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coming up...
• Just a Barista
• Yo! Buddy!
• The Vault
• An Artist's Signature
• Azure
• Tears in the Fabric
• Voice of God II

Who You Know! (01/15/21)

Back in a 2019 pre-pandemic world, a friend invited us to a Halloween party in West Hollywood. He told us it would be a great group of people, a chance to meet some new folks. “Hey, you’ll know half of them anyway.”

We walked into this gorgeous condo, where the first thing that caught my eye was the view from the balcony. Needed to make sure I checked that out during the evening.

As I started walking into the main room, I realized that I was out of my league…surrounding me were some of the most beautiful people I had ever seen, all of them at least half my age. And though I’d seen many of them in publications, the internet, and on TV, I didn’t actually ‘know’ any of them. My social anxiety started to kick into high, and I backed off into a corner of the room with my friends.

Our friend Rob, who had invited us to the party, saw us and came over to say hello. After a few minutes of chatting he realized how anxious we were, told us they were all good people and to just start wandering and talking. Easy for him, not so much for me.

I walked over to the kitchen, grabbed a zero alcohol beer, and started to do as suggested, wander the condo and say hello. The reception I received was cold. I got the once-over look dozens of times, and could only imagine what was going through their heads. Who is this old man that nobody knows.

I was wearing my best ‘designer’ brands, since I knew that was the crowd I was in, yet that appeared to not have the effect I thought it would.

I noticed a group of people talking in another room and walked in, only to be totally shocked by the painting that was on the wall opposite the bed. Damn, that’s one of my paintings.

I remember Rob had bought it, but didn’t realize he had ‘re-gifted’ off to his friend. After a few seconds of wondering why he didn’t like it, I realized it had more than likely been a serious gift from the beginning, since Rob had since bought several more of my paintings.

A group of three were in front of the painting discussing its merits, all of them saying they needed to ask Keith where he had gotten it from. They were laughing about the signature, TTOK[sic], saying that all artists had to have some sort of gimmick with their art.

Since they had no idea who I was, I took that as a compliment. I said hello to the group, they looked at me like I might have been the ‘help’ and then walked out of the room without a word.

All right then, not an easy group to break into. I walked back into the living room and to the corner where my friends were still standing. Darren was all wide-eyed watching the crowd, but commented on them ‘not being the friendliest group.’ I swear, we had all bathed and we were wearing our best name-label rags!

A guy started coming our way, somebody I had seen on every clothing advertisement and runway show over the last year or so. “Hi, I’m Keith.” Oh cool, Rob’s friend, the owner of the condo and whose party it was. Once he found out who I was, we all got the giant smile, hug, and the friendliness that we had expected from the group.

“Did you see your painting?” Yep, looks really good! “I wake up to you every morning,” Keith said laughing. Yeah... He chatted a few more minutes, said he needed to mingle, recommended we check out the view from the balcony, and said he wanted to talk to me later about a couple more paintings he wanted for his condo.

Since I was there, Keith pointed to the walls where he wanted something. I asked if I could photograph the walls so I could do some placement mockups. “You’ll have a lot of friends if you get the camera out” laughing as he walked away.

As I got my photos, my friends and I wandered our way out to the balcony, and yes, the view was stunning. Keith’s balcony had an uninterrupted view down into downtown Los Angeles. There were a couple of people out on the balcony basking in the late afternoon sun, guys with shirts off, girls with just their bejeweled sports bras. I’d seen all of them before too, and they were actually better looking in person than in print.

Again I said hello, commented on the view, and got nearly zero response. Obviously they didn’t want their tanning time interrupted by idol chatter.

We came back in, grabbed a couple more zero beers, headed to our corner to just stand and observe. Glad we had driven, since this was going to be a short party for us.

After a few minutes, this extremely attractive girl comes over to say hello, asking us who we were, and more importantly ‘who we knew.’ She was enjoying the complimentary bar to its fullest and was chatting away like crazy. I guess the only way these folks would talk to us was when they were drunk. Great!

Once we told her we knew Rob and Keith, things changed. “Oh, then you have to know everybody else here” and started pointing to people, assigning names, and filling us in on the gossip that seemed to be attached to everybody in the room.

Our new friend's name was Steph, and she definitely knew everybody in the room. As they came over to say hello to her, almost treating her like royalty, she introduced them to us, which seemed to at least give us the ‘in’ we needed to become part of their conversation.

At one point, a couple of the folks that were in the bedroom admiring my art came over to say hello to Steph. I said we had ‘met’ them earlier admiring the art. Steph went off on the art, saying she absolutely loved it, and, like the others, needed to ask Keith where he got it.

