Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cochran Avenue

[It's a long weekend ahead so here's a long entry]

Once we had access to wheels, the Friday and Saturday night configuration among my buddies during high school depended on who had a girlfriend or who was trying to get a girlfriend and was out that night trying. Those of us who fit into neither category wound up as part of the Friday or Saturday night configuration.

That particular night, it was just Rob and me. But, once the dates were over, everyone was expected to rendezvous at Bob's Big Boy.

Rob and I were cruising around in his Heavy Chevy. Out of all of us he was the least adventurous when it came to driving so we generally stayed within fairly close boundaries of home. Hollywood was about as far as he'd consider driving.

We'd frequently visit Arons Records. It was on Melrose near Highland, before Melrose became a trendy place. Back then, Melrose consisted mostly of run down shops and parking was hardly a problem. Prior to finding out about Aron's, I'd frequent The Warehouse because I didn't know there were stores that sold used and promo records like Aron's did. Seeing bins and bins of new promotional records and used ones in excellent condition for 99 cents up to $1.98 was like finding gold.

Sadly, Arons is no longer around. After moving into larger quarters on Highland, eventually they fell victim to the superstores as well as music downloads. But back in the good old days, that was one of my favorite places to be. That evening Rob and I perused the bins, saw whatever there was to see, and realized it was still on the early side.

David told us he would be at his girlfriend's house that evening. Not having anything better to do, I suggested we drive over there and leave a note on his car reminding him to meet us at Bob's later on.

"You know where she lives?" Rob asked me.

"Not exactly. I know the street and the general vicinity so why don't you drive up the street until we see his car. It can't be that hard to find. She lives on Cochran."

So off we went to Cochran. We started at a point far enough south that we knew she had to live at some point north of where we were. Rob looked left and I looked right.

Finally, we saw the unmistakable sight of the Battlewagon, back to its old glory after the mishap it had suffered months ago at the hands of the embankment in Laurel Canyon. I wondered which house J lived in (by the way, this "J" isn't the same as my junior high crush "J".. seems like I know a lot of "J's" doesn't it?) - was it the one right in front or to the side or across the street? Good that at least I knew what street she lived on. The neighborhood consisted of houses closely packed together, all with lots of shrubbery that made it look even more dense. Cars lined the street up and down the block on both sides. The Battlewagon was just one of many squeezed into the available spaces.

Despite the crowd, Rob managed to find a parking space only a few driveways away from the Battlewagon. I wrote a note for him: Daveed, don't forget to meet us at Bob's. We'll be waiting for you, Holmes! The note was designed to poke fun at Rick, who had a habit of pronouncing David's name the European way, with the "a" like "ah" and the "i" like "ee." And he also had a penchant for calling people Holmes and Jones. We had taken the liberty of naming Cindy's two giant stuffed animals Holmes and Jones, respectively, which she thought were great names.

Rob was "Robear" (as in Robaire), the name and the spelling having come from his sister Karen who had seen a bear sunning itself at the Santa Barbara zoo and said it reminded her of Rob. So she called him "Robear the Sun Bear," which we shortened to Robear. Duane was "Dominique" which I suppose was the French equivalent of his name and I happened to be "Riquito" which doesn't match any language but it does rhyme with "taquito."

I finished the note, then got out of the Heavy Chevy and walked past a couple of driveways to put it under the Battlewagon's windshield wiper. I pulled the wiper away from the windshield, laid the note on the glass, then let the wiper back down to rest on top of it.

Then I thought I saw something move inside the car. I looked again but there was no one inside so I got spooked and quickly walked back to Rob's car. I opened the door, got in and sat there with a funny look on my face.

"What's the matter?"

"I'm not sure. I thought I saw something move in David's car when I put that note on the windshield."

"Something move? Like what?"

"I don't know. Like some gray thing all of a sudden but maybe I saw a reflection in the glass or something." I sat there staring at the dashboard feeling weird.

"Well what do you want to do? Do you want to go back and see?"

I thought about it for a moment. "No, let's just go. We'll see him later." That had really bothered me but I didn't want to pursue it any further so we drove off.

It was a pretty boring evening with not much to see. So boring, that Rob and I returned to the scene of the crime. As we drove up Cochran again, a car came toward us flashing its high beam. It blocked the narrow street, leaving us not enough room to pass. We sat there wondering who was shining their headlights on us like that.

