I was barely 18 when I started my “illegal” club hopping days.
I don’t remember who gave me the fake I.D. but I know that it was good enough to get me into just about any club… anywhere in So Cal… and my club of choice at the time was:
The El Paso Cantina at Marina Pacifica in Long Beach.
The El Paso Cantina was a hotbed of illicit activities: booze, cocaine, sex, basically a poor man’s Studio 54 for the Long Beach crew, and since I was a minor and most of my friends were already legal adults, to be able to obtain a fake I.D. and dance the night away in a world that I considered “boogie nights party mecca” was beyond great.
It was a Wednesday, the most popular night at the Cantina, when I accidentally showed my beaver to the world.
The line to get in was lengthy: not because of my beaver… just because the Cantina was the place to be.
My friend Lori Stevens and I were dressed in our 80’s finery: super high black stilettos, skintight micro mini dresses, jet black bras, HUGE silver hoop earrings peeking out from our long blond bleached hair and of course: no underwear.
Now, we weren’t the only people who didn’t wear underwear at that particular time period in the 80’s: thong underwear was not yet a household name and though some of us wore them on the beach… few of us wore them under our skirts and so… to ensure “no panty lines” we often went “commando” when we went out on the town.
Lori and I had just shown my fake I.D. (and her real one) to the bouncer at the door and were heading up the walkway to the very steep indoor staircase that led to the club.
I had walked that particular staircase a hundred times or more and that night… was no different.
I had learned to navigate it drunk or sober.
Six inch heels or small black flats.
I never wavered.
I never bobbled.
I never stumbled.
Until that night… I had a perfect record on those steep, stupid, carpeted stairs but the event of that evening haunts me to this day.
I don’t know exactly what happened… I just know that as soon as Lori and I reached the top of the staircase, we took one look at the dance floor going off… the crowd having a great time…. felt the beat of the loudness of the bass… linked arms and made to walk forward to begin our mid-week shenanigans when one or both of us somehow caught our heels in the carpet and became “hooked” on the threads.
It was as if suddenly we were part of a slow motion segment of a film as we both grabbed at each other for balance, our smiles fading fast, our eyes locked in silent realization of our fate, as together we began the long backwards fall down the staircase.
Now, it’ s bad enough to know that you are about to fall down a very steep staircase:
1) It’s a very steep staircase… you seriously might not survive the fall.
2) If you do survive the fall, it’s gonna really hurt. Not just a little hurt… but a really BIG hurt. Like… hospital hurt.
3) There are large groups of people watching you fall from the top of the stairs and yes… also down at the bottom. Oh and let me add that most of these people “watching you eat shit” are really, really, REALLY good-looking guys that you have been trying to impress with your sly catlike club strutting moves for months and now… THIS.
Add to that… the shocking moment when you suddenly remember that you are absolutely panty-less as you go ass and elbows backwards down the stairs… yes… ass and elbows down the entire staircase and I really don’t think life can get any worse than that at the age of eighteen.
In fact, the only fear that comes close to rivaling this for me is the uncomfortable notion that yes someday… when I am old… I might actually shit my pants in public. Now.. maybe I will be too senile at the time to remember it… but if I am in full capacity of my facilities… it may actually earn first place winner for humiliating moment over the beaver incident but for now: the beaver stands alone.
I can tell you this… I don’t remember much of the fall.
Just a few good solid details:
My head taking a smart smack around the fourth step.
Lori’s back bending in an abnormally strange position somewhere around the seventh.
My right shoe flying off somewhere about the thirteenth.
But all in all… the memory of the fall is one that fades in-and-out of my mind as if a dusty haze has settled on that particular 80’s file of my brain.
However… the landing remains spectacularly vivid and fresh as if it just happened last night:
Lori and I twisted up together in a human ball.
Our arms and legs intertwined in a way that by looking at them… in my stunned state… I wasn’t even sure which arm or leg was mine.
We came to slowly… confused… not sure of what just happened… but it seemed, as I looked up at the shocked faces staring down at me from the top of the stairs, that something must be broken on one of us.
Their faces seemed to denote looks that spoke volumes:
Don’t look at your leg… your bone is sticking out or…
Oh my God! That’s a lot of blood… someone is going to have to get her to the hospital.
But that wasn’t the case.
Miraculously, Lori and I had survived the fall with just a few minor bruises and scrapes.
I should have been thankful that I was alive.
I should have been thankful that I wasn’t on my way to the hospital with a broken leg or broken back but…
I felt a cold blast of air brush across my “privacy” and aghast… looked to see that my legs were spread wide, Lori’s legs were spread wide, and our full frontal commando beavers were making a stunning surprise guest appearance to the excited and exuberant crowd.
I don’t think we could have drawn more attention if we had shown up with Pat Benatar and Debbie Harry.
Thank God it was a time before cell phone cameras because if it were today… my beaver would STILL be on display for the patrons of Long Beach and possibly… in some local hall of fame… a small notation beneath the frame stating: most notorious beaver shot in Southern California.
It was horrific.
The men at the top of the stairs gawked.
The men at the bottom of the stairs gawked.
No one came to our rescue.
No one rushed to cover us or comfort our wounded pride.
They had spent weeks… months… ogling Lori and I with our super fit little sporty girl bodies… wondering what exactly we did have for “view” under our tiny little lycra dresses and now… the moment they had been waiting for finally happened: FULL FRONTAL BEAVER EXPOSURE.
Lori and I tried to right ourselves but the small cubicle of the stairwell made it almost impossible to extricate ourselves quickly.
Each time we tried… we ended up in another awkward position… beavers posed… asses and elbows.
Soon the silence that had followed the fall, changed to a stairwell echoing with catcalls and vulgar innuendos.
We were mortified and actually crawled part way out the door where the bouncer helped us up and watched as we slinked away as quickly as possible to the comfort and safety of my little blue Audi.
We sat in the car… doors locked… heads down… not sure what to say to each other.
I’m not sure how long it was before Lori went back to the El Paso Cantina but I can tell you for me… it was never. Never.
Not even my underage need to be part of the cool older crowd could drive me back through that door and up those stairs.
The idea that so many people had seen my beaver was just too much to bear. (pun intended)
Today… it’s easy to laugh about the beaver incident but back then… there was only one thing I could do to swallow the shame:
I moved my late night party groove to the Sunset Beach Red Onion and prayed that nobody who frequented the club would recognize my beaver there.