In her new book, “Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang,” the late-night host shares her hysterical thoughts on films, relationships and more. Read an excerpt.
Editor's note: This excerpt includes adult language and content.
Chapter Three: Grey Gardens
My boyfriend and I hadn’t been seeing eye to eye for weeks. We had just bought a new condo and seemed to be fighting over every detail of its remodeling. Why he would agree to install an eight-by-eight-foot fish tank and not fill it with a single dolphin, made me want to burn his eyebrows off. I saw a side of him that I had never seen in myself: someone with the energy needed to ask lots of questions, get the answers, and then ask more of the same questions in different, annoying ways.
“Chelsea, if you want to make a statement like that, why don’t we get a small sand or tiger shark?” Ted asked.
“I’m not trying to make a statement, Ted. Dolphins are friendly and sharks are a**holes. Why would I want to buy an animal that could potentially go haywire and eat my a**?”
“I’m just trying to make some alternative suggestions.”
“Well, Ted, I think a shark is unreasonable. Why not get an electric eel if we’re going to go down that road? Maybe something that can escape from the tank and chase us all around the condo like some sort of vendetta? Didn’t you see the fourth installment of ‘Jaws’ where the shark’s granddaughter chased the family all the way to the Bahamas?”
“Okay, Chelsea, let’s just try to stay focused.”
Initially, when my designer told me that some couples break up over the design process, I assumed she meant people that were shallow and materialistic: people who drove Toyota Cressidas but also managed to afford lip injections and Invisalign.
The things we were disagreeing over were so menial and exhausting, that I almost immediately lost interest in the whole affair. I’m a girl, but not as much of a girl as my boyfriend, so I decided to fold on almost everything. Except for the dolphin.
When he told me he wanted to take his son to Hawaii for his spring break, I thought it might be a good opportunity for me to stay home and ponder how I got myself into this mess in the first place. Hawaii bores me. There is no nightlife and whenever I’m there, I wake up at seven. If I wanted to wake up at seven, I’d adopt a black baby.
My boyfriend is similar to a large toddler, the only difference being he doesn’t cry when he wakes up. He’s very animated and has a lot of energy and wants to exert it all at the same time on a variety of activities. This can be incredibly annoying. Coming from a family that specializes in making plans that will most likely never materialize, and then being so exhausted from the prospect of an actual outing that we all have to take a nap, doesn’t really prepare you for the type of person who gets excited by a tide change. Plus, he’s twenty years older, which makes his behavior even more suspect.
Needless to say, I was euphoric at the idea of spending a weekend alone in my condo with zero responsibilities. The only plan I had was something involving barbeque sauce at my friend’s house Saturday night. I was going to spend all weekend writing my book.
Friday night, I went over to a friend’s house and got back home at around two in the morning. Perfect, I thought. I‘ll sleep in, get up, go for a run, write all day and maybe into the night, and then depending on my productivity, maybe even make a field trip to Dunkin’ Donuts as a reward.
The next morning I woke up at 8:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep. I was pissed. I knew myself well enough not to get up and start being productive. I was thirty-four now. I was a long way from when I first started drinking at around eighteen, and I’d wake up the next morning super early with a false sense of energy. Then, two hours later, I’d be exhausted, thinking, “Why the **** am I in a canoe?”
I went to grab the remote control and thought if I watched a movie, I’d fall right back asleep.
I called my boyfriend in Hawaii.
“How do you turn on the TV?” I asked.
“Which remote do you have, the Time Warner or Direct TV?” he asked with the excitement he usually reserved for tile options or an episode of “Dancing with the Stars.”
Our house is technologically rigged with gadgets and remotes and settings, all of which I have somewhere between slight and zero interest in. When it comes to math or electronics, I am somewhat more advanced than a six-year-old who’s been homeschooled by Kanye West.
He had tried to show me on several occasions what each button on all three of our remote controls did: which operated Tivo, which one was for the toaster, which one massaged your balls, etc. It’s true what they say about patience being a virtue; it just happens to be a virtue that I choose not to pursue. Quite honestly, I’d rather just get someone else to turn the toaster on.
