Bart handed me his phone. His boyfriend Tyler was on the other end, anxious for his Broadway premiere later that night. “Professional counsel needed,” Bart proclaimed. “Hi Tyler, buddy,” I said to my nervous client—well, my boss’s nervous client. “Yes, I know every important person in the theatrical world will be there tonight, but you forget that you’re one of those people now, too. They aren’t there to critique you, they’re there to support you.” After the call, Bart asked if I could start giving Tyler relationship advice too. “Dating a 22-year-old actor is really goddamn tough,” he said. “He’s great, but I can only coddle so much.”
Joanie was my date and Peter attended with Bart. They found our row as I located Sam to check in and see if he needed anything. “Just a drink, Eddy,” Sam said. “Have you any booze? Oh wait, ha! Nevermind. I keep forgetting about your problem.” Unamused, I looked around for his always-apologizing boyfriend: “Where’s Jeff?” Sam gave me a scowl: “We’re through, not that it’s your business.” I sauntered back to my seat to find James Thurston—another client—flirting with Peter. I knew his efforts were futile, as Peter had been happily dating a charming young doctor for a few weeks. James departed, but not before telling Joanie he loved her music, making her blush. “That’s my best celebrity fan moment yet,” she said. “Including when Raven-Symoné tweeted at me.” As I sat down, I got a text from Sam: “But seriously, can you get me some wine?”
A few minutes before curtain, Bart pointed down the aisle. “Those are Tyler’s parents, and his sister Amelia.” He stood to introduce himself, then beckoned for my company. “I bet they’ll want to meet you, too,” he posited. Tyler was from Dallas, and his parents had a warm southern charm about them. “Mr. and Mrs. Weiland,” Bart started. “I’m Bart. It’s so wonderful to meet you.” They stared back blankly, clearly having no idea who Bart was or why he stopped shy of explanation. Behind them, his sister gave us a big “Stop what you’re doing!” expression, interjecting: “Mom and Dad, Bart is Tyler’s best friend.” Suddenly Bart understood. He was speechless, so I took the reins: “I’m Eddy. I’m on Tyler’s management team. But also a friend. Lovely meeting you all. Your son is so very talented, and a pleasure to represent.”
“It’s so appropriate that he’s playing Brutus,” Bart said aloud once Tyler made his appearance. Joanie wasn’t about to let Bart’s mood ruin the show, whispering: “You didn’t come out to your parents until last year, so shut up and shut the fuck up.” By intermission, Bart seemed more settled, even praising Tyler for his performance. “I have the most talented boyfriend in the whole world,” he proclaimed. From behind us, a voice: “And I have the most talented brother.” We whipped around to see Amelia there. “Listen, he hasn’t told them yet, Bart,” Tyler’s sister said. “Not about you, and not even about himself.” “Yeah, I got that,” Bart pouted. “But,” continued Amelia. “If it’s any consolation, he’s told me everything about you. Four or five times. And I wanted to thank you for being so great with him, and so patient with him.” Joanie chimed in: “This shit is even better than the play!”
The usual suspects were in attendance at the after party: agents, managers, publicists, casting directors, actors…and Simon. I hadn’t seen or spoken with him since I called off our romance, and he came over to say hello as I mingled with other industry folk. “Your kid Tyler is great,” he told me after a polite embrace. “Sam is lucky to have snagged that one. Tyler’s the guy dating Bart, right? Where’s Bart?” I looked around—Peter was handling himself just fine, Joanie had located some musician friends, Tyler was surrounded by fellow actors—aha, there he was, alone at the bar. I explained to Simon that Bart was a little upset he couldn’t act like Tyler’s boyfriend tonight. He also wasn’t one to make small talk at these types of receptions. “Well maybe a job offer will cheer him up,” Simon responded. “I need a new house director.”
Simon joined Bart at the bar—ordering him just-a-seltzer, of course—and I was finally able to get Tyler’s attention. He was with his agent, Eva. I knew her well, but she was confused when he called me Eric. I explained my dual-name situation to her. “Sam’s a real dick,” she replied. “You should come work for us—if you’ve ever thought about being an agent. We could give you some young clients.” “I don’t think I would stay with Sam if you left,” Tyler said. “Plus, right now he’s not putting me up for the new J.J. Abrams film since it interferes with my contract here.” “He’s not?” I said, shocked. “They’ve called me 100 times asking to get you on tape. Practically begging. The casting director is here. Let’s go find her.” I looked around, making sure Sam wasn’t watching. I knew this could get me in a heap of trouble.