So the phone rang over the weekend, right on schedule, as I knew it would. I had just returned to my palatial pad in Echo Park and was about to pour a couple of margaritas for a special lady and myself when I heard his distinctive ring tone on my top-secret cell phone: Tweedily deedily dee, tweedily deedily dee, it chirped. All the little birdies on Jaybird Street, love to hear the robin go tweet, tweet, tweet.
“Sorry, dollface,” I said to the girl I’ll call Ginger, putting down my Wii joystick and reaching across her lissome body to gander at my next-generation Android. “It’s a member of Congress.”
“Not him again,” she said. “I told that pizzle never to call me here.”
“It’s for me,” I said. “You think you’re the only celebrity he follows on Twitter?” She made that little moue she’s justly famous for on stage and screen and flounced off to the hot tub. I tell you, I know all the best girls in North Hollywood and Toluca Lake.
Now, from time to time, I provide, shall we say, off-the-books services for various Democrats, assisting them with behind-the-scenes public relations whenever they get their todgers into trouble, hot water, or deep kimchi — think of Slick Willie and you’ll know what I mean.
“Hey, wait a minute, Dave,” I can hear you saying, “how are you any different from any other Tom, Dick, or Harry in Hollywood or in the media? Aren’t you all just tools of the international media machine?” And that’s true. For us lefties, being a Democrat is very nearly a full-time job, especially when we are between projects, as I unfortunately am at the moment, unless my agent can get me a whack at Pirates of the Caribbean V: Jack Sparrow vs. Predator vs. Aliens — This Time, It’s Personal.
But Tony is a very special friend, which is why I took the call and left my actress pal to fend for herself under the stars of Elysian Park, alone with my pool boy, Juan Tomás, whom I trust implicitly, although why he can’t clean the pool during the day I’ll never understand.
“How’s Huma?” I said. I always like to break the ice with a little chit-chat about the family before getting down to brass knuckles. “Hillary hoping haute hot-sheet humping its way over to Le Havre?”
“You’ve been reading too much James Ellroy,” he said.
“Little alliteration there,” I said. “We writers do that from time to time just to keep ourselves sharp. How can I help?’
“Houston, we have a problem. My manhood’s at stake.” I vibed the desperation in his voice from 3,000 miles away. I could practically sniff Brooklyn in the diphthongs and sense Queens in the sibilants.
“Save your breath, big boy,” I said. “It’s been in all the papers. Elvis has left the building. The bratwurst is out of the casing. The lead is out of the pencil. You get the idea.”
I could feel him stiffen at the other end of the line. “Enough with the cheap jokes,” said Anthony Weiner. “I’m talking to you in your capacity as a private dick.”
“Shoot,” I said.
“First of all, it’s not me. Second of all, it might be me. Third of all, I don’t know if it’s me, but if it is me I got hacked, or some wingnut framed me, and anyhow I have no idea how my junk got tweeted to some college girl — I swear to you I don’t even know where Seattle is, or what time it is there, give or take 15 minutes. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.”
I thought for a moment. As Democrat scandals went, this one wasn’t that bad. After all, Bill Clinton got impeached and disbarred by the Supreme Court for getting a Lewinsky, and John Edwards — Mr. “Two Americas,” our veep candidate in 2004, remember him? — just got indicted for some alleged funny-money stuff with a rich honey named Bunny. Me, I was born well after the Johnson administration, but I gather before my naissance some donkey-kong named Wilbur Mills wound up at the Tidal Basin with a stripper not his wife named Fanne Foxe. And Gaia only knows what Thomas Jefferson got himself into. Generally, when we have sex scandals, there’s actual sex involved.
“Can’t get him on the blower.”
“Have you tried him at Fanny’s?”
“No joy there.”
I whistled softly: This was the Big Enchilada Chuck Schumer’s mini-me, a man of parts not to be trifled with. I tackled this at my own peril. “This is a hard one,” I said.
In response to my whistle, Ginger pranced in, dripping wet, not even a G-string to protect her from the fierce L.A. elements. “Nice birthday suit,” I said, waving her off. That’s the kind of life we lead here in the City of the Angels, so eat your heart out, red-state Amerikkka.
“Look, Dave,” said the Big Tone at the other end of the line, “I’m getting the shaft here. You’ve got to use the old noodle and get me out of this pickle.”
“What about the modified limited hang-out? After all, it worked for Tricky Dick.”
“For a while. Then they ram-rodded him right out of town.”
“Good point.” I was shooting blanks now. “Listen, Tony,” I said, “there’s no more of these things floating around the Internet, are there? No loose cannons? No banana peels? No girls you’ve been sexting? No Facebook affairs? No pictures of you with your shirt off, like that clown in upstate New York — holy moly look how fast they yanked him. You gotta be straight with me. This is no time to pull another boner.”
All of a sudden he got real furtive-like. “Sorry, Dave,” he said, “Call coming in. Ding-dong you right back.” He rang off. He’d be back: The Weiner always rings twice.
I put some Wang Chung on the MP3 player, slipped into something comfortable, and joined Ginger in the hot tub. For the nonce, I was Mr. Happy, luxuriating in the back yard of the manse, the whiff of the hot dogs from nearby Dodger Stadium redolent on the night air. Life was good. I could almost forget that, like everybody else in Hollywood, I was out of work.
Every little swallow, every chickadee, Every little bird in the tall oak tree . . .
“Rockin’ Robin,” I answered, using our secret code phrase.
“Listen, Dave,” he said, “Hillary just showed up at my front door with an ashtray in one hand and a lamp in the other. She’s got a resignation letter and divorce papers and says she’ll use them if I don’t do the right thing. I rang Bill, but his message said he’s away on official business on Johnston Atoll.”
“No worries, bro,” I consoled. “You could just do what every other Democrat does — hunker down, deny everything, and wait for it all to blow over while MSNBC and the Times cover for you. But that’s the coward’s way. You’re made of sterner stuff. You want to go out tall and proud, grabbing fate with both hands.”
“Yeah!” I could hear him growing excited.
“So a whole new career is coming at ya.” Yes, my mind works that fast, even in a hot tub.
“Where’s the beef?” he asked breathlessly.
“Repeat after me: ‘I am a star. I’m a star. I’m a star. I’m a star. I’m a star. I’m a bright, shining star.’ Got that?”
I could hear him talking to himself as I hung up the phone and turned to my protégé. “That ring tone’s for the birds,” she said.
“Au contraire, my little chickadee,” I replied. “‘The wise old owl, the big black crow, Flappin’ their wings singin’ go bird, go.’ Can you spell Dirk Diggler?”
She squealed with delight: “Hey, we’ve worked together!”
So you see where I’m going with this, right? I want my buddy Weiner to star in my new sequel that I’m pitching tomorrow at New Line. There’s more money in the movies — even ones that get produced up on Roscoe Boulevard in the Valley — than in being a member, or even mayor of New York.
Talk about casting against type: Boogie Nights II: This Time, It’s Personal.
We’ll see you at the Oscars.
— David Kahane is thrilled to be back in the movie business. If you’d like a part in his new picture, please write to him at [email protected] or bring a copy of Rules for Radical Conservatives, with receipt, to the audition. Remember — in a relationship business, it’s who you know.