Shonnie The Biker’s Wife Part XIII: “La Jolla: Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous” or “My Beautiful Fair Mystery Lady Wrapped in an Enigma”

Preamble:

‘Moon River’

A beautifully touching metaphoric side of Shonnie no one ever got to see.

Except for me.

Yet it was fleeting.

Like a Shooting Star or Moonlight in a Martini.

Saw it only once or twice.

But that ‘once or twice’ was enough to ensure my memories of time spent with her would live on forever.

“Shonnie Darling, my hopeful dream and only channeled aspiration is to write you honestly, passionately, and well. I am doing my best. Please be pleased.”

–The Cowboy / Sailor who keeps you and loves you still

***

MY FRIEND

 “There was once a very lovely, very frightened girl. She lived alone except for a nameless cat.”

Moon River

It’s a pretty good drive from Seaport Village to La Jolla. We stopped along the way for cigarettes, sandwich stuff and beer and arrived at “Auntie’s House” about seven-thirty. This isn’t it, but a reasonable facsimile:

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to have a shit-load of money

“Your aunt rich?” I asked stupidly.

“Yes. What was your first clue?”

“Lucky guess, I suppose.”

“Come on. It’s even better inside.”

She led me into the condo.

“First class joint,” I said. “Really classy.”

“Allow me, Good Sir, to give you the nickel tour.”

(“Good Sir?” “Allow me???”)

She led me through the living room, past the dining room and into the kitchen. It was all stainless steel, dark wood, and stone.

Wow! It made my eyes hurt.

We put the sandwich stuff and the beer in the fridge. Shonnie produced two tumblers and threw some ice into each. I took the bottle of Jim Beam, splashed a little into each glass, and handed one to her.

“A Toast!” I said. “To us!”

We clinked tumblers, took a swig and fell into each other’s arms. Lips to lips. “You make me happy my dear,” I whispered into her ear as we broke our lip lock.

“I had a wonderful time in Vegas. I won’t be forgetting that anytime soon.”

“Yeah, but next time please, please listen to me a little more often.”

“Hahaha! Sure Cowboy. I promise to be good… ‘Next time’. Come on. I want to show you the rest of this ‘joint’.”

We took the stairs and she led me into what I surmised to be the master bedroom suite. It was large as condo bedrooms go I suppose, but then I was no expert on anything ‘condo’. In truth, this was my very first ‘Close-Condo-Encounter-Of-Any-Kind’ experience. There were double French doors opening up to a small patio overlooking the Pacific.

The bed was gigantic. I pushed down on it with my hand and watched as it rippled. Waterbed. Last time I had seen a waterbed was back in The Seventies. I wondered silently if this one leaked…

There were Asian paintings on the walls and very deep beige shag-carpet on the floor. Some legit hand-carved Maasai Warrior statuettes stood lookout on the dresser. I recognized them from my eight days spent in Kenya back in ’86.

The bathroom had an old-timey tub, green towels, and a shower stall… and a bidet! Wow! Mishmash of so many cultures. (And decades) Well, California. What could one say?

“Why don’t you rinse off in the shower while I gather some more ice and build our bar?”

(“Gather??”)

“Uh… Okay,” I said. “I’ll do that.”

After my ‘rinse off’, I wrapped a green beach towel about me, lay on the bed with my drink and my Marlboro. (Figured it permissible to smoke, as there were about five ashtrays strategically placed about the room.)

Shonnie reappeared with the whiskey, two sandwiches and a pack of Doritos precariously balanced on a serving tray in her right hand. Two longneck beers peeked out from a bucket of ice tucked under her left arm. An unopened pack of Marlboros was clinched between her teeth. Quite the juggler, she was.

She walked over to the rather huge oaken set of dresser drawers; released the pack of cigarettes from her mouth. I observed it bounce once on the dresser’s edge then disappear into the beige shag-carpet forest.

“It’s okay. Don’t get up. I’ve got this,” she said with some small sarcasm, as she set down the rest of her items.

“You must be hungry” I said.

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. Lose that towel.”

I did and she ‘lost’ her jeans et al.

We made slow love for some thirty minutes. Deep kisses, lots of teasing, and finally, we came together…

As we lay back in the bed, silently smoking, she turned and said seriously, almost ominously, “You’re quite the catch, aren’t you Cowboy?”

“Not sure your meaning, Little Lady.”

“Just saying. You’re quite the catch.”

“Not really. Just another lonely sailor far from his home port.”