The bonus of this little set-up is that Ted loves his electronics and happens to have a lot of patience, so in turn, loves to tell me all about each gadget even though he knows my frustration will most likely end with me throwing one of the remotes against a wall, or running it through the dishwasher. Since I am also unable to operate the dishwasher, this option was less frequent as it would have to be coordinated with a visit from our cleaning lady, Maria, who only comes on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Once he guided me to the movie channels, I found my way more easily. I would have to stay within the selection in front of me for fear of losing my place forever, so my options were somewhat limited, but more numerous than before I placed the call to the island of Maui. The upside of this is that I am open to watching almost any movie ever, especially if there’s an overweight child in it. I love anything overweight.
I scrolled down until I hit “Nim’s Island.” From the looks of things, I could tell that it was ending soon, and “Definitely, Maybe” would be starting in twenty minutes. It was safer to commit to a movie I knew nothing about than to browse around looking for other channels, because the TV backfiring on me and my losing my place altogether was always a threat. I’d rather watch something I didn’t care about than screw with the remote and gamble with being lost forever in the sports department. I had already lost a weekend in the previous fall to women’s basketball finals where I watched a two-hour profile on a six foot six black female player, all the time wondering to myself if she would ever achieve half the success of Kobe Bryant and manage to get an entire line of beef named after her.
The first scene I saw of "Nim’s Island" was Abigail Breslin swimming underwater at an inhuman velocity in order to rescue another sea animal who looked a lot like Jodie Foster. Jodie had apparently been thrown from a boat but managed to keep her eyes open and breathe for a ninety-second montage. Obviously, they were both playing dolphins. “Too soon,” I said loudly enough for both of them to hear, as I jumped out of bed to head into the kitchen.
The sun was blinding when I opened the bedroom door. Not realizing how nice a day it was in the main part of the house was extremely irritating. I grabbed a pair of sunglasses and a visor and looked out the windows and spotted hundreds of boats coming in and out of the marina.
What a nightmare. I pulled all the drapes shut. I wanted to be alone and lie in bed for a long period of time. I didn’t need to be reminded that other people were outside swimming through life like Nim and Jodie Foster, making the most out of their Saturdays, doing cartwheels and high-fiving each other on rollerblades. I also didn’t need anyone looking in my window and seeing me wearing nothing but a visor with the “E!” logo, sunglasses, and a bra I had bought three years ago from Walgreen’s. At this point it was more like a backpack.
I considered taking an Ambien to knock myself out, but just like women’s basketball, I hadn’t had the best acquaintance with this nighttime drug. The last time I tried it, I woke up early one Sunday morning in the back seat of my car with an empty tank of gas and a Crock Pot of half-eaten spaghetti in the passenger seat.
I looked down at my thighs and thought it best to head over to the freezer and select a Lean Pocket. I don’t know who is responsible for coming up with all the different flavors of Lean Pockets, but whoever you are, you have my blessing. Ted does most of the shopping, and thanks to him, I had three different options of breakfast pockets, or I could go straight to a mid-morning snack and opt for a ham and Swiss, or cheeseburger and light cheddar. “I’ll start with breakfast,” I said aloud to myself. “You have all day.”
I took my meal back to my bed like my mother had taught me to do, but not without being a lady and ripping off half a paper towel and grabbing a steak knife.
"Nim’s Island" was just ending with a scene on the beach where Gerard Butler appears to be paddling toward the beach in a dingy straight out of the Pacific. This is where he finds Nim, his eight-year-old-daughter he’s left for several weeks alone on an island who’s made a new friend in Jodie Foster. Then they all dance around the beach and start a happy new family like a trifecta of sand a**holes. Abigail Breslin is around nine in this movie, and from what I could tell, was turning into a real d**k.
"Definitely, Maybe" was about to start. I put three pillows behind me, and one underneath my knees in my tireless attempt to thwart osteoporosis. I went back to the kitchen and ripped off the top of a cucumber to dump in a glass of ice water for the total spa experience. I made sure all doors exposing any sort of light were tightly closed, turned my air conditioning to a breezy 68 degrees, and grabbed some lavender-scented oil, just to have the option for a self-administered foot massage later if I so desired. I checked to see if my eyeshades were on my nightstand in case I fell in to a deep, therapeutic slumber, hopped into bed, and took my visor off.
My trainer, who I had renamed Wolf Woman, texted me to see if I wanted to work out. After months of clinical observation and serious assessment, I had determined that the former body builder I paid to train me was indeed two parts wolf, one part woman. I kept trying to lure her back into her natural habitat, the forest, to observe her there, but she insisted she lived down the street in the Marina. Working out with her was never easy; even if I faked sick, she had little sympathy, and was fond of saying, “Your body can do anything for forty-five seconds.”
