I was holed up in my apartment on El Camino Real in California, Bay Area. El Camino Real was the main street that ran across the back of most of the towns that make up the Bay Area, leading from San Jose in the south to San Francisco in the north. Paul invited me to Christmas dinner with Shirley at their apartment and Victor his brother was now living there as well. A nice time was had by all and I looked toward 1988 with renewed enthusiasm to achieve my goal of becoming a singer/songwriter. Victor had introduced me to the artist Gino Vannelli, see http://www.ginov.com/home/, and I was soon buying all his albums.
Victor got a Mustang on Higher Purchase, a beast of a car that he had very little control of and as such, whenever we went out he would be fishtailing down the street as soon as he touched the throttle! Meanwhile, Marks Karate was going great guns, he and Debbie had a nice apartment in Cupertino and I was lonely. They came up one weekend to see me and take me out and we ended up at a bar/restaurant/nightclub called Charlie Browns. We had a meal and sat amongst the crowd, laughing and generally having fun. It was then I saw a Stephanie. She was sat with a group of friends and was to me, a knockout.
I asked her to dance, got the “I love your accent” line and played on it for the rest of the night. Mark and Debbie were happy, as I was no longer wandering about with a face like a smacked arse and come the close of the night, I had nabbed a lift home from Stephanie. She drove a Ford Ranger pickup truck, gleaming black and detailed in chrome. We parked outside my apartment and I asked her if I could kiss her. She said yes and I planted one of my best kisses on her. Soft to start, lips barely touching, slowly increasing the pressure as she relaxes and reciprocates and increasing the movement of the lips and tongue to correspond with hers. Soon we were kissing like our lives depended on it.
Stephanie said that no one had ever “asked” if they could kiss her, they usually leapt in. Being as I was later christened “the snoggo kid” by Dave Bennett an ex professional footballer; I was a committed professional Kisser and Ladies Man. I was playing my main card, which is being a gentleman in conjunction with the English Accent. I was also feeling more than my normal level of attraction (wanting to jump in the sack straight away) toward her, something strange was happening. I felt she was different, this could be different and went into my apartment with a spring in my step (but still with a lump in my jeans), so to speak.
Work continued and we took a job lacquering a sweeping Oak staircase newly built into a house in Hillsborough. The family was Hispanic and the eldest daughter was a singer, and her father was keen to get her recording. I mentioned during a tea break that I was a songwriter (ha!) and would be willing to help, sharing my lyrics and songs with them. On the way home that evening, Paul was unusually quiet and I asked him what the problem was. “You are not to work with that family. I do not want you helping the daughter write and sing songs”. I thought he was joking but he was serious! “Fuck off” was my response. There was no way he could or even should think that he was able to dictate who I could work with outside of his business or what I could do in my spare time.
I have (had) a great deal of respect and time for Paul, after all he gave me my break into Californian living and I am forever grateful. But my dream, much like Marks was to own his own Karate Studio, was to become famous, a singer and songwriter. So, the Garcia family welcomed me in and I presented to them one of my first attempts at a song, suitable for a 15 year old. Some of the lyrics, I repeat below, either for your amusement or sympathy, you decide. None the less, Mr Garcia liked it, as did his daughter and more importantly, they commissioned a group of musicians to take my simple tune and turn it into something the daughter could sing to. Anyway, the lyrics to the chorus are: -
Fly on the Wall.
Like a fly on the wall, you don’t see me at all
When you’re with the other girls
But when locked in a kiss it’s me that you’ll miss,
Just remember I’m not one of your toys.
OK, get over it, read on, nothing to see here........................................
I had been writing to my sister Helen quite frequently and had written of my thoughts, such as never having the chance to have a pint with him, to never go to a football match together, he’d miss my wedding (!), and we’d never get the chance to sit on a foreign beach, in the sun, beers in hand , watching the girls go by, and acknowledge silently to one another, in the way men do (a cough, wink, nudge, clearing of the throat etc, that’s totally invisible to women!not!!), when a very attractive girl, with quality assets on show, walked by. I suppose my grieving for my father was taking place ten years after his death, far from home and when I was at a low point. But the corner was turned with my new life now and I grabbed it all eagerly and went for the ride.
