File Under: Über Agent Pays in Cupcakes

“So, what if I just borrow your kid once in a while? She could pretend to be my daughter and I’d give parties for her at my place”

Commando is a well-known, über-agent with a roster of clients that stretches from here to Betty Ford.

“Everything about me is über, Chuck,” she once bragged, kissing her own bicep.

This seemed an odd remark for a woman with a $20 flat-top from Supercuts, but I soon learned Commando speaks the language of extremes. And so, she’s just as likely to proclaim a client’s snobby, little art house flick, “The Most Ground-Breaking Film of the Past Fifty Years,” as she is likely to proclaim her coke-head tattoo guy, “The Greatest Portrait Artist Since Rembrandt.”

I was emergency-called to Commando’s Century City office today and was greeted by her latest assistant, a terrorized, young woman with frizzy, brown hair and a Band Aid stuck on her forehead. There was no point learning her name, I could see that. As any Industry assistant can tell you, when your boss throws a fit, your job is secure; when your boss throws a Brancusi, your days are numbered.

Commando roared from her inner office, “Get in here, Charles! Stick some pins in me quick, before my damn head explodes!”

Commando had kicked off her boots and lay on her sofa, looking up at me. “Ya know, Chuck, the pressure of this adoption is making me insane. It’s very stressful!”

“I didn’t know you’re adopting,” I said.

“Oh you bet I am, Chuck. And you’re the one who inspired me. There you are, a single parent — I wouldn’t call your friend Myron a fully committed partner — who manages to juggle career and fatherhood successfully. And what a great kid you’ve got. What the hell’s her name, anyway?”

Commando was referring to my daughter Meryl, who entered my life during an Oscars party five years ago. My caterer had brought along a woman skilled in the production of unbearably greasy baba-ganoush, which was bad enough, but then the woman ended up giving birth under my chocolate fountain just as Annette Bening was cheated out of Best Actress by Hilary Swank.

The woman begged me to keep the baby till Thursday while she arranged for friends to come get it, as her husband didn’t want any more kids. That was five years ago. My caterer later confessed the woman had rejoined her family in some remote Indian village, which makes me wonder: why baba-ganoush? Isn’t that Greek? In any case, while I’ve accepted the role of father, I know little Meryl’s mother could show up at any moment looking for her kid and wondering why I named her after “The Most Versatile Actress of the Past Fifty Years.” So I try not to get too attached to the little cupcake muncher in the flowered pinafore.

As I swabbed Commando with alcohol she unleashed a deep sigh. “Is it fun being a parent?” she said.

“That depends on whether you enjoy waking up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep because of all the crying. Your own crying.”

“Well, it would be worth it to me,” she said, lacing her fingers together and resting them on her stomach. “It’s for my job. It’s all about the nanny network. You could stick a few more needles in my scalp and I wouldn’t complain.”

“I see,” I said.

The nanny network, in case you didn’t already know, is more powerful than any other professional network in L.A. The idea is this: you enroll your child in the best school and on the best teams and then throw parties for your kid at every opportunity. The really important families will send their nannies along with the kids. During the fun-making, your nanny sits in the kitchen with the other nannies, where they all pump each other for gossip on behalf of their employers. More than a few Hollywood deals have been incubated in the nanny network.

“Parenthood is more trouble than you think,” I said. “I’m here to warn you.”

Commando rolled her head to one side and gazed out the window, up at the sky. Then she turned to me.

“So, what if I just borrow your kid once in a while? She could pretend to be my daughter and I’d give parties for her at my place. I’d pay you for the favor. There’s some potential clients whose kids are taking acting classes on the West Side. I’ll enroll her in those classes and then give some parties and invite everybody. She could pull it off, right? You keep telling me what a great actor she is. And who knows, maybe I could sign her with the agency, if she’s any good.”

There was no point pretending. “Yes,” I said “she is a great actress. You should see her Blanche DuBois, her Lady MacBeth, her Joan of Arc. Playing the part of your daughter would be a cinch.”

“You know,” said Commando wrinkling her freckled nose, “my headache is all of a sudden gone! You’re a genius for thinking of this. Bring your kid to my place next Saturday and I’ll enroll her in acting school. I’ve already written you a check for the favor.”

“She’d enjoy that,” I said, pulling out the pins. “I’ll put the money toward her Yale Drama School fund.” Commando handed me a check. It was for twenty five dollars. Okay then … toward cupcakes.