“No, it can’t. I’m not a wolf,” I would remind her over and over again.
I texted her back. “No.”
If I had gone to the theater to see "Definitely, Maybe," I would never have reacted the way I did watching it in bed. I didn’t want it to end, and I couldn’t figure out which girl he was going to end up with. I wanted him with everyone. It was like watching the Olympics and rooting for the U.S., but then seeing one of the Up Close and Personal stories about some Russian named Oksana, and thinking, Oh, **** it, just give her the medal. If our American loses, at least she doesn’t have to go home to that Russian coach of hers who is probably going to make her live outside the Kremlin in a forty-foot snowdrift until she learns how to dismount without kicking herself in the face.
I was bawling by the time the movie ended, and not in a normal way. It was more like heaving. Heavy, loud groaning, drool coming out of my mouth and nose; not very different from the afternoon I lost my virginity to our neighborhood Santa Claus. I had fallen in love with Abigail Breslin. I hated myself for doubting her in “Nim’s Island.” I wanted to call her and apologize but reminded myself that we had never met. So I made a mental note to make amends if I ever ran into her at a Chuck E. Cheese or Mommy & Me. "I love Abigail Breslin," I scribbled on my E! notepad next to my bed.
It was time for another Lean Pocket. Even though I’m leery of any food item that is not an actual burger but claims to have a burger in it, I knew that these weren’t normal circumstances and I opted for the cheeseburger Lean Pocket. I thought about taking a look outside, but didn’t want to upset myself further with the sunlight. “It’s best to get back to your area,” I said with a little disdain and then noticed a houseplant that needed a trim. So I backtracked to the kitchen to grab my kitchen shears and went and cut the plant some bangs.
Four hours and two Lean Pockets later I was immersed in the movie version of "Sex and the City." “Not prepared,” is an understatement. I had to pause the movie several times during the wedding to gain control of myself. Watching that kind of rejection was not only heartwrenching, but my face had become so swollen from crying, I could barely see out of my eyes. There was also a modicum of concern that if my tear ducts didn’t get a rest, there was a risk of reversing my recent lasik surgery. I hadn’t cried like this since "Norbit."
Tissues surrounded me in my bed, along with plates covered in Hot Pocket crust because I had eaten only the insides. It dawned on me right there and then, propped up in my bed wearing only my bra and underwear, that I had spent the better part of my day hysterically crying and eating out Lean Pockets.
There were spilled glasses of Diet Canada Dry ginger ale strewn next to my bed that I hadn’t even attempted to clean up, leaving the carpet with the same texture it would have if Kate Gosselin’s water had broken.
I nearly jumped out of my skin when my landline rang. I had heard it ring before, but was unsure who was calling or how to answer the phone. I looked at it, looked at my Blackberry, then decided to go to the kitchen and see if the phone in there was any more user friendly.
I ran out of the bedroom, but in my path was a fork that that I vaguely remember hearing fall from one of my plates earlier. In order to avoid stepping directly onto its tines, I maneuvered myself to land directly into the wall. I fall on a pretty regular basis, so I was able to recover quickly enough to yell, “Chelsea, what the f*** is wrong with you? Get your s*** together!” Then I got up to make myself a Bloody Mary. My Blackberry started ringing, and I could see on the screen it was Ted calling.
“Chunk?” I asked when he answered the phone.
“What’s wrong, Chunk?” he asked.
“I just fell and hit my head.”
“Are you okay?”
“Not really. I’m watching 'Sex and the City,' the movie!” I sobbed into the phone.
“Oh. I’m sorry.”
“I’m so upset,” I managed to get out between wails. “P-p-please t-t-t- tell me y-y-you would never leave me at the altar if we got married.”
“But you don’t even want to get married,” he reminded me.
“I said, p-promise me-e-e-e-e-e that you will never humiliate me in public, and you’ll n-n-n-ever do anything that will make me break up with you.”
“I would never do that to you. You’ll probably do it to me, but I would never do it to you.”
“That’s sweet, Chunk. Thank you. I have to go now.”
“Honey, maybe you should get up and go for a run or go out. You sound awful. You can’t just watch movies all day. Is it nice out?”
“No. There are forty-mile-an-hour winds, and it’s hailing, Ted.”
“Well, it can’t be hailing.”