“Yes with fireplace eyes, the gift of bullshit, some smarts, and an ‘any-port-in-a storm’ laissez-faire philosophy.”

“Somewhat true enough, I suppose,” Then added quickly and clumsily, “Used to be ‘true enough.’ Those days are long since gone for me now.”

She gave me a ‘look’ which told me she wasn’t buying it. 

(‘Fireplace eyes?’ I’d only been described, accused of this once before. From…, by… my wife. Somewhat unnerving to hear it again verbatim after so many years. And ‘laissez-faire??’ From the lips of My Shonnie? What-the-hell is happening? Is this a ‘haunted’ condominium? Do I need to call an exorcist?)

***

From the very moment we set foot inside the condo, a change, although quite a subtle one, had come over Shonnie. Difficult to describe, but I’ll try. I sensed more than ’witnessed’ it. But I witnessed enough. More than enough.

The first change was the tone of her voice. It immediately lost a bit of its gravelly coarseness; not actually becoming ‘soft,’ but most definitely ‘toned down’ a few degrees.

Next thing was her gait or ‘walk.’ Very difficult to describe as well, but she had suddenly acquired an almost elegant manner of moving from place to place. I would not go so far as to describe it as ‘gracefully gliding’, but it was a noticeable departure from her frenetic ‘bull-in-the-china-closet’ mode of self-transport I had learned to live with and to love.

And here is the weirdest thing of all:

Her vocabulary had grown exponentially, and her employment of the vernacular was… different—sophisticated–weird.

To the untrained eye and ear, these subtle changes would have gone happily, blissfully ignorantly unnoticed. But this cowboy/sailor had not survived three years in the Sinai, Egypt, Israel war zones and four years in the Janet-the-first-wife war zone along with the Nacogdoches, Texas, ‘Boy Y’all ain’t from ‘round he’ah ar’ Y’all?’ war zone by not paying, as they say in the Navy, close ‘attention to detail.’

And always, always maintaining ‘situational awareness.’

(The very first thing the Navy did to me was drill a hole in my head and pour those in. “Always Pay Attention To Detail. Always Maintain Situational Awareness.” I already had these traits. The Navy merely refined them, upgraded them, topped them off, and permanently cemented them into my mind.)

Thusly cursed with my talent for applying  ‘attention to detail’, ‘maintaining situational awareness’, and also properly cursed with a thoughtful and enquiring mind, I wondered if the Shonnie I had so hopelessly fallen in love with were the ‘Real Shonnie’ or just a ‘Make-Believe Shonnie’ who the ‘True Shonnie’ had used so effortlessly to capture my heart. Was she just playing around with me? Was she a Black Widow type? (‘Just fuck ’em and eat ’em’) Was she too clever for me? Was I in way over my head? Was my heart in peril?

I emphatically answered ‘No’ to all of these questions.

Best and most logical explanation is that my Shonnie, the one I fell in love with, was ALL TOO MUCH REAL.

I’ll admit, I did not understand the true magnitude of her deeply profound and complicated psyche at first, but I did sense it. Hence the initial attraction—an attraction whose growth I did nothing to curtail–allowing it to grow stronger and stronger day by day until I found myself in my current situation. A ‘situation’ I had allowed to flourish.

And to cherish.

And would never give up.

This may be going a ‘bridge too far’ but it was as if she had morphed from ‘Eliza Doolittle’ into ‘Holly Golightly’.

In an instant!

From This…

To This!

As if by Magic!

***

I found the change somewhat disconcerting, yet fascinating and tantalizing. I truly and fervently wish there were ways to fully and articulately describe this ‘sophisticated’ transformation of hers, but alas…

That would require a much more skilled raconteur than the one who is now so ‘unsophisticatedly’ spilling virtual ink on this virtual page.

Here is one thing I can unabashedly report and with great sincerity and veracity: this proves beyond any doubt, any doubt at all…

That Shonnie was the most fascinating woman I have ever known, or will ever know. I will climb even further out on this limb with my saw strapped over my shoulder:

There is no woman, real or imagined, whom I will ever love more than this biker chick. (By proxy and by definition to her core, she was a true biker chick, albeit a multidimensional, brilliantly unusually unique one)

***   

“Eat your sandwich,” she said. “Then we can watch a movie. The night is still young.”

She got up and I watched her walk toward the bathroom. She navigated her perfectly petite body while (purposely? hell yeah! she knew I’d be watching) intentionally twitching her little ass, tantalizing me still–and although I was quite sated at that moment–I could never become totally immune to her wily charms.

