Rule #1 for showbiz assistants: don’t fall in love with the boss. 1,416 words. Part Two. Illustration by Thomas Warming.
Jake Easton caught me in the middle of a mani-pedi at the nail shop. I pulled one hand away from the manicurist to answer the phone.
“Listen, on your way to my house, I need you to stop by Aida Thibiant for me.”
“Aida Thibiant,” he pronounced with an arrogance that sent daggers through me. “It’s a spa in Beverly Hills. I’ve ordered a bunch of skin and hair products that need to be picked up. There’s a sale so I decided to go to town for the best that money can buy. It’s the stuff I used back when I took good care of my skin. Also, I need you to book me a facial and a massage with the receptionist. Her name is Jenny. Make the appointments for Saturday morning. Nine for the massage with Bridget and ten for the facial with Lauren. Do you have a pen? I’ll give you the address.”
This guy annoys the fuck out of me. He’s a 58-year-old legendary songwriter/recording artist who’s written tons of hit songs for notable artists on the seventies Laurel Canyon music scene. As well, Jake has enjoyed a pretty successful acting career over the years. Also, he’s a notorious ladies man/lothario who has been romantically linked to a plethora of beautiful iconic female singers. By contrast, I’m thirty years younger than Jake and hired to transcribe his lyric journals for an upcoming album, but also to perform unclear personal assistant tasks. I’m a struggling actress/writer and still hopeful that working for Jake will be my ticket into the Hollywood elite.
“No,” I snapped. “I don’t run around with pen in hand waiting for you to bark orders at me. Sorry.”
Jake’s laugh was shrill in my ear. “Well, you should. That’s what a good songwriter’s assistant would do. But not to worry, I’ll wait while you grab yourself a pen.”
“I’m not grabbing myself a pen. I’m in the middle of a manicure.”
Now his laugh felt like a butcher’s knife stabbing into my eardrum,
“That’s the most hilarious response I’ve ever heard,” he squealed. “Make sure to put that one in your novel. I’ll tell you what. I’ll call you back and leave all the information on your voicemail. Don’t answer the phone when it rings. I’ll see you when you get here. I can’t wait to tell my friends that my assistant snapped at me because I asked her to take notes while she was having a manicure.”
I hung up the phone, pissed off.
I booked Jake’s damn appointments with the receptionist at one of the swankiest spas in Beverly Hills. I picked up his products. And I hated him. With all my heart. I hated him as much as I loved him, a man thirty years older than I was. At that moment, I wanted that facial, that massage and those products more than any other commodity in the world. I knew it, and I knew he knew it. And I knew I could have all of them, all the time, if I would just become a father fucker and give in to his advances.
I walked into the bungalow and dropped his pretentious bag of products on the coffee table as if it were on fire.
“I trust my appointments are booked as I requested,” Jake sneered.
I had the urge to reach out and slap him. “Yes.”
“Good. Shall we depart for our day?”
“You’re the boss,” I sneered back, surprised by my overt sarcasm. I had never spoken before like that to a boss, but Jake had already busted right out of the boss mold.
We spent the time driving around in circles, running errands. Even mad at each other, we laughed all day long. For lunch, instead of sushi, we had burgers at a famous hole in the wall called The Apple Pan. We sat at the counter and fed each other pie. I had never been there before. I loved it when Jake turned me onto to L.A.’s gems.
It was late on a Friday afternoon on the Sunset Strip when we stopped at Oliver Peoples to have Jake’s glasses adjusted. While he fed the parking meter, I stood by with my thumbs hooked in the belt loops of my tight low-riding jeans. My hip was thrust to one side. I had serious attitude because Jake had just upped his game. His strategy was fierce. He had experience over me. He threatened to win and it peeved me to no end.
Just then, a white stretch limousine rolled up and stopped in the middle of traffic. The back window lowered and a black man with long hair, bushy bangs and dark sunglasses yelled out the window in a high-pitched voice. “Lady, I see you. I see you looking far too fine for words. Don’t you stop, Lady. You keep it going, you hear me? You keep it going.”
The limousine pulled away. “Wait, who was that?” I asked Jake. “I know I recognize him, but I can’t put my finger on it.”
Jake clapped his hands like a child. “Who was that? That was Little Richard! Little Richard — the father of rock and roll — just called out to you, Sicily. Little Richard called out to my assistant!”
I giggled with Jake and couldn’t stop. I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe. I gulped for air. I didn’t laugh at or because of Little Richard. Frankly, I didn’t care about Little Richard. I laughed at how quickly Jake turned into a little boy in front of my eyes. I laughed as I wondered if age mattered at all when it came to love. No, love doesn’t care about things like that.
For the next hour, Jake went on and on about it. He called his friends — Stephen Stills, Carole King, Willie Nelson, and so on — and bragged that Little Richard had called out to me on Sunset Boulevard. He ditched his game and made me feel unabashedly special.
“You know the funniest part?” he asked me.
“What’s that? How adorable you are?”
“Little Richard hollered at me back in the day, too. I must have been in my early twenties. A few of us were hanging outside the Troubadour when Little Richard strolled out. He looked at me just like he looked at you and said, “Well, aren’t you the prettiest little thing I’ve ever seen!”
“Little Richard has exquisite taste,” I said courageously. Never having seen a photograph of a young Jake Easton, I couldn’t possibly realize how dead on Little Richard was.
When we got back to the bungalow, I followed Jake inside like a puppy dog. He sat down and called his travel agent to confirm his flight back to Nashville on Sunday. Of course he told her the Little Richard story.
“SO, Sicily was standing there on Sunset Boulevard, looking foxy as always, and Little Richard pulls up and yells out the back window of his limousine. ‘Lady, you are far too fine for words!’ It was just wonderful. Magic occurs when I’m with this girl.”
He gazed at me. But I sat dumbly while Jake talked about me like I wasn’t there. I felt like a fly on the wall, though he didn’t shift his deadly stare from me for even a second.
Jake continued his phone conversation. “No, that other girl who worked for me was just some model. No comparison to Sicily.” Pause. “Yeah, I gave her an album credit. Christ, that was nearly twenty years ago.” He paused again. “But this one inspires me.” My heart-flip-flopped.
His pauses stoked my curiosity. I want an album credit!
Jake wrapped up his call. “We’ll see. Talk soon, dear,” and hung up the phone.
He looked at me as if it had just occurred to him I was in the room, although his eyes hadn’t let up drilling into me. “Well, I think we’re done working for the day,” he said dryly. “You’re free to go. I’ll see you at the car rental place on Sunday at one pm so you can drive me to the airport.”
Jake didn’t stand up to walk me to my car, or even to the door for that matter. “Enjoy your massage tomorrow,” I told him bitterly.
“I will. Have a nice weekend doing whatever it is you do.”
I drove home in silence.