Thursday, September 2, 2010


It was the kind of shoot that made being in the ad business all worthwhile. Staying out in Santa Monica on the beach at a hotel crawling with celebs, the location: a mansion in Malibu overlooking the ocean, shooting with a world famous model, traveling with my best friend and creative partner, and the account exec who was fucking the guy I had been in love a short while ago, who was busying herself planning the double funeral of the twin fetus' they had lost first term, between checking her messages, crying quietly, and going over the client’s financials for the coming year.

I never really liked Lisa, she was pushy, overbearing, and braggartly bright. She had straight blond hair cut in a razor sharp wedge, a tennis body – muscular and taught, with calf muscles that would shine when the light hit her pantyhose just right. She had dumped her husband for the guy I used to like, Lenny, and she was going in for the kill. The qualities that made her a killer account executive, (can-do, and by whatever means possible) made her cloying in a social capacity. Lenny had come from a humble background, his smarts, charm, and composing abilities had lifted him from his wrong side of the tracks background and landed him firmly in an ad agency, his long hair, good looks gave him pretty much his pick of anyone at the veritable candy store of hot chicks that made up our Madison Avenue shop. Lisa had spied him, we all did. They worked together on a high tech account, spending countless hours together, late nights and weekends at her and her husband’s house. Rumor had it that she and Lenny would be fucking out by the pool while her husband was fast asleep in their bed. Pretty soon Lisa and Lenny were out as a couple, Lisa filed for divorce, and in the shake of a lamb’s tail she was pregnant with twins, she did everything short of sending out an inner-office memo, and Lenny clearly had gotten more than he bargained for. One minute he was starting out at a small agency in Stamford, the next thing he knew he was making big bucks and fucking any woman he wanted at one of New York’s top shops and at first glance, Lisa seemed like the grand prize. Platinum blond hair, played tennis at a country club, Master’s degree a couple of times over, he’d just never expected that she’d divorce her husband and toss out her birth control ¬– but Lisa had the determination and brass balls that kept three of the agency’s most important clients happy, and now she had Lenny beholden to her, too.

I couldn’t lie, it hurt like the dickens. Lenny had once sneaked up behind me while I was at the copy machine, churning out scripts for a meeting I had with our yogurt client. “I was listening to Prokofiev last night, imagining I was fucking you,” he whispered in my ear like Satan on Valentine's Day. We had never spoken before. I was winding down out of a relationship that had lasted 9 years, the last 8 years of which the sex had rapidly dissipated. I didn’t know who Prokofiev was, but I was sure as heck going to head over to Tower Records at lunchtime to buy the CD and find out what all the excitement was about. Lenny strung me along for weeks with promises to go out after work, before he’d catch the 9:05 out to Stamford, but it only materialized once or twice when he worked me into a tizzy with his sublime footsie skills. I’d go by his office during the day to get my fill of dirty talk, but each time a procession of other women from the creative department would stop by; Lenny’s office was a deli counter of dirty talking. I was devastated when a particularly pushy brunette I worked with and never liked, Jenna, had a coming out party to announce that they were officially fucking on a regular basis, an event to which I was invited, which I accepted in the hopes that I could “win” him back. Lenny sought me in her bedroom and recapped his turrets of poetic filth.

The other guy’s at work were perplexed by Lenny’s popularity with the ad women, his long hair often unwashed, he hadn’t made the switch to 100% cotton yet, his too tight 50/50 blend shirts seemed wildly inappropriate for client meetings, his off the charts genius never seemed to translate well into the pedestrian, yet tricky solutions he was asked to come up with, he often lost out in our creative shoot outs. Still, a lot of us gals swooned to his advances. Me, this girl Marta also who I swore was gay, was a regular in Lenny’s dirty talk virtual deli line, and a whole bunch of others. But Jenna won the shoot out but was soon dumped in favor of the blond with the tennis calves and her weekend house she shared with her sleepy husband. Ashamed that I had been so stupid to pick him as my first crush after a nine year relationship, I took comfort that I wasn’t alone - the number’s climbed into the double digits as a string of shattered ad girl crushes littered Lenny’s wake.

It wasn’t surprising that Lisa had won - she was a goal-oriented gal, and wasted no time filing for divorce. She made darned sure we all knew she had triumphed; she and the polyester robed prince were often found making out in the agency’s lobby, right in front of Annie’s Lobby Shop. Annie was a holocaust survivor, had seen the worst of what humankind had to offer, yet showed shock and disgust towards the couples anything but subtle displays of affection in front of the Mounds, Necco Wafers, and pretzel snacks. Not only was Lisa pregnant with twins and planning a wedding to Lenny ASAP, she was the head account person on my yogurt account so I had a pipeline to her ob gyn updates, possible locations for their honeymoon; nor would she hesitate to ask my advice on how to hurry her husband out of the house they once shared and into the small studio she had found him in a crap neighborhood in the outskirts of Brooklyn so that she and Lenny could move into the 3 bedroom house and start their new life together. Advertising was tough enough; creative shootouts with anywhere from three to ten other teams, trying to come up with the stuff after staying out all night drinking margaritas, keeping up with the witty repartee with everyone from the custodial staff to the CEO, and now this.

One afternoon I was finessing a script, or “polishing a turd” as one of my creative directors called it, “HEY!,” Lisa popped into my doorway with the starling suddenness of a marionette, not bothering with the common courtesy of a ‘tap-tap’ at the door frame when you see someone bent over their work. “What, Lisa. Bus-yyy,” it didn’t seem to knock the wind out of her sails. “You know how you liked Lenny,” she said teasingly, jeeze, I had a meeting in 9 minutes. “Uh-huh,” I said, not looking up. “And I like Lenny, right,” incorrigible. “Spit it out,” come ON already. “Well, I figure, we have the same taste in men, and now that my husband’s single…,” wow - she had to be fucking kidding me. “NO, Lisa, no WAY,” we had a new low on insult to injury, “No. Fucking. WAY,” I repeated for clarity’s sake. “Okay! Okay! I just thought….” I missed the rest of her sales pitch as I forced her to the other side of the slammed door. “See you at our four o’clock!,” she chirped, making adjustments in audio to compensate for the density of the metal door, a passive aggressive reminder that we weren’t done - we had a meeting together later in the day.

