Anthony Kiedis Asks Me to Brush and Braid His Hair Resulting in a Shouting Match and Mark Johnson as a Naughty Go-Between

Leave a comment

Before the Red Hot Chili Peppers became Rock and Roll namesakes they were just a bunch of goofy guys, playing music and hoping to reach the big brass ring of Super Stardom like everyone else in our music scene.

In the mid-1980’s they were touring with T.S.O.L. and Fishbone and since I was dating the lead singer of T.S.O.L., the man that later became my husband, I was at the show.

I have never been that smitten or taken with rock stars… growing up around “band boys” you are privy to a decent amount of information that takes away the glitter and the glamour of the stage and brings the “fantasy” down to earth…. trust me…. when you watch many of your family members and good friends throwing their talent away on drug and alcohol addiction… the fun goes right out the window.

But at this time, we were all still young and beautiful, still having fun in our world of music and mayhem, and not really concerned much with the future. Most of the players in our group were “interchangeable” which is a really nice way of saying there was a lot of inner circle incestuous dating going on… and because of this… people often kept an “eye” on their significant others for fear that they might pop off with someone much more interesting in a different band at a moment’s notice.

I’ve often actually thought… that these guys weren’t even really that concerned about the person they were “with” … as much as they were worried that the person would leave them for a guy in a band that they considered “better” or “more popular” because there is a a fair amount of EGO dominating this rock world.

I had just walked into the club that evening, and watched as Anthony made a b-line towards me, hair brush in his hand, rubber band around his wrist.
“D.D.?” he asked in his little boy voice, “Would you please brush and braid my hair for the show tonight?”
Now, Anthony is actually three years older than me but I swear he looked like he was about fifteen at the time and tended to act about the same age.

I rolled my eyes, grabbed the hairbrush and the rubber band, and sat down at the bar table to brush his hair.

“You really can’t do this yourself Anthony?” I asked.

He turned his back towards me, stepped backwards until my legs were straddled around him, placed his hands on my knees and said, “No, you brush it.”

Once again I felt my eyes roll as I began to brush his hair. I already had Lex, my youngest child by this time, and so I brushed his hair as if I was brushing my daughter’s hair on a day she was really frustrating me.

“Ow,” he said in a baby voice. “Too hard.”

I fought the urge to hit him on the top of his head with the hairbrush… but I didn’t… I just continued on with my task.

Now there is something soothing, often mesmerizing about brushing long hair and soon we were both quiet as I worked gently separating his strands into three individual groups of hair before twisting them into a long neat braid. I put my hand over the braid and ran my fingers down it from top to bottom, the last touch in the process, making sure that it was smooth and hung straight.

“There,” I said. “All done.”

Anthony turned around, his hands resting gently on my hips as we now looked at each other face-to-face, his body still straddled between my legs, smiling his goofy smile and about to get all flirty with me when my X walked into the club.

It was one of those horrible moments that you can’t explain.

Seriously.

How do you explain how Anthony Kiedis got between your legs?

How do you explain your arm wrapped around his shoulders, holding the braid hanging down his back?

How do you explain Anthony staring at you like you’re a giant ice cream cone and he just wants a taste of it?

You don’t I tell you.

What you do is you push Anthony Kiedis away as roughly as you possibly can before you stand up from the bar stool, and pull your teeny tiny mini skirt down to cover your legs hoping that the five extra inches of black spandex will somehow make you look “virginal,” and watch as your current man storms towards you, hate in his eyes, and you pray that Anthony doesn’t die before set time.

“What the FUCK Anthony?” my X screamed at him.

My X is a big, burly handsome man…. often confused with the Devil… gold eyes, jet black hair, skull tattoos and Anthony backed away with his hands up.

“Hey —,” he said to my X trying to calm the situation down by playing the cool friendship card, “I didn’t know D.D. was your girl.”

And once again I felt my eyes rolling in my head. Everyone knew I was with X… Anthony’s lame excuse was not going to save him from a massacre.

My X was pressing the issue, leaned over, pounding his finger against Anthony’s chest. Every imaginable cuss word being used in the most creative way as it spewed forth from his mouth at an astonishing rate.

I was looking around for ANYONE to come to my rescue, stop them both before they were a bloody mess, and that’s when Mark Johnson appeared on the scene.

Mark Johnson… one of the sweetest, kindest guys you could ever want to know and today, if I had been a smart woman… I would have spent more time hanging out with him but I was too often seduced by the dramatic dysfunction of the scene.

Mark got in between them, calmed my X down, and lead Anthony away upstairs where he was going to hang out in the Green Room until set time.

I spent the next 30 minutes trying to explain to my X that what had just happened was totally innocent but… no luck… he ended up storming off to the bar for a big shot of Ten High as I sat back down at the table… the now “infamous” table where I had illicitly brushed and braided Anthony’s hair, put my hands over my eyes and just shook my head back and forth for a minute, disgusted with the total comedy of errors that had just transpired before me.

