I have some FB Friends from my school days. Most of them would tell you I was less than attractive to the opposite sex when I was growing up. My social life was pretty dismal, even after I lost over 150 pounds when I ran away for a year.
The whole runaway thing is a pretty cool story. I was really obese and my Uncle Ed decided to move me to California from New Jersey. He figured I might fit in better. The thought of moving in with him full time at age 15 did not appeal to me. Also, as a smart/fat kid, I was tired of all the verbal and physical abuse at school. It was time for a change.
I took the train to LA, but jumped off in Wyoming, stayed for a few days and then headed off to LA days later than I was supposed to arrive.
Today, they could have found me in a day or less. In 1966, I quickly became invisible.
I had enough money to get a motel room for a few days. I checked in and started looking for a job. I interviewed at Twentieth Century Fox for a production assistant position. I had a pretty convincing phony ID and high school diploma. They hired me.
For 2 weeks, I got coffee and swept up the stage for Lost in Space and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. I was warned to not to try to speak with any of the actors, but it was very cool to be around the productions.
Today, they would have debunked my phony ID in a matter of minutes. Back then, it took about 2 weeks. I was fired. I had to find another job fast. I saw a help wanted sign at a car wash on Pico in Westwood and was hired on the spot. I was doing interiors. It was tough work but paid well as we did get tips and my OCD helped me to make the interiors really clean.
One day, an actor I recognized from some TV shows came in driving a big Lincoln with those suicide doors. While cleaning the rear, I found a bra and panties stuffed in the upholstery. I put them in a small brown paper bag and took them to the owner of the car. His wife was inside and I made sure she wasn’t watching. The actor looked in the bag and thanked me profusely. He stuffed the bag in his pocket
When he was getting in his car, he gave me a tip. I thanked him and put it in my pocket without looking. It was a $50 bill. I later realized the actor was George Kennedy who would go on to be quite a big deal.
I was living at the Royal Westwood Motel on Westwood Blvd., right off Pico. Ragtime Pianist Big Tiny Little was staying there when he did the Lawrence Welk Show. He was a regular there. Nice guy, we became friends. I went to a few Welk show tapings. Had to wear a suit and tie. That was their admission requirement.
Tiny, as his friends called him, was a musicians’ musician. He lived full time in Las Vegas, where he played at many of the casino lounges when he wasn’t guesting on Lawrence Welk. We had great conversations about music and guitars. I had my Sears Silvertone archtop with me and he even noted my affinity for the blues.
Almost a year passed. Not having enough money to buy junk food, and working at a physically demanding job 10-12 hours, 6 days a week, my weight was dropping. Going through the hormonal changes of a teenager didn’t hurt. I lost almost 150 pounds.
I began to realize without a high school diploma, this was probably the best job I would have for some time. I called home. I always had a lot of problems with my mother, but she seemed a little glad that I wasn’t dead. She said they notified the LA Police but never heard anything back. Yeah, I chose to believe her, but in my heart I’m pretty sure she hoped I was gone forever.
Uncle Ed taught me to be self-sufficient so he hadn’t been worried, he figured I’d come when I was ready. I was finally ready. I took the train back and enrolled back in high school. I was a year behind and it was tough fitting in. But I kept reminding myself of the car wash gig. This was better than that.
Even though I wasn’t fat anymore, I was still unpopular with the opposite sex. I did wind up having an affair with a teacher, but that’s a whole ‘nother bottle of whiskey. While everyone else was having the usual dating experiences of their teens, I was home alone doing the same old/same old things – reading, learning guitar and writing. I even sold several pornographic stories to the precursor to Screw Magazine and became a reporter/photographer for the local paper and the Atlantic City Press.
My lack of a social life held up through college. I did marry an incredible woman but a drunk driver ended that.
However, when I became Creative Director for an Atlanta advertising and marketing agency, things began to change. A successful business person with a nice home obviously appealed to the opposite sex.
When I went to QVC, people wondered why I was such a serial dater (sounds better than womanizer). Great house, 2 excellent cars, national TV exposure, for the first time in my life, I was a chick magnet.
I was often compared to the Charlie Harper character on the show “Two and a Half Men.” Take away the drugs and booze and that was pretty much me. I never had any kind of psychotherapy, but I’m pretty sure I was compensating for my lack of a social life while I was growing up.
Or maybe I was just a horny bastard.
© 2020 Steve Bryant – No portion of this or any blog can be reproduced or copied and posted on any online site or read aloud on any audio or video media without the express permission of the author.