We were too busy getting over this weekend's sunburn to watch The City last night. Good thing fictional freelancer Betsey Morgenstern was there for the season finale. The fate of Whitney and Olivia's souls hang in the balance.
What a Long Strange Trip It's Been
by Betsey Morgenstern
Assistant Chocolate Taster, Cocoaroma magazine
Boy, did I have a crazy night last night. I can't even describe exactly what happened, but I'm going to try my best. I was on assignment in Alabama visiting a farm that grows organic mushrooms and makes their own chocolate for a feature I was writing about organic cocoa farms. When I got out of my rented van—all they have in this part of the country are child molester vans and pick-up trucks—I was greeted by a young hippie couple named Arthur and Lotus. They didn't look at all like the kind of rednecks you would think you'd find out here in the middle of nowhere. Arthur was wearing a Ratdog T-shirt and some baggy corduroys with a patchwork of panels that went up each leg. Lotus was decked out in a peasant blouse and a skirt that looked like it was made out of the drapes from a heavy smoker's house and safety pins.
They invited me into the house and showed me all the different sorts of chocolate they had. It was cut up into tiny little blocks and placed in a line on their very rustic kitchen table. "Dig in," Arthur said.
I took one bite and it was delicious. It was minty flavored with little crispy pieces inside. The next cube was dark, dark chocolate, very bitter but with the same crunch. The next was a smooth milk chocolate but the same crunch to it. I kept eating bite after bite, about 10 in all, and the only thing they all had in common was that crunchiness. "Arthur, why do you put those crunchies in all your chocolates? Is that a signature?"
"Crunchies? Those aren't crunchies," he said with a little giggle. "Those are mushrooms!"
"What do you mean, mushrooms? That's so weird," I said back.
"You know, like magic mushrooms. And I suggest you slow down a little bit because in a minute, you're going to start feeling a little...well...weird."
"Holy shit. Who puts mushrooms in chocolate?! Holy shit. Holy shit," I said stumbling back a little bit and bracing myself on two kitchen table chairs that were mismatched and clearly bought at some swap meet in Selma. Suddenly the room started to swirl. Arthur and Lotus were swaying back and forth, like they were suddenly underwater. I knew from experience that this is what tripping feels like, and I also knew that it's never any fun when it's unexpected.
"Don't worry," a very fuzzy Arthur said to me. "It's all going to be OK."
And then he started to get further and further away and everything was getting darker and darker like I was falling into a black hole and everything was closing all around me. Suddenly, I was standing in a brightly lit lobby in Japan with Olivia Palermo. "Are you ready, Bets?" she asked me, as we walked into the office of Japanese Elle.
We're immediately greeted by a small Asian woman followed by a slim but well-built gay man who was impeccably dressed. He had his hands clasped together in front of his chest and kept bowing repeatedly. "Arigato," the woman said. "I am the Japanese Erin Kaplan. This is my minion, Japanese Seth." She motioned to the nice man who bowed four times consecutively. "I have heard all about you, Miss Olivia Palermo. I have know what you are like." That last sentence was very ominous. "We are going to discover your little secret. What is it, Olivia? What is your little secret?"
Asian Erin and Seth started approaching Olivia and Asian Erin starting making those twiddly fingers like she couldn't wait to get her hands on something and Asian Seth got this evil grin as he approached her and started rubbing his palms together.
"Get off of her," I screamed. "I will get her secret at this party!" And suddenly we were at a party in a sea of Asian woman and they all wanted to take pictures with Olivia and she took one after the other with smiling Asian women for what seemed like hours. I was starting to get jealous. "Why won't you take a picture with me?" I finally pleaded.
"It's because your face is too small. Look, it's getting even smaller!" one woman said. And they all pointed and laughed at me as I turned to look at my reflection in a mirror and they were right. My face was getting smaller and smaller, refining itself into a dot in the middle of my enormous head. "No, no, make it stop. Give me my face back!"
And then a man's hand came flying out of the mirror and grabbed me by the neck and pulled me. I didn't know who he was or where he was taking me so I fought against him, pushing on the wall on either side of the mirror as its surface because a liquid. My arms weren't strong enough and I gave in, tumbling head first into the mirror puddle and landing in a heap on the other side. It was Joe Zee. Well, there are worse people who will pull you through a mirror.
I slowly got up and I was standing next to Olivia again and all the staffers at Elle were sitting around a giant conference table. It was made of water and there was a sailboat coursing through the middle with a bell attached to the top that kept ringing little tinkles when anyone would touch the lake table.