I reached for the sandwich even though I was not hungry. Suddenly becoming self-conscious about my nakedness and feeling vulnerable, I got up and put my pants on. I lay back on the bed, picked up the sandwich, took one bite and put it down.

There was a large television conveniently facing the bed. I picked up the remote from the night stand and switched it on. CNN appeared. Some info-babe talking head was blathering on and on about something horrible that had just happened in Iraq:

‘Breaking News!’

I muted the volume.

“You’re watching the News?” She said incredulously, suddenly appearing in front of me wearing a white terry-cloth robe and a frown.

“Hey, did you lift that robe from the Plaza?”

“Don’t be stupid. This belongs to my aunt. And don’t change the subject. You’re watching The News. I hate the news. It’s always bad.”

“I think it’s watching me.”

“How depressing. You must be a very lonely man when you’re not with me.”

“Current events are important,” I said.

“Not to me.”

“Well, here’s a news’ flash for ya: You are drop-dead sexy and beautiful and gorgeous.”

“Careful there, Cowboy…”

She walked over to the ‘Entertainment Center’ which was part of the whole TV thing and began perusing some VHS tapes. “What kind of movies do you like?” she asked.

Hysterical hilarious history drama,” I said.

“Well, that does narrow it down a bit.” She selected and loaded a tape. With a remote in each hand, she began pushing buttons. “Top Gun” appeared on the screen as if by technological magic. (Or Witchcraft)

“I was thinking of maybe something a little less contemporary,” I said as Kenny Loggins began his bit.

Video Credit: KennyLogginsVEVO

“Nonsense!” she said. “This is perfectly apropos for you. You’re a sailor.”

(There she goes again! ‘apropos’?? I am losing my damn mind!)

“Yeah I am, but not a fighter jock. And I despise Tom Cruise.”

“Relax. Have you seen this movie?”

“’Fraid I have, but okay. Kelly McGillis is never a waste of my time.”

“Asshole!”

“C’est moi.”

“Well, I have not seen it. I’d like to see it. With you. Do you mind? Besides, I’ll allow you to provide the ‘Color Commentary’ which I am certain you won’t be able to resist doing anyhow.”

With that she jumped on the bed causing me to spill some amber onto the sheets and almost drop my cigarette. She grabbed my head with both hands and planted a deep kiss, sticking her tongue deep down my throat.

“Madame! I am aghast!” I said as I was freed from her embrace.

“Shut up and watch the movie.”

Kenny was just finishing up ‘Danger Zone’, and proving once again that I needed to pay closer attention to my life’s soundtrack, especially when it is foreshadowing and trying to connect.

We got through the horrible movie thanks to several glasses of Beam and a few beers and not a small number of cigarettes. It was, I have to admit looking back, the best screening of one of the worst movies of all time. I kept Shonnie in laughter as I picked apart the utter bullshit and un-factual parts of the movie. Yes, sometimes I can do sarcasm with the best.

As the final credits were rolling, Shonnie snuggled up to me and asked, “Lance, do you love me? Truly love me?”

“Probably,” I said.

“I’m a little hard to love.”

“Not for a schmuck like me.”

“I’m serious here. I have issues.”

“Yeah, don’t we all?”

“Goddamn it! I am serious.”

“’Serious’ is not something I’m good at.”

“You are EXASPERATING!”

“That’s a pretty good four-bit word,” I said with a mocking grin.

“Actually, it’s five bits, you bastard.”

I counted off the syllables in my head. ‘Ex-as-per-at-ing.’ Yep. Five.

“You’re right,” I said.

“You know my estranged husband is one mean son-of-a-bitch, right?”

“Never met the stud.  Do tell.”

“Trust me. And he called me up at Mama’s the other day and asked me who was my new boyfriend.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. I think he’s been following me.”

“I’m not much into ‘threesomes’.”

“Listen Asshole. I’m getting scared.”

“Wanna end it?” (What an incredibly stupid, stupid, stupid bluff on my part! If she calls it, I am properly and deservedly destroyed. There are some things even I should never gamble.)

She paused and I saw some sorrow creep into her eyes. “Might be a good idea,” she said. Then quickly added, “But just for a little while. I don’t want to lose us.”

“Let’s sleep on it. I have to leave here at zero-five-thirty so I can make morning muster on my ship.”