It was the Battlewagon. David emerged from the car and walked toward us, fuming. In the car we could make out J, looking even angrier than David. Rob rolled down his window as David leaned in.

"Which one of you son-of-a-*** did it?" he demanded angrily.

We stared at him.

"Well?? Which one? Did you think it was that funny???"

"What are you talking about?" I asked, glancing at J whose expression hadn't changed a bit.

"Who left that &%$%#@ note on my ^#$@%^ car?!!??!"

"Uh, I did," I told him. "Why? What's the matter?" Did I mess up his windshield or something?

"Ha ha, very funny, you son-of-a-***. I'm going to break your %##@% neck!!"

I still had no idea what he was talking about. "Why? What did I do?"

"Look, it's not so bad for me, but J is furious. She's ready to kill me!" He glanced back at her and we saw her wearing the same angry stoneface. "How long were you looking??"

"Looking at what?"

"Damn it, how long were you standing there??"

"I don't know, about ten seconds. I just put the note on your car and left."

"Ten seconds? Don't give me that bull***!"

"Why would I lie? It was about ten seconds! How long does it take to leave a note on your car? I put it there and left!" I still didn't know why he was so mad.

"Are you sure? Just ten seconds?" When I nodded, he continued. "So what did you see?"

"I didn't see anything. I don't know what you're talking about." Then I paused. "Well, I thought I saw something move but I wasn't sure. I got startled so I got out of there real quick."

"That was US, you son-of-a-***!!"

"What??!?" I exclaimed, finally putting two and two together. "I didn't know!"

David pointed a threatening finger at me. "I'll see you at Bob's! I'm going to break your *%#!% neck! You'd better be there!" With that, he turned around and stomped back to the Battlewagon while J continued with the expression that had remained unchanged during our whole heated exchange. The Battlewagon screeched and flew past us. I sat there bewildered.

"I didn't see anything," I said. "They were in the car? How the hell should I know that? Why would they be making out in front of J's house?"

Rob just shrugged and looked at me. "He's going to break your neck," he said.

"Well I guess we ought to go to Bob's."

We drove into the parking lot and parked the car. Almost immediately David pulled up. He got out of the car and slammed the door. We got out of our car. The three of us stood in the parking lot facing each other.

"You know, I should break your %$%@ neck right now," Davd fumed as he glared at me. "J is so mad she won't even talk to me. It was like ice taking her home and things are kaput with us."

"Well I'm sorry, I didn't know," I said.

"Me, I'm okay but she's on the warpath with me now! What the hell is the matter with you?"

"Me?" I said. "Why were you fooling around in front of her house like that?"

"Her house is two blocks down from there! You don't think we'd be stupid enough to be fooling around in front of her own house, do you?"

"Well how the hell do I know? I don't know where she lives! All I know is she lives on Cochran, like you told me!"

David calmed down a degree. What I was saying made sense, and now he understood I hadn't done anything intentional. And that I hadn't seen anything of an indiscreet nature. We went inside the coffee shop.

David slumped down in the booth. "Oh man, am I in trouble," he lamented. "I was ready to break your neck, you know-"

"I know."

"-but I hear what you're saying. When we saw that note on the windshield, I was like, oh ****, what the hell is going on. Then J read it and that was the end. I've never seen her so mad. I don't know how I'm going to get out of this one. She was livid. She didn't say a word all the way back. We got to her house, she got out of the car, slammed the door and marched into her house. Not a word to me - not one. Ice."

"Well if it's any consolation, I didn't see a thing. All I saw was something move all of a sudden and I got out of there quick. Sorry, buddy!"

Apparently lettuce with bleu cheese dressing, meat and french fries soothed the savage beast as David calmed down and we sat there shaking our heads. The prospect of dealing with J in the aftermath made him look weary.

It took a while - a long while, but J finally eased up. Duane used to call David "Jinx" because of his penchant for having things happen to him.

That was one crazy night. I must have been really naive for taking so long to figure out what was going on. Looking back on it, what would I have done if I really had put the note on the windshield and figured out what was going on? Would I have stayed for the show? Would I have told David the truth then? I'm sure the answers would have been "no" and "no." I would have zoomed out of there even faster than I did, and hopefully would have been wise enough to grab the note. And I sure wouldn't have owned up to having seen anything.

Then there's David - put in quite the delicate situation. What if J declared his friends to be perverted jerks (who knows, maybe she did) and directed him to make a choice, us or them? What would any of us do in that situation?

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