"Olivia!" Joe shouted and banged his fist (tinkle, tinkle, tinkle). "You did an excellent job in Japan. You have passed your initiation test."
"Thank you, godfather," Olivia droned, even more lifeless than usual.
"That means you, Louise Roe, you must go take another job in Los Angeles," Joe Zee declared.
Louise didn't say anything, she just made a noise like a dolphin and stood up from her seat. Then she was naked with long brown flowing tresses and a mermaid's tale. She jumped up and dove into the table and she was gone.
"Olivia!" Joe shouted and banged his fist (tinkle, tinkle, tinkle). "We will now take your face and put it on Elle.com."
"Haha," laughed a little man. It was American Seth, the sexy assistant. He was pointing and cackling at American Erin Kaplan. "You got served!"
"Shut the fuck up, Seth," Erin snapped back and hit his head with a rolled up copy of Elle. His noggin fell to the floor and tumbled about, gushing a current of blood as it settled in a corner and a dark, viscous liquid curdled out in clumps on the carpet.
A rather handsome man named Keith approached Olivia. His right hand was a computer mouse and his left hand was a knife.
"Take it," Olivia said. "Take my face for Elle.com." And then this Keith character used his knife hand and started slicing a olive-shaped circle around Olivia's face as the whole room chanted. "Take the face! Take the face! Take the face!"
"No," I shouted. "Stop. Don't take her face. Don't take her face!" Erin Kaplan was coming toward me, her face with it's usual look of screwy determination. She was carrying a copy of the board game Candy Land, which she grabbed onto like a professional wrestler does a folding chair and then slapped me upside the head with it.
And I tumbled through the wall and a sea of magenta mist. I was falling, falling, falling until I landed on a big pile of cotton candy, which broke my fall rather nicely. I was now in a world that was all pink. Everything was pretty and filled with glitter and unicorn dust. There was giant bowls of candy everywhere and smiling girls scurrying about looking busy but not really doing anything. Whitney Eve Port was standing there looking dumbfounded as well. "Where are we?" she asked me.
"I have no idea."
A fairy in a big pink dress and a giant crown and holding a large wand with a shining star at the end floated down from the ceiling. Everywhere bells were ringing. "Oooooohhhhoooohhhhh. Don't be silly," she tittered. "You are in the land of Alison Brod."
"Who are you?" I asked.
"I am Alison Brod."
"What do you want?"
"Nothing my dearies. I'm here to help you. I will help you, Whitney. I will give you everything you want. I will give you photo shoots and retail appointments. I will carry you off to the magical kingdom of the Hamptons and I will call my friend who is the queen of the Hamptons and she will make sure that a carriage pulled by wild horses will greet you when you get there."
"That sounds magical," Whitney said in a voice that wasn't even her own, but like it was being projected from outside of her body. "What do I have to do."
"Just eat this piece of candy," Alison Brod said, holding out a swirling peppermint. "Just eat it. Eat it. Just eat it."
As she was about to place the candy on Whitney's outstretched tongue like a priest placing a wafer in a supplicants mouth, there was a huge thud and a giant roar.
Something black and sinister came crashing through the candy palace gates.
"STOP!" it shouted as a blast of fire roared forth from its mouth and nostrils. It was a giant dragon and it was as black as a million extinguished suns but shiny, like a dominatrix's boot. Its eyes were glowing yellow and its hair was mousy and limp. But still, it was a terrifying and magnificent creature. "I am Kelly Cutrone! Princess Whitney Eve. Do not eat that candy. If you do, the Alison Brod will steal your soul."
"You will not ruin my plans this time, Kelly Cutrone," the Alison Brod roared. She started floating up toward the towering Cutrone dragon and the star on her wand glowed brighter and brighter.
The Kelly dragon recoiled but then fought back. "I will not let you take another one from me, my nemesis."
And they were caught in a fierce battle with glowing wands and scorching fire going in every direction and Whitney Eve looked at me with her stupid head and said, "What should I do? What should I do?"
"I don't know," I replied. "We should run. Run." And we ran through a nearby forest but the branches were so close together they kept hitting me in the face, over and over again, slapping at my head until the wood got so thick it was just darkness lashing out and me over and over again like the whips at that S&M conference in Phoenix I went to once.
And that's when I opened my eyes, and it was Lotus, sitting on my chest and slapping me back and forth.
"You've been passed out for hours," she said. "We were starting to get worried you couldn't handle the drugs."
"Listen sister," I said, pushing her off and sober as Lindsay Lohan in prison. "If there's one thing I can handle, it's drugs. But, man, did I see some fucked up shit."