I felt like I was wearing a LARGE SCARLET LETTER and I couldn’t help but think to myself that maybe I should just go home now and call it a night. I had a feeling that the fight might ratchet back up after hours if me, Anthony and X were all in the same room and both of the boys were stoned or drunk.

Just then, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and almost afraid to look up, I raised my gaze and was relieved to be looking into the smiling face of Mark Johnson.

“Anthony asked me to give you this,” he said.

I opened the small folded white piece of notebook paper that he had held out to me and read the word, “Hi” with a child-like smiley face drawn next to it.

I looked up at Mark, and then looked back at the note.

“Are you serious?” I asked before rising from the table and grabbing my purse and walking away.

“What do you want me to tell him?” Mark shouted after me.

“That I’m going home,” I said.

“Home?” Mark Johnson said, his voice full of amusement and surprise that I was turning the “little man” down.

“Home,” I said and headed for the door.

I strutted past the bar where I saw my X happily settled in; surrounded by friends and fans, smoke in one hand, bottle of Ten High in the other, and gave one last look back at Mark who waved sweetly before he headed off to the Green Room to disappoint Anthony with my response.

I almost broke into a jog, dying to climb into my old 63′ Buick and race for the safety of home.

“You back already?” My mom said as I came into the house.

I watched as Lexi climbed off her Nana’s lap and rushed towards me.

“Boy drama,” I said to my mom as I grabbed Lex and scooped her up into my arms.

“Oh those boys,” Nana said, “Just like your father was in high school. Pachucos on parade.”

I tried not to smile but I couldn’t help it… she was so right… Pachucos on parade.

I carried Lex into her bedroom, kicked off my heels, climbed up onto the bed with her to read “Pat the Bunny” and left the Pachucos behind me.

My Matilda or… the Story of How Ms. Wood Procures a Chicken

Leave a comment

This… is Matilda.

Matilda is a chicken.

A Rhode Island Red to be exact.

I didn’t go out and purchase Matilda.

I wasn’t given Matilda.

Matilda, like most of the animals in our home, including Jax, my pet squirrel, just appear to me, usually in dire need, and being who I am… I can’t seem to walk away.

Case in point: Matilda

It was Thursday night, 8pm, after hours at El Dorado park and my favorite time to walk there.

This night I was walking with my two adult friends, Frank and Abe and my 10-year-old friend Finn.

Finn, like me, seems to be some type of  “animal whisperer” and so I was a bit concerned when we jumped the rail of the flood control and ran down the embankment to enter the park after hours that we might run into an injured skunk, coyote, goose, hawk, or owl… but I had no worries that we might run into a chicken. For God’s sake…. a chicken?

We were barely past the LBPD shooting range when we saw a small reddish animal bopping about in the grassline…

“Is that a chicken?” Frank asked.

We all stopped to watch as she made her way closer to us.

“It is a chicken,” Abe said.

We didn’t know what to do… I voted to finish our walk and when we looped back, see if she was still around. With Frank, Abe, and Finn all hailing from Arizona…. I knew that this chicken wasn’t going anywhere unless it was going to Ms. Wood’s house and I was trying my hardest to make sure that didn’t happen. I mean the menagerie was really getting ridiculous: Jax (my squirrel) her babies, three chihuahuas, four cats, seven dogs and a partridge in a pear tree; I wasn’t looking to add a chicken to the mix.

I swear I didn’t want to leave her because I’m heartless… I just thought… Maybe if we give it some time… she’ll magically go back to where she came from and I will be saved from care-taking yet another pet… but the boys weren’t having it.

The Arizonians were looking at me with pitiful sad little faces.

The chicken was looking at me with her pitiful sad little face.

“Come on…” I said to the boys as I strided ahead with purpose trying to get away from the bird, only to turn and find the chicken running after us all as she made the saddest little cooing sounds that seemed to say, “If you leave me I will be eaten by a coyote and you will never be happy when you walk in your park at night again, because you will always remember that you left me to die.”

Fuck.

I couldn’t do it.

It was horrible.

They were pulling at every one of my heart strings and they obviously knew just how to work me.

So… I just gave in and turning on my heal, marched towards the exit, while shouting in my best authoritative tone, “Come on, Matilda. Let’s go home!” and watched as she hustled to catch up and walk beside me… as if I were her best friend and we had never been parted.

After a few feet of walking, we realized that it would take forever to get Matilda out of the park at this pace, so Frank picked her up and carried her with both hands, arms extended straight out in front, as if Matilda were a hood ornament on his human car.

It wasn’t five minutes later that the Park Ranger pulled up next to us, rolled down his window and said, “My God! Is that a chicken?”

Apparently he had never seen a chicken in the park either and now, Matilda startled by his big shiny car and flashing police lights was out of Frank’s hands, on top of the hood of his car and pecking at her own reflection in his windshield, like this was all good fun.

Obviously, the park was a wonderful place for Matilda as long as she had humans to protect her.

