I was 22—fresh out of the Midwest living in LA, optimistic as hell, and still had my lip pierced. The first job I had here was at a camera store. It was pretty shitty, but I got to meet Danica McKellar (Winnie Cooper) and oddly enough the man my high school was named after, Loy Norrix. I had no idea Loy was an actual person until I saw his receipt and was very confused. I also met a commercial director named Adam, to this day is still one of the strangest human beings I’ve ever known. I also just found out he had electroconvulsive therapy. Not surprised.
Adam was renting a camera for a music video he was shooting in India. He walked up to the front counter where I was sitting and looked at me like we had met somewhere but couldn’t remember each other’s names. He was wearing a dark denim jacket with dark denim pants. I couldn’t tell if he was really stylish or didn’t have a clue. He looked about 33, but I had a feeling he was older.
“Oh hello, and how are you doing today?” He said with a grin so big it scared me.
“Good, I guess. How about you?”
“I’m just spectacularly fabulous, headed to India tomorrow!” His excited voice sounded like Ned Flanders doing a Darkwing Duck impression. He often started conversations in this tone, it was delightful yet worrying.
“Sounds fun! Good luck!” I tried to match his tone but I have a problem sounding sarcastic even when I’m genuinely enthused.
He stood there and smiled, like he wanted to say something more, then walked towards the door. He stopped, then, walked back towards me.
“Forget something?” I asked. What does this maniac want now?
“You have a great… something about you… your aura? I don’t know, but would you want to maybe hang out when I return from the great land of India?”
This was the first “older” man that showed interest in me. I felt compelled to say yes so he said he would talk to me in a month when he returned. I thought, “yeah right,” until exactly a month later he showed up again. Wearing the same outfit.
He picked me up from my shitty Hollywood apartment and took me downtown. He told me about going to Harvard, the time he went rafting on the LA river and was nearly arrested (no clue if this actually happened), and the animated movie he was writing. Later on, he mentioned a sister that was involved with conspiracy theories and the government. Not wanting to make him uncomfortable, I just googled her. I discovered she was incarcerated for pretending to be an FBI spy for the Iraqis. A judge ruled her “mentally unfit” and eventually released her. His father also ran for governor of North Dakota in the 90s and was caught using illegal funding. Not understanding what red flags were at the time, I was fascinated.
We went to a Japanese restaurant in the Omni hotel and had $80 worth of sushi and 2 bottles of sake. I remember that amount because I read it in the book his wife wrote about him where she talks about finding the receipt in his jacket pocket.
Yep, he was married. I didn’t know.
We hung out a few more times, went to movies, and drank more sake. One time I mentioned that I had no idea why Cap’n Crunch didn’t just have an all berries cereal (this was before Oops All Berries changed my life), and the next time I saw him he gave me a box full of just the berries. He had such a childlike manner that I assumed some fucked up shit happened when he was younger, but eventually realized the mental illness that ran in his family was most likely the culprit of his fervent personality.
Last week I was at a meeting in Silverlake when I saw a familiar looking woman walk into the room. It took me about 3 seconds to realize it was HER. We made eye contact but I have no idea if she recognized me because it had been many years since we met. She left the room to use the phone, came back about 10 minutes later, and didn’t look at me the rest of the time. I have no idea if she remembered me. After the meeting I went home and googled her to make sure it was the same woman. It definitely was, and I’m pretty sure she noticed me. It was insanely uncomfortable, from my point of view at least.
I also saw that she was an author and had a couple books under her belt. I read the descriptions for them and one of them caught my attention. It was a book about her fucked up relationships, one being with a “Harvard grad.” I previewed the first few pages and read a sentence about her ex always answering the phone by saying, “Hello, hello!” Yup, that was him. I knew I had to buy it. I spent the rest of the day reading the entire book.
I only went to Adam’s home once. He lived in an amazing loft in downtown Los Angeles, next to Ryan Gosling. The kind of lofts you see in movies that are decorated to portray that an eclectic and artistic person live there. An entire wall was head to toe windows. It was right next to a café called Pete’s where we had the garlic fries more times than I can remember. He told me he was separated from his wife, who he kept telling me was tall and beautiful and had really great hair and a cool son. I never asked why they separated, I just believed him. He said he was technically still married, so I would jokingly say, “I’m dating a married man!”
A few weeks later I texted Adam, “Hey married man, what are you doing?!” I didn’t get a text back for a few hours, which was unusual for him, but then an unknown number called and I had a very strange feeling about it.
“Hi, you texted my husband, who is this?”
