I called Jamie from the Audi as I drove over to her loft. I couldn’t just show up since it wasn’t our normal appointment and in this town a relaxation consultant of Jamie’s talent was always working.
“Hi, can I stop over?”
“I have a client scheduled in 20 minutes is it important?”
“I need your advice”
“No you need to tell me what you are going to do and you want me to agree with you”
“That’s not true I value your advice”
“That’s bullshit but if you are willing to pay for my time I’ll push Senator Flannery back one hour”
“Senator Flannery? Mr. Law and Order family man? That’s a bit hypocritical isn’t it?”
“Is it? You’re the one that introduced me to him”
“Did I? Well that was before”
“Before we became friends”
“Friends? If we are friends why do you pay me?”
“Because in this town if you’re not paying for it you can’t expect to receive it”
“Leathers you need professional help”
“That’s why I see you”
“I’m not that kind of professional”
“Give yourself more credit Jamie, your friendship has been very beneficial to me and profitable for you”
“Don’t flatter yourself Mort, I could make triple the money in your timeslot. Remember the first rule of politics don’t fall in love with your whore”
“If you could make triple the money why do you see me?”
“Because you’re my friend see ya soon”
What the fuck just happened, did the teacher become the student? I went to Jamie to sort things out and now it seemed that talking to her and the feelings I had for her was confusing me.
As I walked into Jamie’s loft she had made homemade ginger snaps and real root beer. I wondered if she made them for me or her other clients. And since she had another client arriving in under an hour I got right to it.
With half a ginger snap in my mouth I asked the question that had been bothering me ever since the fundraiser.
“Jamie do you think I’m too old to start a new career?”
“A new career? Like what a personal injury lawyer or a sports agent?”
Sports agent, I hadn’t thought of that I did represent the New York Mets when they were trying to get state funds to renovate Shea Stadium, but like most lobbyists my knowledge of sports was limited to playing golf and getting free seats at high profile sporting events for legislators, I didn’t think I could pull off being a sports agent, most of the bullshit I shoveled as a lobbyist to my clients and public officials would never work with a teenager from the inner city, they were too astute to fall for it.
“Sports agent? Are you fucking with me? I wouldn’t waste my time trying to help some gang banger buy a new Bentley. What I do matters for my clients and the legislators alike, without people like me this town couldn’t function”
“If what you do is so important why are you asking me about doing something different?”
“Because if things keep going the way they are the lobbying I know won’t exist anymore. It will all be done by some 20 something asshole living in Brooklyn and buying and selling space on some social media platform or fake reality show.”
“Do you mean like that new show “The Candidate”? I love that show”
The Candidate was a new reality show that went around the country trying to let the public identify the next candidate for congress. It was like America’s Got Talent meets American Idol for politics. I had to admit that even though it was produced for Joe six pack I watched it too. The characters were compelling and the issues were relevant. In fact now that I thought about it I should research who was behind it. They might be 10 steps ahead of everyone else in using reality shows to really push agenda advocacy and political spin. If Bragadoccio was right that the cigar and cocktail brand of lobbying I practiced was on its way out this new made for television issue advocacy might be the next big thing.
“You’re really worried that your business will suffer?”
“Jamie I’m worried that I’m selling 8 tracks and downloadable music is already here”
“So get out and do something else”
“That’s why I asked if you thought I was too old to start over”
“Mort it’s not about starting over for you it’s about getting out, you don’t know how to leave”
Now I felt like a new legislator at my first fundraiser, dazed and confused.
“You will never leave the life you need someone to tell you that you aren’t allowed to lobby anymore, it’s like leaving the Amish.”
“Leaving the Amish?”
“Sure, you never asked me how I got out of Lancaster”
“I just assumed you got caught blowing some tourist in the backseat of one of those buggies and they exiled you”
“You are an idiot Mort, the Amish don’t have hang-ups about blowjobs, and sex is no big deal on the farm”
“So how did you get out?”
“I did really well in school, straight A’s and that was in the English school, I did so well that I just kept going the English wouldn’t let my parents pull me out of school and then I went to college and all the Amish shunned me for doing something alien to them”
“That was it? You got straight A’s?”
“And I blew my guidance counselor but that was after I got into Boston Collage”
“Doing well in school forced your community to force you out? How does that apply to me?”
“You call it an Amish fable but you need to find the good thing that everyone in your business can’t live with and if you keep doing that they will force you to do something else”
“Jamie I’m a lobbyist what could I possibly do that would offend my industry enough to kick me out”
“I don’t know maybe be honest”
Be honest . . . what a concept, could I do it? Let me try it with Jamie.
“Jamie would you . . .”
I froze, the words halfway out of my mouth and petrified to complete my thought.
“Would I what Mort?”
“Nothing . . . I’m sorry I have to run”
As I reached my Audi I saw Senator Flannery getting out of his Lincoln Town Car with Senate plates.
“Senator, strange to see you here at this hour”
“Really Leathers? We’ve been visiting the same whore for 10 years”
“You might be visiting a whore Senator I’m visiting my friend”
Oh my God this honesty thing felt pretty good.
“A friend Leathers? OK if that helps you sleep at night, by the way say hello to your wife and kids when you get home for me”
And there it was. If I was going to be honest I would have to be honest with myself first. And if I was going to be honest with myself I had to admit I was a total asshole, a totally loathsome human being, I was a lobbyist.
I got back in the Audi and headed home thinking about my future and if I had one. Breakfast at Eggy’s tomorrow with Karp at least would bring some sense of normalcy to my life, if only to watch Karp steal the sugar and stick me with the bill.