"Remember, honey. We're in the zone tonight, so no matter what happens or how late you get home, the shit is on."
My wife is referring to the ovulation period, and the little tester thing is saying it's all systems go, even though it's Friday the 13th.
"I'm on it, baby, done deal," I reply, running off to grab my buddy Josh and head over to a party in Silver Lake. Besides, having spent the past few weeks fighting off the L.A. flu, I am psyched to make it an early night.
The party is intimate and cozy. I dunk a few bananas in milk chocolate, say hello to some friends, and then Josh and I split.
Walking back down the driveway, we run into Aaron. Or rather Aaron's '59 Benz, jammed against the curb. Aaron is bound to be nearby, puffing on a "Benz broke down again" Marlboro.
Like a lot of people from New York, Aaron bought a funky old car upon arrival in L.A. He forgot to buy another car that actually works.
"I was cruising around the canyons out by Malibu," Aaron explains, puffing. "I think she's probably tired more than anything."
While we're contemplating turning the uphill-facing car around, my phone rings. It's Cynthia Rowley, out from New York to open her new boutique on Melrose.
"Have you seen Aaron?" she asks, a little panicked.
"I happen to be standing next to him and his broken car right now."
Cynthia wants some rare Chris Johanson wood cutouts that Aaron the art maven has been carrying around in his trunk all day. She's with friends at the Chateau, and she's leaving at the crack of dawn.
"I'll drive you over there," I tell Aaron before we get back to the business of moving the broken-down Benz from the driveway it's blocking.
We survive the trip to the strip and, fearing the draconian local towing ordinances, park my Jeep way up above the Chateau.
Chris Johanson's a hot commodity coming off the Whitney Biennial and his all but sold-out show at Deitch Projects in NYC. Now, though, some of the artist's only early work to be found anywhere is slung rudely over Aaron's shoulder as we trudge 10 minutes downhill to meet Rowley.
At the Chateau, a guy who looks like Jan-Michael Vincent before the fall stands at the entrance.
"Are you guys on the list?"
"No, but we're meeting Cynthia Rowley here." We're hoping her juice will get us into the inner sanctum, where a staff party is raging. Since she's not staying there, it doesn't. Nor, apparently, does the bouncer recognize Josh, the young actor who once graced the cover of Newsweek during the Blair Witch media frenzy. Finally, though, the gatekeeper lets Aaron through. Josh and I have to stay behind and watch while the obnoxious guy from American Pie jumps out of an SUV and cruises right by the rope.
"Dude, you're the guy from Blair Witch and we're stuck out here, but the obnoxious kid from American Pie just strolls on in?"
Josh looks at the ground.
"You're not famous enough, homes."
"You're so right."
Finally, Cynthia fetches us and we're on the other side of the velvet rope. Aaron's got the art spread out on a table in the courtyard like an arms dealer. Cynthia buys two of three cutouts, and we all sit down to celebrate. I've barely had two sips of ginger ale when my cell rings again.
It's my wife, at wit's end. The neighbors are having a full-blown rock concert. She can't work, and my father-in-law, who's been staying in the guest room, has to wake at 6 to catch a flight.
"It's like being at Woodstock. The guy's actually talking to the crowd between songs."
Through the phone I hear something about "loving Hollywood" and a gig in Playa del Rey next week.
"I feel like calling the police," my wife continues, "but you always tell me not to be a narc."
It makes me a little proud to hear her say that.
"I'm on my way, baby."
As we get ready to leave, Cynthia wonders if it's after 10 p.m. I know it's after midnight and I know what that means.
"Shit, do you think they towed us?" her business partner, Ilene, asks.
New Yorkers just don't understand the L.A. car thing at all. So the five of us, plus the three Johansons, head for the impound at Santa Monica and Mansfield to liberate Rowley's ride.
Back at the house, my father-in-law's sprawled in the living room, trying to salvage some sleep. My wife, who's supposed to do notes on a big-bucks rewrite of a big comedy sequel, looks exhausted.
I walk over to the neighbors', flanked by Aaron and Josh.
"Whose party?" I ask the first guy we see.
"It's all our party. We all live here, man."
Out on the porch are partiers, a bunch of instruments, and two drunken frat boys banging on congas.
A Hermosa Beach-looking guy with frosted hair and a big grin approaches.
"It's my band, dudes. How'd you like us?"
I tell him that we missed most of the show.
"We're going acoustic for the rest of the night. We're the best blues band in L.A.! You guys gotta stay! Tell your wife to come on up! Have a beer!"
The girl throwing the party promises us they will, indeed, "be going acoustic." We get into the Jeep and head back to Silver Lake. The Benz, pointed downhill, fires right up. I head back home, hoping for the best.
When I get there, the band's going again acoustic as promised, save for the electric bass. It's still loud as hell. As I get out of my car, an LAPD cruiser rounds the bend, spotlight shining. Part of me hopes the police will break up the party. Another part of me the eternal teenager hopes the insanity will continue. Plus, it sounds like a great party.
Besides, we're in the zone, and there are things to be done.
"Pretend we're at a keg party and we're off in the woods fooling around," I tell my wife, "and we're young and it's magical and the world is filled with promise and adventures not yet over with."
"Okay," she says.
The bass keeps thumping and the congas keep pumping. We rock gently back in time, and hopefully on into the future, too.