My stomach immediately went into panic mode. He lied. He was still VERY MUCH married.
“Oh, umm, I think I have the wrong number, sorry.”
“No but you texted my husband’s phone.”
“Oh oops, I was trying to text 323-664-(some made up numbers, good one Melissa).”
“Bye!” I hung up and quickly threw my phone on the floor. I almost puked.
She called back and left a voicemail, “Hi Melissa, it’s Stacy. I’m not mad, I just want to talk to you…”
Fuck that. I waited an hour and texted Adam. He called me.
“So, you are married?”
“I’m sorry. I left my phone in her purse when we were eating tacos last night and I made a goof.” (He actually said goof)
“It’s alright, you should get that sorted though. I guess it was nice knowing you?”
“Yeah, I’m sorry again, you are a wondrous soul and the prettiest of pretties, you deserve better.” Even sad he sounded happy.
An hour into her book I was fascinated. She wrote about a weekend where Adam was supposedly in Texas visiting her daughter, but she found movie tickets for the Arclight and a receipt for a hotel in Santa Monica that same weekend. When she confronted him he denied it and changed the subject, even getting a little angry with her. She said she knew the truth but kept ignoring it. She talked about seeing Adam on the phone laughing, knowing he was talking to me. I felt sympathy for this woman. I had no idea the turmoil she was going through while Adam was taking me to movies and holding my hand.
But the thing that blew my mind was the script she wrote amidst the chaos. It was about a woman who finds out her husband has been having an affair with a much younger girl. The woman in the script poses as a photographer to meet this girl. Stacy’s agent told her it might be a fun experiment to actually go through with the project for research. So that’s what she did. She posted an ad on Craigslist as a fine art photographer seeking girls for a unique project.
She had no idea that I was going to be one of the hundreds of girls to reply.
A month after my romance with Adam ended I quit my job at the camera store and started working at this awful bar in Hollywood called Cabana Club (where I eventually got fired because I was the only hostess who wouldn’t sleep with the owner). The money was better and I had more time during the day to figure out what I was doing with my life. I was perusing Craigslist one day and found an interesting post by a woman doing a photography project. She wanted to take pictures of women in their homes. I liked the idea and emailed her. Later that day I got an email back asking me to meet her at Borders books on Vine/Sunset the next day.
I looked around and saw a beautiful woman with an amazing teased-out afro sitting at a table with a laptop and papers. I assumed it was her and walked over.
“Hi! Nice to meet you!” I sat down across from her.
“Hi, I’m Stacy. I’m so happy you were interested in the project. I got over a hundred replies and had to narrow it down, it was a little overwhelming.”
“Wow, that’s a ton!”
That name… that voice… I could hear Adam saying, “she’s a super cool tall mixed gal with a bitchin’ afro…”
“The project is going to be displayed in my friend’s gallery downtown…” She went on.
The room got warm as I tried to listen to her and look into her eyes. I was so distracted by something, but what was it? Holy shit. Oh fuck. It was her. How did this happen? She emailed me back knowing exactly who I was. How did I miss that? Okay, maybe she doesn’t know it’s you. Stay calm. Don’t mention it.
“I’m interested in the unique environments of different women…”
All I did was nod and smile. Was she going to punch me in the face? Was she going to scream at me?
She continued talking and asking questions. I have no memory of what we discussed but I remember sweating and wanting to get the fuck out of there.
“Yeah, sounds great, I’m definitely interested!” No, no I was not.
“Okay great, we’ll keep in touch.” She knew that I knew. I could tell.
I ran out of there and texted Adam immediately: “I JUST MET YOUR FUCKING WIFE THIS IS CRAZY.”
He called and said he knew about the project, but had no idea she was meeting me. Yeah, right. Needless to say I did not end up doing the project with her.
She knew the whole time it was me, but decided to not take advantage of the situation for fear that I didn’t know who she was. She gave me the same explanation she gave the other girls. She was 40, I was 22. She said she felt more like a mother to me, and in 15 years I’d probably relate to a lot of what she’s written in her book.
It hasn’t quite been 15 years, but I completely relate to her and wish I had talked to her at Borders that day. Maybe I should’ve said something when I bumped into her in Silverlake. I feel like I should apologize, but that doesn’t seem right. I am happy that she got out of that relationship, though.
I ended up seeing Adam a couple times after he was divorced. The last time was when he was living in a different loft, and he revealed to me that he had a daughter and an ex-wife in another state. It was too weird, even for me.
According to Stacy, he tried to get back with her a couple times because the electroconvulsive therapy “fixed everything!” Sure it did, Adam.