Turns out there was no need for the woman from the network who was pursuing me to put her number in with my contacts, since she called me a couple days later. She caught me just as I was getting into bed.
“So when are you coming over to open that bottle of wine?,” she asked, without so much as saying hello. I also got a picture in my mind of her opening the wine. She was calling all the other shots, and I couldn’t imagine her letting me have the corkscrew. (Ok, that set off totally gross ideas in my head. Ew.)
“I…I…I…,” I stammered like an idiot.
“Tomorrow night work for you? We can talk about getting your career off the ground. I checked and you’ve got no shortage of followers. You need to take advantage of that, young man. It’s a window of opportunity that won’t stay open long. You can come in one of your tshirt and basketball shorts combinations. I like a man to be comfortable…and you won’t be wearing them too long anyway.”
Ok, so y’all are gonna say that I’m a total chicken, but I didn’t tell her to go away or I would report her to HR at the network. Ok…I’m ashamed to admit it, but I went along with her invitation.
Lucky for me she lived in Pasadena. When she first invited me, I was afraid she lived in Beverly Hills or somewhere that would mean driving through heavy traffic to get there. At least this meant I’d only be in the shitbox for fifteen minutes…and I gotta admit to y’all that, after driving the Maybach every day, I’m beginning to feel that Keaton might be right about my car and that it may be, in reality, a shitbox.
She lived not too far from the apartment Keaton hated so much, and not too far from the boys’ school on California Blvd. I wasn’t what to expect from her home, since I know practically nothing about her, least of all what kind of a place she could afford to live in.
Turns out that was a townhouse in a group of townhouses with like a million stairs. Good thing I’m in good shape, although even I was taking the stairs one at a time before I got to her front door. It looked like a nice place to live, but not the kind of place a big executive would live. Of course, I know next to nothing about network executives, and maybe only a little bit more about the network that puts on At Home with Maya. I didn’t even know her job title, I realized.
So, anyway, I knocked and she came to the door. (She told me to wear basketball shorts and a tshirt, and that’s what I had on, along with a backwards Dodgers hat. I didn’t even bother to shave: the last thing I wanted to do was make myself look good.) She was wearing fancy ripped jeans (we were never allowed those when I was a kid: Mom thought they’d make people think we couldn’t afford new jeans when the old ones wore out; I’ve stayed with that as an adult) and a shirt that was pretty far open in front…far enough for me to be able to detect that she wasn’t wearing a bra. She had on a nice perfume that she wasn’t wearing when she came to the house; it was nothing compared to the perfume that Maya wears as far as confusing me was concerned, however. That was a very good thing.
“Come in, Hunter,” she said. “That bottle of wine is waiting for you.”
She led the way into the living room, which wasn’t really big enough for all the furniture it had in it (Joyce would say that…and, yeah, I was acutely aware of Joyce at that point in the evening), and there was an ice bucket with a bottle of wine on a tray…kinda like the ice bucket Joyce puts out with a few Stone IPAs when I come over. I’d so much rather have had a beer than white wine (which I like even less than red wine, which at least doesn’t strike me as gayass the way white does), but, on the other hand, I’m not sure that what I wanted to do was relax. I said yes to coming over so I could explain to her, in private, that I simply wasn’t interested, either in an acting career, or in her. That’s hard to do when you’re lying on a weight bench and all sweaty while she’s looking up your shorts.
Now, while I’m a good ole Southern boy, and I like beer a whole lot better than wine, that doesn’t mean that I’m entirely clueless when it comes to operating a corkscrew. There have been chicks in my past who like wine, starting in college with Bridgit, so I learned how to be the gentleman. She was expecting me to open the wine after all, so I did, probably more smoothly than I should have, but the only way I know how to open a bottle of wine is to impress a chick lol.
So I had the wine opened and I poured us each a glass. I wasn’t going to drink mine, but she took a few big sips of hers.
“Drink up,” she said.
Ok, I’ve never had to use alcohol to seduce a chick. I mean, yeah, I’ve had drunk sex with chicks who were pretty drunk, but they were that way before they got to me. Maybe it was something Dad taught me, or maybe it was just common sense based on how I was brought up, but I don’t pour liquor into chicks so they’ll have sex with me. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a chick who wasn’t willing that badly. And this time my problem was a chick who was willing while I wasn’t.
“Ok,” I said, and I took a sip of the wine. It even tasted gayass, but I managed not to make a face.
Then she picked up what looked like a…I don’t know…kinda like something between a pipe and a cigarette lighter. I don’t know anything about vaping, but I was able to figure out that what she had was a vaping thing. She turned it on (or whatever you do with it) and offered it to me.