Not more than 8 minutes later the phone rang, two rings, outside call. “Hello??” a meak, almost male voice was on the other end, “is this Claudia,” he squeeked. “Yes,” the balls, the incredible balls. “This is Mike Mustow, I was Lisa’s husband before,” he said sadly, asking me out on a date.

I shook my head at Lisa as we all took seats around the conference room table at our meeting later that day. We were going over the shoot details, soon we would be flying out to L.A. for a week and a half of production. I was so looking forward to getting out of Dodge, the pool at the hotel, expensing meals at 4 star restaurants, flirting with the cute guys at the production company. We were wrapping up the final details around five o’clock, I had brought my purse and jacket so I could sneak out and grab the subway home nice and early. “Guys,” Lisa said, firmly putting the kibosh on my plan, “listen, I was thinking, if we don’t fly business, we would have enough in the budget for Lenny to come along!” Wow! I thought, the woman’s balls had grown so big you could see them pressing through her freshly dry cleaned pencil skirt. The room went silent, which Lisa promptly took as confirmation, “Good, then it’s all set!” Yes, it was. I had a date with Lisa’s forlorn ex husband on Thursday night, and Lenny would be tagging along on our Malibu shoot the week after.

The days before the shoot went by quickly. Lisa’s husband Mark had delivered as promised, crying in his sushi, making puppy-like wimpering noises during my sympathy hug, which he punctuated with new found confidence, forcing his thick saliva’d tongue in and out of my mouth. After quelling his advances, I paid him forward to a lonely friend who later told me that he now referred to me as “that lesbian dyke.” She, however found him smart and kind and lovable in spite of his impossibly small “is it in yet” penis; apparently it was a tiny head attached to his mound with no shaft twixt the two, but the size of his heart made up for it, she said, sighing. They exchanged “I love you’s” and were thrilled to have found each other. A week later, he stopped returning her calls, had apparently taken “Tiny” out to the big city see what else was out there. Next, Lisa reported in one of our pre-production meetings that she had a miscarriage, the twins didn’t make it, I gave her what was now my trademark sympathy hug. She cried quietly as I held her and announced that she had asked the doctor to keep their “remains”, that she was going to have a full burial out in Connecticut, and that I would be invited.

A couple of days later we called the shiny black cars to take us to the airport, Lisa would be meeting Lenny at the gate, he had a client meeting and would catch up with us, but he never showed. Lisa sat on the plane next to an open seat, tears streaming, refusing both the snack and the cheese stuffed chicken breast the stewardess was offering, opting for the packet of tissues instead.

The hotel was lovely, the director was a rich boy UCLA film school graduate, born and bred in Southern California, he showed me pictures of a more buff version of himself from his surfing days. The agency wasn’t allowed to speak directly to the top model on set, her acting abilities were limited, delivering bad take after bad take to camera, but the star-struck client didn’t seem to notice. The location was stunning, the weather was perfect, my partner and I rented a Jag, things had turned out OK. Lisa sat in her director’s chair, making sure the client was happy between making calls to Connecticut to book a priest for the funeral and to the funeral home to order the tiny tombstones she had picked from a catalog she showed us over dinner one night at this super place in Venice Beach. She had tried and tried to reach Lenny, but he was never at his desk, and wasn’t picking up the phone at the house she had once shared with her ex-husband. She spoke to the receptionist back at the agency to pick up her messages; one of them was from Lenny, “I can’t do this anymore,” 4:29 pm/Wednesday, the day before. She called him in front of all of us on the courtesy phone they had set up for the agency, Lenny picked up as his desk, their conversation was brief, she grabbed her Diet Coke and ran out. I followed her out and was consoling her by the infinity pool, the ones that look like they flow directly into the Pacific. The wedding was off, she had to stay strong, she said– there was still a funeral to plan. I rubbed her muscular back to calm her sobs, I heard the director yell back on set, “Cut!! It’s a wrap!” I had missed the shooting of the final scene of the commercial, when I saw the footage the super model had gotten the read all wrong, but this was never going to be my Tour De Force anyway. Lenny abruptly left the agency after that – no one knew if he’d quit or got fired for sub-par creative, or for leaving Lisa to plan the funeral by herself – but I heard he showed up on the day to support her with a smattering of family members, they kept it small after all. Rumor had he went back to a career in Science. After the funeral she had planned at a lovely site in Greenwich, Connecticut, Lisa renewed her passion for tennis, met a tennis pro and was showing off her sizable engagement ring around the halls at work three weeks later. I ran into sad Mike, her ex-husband, many years later at a freelance job I was doing. He pretended not to know me but I would catch him peering around corners at me in the burgundy carpeted halls. He was still single, but had a “work wife” who he also spent most of his personal time with – a loudmouth crew cut lesbian who wore the pants in the family, did all their presenting, as well as the planning of their weekend getaways to Fire Island. I reconnected with Lenny recently, he was teaching Science at a small college, had lost his taste for controlling women - settled down with a nice girl in Connecticut where I suspect they spend quiet evenings at home, sans children, indulging in a little dirty talking while listening Prokofiev before turning in for the night.


  1. Love this! Just found your blog and I've been perusing your copy. Really good stuff.

  2. Ah, thanks so much Cassandra! I appreciate you visiting....