She buried her head under my arm and we fell asleep under the blue TV screen light.

***

Previously:

Coming Soon:

“Shonnie The Biker’s Wife: This is the (NOT) The End”

Update: Part XIV is up

***

If you are new here, or a long-lost returning Pilgrim, you may want to begin your Shonnie Journey Below

And then simply “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” i.e., The Lancelot Links:

***

Comments below from the original version of this post.

Please read from the bottom up for continuity.

19 THOUGHTS ON “SHONNIE THE BIKER’S WIFE. CHAPTER XIII: LA JOLLA”

johncoyote October 3, 2020 at 05:06 Edit

My friend. Create a wonderful story. I liked the house and the conversation. You are making the characters worthwhile and interesting. I like how you made the small details important. The ashtrays, for a example. A vey good chapter.

Teela Hart July 18, 2014 at 18:27 Edit

🙂

LAMarcom July 18, 2014 at 18:21 Edit

Wow!

Thank you Teela for the compliment.

Made my eve.

Cheers!

P.S. Donna was great!

Teela Hart July 18, 2014 at 10:48 Edit

I was about 9 years old the first time I heard Donna Summer, after that, I fell asleep listening to her.

Have I told you lately that you are an amazing talent?

You are, I meant that.

T

LAMarcom July 18, 2014 at 02:10 Edit

This made it’s way into my spam. Sorry ’bout that.

Merci.

LAMarcom July 14, 2014 at 15:59 Edit

She truly was a rare talent.

Mélanie July 14, 2014 at 15:57 Edit

I loved la Jolla… 🙂

P.S. I was in Naples, Florida when Donna Summer passed away, 2 years ago, RIP. A wonderful artist and a lovely lady!

LAMarcom July 14, 2014 at 10:46 Edit

big ol’ Texas smile *

lauramacky July 14, 2014 at 10:44 Edit

lolol you’re welcome Lance. I always feel like I’m in a time capsule when I read your posts. Love ’em!

LAMarcom July 14, 2014 at 10:37 Edit

Especially the dysfunction junction!

Hahhah

Thanks Laura for the read and great comment.

lauramacky July 14, 2014 at 10:29 Edit

Brings back such memories for me….the music, the wild times and the dysfunction LMAO.

artourway July 14, 2014 at 09:15 Edit

Je peux pas parler longtemps … if you would like to now Lance

artourway July 14, 2014 at 07:21 Edit

mmmm

LAMarcom July 14, 2014 at 00:58 Edit

Thank you my friend.

inspiredbythedivine1 July 14, 2014 at 00:43 Edit

I’m really enjoying these tales.

LAMarcom July 13, 2014 at 21:39 Edit

Great clip/song Sadie. Thanks for taking me back. I remember when I was at SFM back in the late Seventies and Rod Stewart came out with his ‘disco’ album: ‘Blondes Have More Fun’. Most of us at SFM were hard-core rockers and despised ‘disco’ (although I had a secret major crush on Donna Summer… please never tell…)

We even had our own pure rock band there: The ‘Sisco Ducks’ — get it? Hahahah

Anyhow, when Stewart let loose that ‘Disco’ Album, all said,

“Whelp, I bet that’s the end of Rod Stewart as a serious musician-man.”

Glad I did not take that bet. (and you know I am a gambler)

Rod Stewart is absolutely one of the all-time greats. And he do have some longevity too!

Sadie,

Your comments always brighten my day/night/mornings.

Cheers & Thank You,

Lance

~ Sadie ~ July 13, 2014 at 21:21 Edit

Damn it Lance LOL!! You are killing me here . . . . 😉

Like I said before – great storytelling & great suspense!!!

Breathlessly . . . you just keep me hanging on . . .

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N83uZp6uU4c&w=420&h=315%5D

(one of my fav albums!!) 😉

Late Spring Cleanin’: Or, ‘Fishin’ by the creek’, Your Choice

I am cleaning out some old posts and kickin’ ’em to the curb

Please bare with me. (Bear? Is that a word? Or just an animal?)

Anyhow…

Read if you will. (And if not, well, thanks for the auto-likes)

Cheers!

***

‘Three-Nine-Six-One-Three Bruning Street Fremont California: 1964-1968’

Funny how I still remember the street address when I cannot remember my mother’s birthday, or what I had for Sunday Supper last week, or my second wife’s maiden name, or who won the World Series last year.

