Friday, December 10, 2010

Polyester Monkey Suite Surprise

No, it's not a recipe.  Or if it is, it's one of silly mindlessness.  My buddy, John, and I at some point during my Freshman year in high school (his Sophomore year) discovered that we both had suites hanging in our closets from various affairs our respective parents had made us attend at that age, and we thought it would be fun to ask a couple of girls out and show up unexpectedly in our three-piece formal-wear.  John and I always got a laugh about things just outside of the boundaries of what was normally socially accepted and appropriate.  It’s always been a core part of our humor. 

One time, we both went to a medical supply company and bought ourselves those soft, wrap-around whiplash braces for your neck and decided to take them to Disneyland and take a ride on the Matterhorn while adorning them. We thought, how funny would it look to outsiders walking around the park to see two people on the Matternhorn being thrashed around tight roller coaster corners rigidly wearing whiplash bands?  We got turned away about two-thirds of the way through the cue by astute Disney cast-members who realized that we had probably lost our minds.  But laugh ourselves to near hyperventilation, we did.

In the case with the suites, I got in touch with two very attractive brunettes, bless their sweet souls, who were high-school mates of ours named Karen and Jenny.  They were good friends with one-another at the time.  This was during the height of the Valley Girl craze; the torn sweatshirts, Flashdance look, and the time of,  Moon Zappa’s, “Oh my God…gag me with a spoon” lore.  Valley speak was alive and ubiquitous.

In fact, Karen was known to say, “Oh my God,” about anything even remotely surprising or new.  “Hey Karen, I saw a movie this weekend.”  “Oh my God, what’d you see?” Or,  “Well Karen, I’ve got to get to third period.”  “Oh my God, I’ll see you later, Fred.”  This trait was endearing to me because she was such a sincere sweetheart of a girl, and we’re talking about a tall, slim, dark haired, with long-legged lady, so she was quite a looker too.  She had a great sense of humor, and apparently a lot of compassion because she always laughed at all of my nonsensical jokes.

And I had originally met Jenny through a mutual friend of ours and had always liked Jenny’s quick-firing assessments of the world.  Also, a brunette, and with big, beautiful dark eyes.  She didn’t hesitate in having a comeback to just about anything, and she was always well-grounded.  Only much later did I learn that her step-father was a musical genius; maybe that’s where she got her strong sense of self  I’ve always found smart and witty gals attractive.  So I had a sense that they would be sport for our silly prank; or at least they wouldn’t kill us.

I called them up and asked if we all could all four go to dinner one Saturday night.  They accepted and I solidified the plans of picking them up.  As it turned out, we would need to pick them up one at a time, and as a result, we realized that we could enjoy their individual reactions a little bit longer.

So Saturday night came, and when my doorbell rang, John arrived at my parents’ house in his brown, three-piece, polyester suite.  Polyester was completely out of fashion by then, but we had somehow convinced ourselves otherwise. Maybe it was because these were the only suites we owned.  I had a really good laugh at how formally dressed up John was in his fancy threads and his Sherlock Homes shaped pipe.  He reminded me of some young, British Earl, freshly arrived into the country, wet, dapper and ready to pontificate with diplomats at some high society event.

I was dressed in my light blue, three piece, polyester suite, and after seeing him with a pipe, I managed to scavenge a pipe of my own from my parents’ house.  It all might have looked somewhat presentable but for my unruly mushroom-shaped hair dominating the ensemble.  Both of my parents, and I think John’s parents, knew what we were up to that night and told us to be respectful of the ladies; there was no reason to play a prank of up-dressing a couple of high school girls on a date, especially at that age when girls are just “slightly” sensitive to social dress-codes.  So of course we didn’t take their advice. 

Yet, at the same time, I know that my parents got a good chuckle out of their son garbed in something other than torn jeans and a sweatshirt; an anomaly to say the least.  My dad even took out his Nikon from the family room cabinet and ambushed us with a spattering of snaps and flashes while inside the house, and then one more photo of us outside by the car as we were departing.  We both felt regal in our upscale threats.


John drove a little brown Chevy Chevette, which had a little more power than a moped, an example of which is seen to the right here.  But the Chevette got us around, and at that age, that alone was pure magic.  I was a few months shy of getting my license, so John was transportation captain for the night, and I was in the navigator’s seat.

So on we went, to pick up Karen.  When we arrived at her doorstep, Karen answered the door and immediatlly upon seeing us she exclaimed, “Oh…Muh….God,” I believe she said this about six times.  Karen was dressed in blue jeans and a trendy white top of some sort.  We said, as simultaneously planned, “Are you ready to go?”  Her response; “Oh…Muh…God.”  The payoff was great because her declarations had gotten more emphatic and rhythmic.  Wow, she was REALLY surprised.  Karen disappeared for a few minutes, then, came back with her handbag looking at little confused and concerned for her safety.  She took a moment or two to determine if she actually wanted to risk getting in the car with us.

We three drove the ten minute drive to Jenny’s house with Karen still chanting, “Oh…Muh…God” from the back seat.  When we arrived at Jenny’s house, same surprise, though I think during Karen’s momentary disappearance back at her house, she had called and tipped off Jenny to make her aware of the wardrobe insanity that had broken out among the males.  So Jenny’s reaction was more of wanting to see the spectacle herself, rather than unadulterated shock.  She was dressed in black pants and also a trendy top of the time.  These two girls, sweet as they could be, got into that little brown Chevette, honored our date, and we went on forward with our evening as previously planned.

The money that John and I earned from our after school jobs, John and the Hollywood Bowl, and me bagging groceries at Hughes Market, allowed us such outings as Dupar’s Diner in Studio City, Shakey’s Pizza, and Golf Land in the Sepulveda basin.  So it would seem that we would have taken them to one of those "classy" valley hot spots.  But on this night, John vaguely remembers that we drove to a permanently closed Farrell's Ice Cream store on Van Nuys Blvd., which might well have been the original destination of our foursome date, and then, with plans foiled, we proceeded to drive around aimlessly, ending up in Westwood without a real plan.  It's hard to recall the exact details of that night; it was such a long time ago. 

In any case, here were four teens bopping around the valley that night; two beautiful girls trendily dressed in cute outfits, and two boys inappropriately dressed in monkey suites.  At some point, I remember thinking to myself how lucky we both were to have such pretty girls by our sides, and I wondered why we had felt the need to do this elaborate garb get-up.  It was a palatable, yet fleeting moment of psychological clarity for my young, undirected and foggy mind.

But thinking back, it was, well, strangely hilarious for us at the time (therapy was obviously needed), but it was also a lesson in how accepting these girls could be to put up with such a silly thing, and to go with the flow with us.  I hope Karen and Jenny had fun that night too.  I’m trying to recall if they ever spoke to us again.  I think they did.