I asked him if he wouldn’t mind driving Frank to my van and was pleasantly surprised when he agreed.

I smiled as I watched Frank drive off with a Park Ranger and a chicken and I spent the rest of my walk back to the Wardlow Street bridge whistling to  myself and making up my own stupid little jokes about it:

So… a chicken and a Ranger walk into a bar……

Or…. Is that a chicken under your arm or are you just…

And…

How did the chicken cross the road? By getting a ride in the Park Ranger’s car.

Before hoping back over the rail and walking to the van.

Frank was in the back when I got there, Matilda running around on the floor, pleased that she was in some type of cage that seemed more comfortable then the cold park at night.

We took her home… gave her some water… and watched as she climbed to the top shelf of the squirrel cage and bedded down for the night. Already content in her new environment.

“Good night Matilda,” I said as I turned off the porch light for the evening…. trying not to be attached to a chicken… but knowing… I was already totally in love.

Sissy Breaks My Leg

Leave a comment

If you look closely at the photo above… you will see one little shoe.

Just one.

That is because just outside of the frame… just outside of the observer’s view… is my little broken leg.

Full cast.

One-year-old.

Look at that baby.

The perfect Gerber Cupie Doll mix right?

How could anyone break the leg of such a nice, sweet, little baby girl?

Well… you’d have to ask my sister.

The practically perfect person pictured here:

Only, if you did go to ask my sister, she would probably throttle you. In fact… she would probably throttle me.

I used to tell the story of how “Sissy Broke My Leg”  in my classroom each year and when I got to the good part… I would call her on the cell phone, press “speaker,” and let her tell the whole class how she damaged me for life.

She hated it.

I don’t do it anymore.

Why?

Because she verbally throttled me.

She waited until she was at my house, vis-a-vis and shouted as she bordered on slapping me, “Why the hell do you have to call me and make me relive something I feel terrible about? Can’t you see you’re causing me pain?”

“I’m the baby,” I said smugly. “You broke my leg… I think you should have to pay for that the rest of my life.”

She gave me “theeeeee” big sister look… the I will kill you right now look… and I never, ever called her during class time again.

My students beg me to…

They do I swear…

But I stop them and shout, “Listen! She won’t let me… and you know how big sister’s are.”

Many of them nod their heads in silent solidarity. (Obviously, having been throttled by big sisters too.)

Sigh.

I don’t know what my sister was thinking that day back in 1966 when she broke my leg… She was seventeen… one of the most popular girl’s at Millikan High School. TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE IN EVERY WAY. Or so I thought… all of these years even AFTER the leg breaking incident but when I told my sister that I was writing this story she said, “Me? Practically perfect? Get real. I used to run around Millikan in my head cheerleader outfit, show all of the teachers the “forged” note from my mom and say, “I have to leave school immediately” before I’d flash them my all-American smile as I exited campus to ditch class with my friends.”

I was actually stunned for a moment when hearing this.

After years of taking the wrap as the “bad sister” the “bad seed” it was interesting to find out that the “good sister” the one who was always “so wonderful” was actually quite a bit of a naughty.

My sister has always been like a mother to me, so I don’t doubt that she had the best intentions when she hopped on her Schwinn Cruiser that day and propped me on the handle bars. I’m sure she thought I would giggle and squeal and love her all the more for it… but unfortunately the short ride went terribly wrong.

She lost her grip on my petite baby body and watched in horror as I slid off the front of the bike, where my small leg entered the turning spokes of the wheel, and snapped in several places before I landed helpless on the ground, caught as if a small animal in a snare, with my tiny leg twisted like delicate ribbon between the rough metal spokes of the rim.

My sister was beyond distraught and ran, frantic for help, to our neighbor: Mrs. O’Grady.

And though they both tried to free my leg, they actually had to remove the wheel from the bike, my leg still ensnared in it, and bundle “us” off to the hospital where the doctors could release me from it’s cruel grip.

The worst part, according to my sister, was not the break in my leg, but the break in her heart, as she held me in the backseat of the car, my little arms raised up to her, my hands opening and closing as I begged for understanding and a hug saying only three of the ten words I knew at the time:

“Sissy, Sissy sweet. Why? Why?”

“I would have preferred you to cry,” she said. “At least that would have been normal. But for you to lie there, like a little Buddha, not one tear on your face, as you asked me to explain in your tiny baby voice why this happened to you… was unbearable.”

The evil baby in me always smiles when she tells me this… I like that I was a master manipulator even at the age of one… assigning guilt and blame a talent passed down effortlessly in my genes.

My leg was “casted” from toe to hip, and my mother was enraged when she found out what my sister had done. It was weeks, no months, a constant barrage of angry words, that my sister had to endure from her parents for that “one” fatal mistake.

But oh… the story gets worse.

When the time came for the cast to finally be removed, I was beyond ecstatic.

They were taking me to see Santa that day for being such a brave girl through the months I had suffered my casted leg.

My sister said she was full of joy, so relieved that finally the day had come when she would no longer look at my cast as the “albatross” around her neck.