I reckon I looked as puzzled as I was.
“It’s weed,” she said, “only it doesn’t smell like skunk and get the neighbors all worried about what we’re doing.”
“Oh, thanks,” I said, “but I don’t do drugs.”
“Why not?,” she said, “it’ll relax you.”
I only tried weed once in my life, and I didn’t like it. It made me very hungry and then I passed out from eating a whole mess of Twinkies. Just like hard liquor: not my thing. I’m a beer guy, what can I say? I’ve certainly never hidden that from y’all.
“Really not my thing, thanks. It just puts me to sleep.”
“Ah,” she said. “We don’t want that, do we?”
I figured the question was rhetorical as she put the vaping thing down on the coffee table again, finished her wine, and dangled the glass in front of me to refill.
“So,” she said, “let’s get down to brass tacks. You’ve definitely got what it takes to be more than a TV pool boy. Guys with looks like yours are one in a thousand, if that, and, on top of that, you’re in amazing shape. You’ve even got good hair, although one of the first things we have to do is get you a decent haircut. Where did you get that one, Supercuts?” I was too ashamed to nod yes. Supercuts has been cutting my hair since I moved to LA, and I’ve always been pleased with the results. Anyway, she continued: “you’re good-looking enough to get a role on a soap opera. You’re a little old for it, but you might even make an interesting model. There are a ton of possibilities. All you need to do, Hunter, is say the word.”
It wasn’t word I was gonna say.
Maybe if I’d come to California to get a break in Hollywood, I’d of been interested, although I don’t think I’d of been interested even then. Keaton was right when he said I wasn’t cut out to be a whore. I reckon it may depend on how much you want what you’re being offered, although the other side of that coin is that nothing is less dependable than something someone does for you because you’re giving them sexual favors. It’s nothing to build a career on.
So I wasn’t buying what she was selling. I’m pretty happy with the way things are in my life at the moment, and, while I reckon I’m not gonna keep doing what I’m doing on reality TV for the rest of my life, it’s a dang good gig, and, besides, I like it. Maya is a great boss, and I think the boys are terrific. So’s Gechitzik, even if he barks too much.
So there was no sense in sitting there while she played with my hair because she had ideas of how it should be cut. So I retreated to a chair and asked her to sit down so I could say something serious.
“Yes, Hunter?,” she asked, holding out her glass for me to refill again. I wanted to ignore it, but I reckon I’m too much the gentleman or something.
So I refilled her glass and I got down to brass tacks.
“I’m real flattered that you think I’m so…interesting,” I said, “but I’m afraid I’m not interested in having a bigger career than I’m having. I have ambitions, but they’re not in TV or the movies. At Home with Maya just happened, and, while I’m very happy being on the show, I don’t want to use it as a springboard to greater fame.”
“Don’t you have any plans for your future?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said, kinda stressing the ma’am, “but they don’t have to do with becoming an actor.”
“So why did you come to California if it wasn’t to break into the movies?”
“I came here because I needed to go somewhere and the Gap offered me a job at the Pasadena store…back when there was a Gap on Colorado. It could have been anywhere, as long as it wasn’t Knoxville. Living at home after I gave up baseball wasn’t working for me. Big time.”
“I see,” she said.
“But I’m flattered,” I added. “I really am.” I really wasn’t at all flattered. I was kinda grossed out by what she was expecting me to do. But I was trying to…I reckon let her down easy.
That proved unnecessary.
“I wasn’t doing it to flatter you, Hunter,” she said. “I was doing it because I wanted you. I still do. What you are is too good-looking for your own good.”
I couldn’t tell if she was angry.
“Let me make it simple for you, then: you do what I want and I get you an agent who can advance your career – and a better haircut – or I go to HR and file a sexual harassment complaint against you in the morning. Your choice, pretty boy.”
Y’all know that the pretty boy thing gets on my last nerve. So I was too angry to be what I should have been, which was stunned or flabbergasted or something.
“It’s going to be your word against mine. And you know that people always believe the woman in these things. Nobody’s gonna believe you and your toxic masculinity.”
And there was that expression I still don’t understand.
“I guess we don’t have anything to talk about, then,” I said, getting up to leave and heading out of the living room, not wanting her to have the last word, which she had anyway:
“Enjoy your cushy pool house while you still have it.”
I slammed the door behind myself. I know it was childish, but I was also dang pissed off. I felt like I’d just had a meeting with Potiphar’s wife and that I was Joseph. And y’all know how that turned out for him.