Today, Traveling With T is a stop on the Unscripted blog tour hosted by the super wonderful Chick Lit Plus!
Excerpt from Unscripted by Jayne Denker
Usually, grabbing a man’s balls can take you far in this business. I mean, the Hollywood entertainment industry? Please. Far worse has gone down in the name of getting ahead. (No pun intended.) (Okay, maybe a little.) But that particular move came close to ending my career; I just didn’t notice at the time.
But then, I wasn’t really thinking rationally, let alone considering the “consequences of my actions,” because I was having my usual knock-down, drag-out argument with my boss, Randy Bastard (real name: Randy Barstow). And, as usual, we were out of our chairs and nose to nose—well, figuratively, at least; in what I preferred to think of as my don’t-fuck-with-me-or-you’ll-get-a-stiletto-in-your-ear heels, I was half a head taller than he was. So it was more nose to bald spot as I attempted to “explain” myself. That was pretty tough, because I just wanted to slap the smirk off his face instead of using my words like a grown-up. Plus I was finding it pretty difficult to make a cogent point when I was all up in his aura, which reeked of caramelized onions and stale gym sweat.
I did try.
“Okay, let’s put it another way,” I said, exhaling in short, quick puffs. “All that stuff you just brought up? Not happening. Modern Women’s ratings are doing fine without some ass-backward ideas about what constitutes ‘entertainment’ that were outdated two decades ago. So you can keep the donated outfits from your cousin’s lingerie shop, because my female characters aren’t parading around in them for your jollies. And there will be no bouncing-cheerleader scenes for no apparent reason. My characters—and the women who portray them—will never, ever be anything less than three-dimensional individuals. These characters are not just strutting life-size Barbie dolls, and their story arcs will most definitely not focus only on sex. Have I covered everything to your satisfaction, you perv?”
I probably shouldn’t have called him a perv, but hey, if it walks like a duck and all that—and Randy definitely walked like a duck. He was also president of the unfortunately abbreviated EWW (Entertainment Worldwide) channel, a second-tier cable network that was home to my hit dramedy, Modern Women. The network wasn’t half bad, but Randy? He was another story. Dude made me see red even on my best days. And today was hardly one of my best, with Randy—yet again—challenging me in a meeting with a dozen other suits about creative control, making idiotic recommendations about my show. Mine. I created it, I exec-produced it, I wrote every episode. I knew what direction it was going in; I had every bit of the story planned out for the next three seasons, and longer, if it came to that. Not to mention Modern Women rocketed to success in its first season and saved his lame-ass network—I mean, literally kept it from turning into a 24/7 syndication- and infomercial-fest.
He knew all that, but he conveniently forgot it. Why? Because I was a woman—and, even worse for this type of job, halfway decent-looking, with my chestnut hair often in out-of-control-waves and blue eyes that could pin any slacker on my staff to the wall at twenty paces—and he was one of those dinosaurs who still thought it was cute when women try to be in charge of anything besides baking pies and popping out babies. You couldn’t win with those guys. I knew I should have gotten out of the situation. I knew I should have just sat back down at the conference table, among his startled toadies—I could see their wide eyes, each mouth in an identical “O,” out of the corner of my eye—and thank my lucky stars that my Little Show That Could was about to complete its third season on his network.
Yep, that would have been the smart thing to do. But then he said it. All the arguments about story arcs and character development we had been hurling at each other for the past ten minutes vaporized as I focused on the one phrase that issued from his fleshy lips, his voice dripping with sarcasm: “Look, sweetheart—”
It was like my appendage had a life of its own. Although if I had known in advance what it was going to do, I’m not sure I would have stopped it. Honestly, I thought I was dreaming—you know, like in those TV fantasy sequences where you see the main character do something outrageous to his or her nemesis, but then the main character blinks, and reality kicks back in with a zoosh sound effect, and you realize it was all going on in her head? This was like that. Except it actually happened. No life-saving zoosh.
I only realized I had his nards in a vise grip when I saw Randy Bastard’s face get small. It was as if all his facial features congregated in the middle of his face, close to his nose, as if they were huddling together to protect and comfort one another.
Everything froze. In all my thirty-eight years on the planet, my senses were never as heightened as they were at that moment. The midafternoon L.A. sunlight coming through the meeting room’s windows was brilliant and blinding. Randy B.’s rank onions-and-sweat odor burned my nose. I fixated on his navy track pants. I never was able to figure out how he could make expensive clothes—in this case, Givenchy—look cheap. On him, even Armani suits look like they came off the rack at Kmart. I remembered thinking that somebody should have told this network emperor that the stripes on the sides of his pants worked about as well as after-market go-faster stripes on the hood of an ’89 Yugo. And that he probably should have just given up and gone for the Pajama Jeans.
It occurred to me that the track pants were a perilously thin barrier between my hand and his nether regions. And that completely skeeved me out. Because it finally sank in, what I’d done. I’d gotten even closer to him, my nose nearly touching his, and . . . grabbed his ballsack. Right through the damp fabric of his track pants and whatever passed for underwear beneath them (I didn’t want to know). And yeah, I squeezed, but only a little. Just to make my point. Which was . . . how did I put it? Oh yeah.
“My show? It’s about women. And you have no right to tell me how to run my show. You know why? These.” And I gave another squeeze, making sure the sharp tips of my manicured fingernails made themselves known to his, er, boys. Of course, a silent scream of revulsion was ricocheting around in my head, and the rest of my body was recoiling with disgust. But my clawlike fingers held on. “They mean you have no opinion. None. Don’t forget that.”
Jayne Denker is the author of three contemporary romantic comedies, By Design, Unscripted, and Down on Love, and is hard at work on a fourth. She lives in a small town in western New York, USA, with her husband, son, and one very sweet senior-citizen basement kitteh who loves nothing more than going outside, where she sits on the front walk and wonders why she begged to go outside. When Jayne’s not hard at work on another novel (or, rather, when she should be hard at work on another novel), she can usually be found frittering away stupid amounts of time online.
To check out the Unscripted tour page to see other interviews, read excerpts, guest posts and more- visit here.