The Legend of Elizabeth Reid, Part IV


CHAPTER 6 — L.A. CONFIDENTIAL

June, 2005

The latest chapter in the neverending saga of me and Elizabeth.  If you need to, you can catch up with Part IPart II and Part III (otherwise known as The Girl With the Glasses).  Or you can just start reading here; you won’t be too lost, trust me.

First off, let me begin by stating that I was over Elizabeth.  Really.  I’m serious.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’d still sleep with her if I ever got the chance, but I don’t care enough anymore to put any serious effort into it.  She’s a cool chick, slightly unstable, but a fun girl who’s always a riot to party with.  But that’s it.

I swear.

I decided to go up to Los Angeles for the night because I had been in a bit of a drinking funk.  G-Man had been sent to Virginia for secret government training; Will The Mormon had taken a job in Seattle; Manscape had bought a condo way up in the northern suburbs with his girlfriend; and Tripod was going through his club promoting phase, which meant he was downtown at some high roller nightclub most every night that was just too classy and expensive for a drunkard like me.  As a result, my drunken spells had gotten fewer and farther between.  It had gotten so bad I hadn’t even been to my favorite bar in San Diego, Typhoon Saloon, in like two months.

So when Elizabeth sent me an E-vite out of the blue to come to her “B” party up in L.A. (the theme of the party was the letter B; don’t ask) I figured it would be just what the doctor ordered.  I hadn’t been up to L.A. in a long time, Elizabeth is always good for some drunken debauchery, and she promised me a patch of floor to crash on.  To seal the deal, Elizabeth would be the only person I knew, and since I didn’t really give a damn what she thought anymore, I figured it would be an excellent opportunity to make a total ass of myself with little or no consequences.  As I like to put it, “Social norms do not apply to me this weekend.”

So I left San Diego around 7 on Saturday evening and immediately hit traffic.  (I thought county fairs were just for Midwestern rednecks in overalls eating funnel cakes and having their prized pig judged; who knew they were big in California too?)  But once I got past the fair traffic it was smooth sailing and I cruised about 80 all the way to northern L.A. in a bit over two hours.  The directions were solid and I found parking just a few blocks away.

I had forgotten to write down the aprtment number, but I thought I remembered it was on the 4th floor so I took the elevator up to the top.  Much to my relief, some overeager party planner had taken the initiative of putting streamers over the door.  Keeping with my theme of “no social norms,” I didn’t bother to knock and just walked right in…  and found four people sitting on a couch.  They all turned and looked at me and I smiled awkwardly and announced, “Wow, I don’t know a single person here.”

The guy of the group, catching the theme of my “B” outfit, exclaimed, “It’s BRIAN Urlacher!” (yeah, I’m that lazy, I wore a football jersey for my costume) and introductions were quickly made all around.  I met the “bug guy,” the “biker bitch,” the “ball buster,” and “Barbara Bush.”  In the 30 seconds it took to meet all these people, I had already determined I would not be hanging out with any of them tonight, so I asked where Elizabeth was and went off to the kitchen to say hi and make myself a drink.

Elizabeth hasn’t changed a bit in 12 years.  She can still talk with the best of them.  She was on the phone when I walked in, but that didn’t stop her from screaming “Oh my God!” before hugging me and breaking into a monologue that was partially for me, partially for whoever she was on the phone with.  I smiled politely and stepped around her to find a glass.  I had brought a bottle of vodka and some Red Bull and I made myself an extra stiff one to get the night started off right.

(Elizabeth, by the way, was dressed as a Chicago Cubs “bleacher bum.”  I didn’t even try to hide my disgust and told her I would be calling her Steve Bartman for the rest of the evening.)

Actual photo of me and Elizabeth, circa 2004

It wasn’t much of a party.  There were never more than a dozen people there, and there were tensions between the three roommates so there were cliques of people at the party that weren’t interacting.  I just kept drinking and didn’t worry about things like tension, cliques, or anything else.  I heard one group (the anti-Elizabeth clique) discussing international soccer and I barged into the conversation, going on a tirade about how soccer wasn’t a sport and how it’s the NASCAR of the world, a simple game with simple rules for simple, uneducated people.  Needless to say, I wasn’t very popular with this group.  They used phrases like “ignorant American,” and “this is why the world hates us,” but I was undeterred.  I explained how soccer was an excellent sport for young kids to play because it teaches the agility and footwork they will need when they grow up and want to play real sports.

And all this was before Elizabeth and I started taking shots.

Things went downhill quick after that.  One of her friends, Mackenzie, showed up fashionably late with her boyfriend Brian and they were two of the coolest people ever.  We started doing more shots and pounding Red Bull and vodka like it was water.  Brian heard about my soccer tirade and jumped right into the fray with a few derogatory comments of his own, further alienating us from the main group.  Somewhere around 11:30 (time is a very nebulous thing when you drink as much as I do), everyone decided the party was lame and it was time to go to a bar.  I tossed my Urlacher jersey aside (you never know what dress codes might be like in a fashion-conscious city like L.A.), took one last shot of vodka with a splash of apple pucker with Elizabeth, and we all stumbled into the street.  The other group was heading for one bar, so the four of us hurried ahead and as soon as we were out of sight hopped in a cab and went to another bar.