They took me from the hospital, straight to my grandmother’s, who was anxiously awaiting my arrival, just one of the many relatives who wanted to witness my full recovery and my visit with Santa.

I remember climbing from the car.

I remember skipping towards her house.

I remember tripping into a giant sprinkler hole and hearing a loud “SNAP” as my leg completely re-broke for the second time.

My sister said that I laid on my back, disbelief engulfing my pretty baby face, before I threw my arms outstretched over my head and WAILED, tossing my body from side to side screaming, “WHY? WHY!!!!!!!!”

Before my father picked me up, a writhing wild animal of a child, a snake ready to bite and hiss at anyone who tried to get close to me.

The next photo you see of me as a child is not a pretty one.

And if I could find it and post it here, I swear I would… but I have a feeling my sister has already burned it.

It’s me, a red corduroy jumpsuit, full leg cast, crooked bangs, a doll wedged tightly under my arm with no head, and a look in my eye that clearly shows that I have changed from a sweet little doll to a demon seed.

A look that seems to imply that I have already suffered the weight of the world and LORD HELP YOU if you try to cross me.

Today… I still limp when tired, the only reminder of that fateful ride… other than my yearly classroom story of how “Sissy Broke My Leg.”

An Awkward Moment with Axl Rose

Leave a comment

     

When my X and I were dating, he was in the middle of a meteoric rise to what I considered at 21 to be “fame” in a former punk band turned heavy metal riot rock band.

Tours went from playing with local Orange County and Los Angeles punk favorites to playing with Guns and Roses in venues that held well over a thousand spectators as GNR was about to reach their peak in the late 80’s … early 90’s.

When I tell my students the stories of these days, they look on with a sort of adoration mixed with total disbelief. They can’t imagine me in THAT setting.  It’s not exactly that they can’t believe that I ever had a life… I’m pretty open, as a teacher, about sharing stories on living that I believe may help to educate or inspire “better choices than I made” decisions in my students.

But… they picture me now: no make-up on, hair pulled back in a pony tail, conservative clothing, a picture of maternal warmth, and find it hard to believe there was ever a: nightclub make-up, big haired vixen, scantily dressed, sex kitten hidden somewhere inside of THAT teacher’s body… and you know what?

That’s really a good thing.

You don’t NEED high school students thinking of you that way. You need high school students to see you as Mrs. Stay-Puff Marshmallow and keep the lines drawn firmly in the sand, wait strike that… CEMENT… as you grade their essays with a bright red marker and give them demerits for chewing gum or sleeping in class.

SUCH a meany!

I do however, like to shock them with my past every now and then… and watch as they cock their little heads to the side, their confusion just so palpable and adorable as they try to make meaning from the oxymoron they are actually looking at: The Cool Rocker Stay-Puff Marshmallow Teacher  known as…Ms. Wood.

You can hear their little brains ticking…

It doesn’t fit…

She’s lying…

That just doesn’t make sense…

I smile just to think of it.

I was in my early 20’s when my X’s band was moving it’s way through the Los Angeles Rock Scene… my X was very handsome… in an animalistic sort of way… dark, beautiful gold eyes, growling voice, women loved him or should I say, fantasized about him, and although I was very street smart at the time, I was very naive when it came to love… I honestly believed that I would be the only woman he would have eyes for as he rose to stardom.

He tried… don’t get me wrong… X did love me.

But if you know anything about Guns and Roses in the late 80’s early 90’s then you know that women… at the shows and on the road… were abundant and that ANY band touring with them would be sharing in that “abundance.”

I’d like to tell you that I enjoyed this “behind the scenes” rock and roll period of time in my life, but really… I didn’t much.

And I still have a hard time reconciling myself to that past today.

On this particular occasion though… it was not X’s women or X’s drug addiction getting under my skin… it was Axl Rose.

Yes… Mr. Axl Rose.

Mr. Slithery snake dancer, bandana wearing, ginger haired, 80’s bad boy.

What… a piece of work.

I was in college at the time and had gotten in the habit of bringing my books with me to shows.

That way… when X was in the middle of sound check, I could sit in the auditorium seats, study for my classes, and not get behind in my work.

I was alone that day, sitting in the theater watching Guns and Roses sound check when Axl took the stage.

Now, the guys in Guns and Roses had already shown some interest in my looks. Probably because I was a baby, barely of age, had jet black hair, white skin, dark purple lipstick lips, and tried to never speak in their presence… what a perfect 80’s girl: attractive and mute.

They would often walk by and smile or wave at me and I always waved back, but other than that… I had given them little attention, having grown up in a world of music where most of my friends and family were already Punk Rock Legends or just “notrious.”

I was mid-way through a textbook chapter on God knows what subject… when I realized that Axl was saying some really dirty words from the stage. At first, I thought it was just some part of a song he was singing… but a few seconds later… when I heard, “And she sits in the auditorium in front of me, reading her books, as I imagine myself naked on top of…”

I looked up and watched as he slithered his way back and forth across the stage, microphone stand in his hand, his mouth seductively moaning out sexual innuendoes to his “chosen” and supposedly so “adoring” audience and I thought… Jesus… fuck… Where the hell is X?”

