New York got a pre-holiday blanket of snow on the shortest day of the year. It was also the most beautiful morning of the year prior to any thawing and slushing, with everything quietly coated in half a foot of shiny powder. I was up early to go to the gym, and trudged slowly down the middle of the street since there was no traffic. Everything felt so symmetrical from the center of the road, as if the brownstones, trees, and parked cars were framing a photo for my own private, beautiful New York minute. I took out my phone to capture it, but the picture looked shitty by comparison. I pocketed the phone and stared in every direction, breathing long, cold breaths. I welcomed the breeze and relaxed my tense muscles. On the shortest day of the year, I felt a rare rush of calm, a minute of unwavering confidence and untold potential.
Joanie had been writing songs for another EP, and we were working with a lawyer to prepare her for meetings with labels. A few had shown interest and it felt like an obvious next move given the finite buzz and critical acclaim she had been riding the past couple months. We sat together in her living room one morning as she strummed her guitar and I looked over paperwork. “Eric, what kinds of people do you not trust? I am making a list for a song called ‘People I Trust More Than You.'” I thought for a second. “Parents who push strollers while they jog.” “Oooh, good one,” she said. “I’m definitely including that, maybe right before ‘weave snatchers.'” “Wow, I can’t wait to hear this song,” I smiled as my phone buzzed. It was a text from Sam—the first I had heard from my estranged boss in three weeks: he sent a photo of himself shirtless and smirking in the mirror…of Jack’s bathroom. And behind him, naked and silhouetted onto the shower curtain, the man who was my Kryptonite.
There wasn’t much I could do to retaliate. After all, this was Sam’s way of retaliating for my stealing his now-A-List client, and I would much rather have Tyler as a client than Jack as a bedfellow. I responded “Cool, have fun” to seem blasé about it, and since he would have felt sinister and victorious if I had left it unanswered. I hit “send” and within five seconds, my phone started ringing. It wasn’t Sam, though. It was James Thurston, Sam’s most acclaimed client: “Eddy—err, Eric, sorry, I keep forgetting—um, sorry for calling so close to the holidays, but I wanted to, uh, chat with you about something.” “What is it, James?” “I’ve been seeing the press for Tyler and I know you’re largely behind all that and I think it’s time for some business decisions from me. You know, some big moves. Are you accepting new clients?” Like a Christmas miracle, I had my Tony-winning, Oscar-nominated retaliation.
Dad came to New York for Christmas, to be with the “holiday orphans” as he put it. Peter was home in the Bay Area, but Joanie, Bart, and Tyler stayed back. Tyler was still closing out Julius Caesar, and his parents were licking their wounds upon news of his sexuality, so he was in no rush to visit Texas. Bart stayed in New York to be with Tyler, and his parents would be visiting the following week anyway. Lastly, Joanie figured it would be hypocritical to go to Kansas so soon given her critical (and critically acclaimed) single about our home state. Dad and I agreed that it would be more fun if he came to Brooklyn, so like Santa Claus, he brought gifts for all four of us, and I hosted a Christmas Eve feast. Dad popped a few bottles of “kids’ wine” (his word for “sparkling cider”) to celebrate “four very wonderful, inspiring young adults who create opportunities through love and support.” Here, here!
I took Dad to the Christmas showing of Julius Caesar, and we got to go backstage to Tyler’s dressing room. Dad said he felt “like a fancy prince” meeting everyone who was part of the production. He bought two CDs of the cast recording, too: one for him, and one for “this gal I’m seeing. Lynnette. I think this will win me some points.” We got supper at our favorite diner, Chelsea Square Restaurant, where we always eat when he visits. The Christmas crowd was older, but to me they all seemed like a bunch of orphans yet. I wondered where their families lived, or if everyone had moved away or passed on. Dad was on the same wavelength: “They’re like the New York version of me, yeah?” I saved the moment from turning sour: “No, because you’re here with me, and you’re a fancy prince.” Dad responded with a chuckle and “You smart ass.”
James Thurston wasted no time leaving Sam. He did the deed right after the holiday, and called me immediately to officially hire me as his manager. “Woof. Sam is not pleased. I would avoid him at all costs,” James advised. “I think he was more upset that you were getting me than he was about just losing me.” We spent a few minutes covering official business, and I agreed to schedule certain casting appointments for him the following week. His main goal was to land a television pilot this year. Getting one would be easy for him, but landing the right one would be tough, and that’s where I would be helpful. Dad was beside me during the entire phone call. After we hung up, he said: “You sounded so confident navigating all that. The nasty politics. Landing a Hollywood pilot. Booking appointments. Almost terrifyingly confident. I’m sure you’re a gentleman—at least I hope so—, but I wouldn’t want to be on your bad side.”