By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Heltai’s first call of the night comes in, a woman down the street at Balboa.
“I just had one of the worst nights of my life, and I just kept drinking,” says the woman, who looks like Anna Nicole Smith in her middleweight days, and who, when asked what name she’d like to use for this article, looks at a building-size ad on the Strip.
“Got to have some music, James,” she says. Heltai turns on the CD player.
“My date did not turn out well,” The Gap says, and blows cigarette smoke out the window. “My boyfriend of a month decided to tell me over appetizers that he was gay. So I ordered three Sambucas and a Johnnie Walker Red.”
Heltai nods as he drives west on Sunset.
“I usually have excellent gaydar,” protests The Gap, a TV documentary director. “I thought he was a metrosexual, whatever that means.”
The Gap rubs her eyes as they pass the Beverly Hills Hotel. “I think I’m moving to Minnesota,” she says.
“Is that where you’re from?” asks Heltai, looking at The Gap in the rearview mirror.
“No, but I think people are normal there, and I’ll be considered slender there,” she says. “Ooh, turn this up, James!”
Heltai cranks “Tiny Dancer.”
“Louder,” says The Gap. She sings along as Heltai, at The Gap’s request, pulls into a McDonald’s drive-thru and orders her a large Diet Coke and Chicken McNuggets. The Gap also asks Heltai to stop at a liquor store on the corner, but it’s closed.
Heltai pulls the Mountaineer into The Gap’s assigned spot at her Wilshire high-rise. She gives him a nice tip and, balancing food and purse, totters across the parking garage.
Heltai, who’s going back to Le Dôme for one more ride, puts on his helmet. He tries to kick-start the bike, but it doesn’t turn over.
It’s The Gap, calling from the far end of the garage.
“Do you want to take my car? I trust you.”
At Rite Aid the other day, I took a shortcut through the children’s aisle on my way to the cash register. I was annoyed to find a Valentine’s Day display there and silently stewed about another fucking holiday already. For chrissakes, they just took down the Christmas decorations. There were the usual white fuzzy teddy bears with pink and red hearts. The cellophane-wrapped cheap chocolates. The neon-bright pink plastic children’s handcuffs. The candy-colored cardboard valentines. The heart-shaped red velvet pillows . . . Wait a minute. The children’s pink plastic handcuffs? Excuse me! I took a few steps back, then looked again. Handcuffs in the children’s department! This ain’t no cops-and-robbers game. These were “Love Cuffs.” “Perfect for Valentine’s Day!” read the label. “One pair of romantic novelty handcuffs. Suitable for ages 3 and up.” Obviously two is an inappropriate age for introducing bondage into children’s games. But what in God’s name would children ages 3 and up be doing with pink plastic handcuffs on Valentine’s Day? Slip them into Suzie’s valentines box at school so she can ask little Johnny if he’d like to be handcuffed and whipped during recess? Why bother with old-school playing doctor when you can go straight to S&M?
Normally, I prefer to do my adult toy shopping at the Pleasure Chest in West Hollywood, not at my local Rite Aid in Echo Park. But I picked up the handcuffs anyway and added them to my basket, hoping they would go unnoticed by the clerk and other customers. After all, according to the package, I’m a little old for handcuffs.