I closed my books, gathered my things, and exited my way out the side entrance as Axl stopped mid sex-rap and looked at me just as my students look at me today…. head cocked to one side… a bit of disbelief… his confusion palpable and adorable as he watched the oxymoron that was once sitting in front of him exit the building: An 80’s rock chick that didn’t want to have ANY thing to do with Axl Rose.

And there goes Axl’s little brain ticking:

This isn’t happening.

She’s just pretending…

She has to like me…

Amazing…

I wandered off to find X who was eating some tacos with the guys in the band around the corner from the venue.

Of course, when I told him what Axl had done… he wanted to go beat him… this was nothing new (see story about the time I brushed Anthony Kiedis’s hair for confirmation if needed)

But X calmed down and we went on with our evening and enjoyed the show.

I was still out front after the performance, thanking some friends and family who had come to the event before heading back stage to be with X when, I said my goodbyes, flashed my backstage pass, and headed down the narrow hallway to the Green room.

Unfortunately, as I rounded the first corner, I came face to face with not only Axl Rose but David Lee Roth.

My first thought was one of shock.

David Lee Roth always looked so sexy in his videos but I had never seen Van Halen perform live… never seen David live.

He was shorter than I had imagined… a bit chubby at the time… and his hair, though still long, was thinning on the top giving the appearance of a balding mullet.

I wasn’t sure how to react.

Here were two internationally known sex symbols standing in the hallway of this venue, and I felt like I was in the Ozarks about to hear the theme song of, Deliverance, begin to rise in the background as I was begged to play the “little piggy” game with both of them.

It was horrible.

Axl was leaning into the corner of the turn… sweaty from his set and smirking at the fact that I was going to have to make my way past both of them by squeezing through the middle of their conversation.

I knew that either way I turned… I was in trouble…

If I was face to face with Axl as I passed by… he would just say a bunch of dirty things and try to get me to want him… and if I was face to face with David Lee Roth… Axl would grab my ass while I had to think of something nice to say to David about my admiration for his talent… while trying to ignore the thin, balding mullet and Axl’s creepy little hands on my butt.

It was definitely a rock and roll gauntlet.

I thought about just turning around and going out the way I came in but if I didn’t find X… he would probably come to the conclusion that I was with Axl and then there really WOULD be a brawl… and David Lee Roth would lose ALL of his hair… and it would be ALL MY FAULT when he had to accept his place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame TOTALLY bald.

Shit.

I was trapped.

I decided it was best to face Axl head on and leave my butt for David Lee Roth.

I strided forward with purpose before wiggling my way through the two of them.

Axl locked eyes with me as if he thought that he could somehow “voodoo spell” me into wanting him.

“Like the show?” he whispered in his most seductive voice.

I rolled my eyes as I felt David Lee Roth put his hands on either side of my hips and say in his “comic” goofy stage voice, “Excuse me..”

Jesus.

I almost ran down the last third of the hallway turning back only once to see them both admiring the jiggle and the shake.

I felt flushed with embarassment as I turned the last corner and ran right into X who was talking to Slash.

My face must have registered shock at being confronted with yet another “Gun,” since I was barely recovered from my brush with Axl, and Slash looked amused by my entrance.

“This is D.D.,” X said.

“Hey,” I said as I reached out my hand to shake his, still a bit breathless from the incident. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“Oh man,” Slash said. “We all thought you were Russian.”

“Russian?” I said.

“Yeah, the way you look and all.”

Suddenly… it clicked.

I bet Axl thought I couldn’t understand a word he was saying at sound check.

“Ty che blyad?”

Jerk.

X of course was just pleased that GNR thought that he was dating the hot foreign chick and I wondered if I might be able to keep the farce going by practicing a thick Russian accent and learning a good selection of Russian vocabulary. That way, I could basically make my way through the Rock World without talking to any of the key players if I didn’t want to… the thought of it was quite enticing…

“Ready to go?” X asked as he wrapped his arm around my waist.

“Nice to meet you,” I said to Slash as X grabbed his guitar case.

He lead me back down the small hallway and I watched as both Axl and David stepped aside for him.

“Good show,” X said as we walked by.

David shook his hand, Axl gave him a nod… and I just kept stepping… no turning around…. no looking back….

Dasvidania.

Tom and Lexi “Meet Cute” While Picking Up A Dead Body Together

Leave a comment

A good friend of our family, Bobby Sepulveda, worked as a Removal Driver for several years.

What is a Removal Driver you may ask?

Well… it’s a person who picks up dead bodies.

From homes.

From Nursing homes.

From the hospital.

From the beach.

From the store.

From parked cars at the football stadium.

Really… wherever you decide you want to punch your final ticket you’ve got someone to take you on that “last call” cab ride home: A Removal Driver.

