A Poet from Hollywood: Love, Insanity, Stephen Gyllenhaal, and the Creative Process // Chapter 11
[IN WHICH STEPHEN IMAGINES KILLING NAOMI; WE FIND JAKE GYLLENHAAL’S OLD HOME: LEARN ABOUT EMANUEL SWEDENBORG; AND MY PORN PAST IS REVEALED]
“Since Her Father’s Here, I Won’t Read This Poem”
The morning while I was watching A Dangerous Woman for the umpteenth time on basic cable (“Directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal — Jake and Maggie’s dad” intoned the announcer) my new cell phone rang. I thought it might be another one of those strange phone calls from Stephen, so I didn’t pick it up at once. Let me explain.
Back in January when we arrived in LA I got the first of these calls, coincidentally enough late one evening while we were watching Saturday Night Live guest-hosted by Jake. My cell phone rang with the insane theremin ring I’d assigned Stephen and I immediately picked it up. On the other end I heard a conversation, faint but distinct, between someone who definitely sounded like Stephen and a young-sounding man. The young man was laughing and Stephen (for it could be no other) was nattering on about something, I couldn’t tell what. The young man laughed again. It sure sounded like Jake.
“Stephen? Stephen?” I loudly repeated into my phone, but no one answered. This went on for about five minutes before I hung up in bewilderment.
Over the next three months I got these calls almost every week. They were all similar — when I picked up, instead of being greeted by someone on the other end I got faint snatches of conversations between Stephen and someone who sounded like Jake or someone who sounded like Maggie. Once it was an eight-minute conversation (yes, I listened that long) between Stephen and the Maggie voice about which was the best restaurant to go to that night, and once, I swear, I could hear Stephen crooning a lullaby and the sound of a baby cooing. His granddaughter Ramona, maybe? For awhile there I remembered the melody of that lullaby and could even hum it.
Although this wasn’t Stephen’s theremin ring, I was still suspicious — he could be making a joke call to me from anywhere. But when I reluctantly decided to take the call, on the other end was a real live person who wanted to talk to me.