In the numerous drink state she was in, she quickly lost interest in us, and nearly ran over to Keith. Keith grabbed her drink and placed it on a table, and apparently after she asked him about the art, Keith told her she had been talking to the artist. “The older guy!”

She grabbed Keith by the arm and came running back to us, saying how much she loved the painting and wanting several for her house. Grabbing my arm so that Keith and I were nearly carrying her into his bedroom, she proceeded to taut the beautiful aspects of the painting.

“Rob said you guys were a little uncomfortable here? I think that will end shortly” Keith said laughing. Steph was apparently the ‘social director’ of the group. Her parties were notoriously the A-list events to attend.

We listened to her talk about why she loved the painting and what she was looking for for her house, then, like a wind quickly changing direction, she said she would introduce me to everyone.

My stomach dropped.

Steph and I walked arm-in-arm back into the living, and in her loudest voice “Everyone, this TTOK[sic], well, what is your real name? Oh yeah, Dave. That’s his painting in the bedroom.” That apparently was all it took. People now started coming over chatting, asking about my art, how I knew who I knew. Thank God I had thought about bringing business cards.

Then just as quickly, the wind appeared to have changed again, Steph flew over to a different section of the condo. I then heard a recognizable, yet drunk voice from across the room. “Dave? Holy shit!”

This guy comes walking over our direction, apparently somebody I knew. Though at first I didn’t recognize, as he got closer I realized I really did know him… but the last decade apparently had not been so good for him.

“Eric, hey, how the Hell are you?” We exchanged big hugs and started chatting. I had met Eric in a club over a decade before and had instantly developed a friendship with him. His energy, personality, looks… and he liked to drink. Back then, we both did. In my book of life, Eric held a chapter all his own. We had only hung out for about a month, but that month had been probably one of the most whirl-wind, but incredibly fun, months of my life.

Then Eric disappeared, at least from my life. Now it was like we had never separated.

But Eric was not the Eric I had met years ago. Back then he was a physical specimen - a stunning beauty. Now, well, he didn’t visit the gym, was covered in tattoos and piercings, and seems to have become best friends with anything alcoholic. Damn, I couldn’t stop staring at the ball piecing on his tongue!

As I introduced Eric to my friends, Steph sort of looked at him in disdain from across the room, looked at us shaking her head, and strutted off into the kitchen. “She’s always a drunken bitch” Eric said as he told us he was going to get another round. The irony.

I stopped him, said I’d go get the next round, and came back with an arm full of those zero alcoholic beers. He didn’t even notice as he guzzled the beer down. We talked, caught up, had a few good laughs and several more beers before Eric looked down at the beer he was holding.

“Really Dave?” Oh, sorry, hadn’t noticed what beer I had grabbed. Eric looked at me and said that it probably was for the best, then took off headed towards the bathroom.

Steph had been watching us the entire time, and as soon as Eric left she came back over. I gave her a beer, which she nearly finished. Hmm, I could ween them all off the alcohol. Never mind, that’s not my job.

“So you and Eric have been friends for a while?” Well, not technically. We were friends for a month over ten years ago, since then, have had zero contact with him. “He’s always such a drunken asshole” she said with that flippant attitude many of the group had.

Hey, the two of them were a match made in Heaven.

Steph proceeded to tell us the whole story of Eric and why he was what he was. “He just couldn’t deal with the fame like the rest of us can.” And she downed another beer.

Steph stuck around our corner the rest of the evening entertaining us with story after story about her exploits, travels and all the gossip surrounding everybody in the industry. She didn’t realize I’d been getting her zero alcohol beers until the party was winding down. “Not sure I appreciate that, but I guess it’s for the best.” Hmm, a trend.

She strutted off out of the condo, and as soon as she was gone, Eric showed up. I asked if there was some history between the two of them, and nope, just two drunks that got into each other’s space when there was a party. Each one of them wanted to be the center of attention - and both enjoyed drinking their challenges away.

Eric said he was heading out, gave me a giant hug, told me to call, and off he went. I gathered my friends and realized we’d actually had a good time and made it through the entire party.

I talked to Keith about what he wanted for his new canvases, chatted up Rob as we were leaving, and headed down to get our car and head home.

The benefits of the party, I sold 5 new canvases just from the party itself, and 1 for the office of an agent of one of the people at the party. That ended up being the most lucrative sale.

More important though, I’ve continued to keep in contact with several of the folks, including Keith, and both Eric and Steph (though never on the same call or in the same room.). She commissioned one of my largest works to date and it looks damn good in her house.

Sometimes, in the end, it really is about ‘who’ you know!

Though to this day Steph still calls me TTOK[sic]! I guess that sounds more exciting than Dave.


#Halloween #party