Now… if you have a problem with dead people or removal drivers… please don’t read any farther.

Trust me.

You won’t like it because it’s about to get good… in a really, really bad way.

Bobby always had great stories about people he picked up.

He called me once from the morgue… and I said, “Where are you? The phone connection is really echoing.”

and Bobby said, “I’m with Donna Reed.”

“Donna Reed?” I asked… a bit confused… not “getting” the big picture…

“Yeah,” Bobby said. “She passed away today and I’m with her at the morgue.”

I felt my face drop.

I had always really liked Donna Reed… ever since she played Jimmy Stewart’s sweetheart in It’s a Wonderful Life, and I wasn’t really sure I wanted my last memory of Donna Reed to be “hanging out” with Bobby Sepulveda in the morgue.

If you knew Bobby Sepulveda… you would understand… I swear you would…. but since you don’t… just picture this…. one of the guys from Jackass in the morgue with Donna Reed.

See what I mean?

It doesn’t really seem right now does it?

Sorry Bobby… but you KNOW it’s true.

So… anyway…

Lexi, my daughter, was very interested in working in the medical profession when she graduated high school.

She wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do at that time… and so she decided to talk to Bobby about becoming a Removal Driver.

“Why the hell do you want to do that?” I snapped at her, my own fear of being a Removal Driver getting in the way of my child’s one true dream.

“Because I want to know if I can handle being around dead bodies,” Lex said.  “I don’t want to go all the way through medical school and find out I don’t have the stomach for that type of work.”

It was a good answer… A reasonable answer and so… I backed her choice.

Our friend Bobby was happy to get her a job… in fact, I’m sure he was amused… he probably thought an 18-year-old who looked like a Victoria’s Secret model and was often mistaken as a show girl when we went to VEGAS… probably wouldn’t last a day picking up dead bodies… but he was wrong.

Lexi got the job, and reported to her first day of duty wearing a nice tailored black suit.

She looked stunning… a TOTAL GLAMAZON on a mission to care for the dead.

I waved goodbye to her, proud as I watched my daughter drive off to her first job… so excited to meet her “Removal Driver Trainer.”

But later that afternoon… Lexi called me on the phone and sounded a bit emotionally distraught.

“Mommy?” she said.

“Yeahhhh?” I said a bit hesitantly.

“I want to come home and see you for a minute is that okay?” She asked.

“Yeah, sure,” I said even though inside I was really saying, “Oh Jesus God please don’t come home because you’re gonna smell like a dead body or something and I’m gonna freak out.”

But… when you are a parent… you have to make sacrifices and if that means you have to support your child by smelling dead bodies all over their clothing… then so be it.

She rolled in about 5 pm with a good looking young man named Tom, from Boston, and his accent killed me.

I  love that South Boston accent… I’m a PUSH OVER for a “Southie” I really am… a guy could be the biggest tattooed criminal from the East Coast and walk up and say something to me all flirty like “Ah Dee….  you’re wicked smaaaart.” And I would probably BEG him to marry me… and run off to be a little toonie… living with my townie… somewhere down around Charlestown or maybe Dorchester hiding assault rifles in my dresser drawer and wildly in LOVE. (East Coast Irish boys being my fatal weakness of course)

Tom and Lexi were just adorable together you could absolutely feel the “spark.”

Their conversation popped back and forth with witty banter that could’ve given Kate Hepburn and Spencer Tracy a run for their money back in the day… and I couldn’t help but pray that these two would end up together just so I could tell people how they met….

Tom, sweetheart that he is, had brought Lexi home to see me because unfortunately… the first dead body Lexi ever saw… was a pretty bad one.

Now… maybe you think all dead bodies are pretty bad… but I think I would prefer someone who was fresh and had died in their bed over what Lex had to witness.

She walked in to meet Tom, her trainer and soon to be “love” interest, and found him in the morgue with an old guy they had just brought in…who had been dead… for over a month.

He had died about 30 days prior, had been laying out in the backyard naked decomposing… until one of the neighbors peeked over the fence and got quite a bit of a shock… and so when Lexi got her first look at him she said that she actually thought he was wearing a plaid bath robe and then felt like she wanted to vomit.

“He was naked,” she said….

(and I wondered what the hell he was doing out in the backyard naked… but I didn’t ask)

“but his body was all red, blue, and green… with these weird patterns on him from where the blood pooled,” she cried before running over to me, begging for a hug.

I swear to GOD I almost pushed her away.

I wanted to run to my bedroom door and shout, “It was nice meeting you Tom… but Lex is ALL yours now! You two have fun with your dead bodies! Mama needs a nap and a valium!”

But I gave in… holding my breath the entire time… before she pulled back and smiled at Tom while I tried to get a good gulp of air… hoping that their little flirtation would keep my antics from being obvious…

And then watched as she batted her eyes at him and said, “Thanks for bringing me to see my mom.” And I loved it.

I knew right then and there… that Tom was a good man.

