New York University’s Stern School of Business has selected me as this years’ recipient of an honorary degree. WINONA, INC. the agency is a phenomenon. The top shop for five years running, I sometimes forget just how fierce I really am. But what a blast it is to see my grandmother, Sylvia, with Belle and Desi, celebrating my achievement right out here in the middle of Yankee Stadium. Sylvia’s taking it to church. Don’t let her come out of those shoes!
Belle is my plus-one for the graduation luncheon. Hosted by the university president in his drool-worthy townhouse, tucked deep in the West Village, we munch and we mingle with the brainy elite. And then I spot him. He’s a beautiful boy with green eyes and lush auburn locks. Watching him work the room, I’m sold. He’s got personality-plus, a great physique, and my gut tells me that he photographs like an angel. I sneak a couple of shots and a few seconds of video with my iPhone. I can’t wait for Marc and the staff to see him.
Winona is wearing Cushnie et Ochs
It doesn’t take long to track him down. Joseph Kalani, Jojo for short, is a twenty-one year old NYU sociology major. I find his email address via Facebook and send to him a personal note with an invitation to meet at Minetta Tavern for lunch. On the Dean’s list, Jojo’s fast-tracking towards pre-law. But his Instagram page is loaded with wannabe model shots. “Law school is going nowhere,” I tell him. “But you won’t always look the way you do right now. Take advantage of it. There’s a 12-month contract with WINONA, INC. in my bag, ready for you to sign.”
We order drinks to toast the signing but before the deed is done, Jojo’s girlfriend, Priscilla, pops in along with his father visiting from Hawaii. The handsome Mr. Kalani shows his ass within ten minutes. He dismisses me and the entire fashion industry with a wave of his hand. “You came here to get an education, son. A law degree. Not waste time with frivolous nonsense like this.” Jojo drops his head. It’s clear who’s steering this ship. But Priscilla’s a film major. She’s dreaming of bright lights and stardom and her big baby blues sparkle like sunlit diamonds. The idea of her boyfriend on a billboard in Times Square has lit her all the way up. I slip my card to her before leaving.
When Priscilla phones, her attitude hovers somewhere between Martha Stewart and Beyonce. She thinks she’s in charge. We meet at the Clinton Street Baking Company for coffee the next morning. I’ve arranged for Natalie Portman to stop by our table. She dazzles young Priscilla and dangles a few carrots in her face. Then she straps her child into a Mima 3G stroller and hugs me goodbye. Priscilla is speechless. But she’s got everything straight now. She belongs to me, not the other way around, and she takes notes as I order more coffee and advise her on how to handle her boyfriend. Most important, I tell her, is putting brakes on the nookie. Don’t even let him see it. Not until he stands up to his daddy and signs my contract.
I’m surprised when Mr. Kalani phones just two days later. “My son has asked me to hear you out,” he says. Wow. Baby girl is laying down bricks really fast! I slip into a pretty red dress and meet him for dinner at the Baccarat Hotel. I try to convince him to let me have his son for one year. If things don’t work out, Jojo can always return to school, right? But he’s not budging so back and forth we go. And Mr. Kalani, in spite of his lips saying no, is flirting with me. I’ve been trying to keep it all about business. Seriously. But his tribal tattoo, peeking from behind his woven knit shirt, is pretty fucking hot.
Winona is wearing Lanvin
Mr. Kalani is a very trendy guy. He has a room at the Soho House and after dinner we head over to their rooftop bar, one of the best in town, to continue round three of our battle royale. It’s just a little after midnight but amazingly, there’s no one here. Even the bartender is calling it a night. But she serves us before clocking out and now we are completely alone, just him, me, two martinis and a glistening pool. He unbuttons his shirt, revealing his tattoo. The ball’s in my court. And you know me. I unzip my dress, drop it in his lap and dive into the pool.
Winona is wearing Manolo Blahnik satin mules
The next morning, I just can’t believe it. After working my tail off between those fine, Frette Egyptian cotton sheets, Mr. Kalani still says no. The stubborn son-of-a-bitch will not let Jojo sign with WINONA, INC. Not for six months. Not even for three. Finally I remind him that his son is twenty-one and doesn’t need his permission to do a damn thing. And that’s when things take a turn for the ugly. “I remember you,” he says. “Your exploits were well-documented years ago. Do you think I want my only son consorting with people like you? We’ve made our plans and the last thing we need is interference from you and your kind.”
While dressing in the bathroom, the nasty shit he said to me still ringing in my ears, I hear loud voices outside. I open the door and see that Jojo and Priscilla are in the room. “I can do what I want, Dad,” Jojo’s voice is trembling. “I won’t be in your pocket for long. Isn’t that right, Winona? Where’s that contract?” I sneak a peek at Priscilla. She’s smiling. She’s done her job. And well. Gathering my diamond hoops from the nightstand, I drop them into my handbag and don my sunnies before giving Mr. Kalani’s dejected shoulder a squeeze. “You want to know something else about me and my kind? We’re a determined bunch of bitches. And one way or another, we always get what we want.”