I can’t tell you how many times I had seen her on TV singing the National Anthem or stepping onto a red carpet out the open door of some other guy’s limo. And now this Grammy-winning diva was sitting in mine. Every day. There’s nothing better for a driver than a regular booking — and this one was five days a week. From 10 in the morning until 10 at night, taking one of the most famous women in the world from her home in the Hollywood Hills down to the soundstage in Culver City where she was rehearsing for her big comeback. She needed to be in performing shape for her tour. She needed to be able to go hard in front of 15,000 people for two solid hours and more. Not to mention that she had to lose 20 pounds. That’s what her agent had told her. That’s what the producers of the worldwide tour had told him. The show included 10 expensive costumes. And none was bigger than a pocket square. People can’t begin to understand what kind of pressure the hugely talented artists of this town’s creative community have to live with. “I’ll never lose the weight,” she said late one night when I was taking her home. She burst into tears. She had pushed herself to the edge of exhaustion after all the meetings, the rehearsals, the fittings and the fasting. She didn’t think the tour could be saved. I felt like a civic duty was calling me to be more than just a limo driver when the survival of an American icon was in the balance. So I said, “Have you ever heard of SoulCycle? It’s a spinning workout. Full body. Super intense.” “That won’t help,” she said. “I never learned how to ride a bike.” I told her the bikes are stationary at SoulCycle. She wouldn’t fall off. The only thing that would fall off was the weight. So we hit SoulCycle on Sunset Boulevard for an hour every night on the way home. I watched her work out. The music boomed and the lights flashed and she pedaled like the superstar we all know. Three days before she was supposed to fly to Japan for her first concert, she got into my backseat. The sweat was dripping off her from her SoulCycle workout. For the first time in weeks, she had a big smile on her face. “I just weighed myself,” she said, “and guess what? I’ve lost exactly 20 pounds.” I felt like I’d just saved the Statue of Liberty or something. She was toned, with rock-hard abs. “I bet you could win the Tour de France,” I said. “What?” she said. “It’s a famous bike race around the outside of some country in Europe,” I said. “No, I mean, I can’t hear what you’re saying,” she said. “Talk louder.” I started to explain again, when she stopped me. “I can’t hear your voice,” she said, starting to look a little flustered. “I can’t hear a word.” She put on her headphones and cranked up the volume. “I can’t hear myself singing,” she said. She fiddled with a few buttons and tried it again. “I can’t hear.” She started to panic. “I’m deaf! I can’t hear a sound! I’m deaf!” she shouted. The last couple weeks have been doctors and psychiatrists and lawsuits and TV cameras and insurance companies and legal depositions. Everyone’s pointing fingers at my client. How could she let hundreds of millions of dollars go to waste. And how could she all of a sudden go deaf like that. She must have been on drugs or something. That’s what they’re all saying. But I think I know why. The other night, passing through West Hollywood, I parked the limo and walked into SoulCycle. I found the manager. I told him that as great as the spinning workouts are, they probably ought to turn the music down just a little. It’s no good losing weight, if you also lose your hearing.
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