Later that night, Lexi returned home… excited and chattering on about how she couldn’t stop looking at Tom… how even over the dead guy’s body she couldn’t help but flirt with him…

and that after their shift was over, he had taken her upstairs to his apartment, which was of course, over the morgue, and they had shared their first kiss.

It was SO romantic.

The two of them… over the dead bodies and the refrigerated body drawers… having a moment while everyone lay there…. waiting… doing nothing really.

And I thought…Ahhhhhhhh…. young love… Nothing can distract it. Not even dead bodies.

Tom and Lex became quite the “serious item”  for awhile and I can only imagine how many fond memories they’ve shared retrieving dead bodies together…

But… young love is young love…. and often doesn’t last…

Tom is back on the East Coast now… running his own funeral parlor… while Lexi of course is still out here working on her medical training…

And though Lex claims they are both now “just good friends” I pray often that someday they will end up back together… working as a team… Lex helping people to live… Tom taking care of all the ones that got away…

And me…. sitting on the front porch swing… their children on my lap…. telling them the story of how their parents “Meet Cute.”

Thanks to Everyone for Reading: New Stories Post EVERY Wednesday and Saturday…

Leave a comment

 

Getting Naked with Ryan Ballance and Erik Prosser the Night Before the Wilson Ten Year Reunion Resulting in a VERY Bad Swim

Leave a comment

Something you must know about people who swim or play water polo.

We tend to get naked a lot.

Why?

Because when you spend a life time running around in a bathing suit… changing behind towels at meets, at the beach, somewhere in public… you stop caring who sees you.

And… back in the day when we were all swimming, playing water polo or whatever…. our bodies had no wobbly bits… no bouncing blobs of fat… just nice sleek tan taught muscle.

It was lovely.

Ryan Ballance and Erik Prosser two of my high school friends, were both polo players at Wilson… I of course was a Millikan girl…. you weren’t SUPPOSED to like the Wilson boys…. but we often did…. maybe because it was “forbidden” fruit… going against school spirit to want to make out with the “red and the gold.” How extremely unsportsmanlike.

It didn’t matter to me… I adored them both.

Erik and I had a friendship that went back and forth from friends to boyfriend and girlfriend for years… and I still miss him today… I hate that he is gone from this Earth… a fluke accident.. leaving all of us to miss the beauty of his spirit…

Ryan… was always my buddy… maybe a casual flirtation here and there… maybe a moment of sexual “wit”… but nothing more than that…  and today… I take great joy in seeing photos of him in love and happy in Florida where I imagine he still runs around in speedos, mostly naked, with his girlfriend probably shaking her head as she says to herself: “Christ, everyone must think I’m dating a European.”

Anyways… it was the year of Wilson’s 10 year high school reunion, and Ryan and Erik invited me to a night before “pre-party” at Ryan’s parent’s place down on the Peninsula.

Now… I remember that Ryan was dating someone at the time…. but I cannot for the life of me remember who… but… if you are reading this… I’m sorry we were such complete idiots that night. You must have been mortified and by the way… “Well done you!” for taking the high road and not smacking the shit out of all of us drunkards.

Yes.

Drunkards.

I don’t drink often… I really don’t… but with Ryan and Erik… I don’t remember much of that evening except that we thought it would be a really good idea to strip down to our skivvies and go for a swim in the Bay sometime around 2am.

Okay everyone… listen up….

1. Don’t swim drunk. It is probably one of the stupidest things you can EVER do…

2. If your last name is Wood… don’t swim drunk… do you really want me to bring up the whole Natalie Wood incident? I don’t need people running around Long Beach using me as the butt of their driftwood jokes… I’m sure I’m already the butt of so many Long Beach jokes that we don’t need to add another. And Tim Grobaty… if you are reading this… DON’T get ANY ideas.

3. As you are stripping down to your skivvies don’t prance around and prattle on about your body… and how you STILL have it… you just sound like a COMPLETE AND TOTAL  conceited MORON and… nobody likes a show off.

AND…. 4.

Don’t go out in the Bay at 2am.

People will come.

And not in the cool Field of Dreams sort of way…

They will not pay money to watch you play and frolic in the water… as they sit satisfied… content in nostalgic memories of their own high school reunions… no… they won’t…

They will call the cops.

They will have you arrested.

You will be cited for Disturbing the Peace…

Drunk and Disorderly…

Indecent Exposure…

YOU NAME IT…. their ON IT at 2 am when a bunch of yahoos wake up the Peninsula.

The ENTIRE Peninsula.

Now, I do remember Erik went in first and he was half way to the buoy before I shot in after him… we were always competitive so I busted my ass… or what I believed was busting my ass… who knows what I was really doing… probably floundering around in circles believing that I was somehow moving forward and catching up to him.

I looked for Ryan… who started to follow but then seemed to pause and disappear… either he stopped because he had a moment of clarity and thought better of it or his girlfriend grabbed him and forced him to the ground….. either way…. he never made it into the water which ended up being a really good thing for him.

