You heard yesterday about my very brief romance with Margie A—, with whom I saw The Towering Inferno. I have, since writing about her, remembered that she wasn’t my first tryst after First Major informed me that my participation in her life was no longer required.
I was sitting up there in the lonely house at the top of Laurel Canyon where First Major and I had known such happiness together (he said ironically), pining for her, pining for her, heartbroken, unable to function, waiting eagerly for four o’clock in the afternoon every day so I could pour Cutty Sark on my desperate unhappiness. I could barely count on what was left of the Porsche I’d bought in the first blush of stardom to get me down the hill, but I needed desperately to get away for a few days. My mother was kind enough to lend me her car.
I drove up to San Francisco, intending to see the second girlfriend of my adolescence. She’d known me, when I was a sophomore in college and she a freshman, as a dweeb. Now I was a glamorous rock star type, and she decided that our reunion wouldn’t have to be platonic after all. She pronounced me a much better lover than I’d been as a dweebish sophomore. I suspected that wasn’t saying very much. But then the guy she’d been seeing for the preceding several months came back from his business trip, and she had to appeal to her younger sister to put me up for my remaining night therein.
I headed for Chinatown with the intention of dining at Wooey Louie Gooey Phooey, or whatever it’s called, just below the intersection of Grant and Jackson Streets. I had history there. I’d discovered the place during one of my college-days visits to San Francisco to see The Who, back in the days when their little tours commonly bypassed Los Angeles. Four years later, I’d taken David Bowie there when he visited America looking like Lauren Bacall, some months before he rebranded himself as extraterrestrial and androgynous in a different way.
I have told you until it’s coming out of your ears that I am fundamentally very shy. I may have neglected to tell you that there were a few times before my Great Blossoming when I successfully simulated self-confidence when I needed to. This was such an occasion. I espied a pretty brunette across the dining room and marched right over to invite her to join me. She was pleased to accept.
Later, as we walked around Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park, we put our arms around each other’s waists. At the agreed-upon hour, I drove us up to Younger Sister’s in Marin, and we had at it. Kim had remarkable control of her vaginal muscles. I felt as though getting a hand job. I decided to take her back to LA with me. She asked only that I drive her up to Sacramento to pick up some clothes. It seemed a small price to pay.
We picked up the clothes and headed south. I stopped at a gas station and bought myself a can of Dr. Pepper. La Paternoster was aghast. “That stuff’s awful for you,” she said. It occurred to me that she was probably right, and I’ve drunk one soft drink in the intervening 40 years.
The farther south I drove, the iffier I got on the idea of her coming down to LA and being my gal. It occurred to me that First Major had probably had a change of heart, and was worried sick by my not answering the phone in Laurel Canyon. “I was so very, very wrong to hurt you,” she’d surely blubber when she saw me. “Can you ever forgive me?”
Kim had apparently had some misgivings of her own. All we really knew about each other was that we were pretty good at sex, and that she disdained the consumption of sugary, carbonated beverages. I’d probably mentioned that I was America’s greatest living songwriter. When I admitted that I wasn’t so sure what we were doing was a great idea, she said the 1974 equivalent of whatever, and suggested I let her out. If I’d been a gentleman, I’d have driven her back to Sacramento, but I hadn’t a moment to waste, not with First Major sick with worry down in LA in a time before cell phones or even affordable answering machines. I let Kim out at a gas station just north of Santa Cruz, and drove like the wind back to LA, hearing Billy Swan’s “I Can Help,” Bachman Turner’s “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet,” and The Three Degrees’ “When Will I See You Again?” a million times each. First Major turned out not to have noticed my absence. I didn’t even have Kim’s phone number.