for the lovely comments. if i got it right in your eyes, well, i feel really proud.
I thoroughly enjoyed this post and can't wait for your second installment. Fantastic!!
Yep, The Mint’s still going strong. Not sure about Harvey’s, though – don’t know of any blues clubs by that name; unless you meant Harvelle’s in Santa Monica, the standard for small, dark blues clubs by the beach since the 30’s! Still a very cool joint.
yes, cool, i meant Harvelle's. i loved it there too. mixed it up with comedy club here in portland. remember Catalina Bar and Grill too, for jazz. god, there are things i really miss about l.a. :food -- is the authentic cafe still there on beverly or hot wings on melrose?, the shopping -- i lived in park labrea, 15 minute walk from melrose, 5 to lacma. loved that museum.

shutting up. just no one likes to talk about good things of l.a.

oh yes, would you pass my post on to others on here or elsewhere? this is the first thing i've written that i really like since my brain tumor treatment took my writing "voice" away. could use as much feedback as possible!!!

love and gratitude!
Revealing one's sexual history in print is risky business. Who among us wouldn't want to jazz things up just a bit? I found the matter-of-fact delivery of your journey appealing. Not going for shock or schlock, just telling a story.
Great story, offering a glimpse of a world that I can only imagine. Can't wait for Part Two!
"I’ve always wanted to write a play called the Ladies Room where there are women looking in the mirror and talking to each other while they polish themselves, but then there are women on the other side of the glass who are the ones truly doing the talking. "

Write it.
“I believe strongly now that Asshole should be in the DSM IV or V”

LMAO! Ain’t that the truth!

“I’ve always wanted to write a play called the Ladies Room where there are women looking in the mirror and talking to each other while they polish themselves, but then there are women on the other side of the glass who are the ones truly doing the talking. Since women never look at each when they talk at the sinks. Their reflections do the speaking and the listening. And women bond in those rooms in ways that men and children will never ever understand. Maybe because we don’t actually look at each other. Our reflections do it all for us and that makes us feel safer.”

You gotta do this, girl! That would be a badass play, I’d go see it!

This was just brillant . . . .I love your style and use of humor, its perfect and really makes your writing sing!
Lovin' it! I too lived in LA during those years. Left right after the riots. Hubby and I were in the studio lighting business. Lots of sitcoms...lots...
Can't say I spent much time in the clubs tho...I was busy having babies. But I DO miss the food! I'm no fan of LA and couldn't wait to get out after seven years of traffic, smog, crime, and bad schools.
Now I gotta go and read part 2! And must write that play.
rated for being wicked smaht!!!
ok...I'm hooked. Can't wait....Let me know when.
I would have never, ever pegged you for an accountant. :)
My, what a wonderful writer you are. Thoroughly enjoyable. I can hardly wait to read part 2. Sorry about your current problems, not that I know what they all are, but getting old and the loss of your libido really sucks. I hate getting older!
There is so much here I don't know... You have to write that play - it's the perfect concept: please, you are just the 'somebody' to do this! Rated (what will that do to the new front page?)
I lived in LA from 1992-2000 (won't call it Hell Lay because I actually had some great ones:) This post really brings me back!! I miss the hot guys.
Enjoying your older stuff muchly - rated!
Live in LA, can relate to much of this.

This comment is right on: "Of course no matter how lovely you feel or become, in L.A. you are average at best." So true. And so difficult to come to terms with for everyone who moves to LA having been thought beautiful back home... Then, of course the key is to realize that it's an unwinnable proposition and to stop seeing it as a competition.
Wow, Lady. This is good work - it reflects you so well, and the reflection, in my opinion, beats the PBs all to hell.
I'm glad you re-posted this because I wasn't part of OS in January.

Rated Highly
Oh Portland Girl, when I lived in LA for fourteen years, I had a saying, "If you're one in a million in LA, that means there are only 17 people exactly like you."
Get. the. fuck. over. it.
You are one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, and you have many interesting stories to tell, but you're messing it up with all this self-loathing/self-pity crap.
I know you say you are trying to be funny, but there is always a time when people just want to see the real YOU and they will actually STILL love you.
Please stop.
You are loved and don't need to beg for attention. You are better than that.
I missed this at the time and I'm so glad you re-posted it.
Teddy, since you are comfortable with a swear word now and then, a well placed Fuck is always the best, Fucking great. You captured so much of being a women and all the tapes in our heads that tell us"you are not good enough the way you are" . Rated!
Those are definitely NOT red 'ho boots! Those are acceptable at any level of high society. They have to be, or there's something wrong with the world!
there is so much fascinating detail to your stories--I wish I could hear them all. Rated.
I love this. So funny. So well written. I love the concept of the story of women's reflections talking to each other.
wow, i am so moved and so happy that several of you have come here, apparently, from Feed the Cats link!! that is so cool. i'm so grateful to her and to you because this is one of my favorites of what i've written and i hated that none of my more recent friends had read it. this is just fabulous and heartening as shit.

love love love and gratitude for all of you!!!!
Cat, i am so grateful that you somehow found this since it's one of my favorite pieces and it's going in the Prozac ON Paws memoir for sure! The Tale of Three Spayed Females. i love you for reading this and linking to it. you're a doll. love love love!!

my Owl girl, i'm so moved by you showing up here too. wait a minute, are you and Feed the Cat???? i ador eyou. love love lvoe!

Willie!!! i love that you came by here too. i'm going to start doing some more re-posting. my stories seem to entertain and move people, and that is fabulous. love lvoe love!

old new lefty!!! i love that saying of yours. it's so true. it is very ahrd to feel special in l.a. thank god i was a writer and not an actor. love lvoe love!
You are still a very beautiful woman. I love your writing style, it's fun and funny, too! I hope you are feeling better and more like yourself.
lots of love to you,
Once again, I have the feeling that you have packed two or three lifetimes into one rollicking piece. Good, good stuff--I even like the idea for the play.
Good luck on the Emmys.
oh Debb!! thank you so much for coming by here. i'm sick today, some kind of virus but it's all fine. i found a huge number of photos to post and write about so i'm excited to do that. you're the sweetest ever. love love lvoe

Scoubidou, i love that you came by. i know that it's probably mostly because you want me to read yuour new post, but your comments are so excellent and very funny. thank you for wishing me luck on the Emmys. the Golden Globes will come sooner however. love love love

and gratitude for both of you coming by.
Wow. What a life! Keep at it! ;-)
Cymraeg!!! i came back here, in serach of ratings, as always. i think that i am permanently 6 years old, in search of gold stars. very sad. lvoe love love and gratitude!