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March 19, 2008

Friends for Hire

What would you do with a celebrity entourage?

Danilo and Flaherty bust some strengthening moves with personal trainer Duke (far right)

Photo Credit: Peter Yang

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Luckily, Kacy's not a barking drill sergeant; she's a warm, petite yet strong-looking woman who greets me with, "So what's your sign?" Having Danilo as my workout buddy further eases my pain — we're equally breathless after a cardio romp and laugh through stretches. It's added motivation for me (plus, he tweaks my ponytail when it starts to droop), a free workout for him. Everyone wins.

Afterward, we head to the tony Cafe Cluny for a meeting with the very cool Esther Blum, author of Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous, yet another specialist tasked with increasing my fabulousness this week. Over fresh grilled trout, Esther fires off nutrition tips, suggesting that I omit bread, cheese, and wine for a month (help!). Unsympathetic, my crew is busy drilling her about their own diet dramas. Hello?! If I were Nicole Kidman, would they quietly act fascinated by my love of smoked gouda? It's the first time I'm slightly annoyed by, well, rolling so deep.

As much as the constant companionship is comforting, it's nice to retire to the hotel that night. For a moment in the shower, I almost expect a handmaiden to pass me a towel, which is when I realize how spoiled I've become. Then, Danilo's tip to do a hair mask echoes in my head. Can I get some privacy here, people? Greta Garbo's famous expression comes to mind: "I vant to be alooonnnee!"

On Friday night, we all head to the impossibly chic Italian enoteca Il Posto Accanto. My boyfriend, Shya, joins us and can't stop staring at my dramatically made-up face. I briefly wonder if I resemble Dame Edna, but instead he floors me with, "You look gorgeous!" Obviously, I want to continue this scintillating conversation, but I feel compelled to interact with my group. Being the center of attention is exhausting: What if Danilo and Kate got into an argument? I'd have to mediate, maybe even choose a side. Angi is more the quiet type — does she ever feel overshadowed? Luckily, as I survey the table of happy diners, the only place this drama is playing out is in my neurotic head. A few glasses of pinot grigio lifts the pressure, but somehow it's all bittersweet. Tomorrow, Danilo is booked with Rufus Wainwright (a real client), Angi heads home to Pennsylvania, and Kate catches a p.m. flight to L.A. to tend to Juno's Ellen Page. I, on the other hand, feel like my coach is about to turn back into a pumpkin and am afraid my newfound confidence will disappear with it. Could this be how Jessica feels when Ken gets called away by Eva Longoria?

The next morning, I have a wine-fueled headache and a puffy face, but dear Kate's still there to transform me with her arsenal of eyeliners. Then Esther shows up and offers me a nutritious Perricone PEP drink, and Shya marvels, "Celebrities can pay people to handle their hangovers?" This strikes a chord. Do famous people act irrationally because they have so many buffers to keep them protected from, you know, reality? Six more months of this and I could see myself demanding only white M&Ms in my dressing room.

My two remaining shadows join Shya and me for a final outing to Whole Foods. I miss Danilo and Angi terribly (and fret over my self-styled hair). I'm about to have a full-on diva meltdown when a store employee approaches us huddled around Esther's cart and says, "Can you please move along? You're causing a traffic jam." Just as I decide to let him have it, I "take five," notice the crowd trying to pass us, and concede that traveling in a herd can be just as bothersome as it is beneficial. As Shya and I head out of the store alone, I conclude that two may be company, but six is definitely a crowd.

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