Erik and I frolicked about from buoy to buoy laughing and screwing around up and down the tow line, spitting water at each other, slap fighting waves,  until someone turned on their porch light and stared us down…it was a BIG SOMEONE… a hulking MAD MAN SHADOW of a SOMEONE… ready to call the cops… we reverted back to high school…. hid behind a buoy whispering God knows what,  until he went back inside and turned off the light, leaving us to giggled as we backstroked our way over to the beach grabbed our towels and headed back up to the house.

We were about to enter the gate when I grabbed the pull string… realized the latch was stuck… pulled harder and watched as the string broke, and the metal washer that had been weighting the end flew straight at me and cut a half moon slash right between my eyes.

Erik didn’t even flinch… he just started laughing at me which of course led Ryan’s father to become involved.

He wiped off the cut, told me I would live and then insisted on me spending the night… and rightfully so… here is another thing you NEVER do after a 10 year high school reunion pre-party:

YOU NEVER… EVER… DRIVE HOME DRUNK.

EVER.

Do you hear me children?

EVER.

I slept on the couch until about 5 am, when I woke up in a Homer Simpson moment and shouted “DOH!” before I rushed home in a plain white over-sized man’s t-shirt and a pair of blue jeans.

I knew I had more clothes somewhere… but I couldn’t figure out what had happened to them.

I drove home at an alarming pace, all windows down, blowing the stink off, praying to GOD that my husband didn’t see me and think the absolute worst because… if he would have seen me… no matter how innocent that evening had been… I would have paid for it over the course of a lifetime.

I looked like I was heading home from a “walk of shame” and you don’t want your wife showing up at home… 5 am… no shoes… another man’s t-shirt on her back and a crescent moon shaped bloody cut in the middle of her forehead… EVER at 5 am… trust me people… it looks bad.

Now, I learned a lot by being sneaky in my youth and I knew that if I cut the engine as I crossed the Cohn’s house… I could coast up to the front of my childhood home (where we all still lived) in complete silence…

I cut the engine at the appropriate time, and let the car roll easily to the front walk.

I jumped out, quietly shut the door before I crept up the steps, into the house and lay down on the couch to wait and see if the coast was clear.

After about fifteen minutes… of shallow breathing and twitching at every little noise… I knew I was safe… no one was awake.

I tip-toed into the back of the house and found my husband asleep with our son…

I went into the bathroom, washed my face, brushed my teeth, cleaned the wound on my head and covered it with make-up before putting on my nighty, that was hanging on the back of the bathroom door.

I was going to have a hell of a hangover day and I had to get some time alone to recover.

I knew what I had to do… I had to find a way to get my husband out of the house and his love for surfing was my ticket.

I went back into the bedroom and shook my husband gently…

“Babe,” I said in my sweetest voice. “Babe?” I whispered again.

“Yeah,” he answered.

“The surf is supposed to be really good today,” I said.  “It’s 5:30. Why don’t you get up and go catch some waves… I’ll watch the kids.”

“Okay,” he said as I climbed into the bed and he exited out the other side, grabbed his car keys and flip flops, before heading out for the day.

I’m surprised he couldn’t hear my sigh of relief from the driveway. In fact… I’m surprised he couldn’t hear it from the Huntington Cliffs for that matter.

I slept my stupor off for several hours before heading off to load up my system with a lot of greasy junk food and coca-cola and was right as rain by the time my husband was back home.

I returned to the Peninsula later that afternoon in search of the rest of my clothing… and that is when Ryan’s father informed me that my cowboy boots, my black t-shirt, my jacket and my belt had been strewn in a long path across the bay in front of a block of his neighbor’s houses… and that he had to gather them up, apologizing for our behavior, before he placed them in a brown paper bag which… he was now handing to me… as if it were a bag of something dirty… secret porn… and I took it with my eyes cast down, embarrassed and ashamed, as I rolled the top of the bag over and hurried towards the door.

“Oh,” he said. “By the way D.D….”

I turned back to look at him.

“You and Erik might like to know that the Bay was closed yesterday due to bacteria contamination. So… you were basically swimming in shit. Probably wasn’t such a good idea to go for a swim last night… right?”

I suddenly felt like I was seventeen again.

My face flushed red and my mind flashed back to Erik and I swigging mouthfuls of dirty Bay water and spitting it at each other…

I was sure for a moment… that I was going to vomit… but I didn’t… I just nodded my head slowly and said, “Yes Mr. Ballance. I completely understand Mr. Ballance. It will never happen again Mr. Ballance.”

As he looked at me…. fatherly sternness radiating like laser beams from his eyes… Ryan standing behind him…. laughing his ass off.

Erik and I didn’t get sick from our late night misadventure…it’s amazing really that we didn’t… and I’m just glad that neither one of us drowned that night.

I don’t regret it though… I really don’t… it’s a good story… contaminated… or not and it is one of many great memories I have of Erik and of Ryan…. most of which involve some type of inappropriate activity.