Back before I was a beloved high school teacher, I ran with a notorious group of musicians and skaters.
Basically, a Rat Pack of boys, sure to provide all types of trouble, and as Steve Soto of The Adolescents fame just recently said to me… I was their “Shirley MacLaine.”
But the problem with being the Shirley MacLaine to the Rat Pack, is that though you are a standing member; a band girl that has been deemed cool enough to hang with the boys… you never really ARE one of the boys and so… it set up a musical dichotomy: me on one side…resentful and hurt… the boys on the other…happy to continue on as they always had.
Having grown up with brothers, I had pretty much resigned myself to this “Continental Divide” this “He-Man Woman-Haters Club” until the day that Joe Wood went way too far.
Joe my boyfriend at the time (later my husband) was in T.S.O.L and we were caught up in a VERY passionate relationship.
We were actually known all around town for our knock down drag-outs.
We were the Ike and Tina Turner of Long Beach.
The Johnny Cash and June Carter of the Punk Rock World.
The Loretta Lynn and Doolittle Lynn of the local club scene.
Basically, we were everything that has EVER been represented in volatile musical couples since the dawn of Rock-n-Roll.
You never knew what to expect from either of us and we never knew what to expect from each other.
One day, as we were driving in our old 69 Buick Wildcat past El Dorado Park on our way to God knows where, we got into one of our terrible arguments.
I don’t know how it started but it escalated so quickly, that by the time we turned off of Spring Street and onto Studebaker Road, it was nearing fist-a-cuffs.
We were barely half a mile from the house, ranting and raving at each other, arms waving, cuss words flying, when the light turned red, Joe lit up a smoke, and said, “You know what? You’re just a stupid cunt on the side lines of music and I don’t really give a shit what you think” and jumped out of the car, ran across the street to the far corner, where he flipped me the bird, before sticking out his thumb and trying to hitch a ride with anyone who could get him as far away from me as possible.
I felt my face burning.
My heart was racing.
My mind was spinning.
If I could have floored that Buick and cut diagonally across six lanes of traffic and run his stupid ass over without killing an innocent bystander believe me, I would have done it.
I thank God that neither of us carried guns during our time together.
We were the perfect poster couple for why there should be U.N. mandated GLOBAL gun control.
Trust me… If I had had a gun back then… Joe would be ball-less wonder right now, singing some type of Hedwig and the Angry Inch cover set at Alex’s bar every Thursday night for the rest of his miserable “little” life.
I glared at Joe across the street.
Smug look on his face.
Leather pants and black shirt.
Cigarette dangling cooly from his mouth.
The Devil standing on the side of the road… and I snapped.
Any man in his right mind should know that you NEVER call a woman a C. U. NEXT. TUESDAY if you want to live to tell the story.
He was gonna pay and good.
I couldn’t wait for the light to change so that I could throw that car into a U-turn off of Willow, and jet over to his side of the street where I could sock him proper.
But, just as I was making the turn, heading across the intersection to let him have it, a cute little 1970’s VW bug pulled up, Joe hopped in, and as they pulled back into traffic, I saw that it was Eddie Reategui at the wheel.
Now I had known Eddie forever, and I knew there was no way in hell Eddie would have picked Joe up if he knew what the hell was going down.
I saw Joe gesturing wildly and then point his finger forward repeatedly and rapidly as he told Eddie to, “Drive! Drive! Drive!”
But Eddie’s poor little 1970’s bug was no match for my V8.
I revved the engine and laid the Wildcat about five inches off of Eddie’s bumper.
He looked over his shoulder, face crumpled, hobbit like fear at the unknown danger he had found on the road.
He turned back and I could see him clutch the wheel and throw a hard shift into 4th hoping that he could out run me.
For a moment… he pulled away and I saw Joe break into a wide grin.
I let them have their one moment of relief before I floored it again, came up on Eddie’s right side and screamed, “You better pull over right now Eddie Reategui or I’m gonna kill you!”
Eddie shook his head no, a scared little shake of a nod, trying to remain “Boy’s Club” looking to Joe for reassurance, a sign that he was doing the right thing, but he found nothing to comfort him there.
Eddie’s not stupid: He knew the minute he saw me on his tail… that he had sided with the wrong team.
I pulled back and watched as in a panic Eddie cut in front of me and made a sharp left turn on Oak, a small secluded street right behind the Los Alamitos Police Department, hoping that the power of my heavy metal would cause me to blast past the turn and leave me having to make up time on Walnut before I could cut back and cut them off.
The VW cornered like it was on rails but Eddie had underestimated the moment.
I made my own hard left onto Oak, pinned the pedal to the floor, blazed past the boys on the wrong side of the street, before hitting the brake, throwing the car into a hard skid, and T-Boning them.
Eddie hit the brakes, his face one of total terror, Joe, no longer the big mouth in Eddie’s ear screamed as their car skidded towards me and luckily… stopped.
I jumped from the Buick before they had a chance to recover: 113 pounds of green-eyed bitch.
Black mini skirt riding up high…
bullet belt bouncing off of each hip…
boots clicking fast across the asphalt… as I screamed at the top of my lungs, “You get your ASS out of that car RIGHT NOW Joe Wood!”
Joe jumped out of Eddie’s car as if God had yanked him from it himself.
I stared him down.
Hell hath no FURY like a women called a C. U. Next Tuesday.
My eyes could have burned through his skin.
He tried to play it cool…
Strutting towards me as he stopped to acknowledge his nemesis.
He paused, lit up a smoke, I raised one eyebrow and stared him down.
His gaze faltered before he regained a little bit of composure, sauntering the rest of the way towards the passenger side of the car, my eyes following his every move.
I watched as he got in… slumped into the seat, arm extended out the window, chain tattoo prominent on his wrist, Marlboro light dangling from his fingers.
By the time I turned back to give Eddie Reategui what for… I saw that he had slipped his car into reverse and was silently edging away from me.
I raced towards him like the cyborg in Terminator, my steely gaze ready to cut him deep but he was gone before I could even get close.
I never thought I would ever see a 1970’s VW bug pull off such a slow Rockford but Eddie’s skating techniques, in the end, boded well for his escape. I’m sure by that time if Eddie had to perform a 360 Hard Flip in that VW just to get the fuck out of there, he would have figure out a way to do it.
He raced off and out of my general vicinity, happy, I’m sure, to leave with his balls intact and arrest free before the police station caught onto the insane domestic dispute going on outside of their main building.
I stomped back to the car and threw myself into the seat.
“Are you out of your fucking mind?” I screamed.
Joe took a deep drag off his smoke and blew it into my face.
My eyes narrowed.
“Go ahead,” I whispered. “Say it again. I dare you.”
My gauntlet thrown down.
Neither of us blinked.
I watched as his gold eyes glared into mine before his stonewall expression was betrayed by a slight twitch.
“That’s what I thought,” I said as I threw the car into gear, spun the back tires hard, and roared down Oak Street for home.