Having failed to glimpse Brad in person at the gala, I hobbled down to the Sutton Place Hotel for the Babel press conference early the next day. My ankles were elephantine after I took a tumble in the Paris Hilton sandals. So for the moment, I was back in Birkenstocks and the only dress I own that conceals my feet, my chartreuse ballgown.
Unfortunately, I arrived to discover an animated discussion between a mob of journalists and a team of volunteers. The volunteers had linked arms, and were guarding the door to the conference hall with grim determination.
"I came all the way from Brazil for this, can't I please go in?" asked one young lady.
"My friend is inside, can I just pop in quickly and tell him something?" requested another.
"Couldn't we just sit on the other journalists' laps?" I suggested quite reasonably.
"No, no and NO! The room is at capacity."
Along with fifty or so equally unfortunate journalists and photographers, not to mention some brazen female hotel guests who snuck past security, I watched the conference live on a large TV in the room next-door. The atmosphere was despondent, and it was hard to concentrate as the Brazilian lady journalist clutched her knees, rocked and sobbed loudly throughout the screening. There among an international cast and the luckiest interpreters alive, sat Brad Pitt. The sun kissed hair; the strong, angular jaw; the tanned, apple-shaped cheeks. Pressing my own cheek against the wall, my mood was recharged momentarily as Brad's persona seeped through. With a sigh, I watched the screen and scribbled a few notes.
Director Alejandro González Iñárritu recounted travelling to Japan, a year prior to shooting Babel, in search of a deaf mute teenage girl to play the part of Chieko. The role finally went to Rinko Kikuchi, a non-actress with a quiet intensity. The buzz in the screening room was that she outshines the film's big stars with her heartbreaking performance. I started that rumor myself, still upset at being on the wrong side of the wall.
The issue of parenting is central to the film, so the journalists in the screening room quickly veered the line of questioning towards Brad Pitt's latest real life role as Daddy.
When the words "now that you are a father" were uttered, he grinned, and the photographers went wild.
The interviewer demanded that they stop, lest the cast of Babel end up blinded by all the flashing. Once the cameras were down, Brad impishly waved his arms in the air and pulled faces. A couple of deviant photographers stole some final shots. "These are the photos that they'll show when I go crazy...when I get arrested for DUI and making racial slurs," said Brad in jest.
Even Brad's fabulous jokes were not enough to cheer me up properly when it was all over. Mr. Pitt was leaving town that evening without having had the chance to meet me in person and rethink the whole Angelina fiasco. As the journalists and photographers poured out of the hallowed conference hall, I gathered up my skirts and made my way in. I drew the cameraman at the front of the hall deep into conversation, allowing his eyes to follow the rising swell of my bosom. Taking advantage of his distracted gaze, I implemented one of the most important lessons I learned at Swiss Finishing School-petty theft.
Only there was nothing petty about the loot I had stashed down my undergarments as I made my way back to the guesthouse. The rest of the evening I spent before the television in my bedroom, playing back the videocassette of the Babel press conference. I muted the volume when questions were put to Brad, replacing them with my own. Brad and I stayed deep in conversation, all night long. A divine two-way indeed.