Thursday, May 28, 2009

There's Something About James

Kenneth and James on the real Melrose Place, circa 1992

As my friends' Facebook horror stories continue to pile up (stalked by exes, nagged by geeky former classmates, outed to distant cousins), I added another happy ending to my list of social networking experiences. Came across my onetime really-close-friend and later roommate James' profile recently and sent him a note to which I got a warm and friendly response. There was some anxiety, you see, because James and I had one of those (I'm finally beginning to realize not atypical) crash and burn friendships that seem to only occur between single people in their 20s: We met when we lived in the same condo complex in Huntington Beach in the early '90s.

Both of us hated Orange County with a passion (he was from there, I had crash-landed at a friend's after getting my first job out of college at The Orange County Register), so would spend our days and nights plotting our escape to the City of Angels, where our lives were going to be way more glamourous. On my unconventional (Wednesday/Thursday) weekend, we'd trek up to West Hollywood in James' beat-up Datsun 240Z and bar-hop all night, longing for the day that we could do that and not have an hour drive home. I'll never forget the evening this hunky dark-haired motorcycle type approached me at Mickey's while his friend -- Dennis Stewart, aka Crater Face from "Grease" -- came up to James. (We both exchanged numbers with our "new guys" and were sooooo excited the whole ride home, and then played my double "Grease" LP all night when we got back to the O.C.!)

After much planning, plotting and saving, we finally made our big move in the spring of 1991 -- to a sparse two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment on South Bundy Drive, just a stone's throw away from where Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman would later meet their tragic ending. Things started out great --there was always something exciting happening nearby and we were meeting so many new people. But eventually both our schedules changed (I was now commuting 55 miles each way to The Register in a beat-up '83 VW Rabbit) and James and I began to spend less and less time together. (No more EVERY THURSDAY at Newport Station or Hot Tub Wednesdays back at Sea Spray Condominiums.) It also didn't take long for us to realize that our decision to live on the Westside -- "to not be total queens" -- was just stupid (we WERE total queens, total queens who had to drive through A LOT TRAFFIC to go to Rage every night), and decided not to renew our lease, one we had deliberately only signed for six months in case things didn't go as planned. At that point, we started looking in West Hollywood, sometimes together, sometimes solo, as things had grown more complicated when James tried to fix me up with a sexy coworker of his, only to (perhaps) regret his decision when Marc and I became good friends (he played tennis, too) instead of lovers.

WeHo gallery boys James and Kenneth, with John Davis, circa 1992

In the end, James got a cool place in West Hollywood behind the French Market with a new roommate and I moved in just across Santa Monica with a couple, one of whom -- unbeknownst to me -- turned out to be legendary porn star Mike Henson). It was gradual, but within six months James and I -- once inseparable -- were no longer speaking. (Sadly, if there was a specific reason why I do not remember it.) Around the same time, I caught the flu for the first time in my life and literally thought I was dying, as one of my roommates now had pneumocystis pneumonia and I was no longer able to think rationally after I began to have hallucinations and bizarre dreams that I had insomnia. The same week I finally began to recover my transmission mysteriously fell out on the 5. All of this was beginning to be too much and with the realization that my two best friends in L.A. -- James, whom I adored and went through so much with to make our "L.A. dream" come true, and now, increasingly, Marc too -- were no longer going to be in my life, I decided it was time to make a fresh start. (I won't deny it: I was pretty devastated.) A month later -- in January 1993 -- I moved to Washington and have been an East Coaster ever since.

Jim Kenney and I get off on Gay Street

As it would happen, you may recall that my other favorite Facebook reconnection came with a D.C. friend -- also named James -- whom I had a falling out with at the end of '93. It's been so fun keeping in touch again (he looks exactly the same and is really successful) and if you're thinking what I'm thinking you're thinking -- how difficult is this blogger freak that he has all of these "fallings out"? -- I should say in my defense that all in all my track record is pretty good, with the same two best friends since 1978 and 1980, respectively!

L.A. James look great and appears to be doing really well too these days. We have been corresponding a little lately. and I surprised him with my cache of old photos, some of which he told me he'd never seen before. I have to say that it feels great to have healed these two old wounds, and I don't think either of them would have happened without Facebook.

Now, believe it or not, there's just one more of these lingering sore spots on my resume. And would you believe it's a boy from junior high ... named James?

The Bangles even wrote about my rocky relationships with these boys ...

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