All the houses on Bruning Street were brand new. And they were all alike. But their alikeness did not dampen my spirits, especially since mom and I had left the moldy old garage apartment across town. I had finally escaped that place and the Ghost of that Murdered Turkey.

Seems the entire neighborhood moved in on the same summer weekend: Floodgates opened—lots of activity—trucks coming and going, grown-ups schlepping boxes, kids (potential buddies?) playing and yellin’ and runnin’ wild, dogs untethered, barking, yipping, yapping, chasing. Just general mayhem all around: very excited we all were to be living the American Dream. Norman Rockwell should have been there.

A House on Bruning Street Today

A House on Bruning Street

All the houses had small front yards, slightly larger back yards, but no fences. In fact not really proper yards yet. No lawns, just California clay, hard-packed and untenable.

This would soon be remedied. By today’s standards for suburbia the dwellings were quite modest. No McMansions these. Each house had three small bedrooms, one bathroom, smallish kitchen, tiny dining area, and small living room. That was it, but compared to our garage apartment, Mom and I had moved into the Taj Mahal. Everything smelled gloriously of fresh paint, fresh earth, and promise. I immediately picked a spot in the back yard for my garden. As a kid, I was never happier than when I was digging in the dirt, much to the chagrin of my much harried mother and my blatant hatred of regular bathing.

Mom and I settled in quickly. For a few days, I shyly & longingly watched some of the other kids playing around up the street. My shyness prevented me from going up and introducing myself, but I had a secret weapon: some small incendiary devices. Actually they were just marble-sized balls that when slammed into the pavement would explode like firecrackers. Cannot recall where I had procured them, but they suited my purpose rather elegantly. Nonchalantly I walked over to the sidewalk one day and commenced to fling them down, one at a time. The ensuing explosions captured the attention of the group of kids up the street and they all came stampeding over to investigate.

Attention Getter

Attention Getter

This was how I broke the ice and made my first friends on Bruning Street. Call it an old magician’s trick, if you will.

“Wow! Those are so neat! Where’d ya get ‘em?”

“Just got ‘em,” I said, ever so cool.

“Can I try one?”

“Well… Yeah, but be careful; they’re not for kids, ya know.”

“What’s your name?”

“Lance. What’s yours?”

Thus the beginning of some of my beautiful friendships.

As summer turned to fall and the lawns and juvenile trees and fences and dog shit sprouted up on Bruning Street, I had cemented many friendships. Most of the kids were very close to my age. We never extended our circle beyond the confines of our street. Later I would break that unwritten code by becoming best friends with the kid who lived in the house bordering mine in the back. His name was Ricky Martinez. His people came from Puerto Rico, but he didn’t speak Spanish. He was a few years older and a bit of a gangster and we hit it off from the start. Right then I began my propensity of always living double lives. When I really wanted mischief I sought Ricky. Other times when it was baseball or playing army or watching Saturday morning cartoons I was after, I kept to my Bruning Street buddies.

Once school started (fourth grade for me), I made even more friends who could never mix with my Bruning Street friends or my Gangster friend Ricky. So now I had three lives to juggle.

Of course we all had bicycles and would fearlessly ride them all over town: Sometimes to the public swimming pool about four miles away and sometimes to the mall and the movie theater also about four miles distant. No one worried after our safety because we were never in any danger. We also had skateboards as second ‘cars’ and Ricky convinced me to paint mine silver. His reasoning was that when we eventually were confronted with rival gangs (Ricky and I were the only ones in our ‘gang’, but we did attempt some recruiting) we could turn the silver side of the skateboard toward the rival gang and blind them into submission with the sunlight reflected off our boards. We never encountered any menacing ‘rival gangs’, but we were ever vigilant and ready for them, should they appear.

My ‘Bruning Street Gang’ was so very much like the kids from South Park that it amazes me when I watch that TV show today. We cussed blue streaks amongst ourselves and had very strong and learned opinions about everything going on in the world. There was Randy Francin and his little brother Paul who lived right across the street. There were the DuBords who lived down the block. Craig the elder, Tommy the young ‘un and their older sister Kim, who looked a lot like Julie Andrews.

There was ‘Steve-Our-Hero’, a lanky sixteen year old blond-haired kid who looked like someone right out of a surfer movie. He lived about four doors down from me and was worshipped by us all. He had a grown-up job delivering newspapers and it was high honor to be ordered by him to bike down to the Seven-Eleven and pick him up a sixteen-ounce Pepsi. (I kept the bottle caps from my missions as souvenirs, almost like saintly relics in fact, and I kept them displayed in my bedroom) Our undying ambition was to grow up to be Steve.

