Tuesday, 25 September 2012
Fancy meeting you here!
The landscape in and around Santa Barbara varies, from hillside trails for walking and riding that give way to beaches of soft golden sand and the often dramatic waves of the Pacific Ocean. The beachfront area is neatly landscaped with flowering borders and well kept lawns, stark tall Palms offering minimal shade from the sun and intertwined throughout with cycle paths usually patrolled by skateboarders and roller skate enthusiasts, all dodging the cyclists and walkers. The diversions from daily routine on offer for the local population included back in 1988, numerous bars and restaurants, cafe’s, and sports facilities, cinemas and shops. Highway 101 winds its way through town and then southerly along the coast towards LA, until turning inland at Ventura (North Los Angeles). The Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel, beyond the Zoological Gardens sits amongst private gardens and beachfront. Further south sits the small town of Summerland. A small number of bars line the roads running alongside Highway 101 and it was here that Mum and I found ourselves, in the evening following the “Blow-Job” declination.
We’d driven through Summerland earlier that week on one our “journeys of discovery” and Mum had remarked on how nice everything looked along the coast road. We’d eaten in town and had driven around until we saw a bar offering live music – “jazz”. We walked in through a heavy oak door and the bar was laid out left to right in front of us. A fug of cigar and cigarette smoke hung in the air, as a four piece played acoustic guitar, drums, saxophone and double bass away to our left in the corner by the front wall. The bar itself was low lit and dark, Mahogany tones, both in wood and leather offering comfort to the eye and the behind, as we perched on well padded tall stools at the bar. To our right and against the front wall, were sofa’s and tables and chairs, a range to seating, only now coming into fashion as customers seek more of a “Lounge” experience. A well stocked bar offered a large array of liquors and wines, bottled beers and draught American lagers. A large mirror behind the bottles reflected the bar and the clientele seated at its wide wooden expanse.
The bar was not overly packed; in fact it was easy to move from door to seats at the bar. To my left beyond Cynthia my Mum, were five or six more customers occupying bar stools, and a few more customers were seated as the bar turned towards the rear wall. I ordered glasses of wine for us and as this was still 1988, lit up a Marlboro and surveyed my surroundings, chatted with Cynthia and generally relaxed after a curious day. Once we were some way through our drinks, I continued my survey of the bar and I noticed a rather striking blonde haired woman sat with her back against the rear wall on the last barstool. I did not look at her beyond the usual “letch” and returned to chatting with Cynthia who was enjoying the Jazz music, which was far from noisy and we talked of all things American. Cynthia was really becoming a fan of American (California to be precise), the food, the weather, the people, the coast and especially the doctors and hospital. The only real thing playing on her mind was the need to attended Dr Braniff’s Consultancy to take a treadmill test, whatever that might be?
After maybe an hour, we were interrupted by the Blonde, who at closer inspection (an inspection that was to increase dramatically over the next few days) was strikingly attractive. Unnoticed by me, which is something in and of its self; a beautiful woman had moved around the bar and had sat next to mum. She must have been there sometime when she broke into our conversation by way of “I love listening to your accent”. I glanced up and past mum and took in her beauty, high defined cheekbones, full lips, deep blue eyes and neatly styled blonde hair that sat on her shoulders and framed her face, the light from the bar glancing off her cheeks and creating shadows on necks and against the side of her nose, under her eyebrows. Her voice was velvety smooth, her accent Californian. She wore a short thigh high dress, loose fitting from the bust down, and as far as I could ascertain, no bra, her breasts holding their own magnificently against all of gravities exertions; they were a Newtonian delight!
Mum looked to her left and would have said something along the lines of “thank you, how are you” etc. The blonde looked across at me and said, “I hope you don’t mind my asking, but are you George Michael?” I started to speak, I had to correct her misguided assumption, but mum shot back with, “Well, yes he is actually”. I don’t know where mum plucked up the courage to tell such a blatant lie, but that was nothing considering the backup story she and subsequently I concocted to cement that belief not only in our new friend, but almost anyone else who would ask whether indeed “I was George Michael?” in the days and weeks to come.
