It was when I made one more trip to the men’s room that I overheard something I probably wasn’t meant to. Okay, I know I wasn’t meant to by the people talking, that is.
There were some ceiling tiles missing from the men’s room ceiling, you see. Some kind of duct work going on. Since this was a back of house area it wasn’t like a public hazard or something. The ladder was even still standing there. Anyway, something about the acoustics of the place meant that I could hear Carynne’s voice perfectly when I stood at the urinal.
She must have been in the women’s room on the other side of the wall. And she must have been talking to Susan Walsh, the fill-in entertainment reporter, given what she was saying. But there was a moment there where I thought she was talking to Ziggy.
“Listen, I’m not judging you. I’m not some kind of prude, far from it. But you have to accept the facts,” she said.
“You’re wrong if you think sex can’t wreck you in this business just as badly as drugs can. Maybe worse, since you can go to rehab for drugs but once your reputation is shot, there’s no going back.”
I could hear a female voice replied softly but not make out the words. I could smell a clove cigarette, too, and wondered if they were inside the handicapped stall or something.
“Trust me, been there, done that, but you’re too old to be getting away with it if you want to actually keep a job at the newspaper or pursue a career there. There’s nothing wrong with groupies and there’s nothing wrong with a consensual fling. But you have to know Ziggy’s not serious about you, right?”
She didn’t sound the slightest bit jealous when she said that, either.
“Oh good. Look, I wouldn’t even bother saying any of this if I didn’t think you had a good head on your shoulders. If you were just some dumb chick, you know? You gave into temptation this time. I know. And he can be really persuasive. I know. Most of what I’m saying, I guess, is just don’t do it again. Don’t think you can get away with this over and over, even though temptation is going to only get worse if you stay on the celebrity beat. Guys are always looking for an easy lay. They aren’t thinking about whether you could lose your job, or get banned from venues, or any of that stuff. But you could. This business puts women into two categories. Worthless sluts, and everyone else. Thing is, once you get into the slut category, it’s pretty much impossible to climb out. Once you’re considered worthless, you will never get someone to return a phone call again. Not a manager, not a publicist, not an artist. it’s not fair, but it’s the way it is. I mean, tell me seriously, what would your editor say if he knew?”
A higher pitched answer this time but I still couldn’t make out the words.
Then Carynne again. “Of course not! I won’t tell. I have no plans to. If I did, I wouldn’t have bothered to tell you all this. Women have to stick together and help each other when we can. But stay out of the boys’ pants from now on, all right? Or don’t, but don’t expect to have any professional contact with them if you do. That’s the bottom line.”
Through all this I had been afraid to move, because I was afraid they’d hear me and then be freaked that someone had overheard. At that point, though, someone else came into the men’s room–a venue employee type I didn’t recognize, and went into a stall. A short while later he flushed, a long, noisy flush from the industrial-grade toilet, and when it got quiet again, the voices were gone.
Once your reputation is shot, there’s no going back. That was her message.
I wondered if it applied to me, too.