A few doors down in the opposite direction lived another sixteen year old: A GIRL. Her name was Linda. She was also blond and I was madly in love with her. She once showed me her Janis Joplin album cover: Cheap Thrills Big Brother and the Holding Company and she was the coolest girl I had ever known.

Cheap Thrills

My Baptism

(actually the only girl I had ever known) I wanted to marry her, but all I was allowed to do was worship, which I did shamelessly. One day, she actually let me listen to the album. We sat on her bed silent through the entire record. My life changed that day. It reads corny, but sometimes corny is the best read. She was my first unrequited love and my first elusive butterfly.

Why she and Steve never hooked up, I have no idea. They were our royalty and it just didn’t seem right to me that they were not a couple. If I could not have her, surely Steve could. The two coolest people I knew and they were each too busy for the other. I don’t think they even knew of each other. Shakespeare could not have written it better.

Linda had her nemesis who lived at the far end of the street. Her name escapes me, but she was the same age as Linda and a brunette. Linda confided in me one day that she had gone over to her house and caught her sitting on the toilet picking at her pussy hairs. Oh my god! I had never heard a woman say ‘pussy’ before. I was certain that she had never said that to anyone but me and I fell even more in love with her. It was my little secret: Linda had talked dirty to me.

OK. You had to know I just could not resist. For all you Musical Fans out there, my apologies to Rex Harrison, Audrey Hepburn, George Bernard Shaw, et al.

This one is for you Linda, wherever you are:

We had our pecking order. Hell, we even had our South Park ‘Kenny’, a young Hispanic kid who lived next door to me and always wanted to hang out with us ‘older kids.’ He never died, by the way, but we did torment him mercilessly, once almost conning him into drinking piss out of a Pepsi bottle. Would have worked too, if we had had the presence of mind to let it cool down before offering it to him. I cannot recall whose piss it was. Might have been a group effort.

Occasionally we would get into fights within our group, invariably causing us to split into two factions. Loyalties were often divided. These little insurrections could go on for weeks at a time, but eventually there would be a truce and a general détente. For fighting we had strict protocol. If one kid desired fisticuffs, he was required to proclaim in a loud and clear voice:

“I choose you out!”

The opponent had two choices: He could say, “I accept,” and get it on, or he could walk away, but no one ever walked away. The shame of not accepting such a challenge would have been career ending and would mean certain banishment forever.

The fights were furious but generally brief with not much harm done to anything but the pride of the loser. I won some of these encounters and I lost some. I guess on this front I was generally batting about five hundred.

One day I was forced too young into manhood. Ricky was a kleptomaniac. I knew he had this failing, but I kept overlooking it, denying it actually. He kept stealing stuff from me. Nothing important but it hurt me deep inside. We were best friends. One day he was ‘pumping me’ (which means I was riding on the back of his bicycle) over to his house. My bike had a flat.

Anyway, I was seated behind him and I saw a toy top of mine bulging out of his pocket. I could not feign denial any longer. When we got to his house, I mustered all the character I had and I broached this subject,

“Rick,” I said, “You know you are my best friend, right?”

“Yeah of course.”

“Well, it hurts me to tell you this, but I know you have been stealing stuff from my house.”

“Whaaat?! Bullshit!” he said.

“Ricky, I saw my top in your pocket on the way over here.”

Top of The Day

Top of The Day

“Oh… Yeah… Well here. Take it back,” he said, digging it out of his pocket.

“Ricky,” I said, “It ain’t about the top. It’s about friendship. And trust. I don’t care about the fuckin’ top. I care about our friendship.”

He gave me his best ‘I’m sorry look.’ And then I insisted he keep the top, but I think that was the beginning of the end of our friendship. That was up until then, the most painful conversation I had ever had to initiate in my young life, but it had to be; I just could not let him slide. Or me either. I would have hated him if I had not confronted him. The hate would have just festered and poisoned me. Somehow I instinctively knew this.

I loved all my friends good and bad and I was loyal to a fault.

These happy times rolled on along for a couple of years; then I was overtaken by events and my life would never be the same.

I had to go, you see, but I did miss the Saturday Cartoons.

To Be Continued. Here

On The Street Where I Lived

‘Three-Nine-Six-One-Three Bruning Street Fremont California: 1966-1968.