Stephanie’s Ford Ranger pick-up was used to transport me to various places and she stood credit for me on new bed, which was more expensive than I could afford in a one off payment. She also stood credit on a couch and a table and chairs. She was paid back within a month. Her background slowly came out in late night discussions. She had been about to marry her childhood sweetheart, the day of the wedding she jilted him. As it turned out, I thought she had had a lucky escape as he would knock her around quite a bit and was an arsehole. On the night we met, Stephanie was out with her friends for the first time since her wedding, having become quite reclusive for some months afterwards. I suppose you can guess where the story goes but hey, have some fun and read on.
We arranged a long weekend in LA, staying at a large hotel near Knots Berry Farm Theme park (http://www.knotts.com) in the March. Stephanie met Mark and Debbie and they did not get along at all. This left me in a difficult position as I was falling head over heels for her but I stayed loyal to Mark and we’d meet up every week at least for dinner somewhere. Debbie worked in a bar/club as a waitress; Stephanie worked for Folgers Coffee Company in San Francisco. I would think about her all the time, thankfully mobile phones did not exist as my bill would have been massive. I relied on her and that was the problem.
She also had sexual hang-ups, was probably affected by the abuse from her former partner and as such I had to learn to manage self control and as I loved her (thought i did anyway), put up with minimal amounts of between the sheets activity. But love is blind, we went to the beach, took long walks through China Town, went to Sausalito and Monterrey, Capitola and Santa Cruz. We’d shop, dine, laugh, cuddle and watch TV. Everything was rosy. I wrote songs of love and life, slept soundly, smiled at life, cherished the days we were together, agonised when we were apart, told everyone about my love, old ladies in stores, valet guys, barmen, waitresses, anyone who would listen, or who got trapped into a corner and had no escape. I WAS IN LOVE.......................
I was gutted, you may know the feeling, where your throat fills with a scream, a cry that just won’t come out, your head fills with the sound of your pulse, you want to rewind the moment, go back, and you say anything and everything to change her mind. It’s not you, it’s me, she said, meaning it was me. I had crowded her, “I’ll give you more room”, I was too demanding “it was only because you had the car, took me everywhere, you volunteered to get my stuff” I said, I want to be with the new guy she said. “What about LA?” We can still go, “Oh yea that will be fun!”
We went; I cried all the way there, 440 miles down Interstate 5, going 55mph. It’s a fucking long way and I had lost half my body fluids by the time we pulled into the hotel in Anaheim. A large puddle of tears and snot lay beneath my feet, “fuck her” I thought, I'd washed the truck enough, she could mop it out. We checked in early evening, I stopped crying enough for us to go to dinner in the hotel bar. As soon as we met I had reduced my smoking to minimal levels, always out of sight and scent of her. “Fuck her” I thought, as I got a pack of 20 Marlboro Red from the barman and lit up in front of her. She said nothing. We traipsed back to the room, one double bed. I slept on the floor! “Fuck her” I thought, it was only 9pm and here I was laid out on the floor of a hotel with someone who did not want me, sleeping above me.
I dressed and went to the bar, sat there drinking shots and moaning to anyone within ear shot, which quickly reduced to no one in ear shot, once I kicked off! The barman was giving me angry looks, so I left. I wandered out the main door and crossed the street to get a bottle of Jack from the Liquor store. A group of guys stood to one side of the store and I passed them as I went in, one said “Hi”. I nodded and went in. I came out with my bourbon and the same guy said “hi” again. “Ok Mate” I said. “You English” he said, he was a black dude and the group was a mixture of Blacks, Hispanics and white guys, all well dressed and smiling. I figured safe to talk, so I did.
They wanted me to go back inside and get a keg of beer and some vodka for them, they were having a party in my hotel, and I could come up, lots of booze and girls. I was in and out of the Liquor Store faster than Carl Lewis and we were off up stairs. Stephanie asleep (or not who cared) me partying with a gang of kids. I appeared back in “our” room, just before sun up, and collapsed on the floor. I had drunk and laughed, played indoor NFL and NBA, cuddled some ladies, smoked a few cigars, had sex with two ladies at once, smoked a joint or two, made a second dash to the Liquor Store and had sex again, had drank some more and had had a great night. I was invited back the next night too! I was over Stephanie and back on track Jack! We had 2 days left in LA and I was going to enjoy myself!
It was that quick, I was over her, I was back in control.