“You don’t know what’s going on here. This isn’t some walk in the park like Hawaii, ok? I am deep in the trenches of Southern California.”
“Ok, well, why don’t you call Hannah or Sarah and go see one of your girlfriends. Are you getting any writing done?”
“I have to go,” I said. “I need to learn how to answer the phone.”
“You just have to press TALK. We’ve been through this several times, you know this. The whole point of you not coming to Hawaii was so that you would write your book. Please get some work done.”
“No, the whole point of you going to Hawaii without me was because you were being so irrational about buying the dolphin.”
He groaned. “Enough already. We cannot get a dolphin. I have looked into it and a single family house is not big enough to have a dolphin. You were on the speakerphone when we talked to the Humane Society, Chelsea. And if you remember correctly, their suggestion was that you don’t get any pets, period.”
I decided to ignore this comment and pressed forward. “Why can’t we just get a baby dolphin and I’ll smoke a bunch of pot around it so it doesn’t grow?”
“Is this conversation over, or are we still talking?”
“No one in the building has to know. We can bring it up through the balcony outside.”
“Chelsea, we can’t get a dolphin. This isn’t an aquarium and there is no way to hide transporting a dolphin through our balcony. This isn’t a private residence. It’s a condominium. There are people everywhere. If you know a dolphin dealer who can get a little person dolphin, then I will do everything in my power to get you one, but my fear is that it will continually just head-butt itself into the front of the fish tank. There is a limit to how big the fish tank can be, and condo living is no life for a dolphin. I told you I can get you a tiger shark. That’s legal.”
“Fine, you want to get that shark, we’ll get that shark. Oh, I’m going to get that shark all right. I’m going to sit in front of the fish tank and give it the finger all day long while I watch it head-butt itself.”
I threw my Blackberry against the wall.
“This is what Ted had intended all along,” I said to one of the knives lying on the counter. “To render me completely useless. To be dependent on him for everything, so if I ever broke free, I would be forced to return if I wanted to watch TV or preheat an oven again.”
This was a terrible discovery. What a sham. I looked around and at the sun desperately trying to creep in from outside, and felt awful. Why couldn’t it just start raining so I would stop feeling so guilty about lying around in my bra and underwear in an environment that would surely be awarded an “F” by the health department.
While I was pouring myself a vodka and Clamato juice, I briefly considered going for a run, and instead I went into my bathroom to get a Vicodin I had left over from the batch I was given after my vaginal rejuvenation surgery. Before long, I drifted into a very relaxing siesta.
When you roll over in bed in the morning and hit a plate with the side of your head, you know things have gotten carried away. When you toss that plate on the floor, roll back over and fall back asleep, you’ve hit another dimension. When you look at the clock and realize it’s not morning but still the day before, you’ve gone into a world that is not easy to get out of. It takes a discipline that is only common among Cheese Cake Factory managers and people who maintain a weight over three hundred and fifty pounds.
Our landline rang again and this time I pressed TALK.
“Caller, go ahead.”
“Did I wake you?”
“Did you go for a run?”
“Are you writing?”
“Who is this?”
“Caller, who are you calling for?”
“The building realtor wants to show our place tomorrow.”
“Because you don’t want to clean it, or because you just want to just lie around all day in your bra?
“I don’t want to clean and I want to lie around in my bra, and I’ve sustained an injury. Tomorrow’s Sunday. Who knows when I’ll wake up? It could be noon, it could be four.”
“Okay, I can cancel the showing, but then they will want to come Monday. So, should I have Maria come Monday morning, or do you think you will be able to clean up yourself?”
“I think you should call Maria.”
After we hung up, I looked at the clock. Eight p.m. Perfect movie starting time. I scrolled down and saw "Sex and the City" starting again at eight. I could have climaxed right there and then. I walked into my bathroom and saw a soup spoon on the scale and a cheeseburger ball next to a box of tissues half on a plate and half on the countertop. I couldn’t believe a tiny little cheeseburger was big enough to split its diameter on two different surfaces. Those Lean Pockets are full of scientific surprises. I didn’t know what was happening to me, but I couldn’t fight it. I had to go with God.
The fact that "Sex and the City" the movie had come out a year before and I had had less than no desire to see it, yet was about to buckle myself in for a second showing in less than twelve hours, meant that all proverbial ducks were not in a row. They weren’t even ducks. They were seagulls. Dirty seagulls.
