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One Night Stand

I’ve only had one one-night stand and, until a few months ago, I still had the t-shirt to prove it. Why did I keep the shirt of a man whose name I don’t remember for over three decades? I guess because I wanted to remember that one time I was reckless, that I was young once, open to possibility, wild and free.


How I ended up wearing said shirt and a pair of yellow sweat pants that I long since discarded, walk-of-shaming my way out of a cab and up the stairs of my Sycamore Avenue Hollywood apartment, barefoot and carrying white stiletto Payless ankle boots and a one-piece white jumpsuit with beaded shoulders is its own sad story of a fashion misstep that lives on as a two part mistake with part one never told before and part two continuing to show up making me the butt of my sister’s favorite joke.


Let’s start with the joke.


I was one of the few people in my circle of friends from High School to move far from home after college. Yes, I’d gone to school only a half hour from home as had pretty much everyone I knew. North Carolina has some great institutions of learning and if you had the grades you went to Duke or UNC-Chapel Hill. If you were less adventurous or into agriculture or engineering, you went to NC State, less than a mile from our high school. If you wanted to party, you went to ECU or Appalachian State. If you were religious or your parents were, you went to a private school like St Mary’s or Campbell like my best friend was forced to do. Sure, there were more nuances to the choices than that, but I can’t think of anyone I knew who went out of state. And after college, I knew few people who left the area. My decision to move to California was daring.


And so, when I returned home, it oddly seemed necessary to me that my clothes should be daring too. Which is why I disembarked from a plane wearing red tights, thigh high black boots and a black mini dress one Thanksgiving, or why I donned that white jumpsuit with the gold beaded shoulders to go dancing at Legends with my High School friends on a trip home for Christmas and, as I confidently strode down the stairs in those coordinating white ankle boots, my father declared “ELVIS LIVES!” effectively taking a bit of the wind out of my stylish sails, and I slipped on a hardwood step, tumbling down to the base of the staircase where my family stood laughing.


Whenever someone brings up a fashion faux pas to my sister, she gleefully regales them with the story of Elvis on the stairs. I don’t know why my fashion sense was so skewed. Maybe it was because I finally had my own money and felt compelled to use it to stock my closet with cheap things that caught my untrained eye as I tried to “look the part” of what I thought a Southern California success story might look like?


Whatever the reason, that jumpsuit was somewhat successful when I found myself at the China Club flirting with the cutest guy in the bar.


So, where’d you go to college?” I shouted over the blaring sound of Pearl Jam to the handsome man with the disheveled curtain of hair framing his possibly blue eyes. It was hard to tell their color in the black light of the place.


MIT”, he answered back. Did I hear that right? “MIT?” he nodded to the beat. “Cool,” I said. Seriously, handsome AND smart. I was impressed. And hopeful. I never had much luck with guys when I went out with my friend Shelley. She knew how to talk the talk with the rockers when we hit the clubs along the Sunset strip; the Roxy, the Whisky, and the Coconut Teazer. She came to LA from Fresno straight out of high school. She’d been into the scene for a while when we met at a Bon Jovi/Skid Row concert at Irvine Meadows. I was there because I was in LOVE with Jon Bon Jovi and she had an eye for Sebastian Bach.


Our dates were a little too subdued for our exuberant energy as we sang every song at the top of our lungs, bonding over I’ll be There For You.

Where do you live?” she shouted over Wanted Dead or Alive.

Hollywood, but I have to move soon,” I screamed back.

I live in Hollywood too and I’m looking for a new place!”


And so I found my new roommate at Irvine Meadows. When I told my mother where we met, I didn’t correct her when she assumed it was a local park.


The first time we went out together, I wore a black turtleneck to the Rainbow Room. I thought going out meant wearing black, anything black.


We’ve got to do something about your clothes!” she declared as we tried to squat over urinals in the men’s bathroom, a trick she taught me when the line was too long for the women’s room. It helped that Shelley rarely wore underwear, a fashion choice I never adopted.


The next time we went out, she’d styled me in a bustier, short skirt, fishnet hose, stilettos and Aqua-Netted hair. I was a California girl now. And I knew I wouldn’t be bringing this outfit home to Hayloft Circle.


But the Elvis jumpsuit was a departure from my new black rocker chick ensemble. This number somehow caught my eye at Arden B in the Glendale Galleria and I imagined the heads I’d turn when the black light made me glow on the dance floor.


So there I am talking with Mr. MIT as he hands me my third Cosmo, “What did you study?” And he says something about recording and guitar and I say something about how I had no idea they taught that in Cambridge and it is loud in the bar but it becomes clear that his MIT is the Musicians Institute of Technology on Hollywood Blvd. But I am now on my 4th Cosmo and my jumpsuit is indeed glowing and I don’t want to be an academic elitist and he is really hot and he might even be rich considering all these drinks he’s buying me and…


Cut to: I have thrown all my typical Catholicism-induced caution to the wind, embraced my Carpe Diem mantra and I am stumbling out the door with him laughing as we lean on each other and walk to his place, just blocks away where his mattress is on the floor of his “new apartment.” So, he didn’t go to the MIT in Boston and he isn’t rich, but he takes his shirt off and well, those abs…WOW. He looks a lot like Brad Pitt. Let’s pretend that he is. Now in sexy movies, the guy smoothly unzips the back of a woman’s dress or pops the buttons on her blouse in the heat of passion, but my Elvis onesie has a zipper in the front and it gets stuck around the ribcage, so I have to wiggle and worm my way out of it, scratching my hips on the sequins and beads that had given me that awesome glow-in-the-dark Alexis Carrington look. And while I wish I had some juicy Harlequin Romancey details to share, I only remember waking up and Brad is zonked. I look around the apartment and it is a sty, the counters covered in pizza boxes and beer cans, the toilet encircled in black mold. Chances are pretty high that Brad is not my dream guy.


I slip out the door, hail a cab and save the white jumpsuit for my next trip to Raleigh. And it is fine with me that my family still laughs about me masquerading as Elvis, because while I fell down the steps, I didn’t fall for the one night stand.


###


As shared at Story Salon on June 8, 2023.





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