Funny how I still remember the street address when I cannot remember my mother’s birthday, or what I had for Sunday Supper last week, or my second wife’s maiden name, or who won the World Series last year.

All the houses on Bruning Street were brand new. And they were all alike. But their alikeness did not dampen my spirits, especially since mom and I had left the moldy old garage apartment across town. I had finally escaped that place and the Ghost of that Murdered Turkey.

Seems the entire neighborhood moved in on the same summer weekend: Floodgates opened—lots of activity—trucks coming and going, grown-ups schlepping boxes, kids (potential buddies?) playing and yellin’ and runnin’ wild, dogs untethered, barking, yipping, yapping, chasing. Just general mayhem all around: very excited we all were to be living the American Dream. Norman Rockwell should have been there.

A House on Bruning Street Today

A House on Bruning Street

All the houses had small front yards, slightly larger back yards, but no fences. In fact not really proper yards yet. No lawns, just California clay, hard-packed and untenable.

This would soon be remedied. By today’s standards for suburbia the dwellings were quite modest. No McMansions these. Each house had three small bedrooms, one bathroom, smallish kitchen, tiny dining area, and small living room. That was it, but compared to our garage apartment, Mom and I had moved into the Taj Mahal. Everything smelled gloriously of fresh paint, fresh earth, and promise. I immediately picked a spot in the back yard for my garden. As a kid, I was never happier than when I was digging in the dirt, much to the chagrin of my much harried mother and my blatant hatred of regular bathing.

Mom and I settled in quickly. For a few days, I shyly & longingly watched some of the other kids playing around up the street. My shyness prevented me from going up and introducing myself, but I had a secret weapon: some small incendiary devices. Actually they were just marble-sized balls that when slammed into the pavement would explode like firecrackers. Cannot recall where I had procured them, but they suited my purpose rather elegantly. Nonchalantly I walked over to the sidewalk one day and commenced to fling them down, one at a time. The ensuing explosions captured the attention of the group of kids up the street and they all came stampeding over to investigate.

Attention Getter

Attention Getter

This was how I broke the ice and made my first friends on Bruning Street. Call it an old magician’s trick, if you will.

“Wow! Those are so neat! Where’d ya get ‘em?”

“Just got ‘em,” I said, ever so cool.

“Can I try one?”

“Well… Yeah, but be careful; they’re not for kids, ya know.”

“What’s your name?”

“Lance. What’s yours?”

Thus the beginning of some of my beautiful friendships.

As summer turned to fall and the lawns and juvenile trees and fences and dog shit sprouted up on Bruning Street, I had cemented many friendships. Most of the kids were very close to my age. We never extended our circle beyond the confines of our street. Later I would break that unwritten code by becoming best friends with the kid who lived in the house bordering mine in the back. His name was Ricky Martinez. His people came from Puerto Rico, but he didn’t speak Spanish. He was a few years older and a bit of a gangster and we hit it off from the start. Right then I began my propensity of always living double lives. When I really wanted mischief I sought Ricky. Other times when it was baseball or playing army or watching Saturday morning cartoons I was after, I kept to my Bruning Street buddies.

Once school started (fourth grade for me), I made even more friends who could never mix with my Bruning Street friends or my Gangster friend Ricky. So now I had three lives to juggle.

Of course we all had bicycles and would fearlessly ride them all over town: Sometimes to the public swimming pool about four miles away and sometimes to the mall and the movie theater also about four miles distant. No one worried after our safety because we were never in any danger. We also had skateboards as second ‘cars’ and Ricky convinced me to paint mine silver. His reasoning was that when we eventually were confronted with rival gangs (Ricky and I were the only ones in our ‘gang’, but we did attempt some recruiting) we could turn the silver side of the skateboard toward the rival gang and blind them into submission with the sunlight reflected off our boards. We never encountered any menacing ‘rival gangs’, but we were ever vigilant and ready for them, should they appear.

My ‘Bruning Street Gang’ was so very much like the kids from South Park that it amazes me when I watch that TV show today. We cussed blue streaks amongst ourselves and had very strong and learned opinions about everything going on in the world. There was Randy Francin and his little brother Paul who lived right across the street. There were the DuBords who lived down the block. Craig the elder, Tommy the young ‘un and their older sister Kim, who looked a lot like Julie Andrews.