I love the feeling of being utterly shitfaced in a strange town.  It takes about two blocks before you’re hopelessly lost.  We might have been a half-mile from Elizabeth’s place, or we might have been in Santa Barbara.  I didn’t know and I didn’t care.  The bar we stopped at had booze and that was good enough for me.

We ordered drinks and shots, then beers to wash it all down.  More beers, drunken debauchery at the bar, it’s all kind of hazy.  I ran out of cash so I opened a tab and ordered more drinks, more shots, and more beers to wash it all down.

Elizabeth still has that infectious personality that just draws people to her.  I always meet the strangest characters when I’m out with her.  Besides Mackenzie and Brian, who were alcoholic riots, we met these guys that could have been straight out of some redneck bar back in middle America.  One guy was about my height and had to weigh 350 pounds.  We got to talking and I discovered he was an Auburn alum.  I must have been off my game that night because I couldn’t think of a single bad thing to say about the Tigers.  That never happens to me.  I always have at least one derogatory comment about every school or team.  It’s part of my charm.  Either a witty saying (“Kent read, Kent write, Kent State”), a clever play on mascots (“Scum Devils,” “Suckeyes”), or a particularly painful moment in their school’s history (“As a Spartan fan, how do you feel about Notre Dame running out the clock to preserve a tie and steal the ’66 national title?”).  But on this night I drew a total blank.  No comments about Terry Bowden’s miserable recruiting, no jokes about Bo Jackson’s hip, not even a “Roll Tide” cheer.  I just smiled politely and said, “Auburn, that’s cool,” and kept on drinking.  Not one of my finer moments.

When last call came Mackenzie and Brian took off to have drunken monkey sex, but Elizabeth had finagled us an invite to Auburn guy’s house for a post-party.  Since I love alcohol this seemed like a splendid idea.  I have no memory of how we got to the house; we must have gotten directions and took a cab, but that part of my mind is permanently washed away by the booze.

Most of the party is the same way.  I have vague, surreal memories of individual events that have no time or context or continuity.  A bunch of people were in the living room smoking pot and playing Ms. Pac-Man; not liking pot or Ms. Pac-Man, I headed for the kitchen to raid their alcohol.  I have no memory of this, but Elizabeth later told me I was drinking “the strongest, most disgusting thing I ever tasted;” whatever it was, I’m sure I had a couple.  By this point I was so inebriated I could barely talk.  I remember not being able to find the bathroom, so rather than try to communicate with anyone I just went outside and pissed off the front porch.  I feel like I repeated this feat several times.

The cool thing about partying with Elizabeth is that 1) she talks so much you can never lose track of her; wander off as many times as you like, you can always follow the sound of her voice to find your way back.  And 2) she talks so much that you can leave her alone with anyone to do your own thing and you know she’ll be able to entertain herself.  There were very few other women at the party.  And because I could barely stand or talk I thought it would be the perfect time to try hitting on one.  I don’t remember much, but I do distinctly remember her telling me that I was annoying her, so I went back to the kitchen to drink more.  Gotta repect the honesty.

The highlight of the party was when I bumped into the 350-pound Auburn guy while making myself another drink.  I slapped him on the shoulder like we were old buddies and let out a loud, boisterous “Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk!”  He just stared at me like I was an idiot.  And it was only then that I realized I was doing a Kansas cheer rather than Auburn.  So I apologized, muttered a quiet “War damn Eagle,” and slunk away.

It’s possible I might have had too much to drink.

It was around 3:45am when Elizabeth and I left the party.  I know this only because I looked at my watch to try and figure out if we had any chance of finding a cab.  Remember, I had absolutely zero idea where I was.  I think we were still in L.A., at least in Los Angeles County, but even that is questionable.  But that’s ok.  I’m good at this sort of thing.  Despite all my alcoholic issues, I have never once failed to make it back to either my intended destination or at least the safe sanctuary of a friend.  I’ve never slept in a gutter (still a goal of mine), never passed out at a stranger’s, none of that.  All I have to do is turn on my safety radar and we’ll be fine.

I took a look around at my surroundings and realized we were in a neighborhood that could have passed for any tree-lined street in a Midwestern town, cute little houses all up and down the block. No streetlights or stop lights in sight for blocks in any direction.  No sound of traffic in the distance.  Nothing, just a quiet, abandoned street.  So I paused to think for a moment.  I figured if we start walking in any direction we’re bound to hit civilization within a couple blocks, right?  I mean, this is L.A., the second biggest city in America.

It was about this time that Elizabeth let out a shriek and yelled, “A taxi!” and ran into the street to flag it down.  The first car we’ve seen since we walked out of the house, what are the odds?  I smiled to myself: my streak would remain intact.

But then I took a closer look at the car bearing down on Elizabeth.  Hmmm, doesn’t look like a cab, although it does have some stuff on the roof…

That’s right, it was a cop.  And he was not amused by the stupid drunk girl jumping up and down in the middle of the street flagging him down.  Even better, once he came to a stop Elizabeth was leaning through the open passenger window incoherently asking the cop where we were.

