In my gorgeous foyer in Beverly Hills, Flatman, a competing realtor, thrusts his well-dressed but tiny 5’5” sized chest out and vents bile in my direction. “You stole my listing, Losh, you piece of shit,” Flatman says, “and I was just about to invite you over for one of my famous grilled cheese sandwiches.” The words are fierce, but his face is not, a tell there will be no price to pay for my quick move with his client. Will he receive an apology from me? And would I like a grilled cheese sandwich? No and no thank you.
“I guess she just liked me better,” I say with a sardonic smile, “and grilled cheese sandwiches?” I roll my eyes.
Flatman scans the lush greenery of the front garden before looking back, “Mrs Styne is nuts, now you’re going to have to deal with her.” He then stomps off like a 10-year-old schoolboy who has lost a playground argument. Only difference, he gets into a hundred thousand dollar BMW M4. A muscle car for Flatman, of course.
As soon as that little angry package of testosterone is out of the house, I sniff the air, then shout to my housekeeper.
“Maria, open all the windows, we need to air out the entrance,” I wave my arms to push Flatman’s cheap cologne stench toward the door. “Let’s get these alpha male pheromones out of here. pronto.”
The back garden beckons and I return poolside, drop into a lounger and sip the last half of a frozen virgin mimosa. My boyfriend Robby is not allowed to call or text until 11am. Two more hours to relax. I need my beauty rest in L.A. before real estate hours begin.
At noon, I haul myself over to Matsuhisa on La Cienaga to buy Sushi for Laura. She will be giving me the low down on my new client, Mrs Styne. Laura is in real estate and has the inside scoop on half the residents of the Hills.
“Morning Losh.” Laura is there before me, early as usual. Aggressive move, she probably grew up in Pasadena.
“You're looking as beautiful as ever,” I say gracefully, and take over our lunch order. Chef's platter for both, then add, “Now, as I’m buying lunch, would you care to fill me in on my new client.”
“Cut right to it?” Laura chuckles. “Ok. Mrs Styne is a bit of an eccentric, just over 70. Been in the hills forever. Her husband was in textiles and passed away 7 years ago. So, your kind of customer.”
“Well Thank You, Laura,” I say, and raise my glass in a toast. She only acknowledges it with a tight smile.
“And..” Laura holds a salacious grin, a knowing look with a pucker in her cheeks and tilt up of her nose. “I found out, she and your dad were an item.”
This is unexpected. I stare her down like I’m Judge Judy.
Laura bursts into a giggling fit, “You might be her son!” she spurts out so loudly a few of the diners at the next table look over
It takes a moment to work out the old school mechanics of baby production.
“Ha ha!! Touché. It doesn’t work that way”
I hold a pregnant pause for five Laura head bobs. She doesn’t back down from Mrs Styne and my father being an item. I’m counting back to what age my parents were when they married. Young. Very young.
“What a gorgeous house, Mrs Styne,” I say as I walk into an awful mid-1930s bungalow decorated in wood paneling.
“Thanks, Losh, and what a charming young man you’ve grown up to be. Let me take a look at you,” her eyes scan me from head to toe, pausing mid-torso. I suck it up as if I’m a boy being examined by his grandmother.
Mrs Styne grabs my hand and says, "I'm so happy I got rid of that awful Mr Flatman."
“I've heard bad things about him too," I say, despite us being something close to friends, "You’ve lived in the hills for how long?”
“Yes, dear Losh, for a while now.” Mrs Styne is laughing. I maintain my composure and picture myself tasting an exquisite abalone platter at Maude with Robby tonight.
I try to get things back on track.
“As you know, I’m your new listing agent, and I’d like to go over some details with you.”
“Before we talk real estate, I think I need to tell you about my aphantasia. Having dreams while I’m awake. It makes it hard to get things done.”
“Aphantasia, how interesting!” I put on a fascinated look. Unbeknownst to my client, Aphantasia is a term conjured by Francis Galton in 1880 to describe the inability to see mental visual images. Not daydreaming.
20 minutes later she’s still explaining her daydreams about being an oil painter in Paris, and one about a coyote chasing her cat in the garden, and a few others I’ve already forgotten. At least none of the dreams included my father. Somebody ring the doorbell now, please!
To stop the hideously boring litany of visions, phobias and fantasies, I jump in, “Mrs Styne, one thing I’d like to learn about you and your life, is where did you find so many Georgian period bookshelf owls?” I point toward an antique shelf.
“Oh those? Those are my late husband’s. He was a collector”
“Interesting, so you are single now. I think you are making the right move to a change of living quarters.”
She smiles. Now is the time.
“And to make that possible, I would like for us to decide the right price to list this house and get you into your dream home,” I say, “Looking at comps in this area, 24.5 million should be doable.”
“But I don’t care about the money,” Mrs Styne replies.
Most people would murder their siblings for half that amount of cash.
She explains, “With my husband’s passing, I've learned all the dollars and numbers, and living in bigger and larger boxes doesn't mean a thing. It's people that matter.”
“You are a deep thinker, Mrs Styne, that’s a great attribute.”
“And now I’d like to talk about you,” she says.
Mrs Styne lifts herself out of her chair, and then comes over and sits next to me on the sofa. Very close.
“I have one condition for this deal,” she says, “that is I get a date with Losh Bag. One which might lead to a magical evening.” Her hand touches my leg.
I snort the Evian I’m sipping, not the slickest move. “You know I’m gay, right?” I say.
She acts as if she doesn’t hear me. “You look just like your father. I’m going to win you over, Losh, I promise.” she winks at me.
I look just like dad? Anything to close a listing. Anything. “Then we have a deal!”
I think I will invite her to my place for dinner and surprise her with a group of my other slighter senior customers, and then flatter her mercilessly until she recalls fond memories of whatever she did with good old dad.
On the drive back down the hill, I receive a text from Flatman
(flatman) did she jump your bones too?
(flatman) ive got a billionaire buyer from istanbul. this deal mignt be dope. text me back bro.
I put my mobile down and play hard to get, until another text arrives.
(flatman) i’ll throw in a grilled cheese my place tomorrow, 8am.
(me) european cheese?
(flatman) the best brie.
(me) i’ll take that offer.
I even add an emoji. Anything to get a sale.
Behind the steering wheel of my Silver Cloud driving back down to the flats seeing the sunset behind the hills, a revelation arrives. My mom is right, I am good with people. I need to follow the advice of my life coach and start becoming more available. I will let my boyfriend know he can start texting me from 10:30am tomorrow. Before that, I need to call Dad and discuss a few things.
The mobile vibrates again.
(flatman) we pranked u bro. laura owed me one.
(flatman) mrs styne was your dad's babysitter