I hated Big. I hated everything about him and this storyline. First of all, it didn’t make any sense that he was getting out of the car to tell her he would marry her, and never once said it when she’s throwing the flowers at him. I wanted Big dead. I wanted to take the fork that was sitting in my bathroom and stab him in the eyes, right where he has those big puffy circles under them. And **** Charlotte too. Who acts like that? Who would ever want to have a friend that is that retarded?
My friend Sarah called me at around seven-thirty to ask me what time I wanted to go to our friend’s barbeque. “Not happening,” I told her. “S**t’s really hit the fan over here big time.”
“Are you crying?”
“Yes. Have you seen 'Sex and the City?'”
“Yes! Really! You were left at the altar, Sarah. Hello! Have some compassion for Sarah Jessica Parker.” (See 'Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea.'”)
“So, you’re going to stay in bed on a Saturday night crying? Is that your game plan?”
“That’s my plan, but it ain’t no game, girl.”
“Have fun. Call me tomorrow if we’re all doing happy hour.”
“I’ll be there for happy hour.” I hung up the phone.
My Bloody Mary from earlier had evaporated, so I went to make myself another one and was glad to see the sun had gone down. “Thank god.”
As I was stirring my drink, I asked the Clamato Juice container, “What is Clamato Juice exactly? It sounds like a yeast infection.”
After reviewing the label and coming upon the words “clam juice,” then spitting my drink out, I moved on to my next drink of choice when resting. A Johnnie Walker Black neat with a splash of Crystal Light Hawaiian Punch.
Back in the bedroom, I pressed play on the remote, and in doing so, felt like I was finally taking control of the situation. Now, the girls were in Mexico and Sarah Jessica Parker was listless and slept and didn’t eat. Conversely, I was in Marina Del Rey, in my bed, crying into my scotch. I wished Sarah Jessica Parker and I could be in bed together so I could roll over, brush her cheek, and assure her that everything would be okay. Then I remembered that having a guest over would require me to tidy up. And I was back to being okay without company.
I fell asleep again toward the end of the movie, so I’ve now seen the movie twice and never seen the ending. I know that Sarah Jessica Parker and Big get back together, but I don’t approve of it, and I won’t endorse it. The more interesting news is that I woke up the next morning, got out of bed, took a look around my condo, and got right back into bed.
Another sunrise, another movie marathon. The next morning I worked my way up to Lifetime, but after two commercial breaks, I was back to the Starz networks. There’s nothing more annoying than infomercials when you can’t find your wallet.
After viewing "Reservation Road," "Revolutionary Road," and one episode of "Real Housewives of Orange County," I went online to shop for a handgun with the letter R on the barrel.
Sarah called me at around three p.m. on Sunday and I burst into tears. “Chelsea,” she said, “you sound like a real a**hole. Get your a** out of bed and get in the shower.”
“I know! I want to, but I can’t. You should see this place. I don’t even know how to begin cleaning.”
“Don’t clean anything. You don’t even know how to clean. You’re a hot mess.”
“I can’t go out. 'Grey Gardens' is on later and I need to hear Drew Barrymore’s accent.”
“Chelsea, you are 'Grey Gardens!'”
“Too soon, Sarah. Too soon.
“Just Tivo it.”
“What do think, I live inside a Best Buy?”
“Well, I blame Ted for that. You’re practically crippled, I’m surprised you can even answer the phone.”
“That’s what I keep saying!”
“No, to myself.”
“You are supposed to be a grown-up. You have your own television show.”
“But it’s on E!”
“I know, but you still have a whole staff that is depending on you.”
“To go to happy hour?”
“To stay somewhat sane.”
“Well, I don’t know what to tell you.”
“Yeah, so get your s*** together. Your s*** is not together.”
“Do you know how to use the shower?”
“Sometimes.” I hung up, took my bra and underwear off, threw them both in the garbage, and got my s*** together. I then gave myself a full body examination, to eliminate the threat of adult onset bedsores. “All clear!”
After my shower, I felt like I had a new lease on life. I knew if I really stayed focused and applied myself I could actually Tivo "Grey Gardens" later that night. I walked to my car with a little extra bounce in my step, and also a little limp, glad I was able to handle some sort of electronics without anyone else’s assistance. I now have a season pass to "Grey’s Anatomy."
Excerpted from "Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang" by Chelsea Handler. Copyright (c) 2010, reprinted with permission from Grand Central Publishing.