But this too is alright.  Besides my gift for finding sanctuary, I also have an odd talent for talking with police officers while shitcanned.  So I gently pulled Elizabeth away from the car, apologized to the officer, and asked him where we might just find a cab this time of night.  The cop, still scowling, looked me over and apparently decided that I was harmless even if retarded drunk, and pointed down one street and said to walk about six blocks.  Then he said, “Try to control your girl,” and drove away.

I almost did a little endzone celebration in the middle of the street when I realized Elizabeth was looking directly at me.  “Wow, that was impressive,” she said.  “How drunk are you?”

“Drunker than you’ll ever know.  Now let’s go.”

We stumbled however many blocks it was to civilization and came onto a real street with real lights and real traffic and found a cab in short order.  Piled in and Elizabeth told the cabbie where we were going before promptly passing out on my shoulder.

The cabbie looked like a Vietnam vet, or maybe a protester, but he spoke English, which is always a plus for cabbies in California.  Or usually is a plus.  In this case he was just annoying.  He kept trying to ask me questions about where we had been, where we were going, etc.  I tried to explain that I wasn’t from here and had no idea what bar we had been at or where the party was we had just left, but he didn’t seem to be grasping it. Elizabeth, meanwhile, was snoring away and no help.  Then he started asking about where we were going.  I gave him the street corners again but he kept asking more and more questions. 

“Do you know where San Vicente is?” I asked.

“Yes.”

 “Do you know where Barrington is?”

 “Yes.”

 “Do you know where the two of them intersect?”

 “Yes.”

 “That’s where we’re going.”

 “But there’s no apartments on that intersection.”

 By this point my head is ready to explode.  “I know, it’s just one building off the corner.”

 “But which way?”

 “I don’t know, just get us to the intersection and we’ll handle it.”

 “Well, is the building on Barrington or San Vicente?”

“I don’t know, just get us there and we’ll figure it out.”

“Is it on the northeast corner?  I seem to remember a complex just off the northeast corner.”

“Look, buddy, you can drop us off in the middle of the intersection, right in the middle of the goddamn street and I’ll take it from there.”

“But I thought you’d never been here before?”

Realizing I had no chance of winning this argument in my drunken state, I fell back in the seat and employed my Fake Pass Out maneuver, all the while keeping one eye open for our street corner.

We finally made it back to Elizabeth’s place.  The other group had already gotten home so the couch was occupied, as was the recliner.  So I stumbled into Elizabeth’s room and plopped down on the floor next to her bed to pass out.  (That fuckin’ cabbie had exhausted me.)  I was just about gone when Elizabeth suddenly dropped down on the floor next to me.

Hmm?

She put her arm around me, mumbled something incoherent in my ear, then started stroking my bald head.

Hmmm?  The plot thickens.

(Among other things.)  

Now, again, I must reiterate that I’m over Elizabeth.  While I’d still sleep with her, I really don’t think of her in that way anymore.  I’ve moved on.  She’s just a friend, and I drove up to L.A. without any thought of  banging her.  I just wanted to get fucked up, and I had succeeded.

But… don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, or something like that.

So I turned towards her, put an arm around her and moved in, right there on the floor.  Kissed her on the neck, brushed her hair back and kissed her ear, whispered some sweet nothings in her ear (which in my state of inebriation might have come out in Swahili).  Ran my hand down her back to her slender waist, gently sliding under her shirt and starting to slowly slide up towards her breasts, when…

“No!”

Huh?

With a speed I didn’t think possible in someone that drunk, she was up and out of my arms and into her bed.

Huh??  What the fuck???  I was too bewildered, too confused, too hammered to even be angry at the sudden turn of events.  I pulled myself up to my hands and knees and then off the floor.  Hands on my hips, head spinning, I looked at her in the darkness.  She was out cold.  Just like that.  Snoring away.  I don’t know how long I stood there, trying to wrap my drunken mind around what had just transpired.  Finally, when the room started spinning, I went around to the other side of her bed and passed out cold.

At some point during the night Elizabeth awoke with a start, rattling me out of my drunken slumber.  I was still hammered.  If anything, I felt more drunk  than I had since we left the party.  She didn’t say a word.  I don’t know if she thought I was asleep or if she was too drunk to even realize I was in the room.  But she got up and proceeded to undress right in front of me, stripping down to nothing but a pair of panties before crawling back into bed and passing out.

Huh???

And for the first time I got angry.  Really, really fucking pissed off.  Not because she had led me on, turned on a switch that had been turned off for years.  Not because I had been a perfect gentleman all night, only to be teased until I got revved up before being unceremoniously shot down yet again.  Nope, none of that bothered me.  What really pissed me off was that, in my shitfaced stupor, I had apparently still been responsible enough to take my contacts out before passing out.  Here was THE Elizabeth Reid, not ten feet away from me, stripping down to nothing, and she was just a blur to me.

Life can be so cruel.

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