“I knew it was you, I saw you from my seat over there” she said pointing to the spot where I’d noticed her sitting when mum and I had first sat down. “Hello” I said and reached across to shake her hand. Her fingers held my hand for slightly longer than a normal handshake would require; her eyes held mine throughout until she let go of my hand. “Can I get you a drink, we were about to order another” I said. She said yes, so I decided on a bottle of probably Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, knowing that I had to buy a pricier bottle, in order to not ‘give up the jig’, before the preliminaries were out of the way!
“I’m Monique” she said, Ah! Monique, her name fitted her perfectly. Within seconds, she had gotten off her bar stool, lifted it around Mum and placed it between Mum and two feet or so from the bar. I had to shuffle my seat backwards, away from Mum to allow Monique to reach her glass, which by now had moved between mums glass and mine. This girl was keen I thought, make no mistake, don’t bugger it up! As she was manoeuvring her seat, Mum cast a glance towards me and cracked a sly smile and patted my leg, as if to say, “over to you son”. I was still stunned at the audacity shown by mum, where she’d gotten the nerve from and frankly why she would say such a thing? Later, much later, when regaling friends with the story, she said I was George Michael to see what the girls or indeed waiters, hotel managers and others would say and that it was fun. Mum was to commit the sin of lying about her son’s true identity again, in a truly audacious way in a few weeks time.
The conversation between Monique, mum and I focused mainly on why Monique should find George Michael sitting in a small bar in Summerland, California, with his Mum? I proceeded to build upon Mum’s lie, saying that I (George) was touring (as she undoubtedly knew, being a fan!), the East Coast at the time, (George was on the Faith tour). Moreover, that I, (George) had a few days between shows and had decided to fly my (his) Mum out for some R&R in Santa Barbara. The Q&A continued and despite obviously not wanting the world to know where George (me) was staying, confirmed that yes, indeed, we (they) were staying at the 5 Star Biltmore Hotel, just around the corner, on the beach. Definitely not at a 3 Star Motel (due to the pool it was 3 Star) on State Street, in downtown Santa Barbara! So, a back story was created, Mum began interjecting with snippets of information, such as “He is a lovely man, treating his Mum to such a nice holiday” and “He hasn’t got a girlfriend at the moment you know, all those girls in the videos are models!” At which Monique shot me a glance that meant unequivocally, “You can have one if you want one, me!”
Whilst many of you may consider the story so far and the rest to follow, to be the words of a big-head (I was I admit back then quite a confident/arrogant sod, not so much nowadays I hope), and no doubting that I am self-assured, I do wish to appear to brag, but given this is an autobiographical account of my life, think that I may as well tell this and all the stories reflecting who I am, as accurately as possible.
So, I felt that even if Mum and I had denied that I was indeed George Michael, Monique was of a mind that:-
A) She fancied me (George),
B) She was going to have me (George), and finally
C) I was of a mind that I could have successfully chatted my way into her knickers anyway, whether purporting to be a world famous singer or not.
There, I’ve said it and I stand by it.
The evening progressed, Mum and Monique talking about clothes, shoes, (Mums weakness), travel, holidays, etc and ended with the three of us agreeing to meet for dinner the following evening and Monique had ventured as far as to continually touch my thigh, hold my hand etc, as she made a point during conversation or as she reached for her glass. There used to be, (it maybe still there) a lovely restaurant on a corner in downtown Santa Barbara (the name slips, sorry), that had a nice garden and terrace tables so we agreed to meet there. As the evening drew to a close, with mum showing her tiredness, we made our plans and said goodbye until tomorrow. Monique left slightly before us, which was good as she would have wondered why George was driving a hired Chevy Saloon and not a more up-market model or indeed where was his chauffeur?
As soon as Monique had left, after lingering kisses to each cheek, the journey between which, she gently brushed her lips against mine, Mum turned and said “She’s lovely Jonathan, I think she likes you”, with a naughty glint in her eye. Mum could be many things; she loved to laugh, loved intrigue and a challenge, moreover I discovered that she could be very duplicitous, almost conniving and I was going to be the pawn in her tricky game. I was going to have to maintain a charade long after I had tucked mum up for the night, if as I planned, I played my cards right and ended up exploring more of California and Summerland’s beautiful scenery.
A Shakespeare wrote, “All the worlds as stage, and everyman must play his part”. I was to play two roles over the next few days, simultaneously, all very Shakespearean!
Written and Posted by Jonathan Weaver