“Please please please introduce me to James Thurston,” Peter begged as our cab pulled up outside the premiere party. James Thurston was one of Sam’s clients—he had two Tonys, an Oscar nomination, and movie star sex appeal—and we had just seen the opening of his new Broadway play. His husband Ken was a big playwright, making them quite the power couple. “I brought you because I figured you wouldn’t be star struck,” I said. “But not because I’m your best friend?” he joked. “OK, that too,” I replied. Coincidentally, James cornered me at the party later: “Who’s your friend? An introduction, please?”
Peter and James spent most of the evening chatting, and their flirtation got a few people talking, especially after Ken joined the conversation and started touching the small of Peter’s back every few minutes. “Eddy, should I be worried about your friend?” Sam asked. “I can’t have a PR situation, and those two faggots aren’t smart enough to avoid it themselves.” Sam’s boyfriend Jeff mouthed “Sorry” following the slur—he was always apologizing for Sam. “He’s fine,” I assured Sam. Mostly, I was happy that Peter was getting the attention he deserved—his broken heart needed healing, and I figured some A-list affection might boost his confidence.
I cozied up at the bar for a seltzer, tired of shaking hands and talking small. These receptions were a necessary part of the job, and I had to drop Sam’s name whenever I could, especially around actors. Turning my back on it allowed me to be Eric-not-Eddy for a few minutes. An older man parked himself on the stool next to me, asking if he could buy me another. “It’s just a seltzer,” I responded. He flagged down the bartender. “Just a seltzer. And for me, an old-fashioned.” He turned to me: “But I’m not old-fashioned. Don’t get the wrong idea.”
He was the show’s producer. I knew his name—Simon Stephens—since he had called the office numerous times during development. He had this thick Scottish accent like Sean Connery, and I had pictured him as such. He was more of a Roger Moore in person, which still had me blubbering like an idiot. “So you’re the famous Eddy?” he asked, giddy. “I never knew you were so handsome. Telephones do you few favors.” “Oh, so my phone voice isn’t sexy?” I laughed. “Not really,” he said, bluntly. “It’s stunted….It’s…frustrated.” We locked eyes as I stirred my drink, frustrated that we were in a public place.
“I assume you’re single,” said Simon. “Since my hand has been on your thigh for five minutes and you haven’t moved it.” Ha—so it was. At this point, we had covered where we grew up, upcoming travels, and after I revealed my real name, spent a good 15 minutes ragging on Sam (Simon wasn’t a fan… most people weren’t.). We finished our drinks and he squeezed my inner thigh as he stood to leave. “No doubt you have my number on file?” He pecked my cheek and left. I turned to locate Peter, catching his eye as he flirted in one corner with James and Ken. I threw him a thumbs up and an “Is everything fine?” expression. Everything was fine, though my heart was racing.
“Eddy, where have you been?” Sam quizzed me as the room thinned. Thankfully he hadn’t seen Simon and me flirting. “I’ve been here. Was chatting at the—” “Whatever,” Sam said, cutting me off. “Listen, I’ve got a noon meeting with Connie at ICM tomorrow, so I’m just going to work from home all morning. You got things covered? Who am I kidding? Of course you do. Thanks bitch.” His boyfriend Jeff mouthed “Sorry!” as they both skirted away drunkenly. I left alone since Peter was about to get doubly lucky. I passed Simon on my way out, and we made plans for a noon lunch.
I caught the 2 train back home. As I popped in my earbuds for the journey, a breathless Peter saddled up beside me. “Hey Eric, trying to ditch me?” “Oh, hi. Sorry—I thought you would go home with James and Ken,” I said. “They asked me to,” he replied. “But they probably do that all the time since they can get away with it. No thank you.” We rode the rest of the way without a word, and I could tell he was upset. When we emerged onto Eastern Parkway—with the Brooklyn Museum as our dramatically lit backdrop—Peter broke the silence: “I’m not over Dale,” he said of his recent ex. “And because of that I lost out on an Oscar-nominated threesome.” That got a good laugh from me—and from darling Peter, too.