There was ‘Steve-Our-Hero’, a lanky sixteen year old blond-haired kid who looked like someone right out of a surfer movie. He lived about four doors down from me and was worshipped by us all. He had a grown-up job delivering newspapers and it was high honor to be ordered by him to bike down to the Seven-Eleven and pick him up a sixteen-ounce Pepsi. (I kept the bottle caps from my missions as souvenirs, almost like saintly relics in fact, and I kept them displayed in my bedroom) Our undying ambition was to grow up to be Steve.

A few doors down in the opposite direction lived another sixteen year old: A GIRL. Her name was Linda. She was also blond and I was madly in love with her. She once showed me her Janis Joplin album cover: Cheap Thrills Big Brother and the Holding Company and she was the coolest girl I had ever known.

Cheap Thrills

My Baptism

(actually the only girl I had ever known) I wanted to marry her, but all I was allowed to do was worship, which I did shamelessly. One day, she actually let me listen to the album. We sat on her bed silent through the entire record. My life changed that day. It reads corny, but sometimes corny is the best read. She was my first unrequited love and my first elusive butterfly.

Why she and Steve never hooked up, I have no idea. They were our royalty and it just didn’t seem right to me that they were not a couple. If I could not have her, surely Steve could. The two coolest people I knew and they were each too busy for the other. I don’t think they even knew of each other. Shakespeare could not have written it better.

Linda had her nemesis who lived at the far end of the street. Her name escapes me, but she was the same age as Linda and a brunette. Linda confided in me one day that she had gone over to her house and caught her sitting on the toilet picking at her pussy hairs. Oh my god! I had never heard a woman say ‘pussy’ before. I was certain that she had never said that to anyone but me and I fell even more in love with her. It was my little secret: Linda had talked dirty to me.

OK. You had to know I just could not resist. For all you Musical Fans out there, my apologies to Rex Harrison, Audrey Hepburn, George Bernard Shaw, et al.

This one is for you Linda, wherever you are:

We had our pecking order. Hell, we even had our South Park ‘Kenny’, a young Hispanic kid who lived next door to me and always wanted to hang out with us ‘older kids.’ He never died, by the way, but we did torment him mercilessly, once almost conning him into drinking piss out of a Pepsi bottle. Would have worked too, if we had had the presence of mind to let it cool down before offering it to him. I cannot recall whose piss it was. Might have been a group effort.

Occasionally we would get into fights within our group, invariably causing us to split into two factions. Loyalties were often divided. These little insurrections could go on for weeks at a time, but eventually there would be a truce and a general détente. For fighting we had strict protocol. If one kid desired fisticuffs, he was required to proclaim in a loud and clear voice:

“I choose you out!”

The opponent had two choices: He could say, “I accept,” and get it on, or he could walk away, but no one ever walked away. The shame of not accepting such a challenge would have been career ending and would mean certain banishment forever.

The fights were furious but generally brief with not much harm done to anything but the pride of the loser. I won some of these encounters and I lost some. I guess on this front I was generally batting about five hundred.

One day I was forced too young into manhood. Ricky was a kleptomaniac. I knew he had this failing, but I kept overlooking it, denying it actually. He kept stealing stuff from me. Nothing important but it hurt me deep inside. We were best friends. One day he was ‘pumping me’ (which means I was riding on the back of his bicycle) over to his house. My bike had a flat.

Anyway, I was seated behind him and I saw a toy top of mine bulging out of his pocket. I could not feign denial any longer. When we got to his house, I mustered all the character I had and I broached this subject,

“Rick,” I said, “You know you are my best friend, right?”

“Yeah of course.”

“Well, it hurts me to tell you this, but I know you have been stealing stuff from my house.”

“Whaaat?! Bullshit!” he said.

“Ricky, I saw my top in your pocket on the way over here.”

Top of The Day

Top of The Day

“Oh… Yeah… Well here. Take it back,” he said, digging it out of his pocket.

“Ricky,” I said, “It ain’t about the top. It’s about friendship. And trust. I don’t care about the fuckin’ top. I care about our friendship.”

He gave me his best ‘I’m sorry look.’ And then I insisted he keep the top, but I think that was the beginning of the end of our friendship. That was up until then, the most painful conversation I had ever had to initiate in my young life, but it had to be; I just could not let him slide. Or me either. I would have hated him if I had not confronted him. The hate would have just festered and poisoned me. Somehow I instinctively knew this.

I loved all my friends good and bad and I was loyal to a fault.

These happy times rolled on along for a couple of years; then I was overtaken by events and my life would never be the same.

I had to go, you see, but I did miss the Saturday Cartoons.

To Be Continued. Here