Life seemed momentarily back to normal as I sat at Starbucks surrounded by Gay David, not to be confused with Dave The Jew from Vegas, Eric Everhard, my friend the porn star, Eric the blogger, whom to the best of my knowledge doesn’t even watch porn, and Andy The Printer, otherwise known as Andy from Colombia—one of my favorite countries due to its agricultural output if you know what I mean.

            Whiskey Peet, Dave The Jew, and Stan Peters had all left that very morning for the Sundance Film Festival, which is not actually at the Sundance Resort, but rather in Park City almost an hour away. Not satisfied with Stan’s fifty million dollar Gulfstream Whiskey Peet had his private 747 pick them up for a flight I’m sure the FAA would not approve of. Whiskey Peet had grown on me and before he left I agreed to become his personal blogger—to work off my poker debt, which by the time of the boys departure had reached nine million dollars. Ugh!

            “Well what do you know,” said the familiar voice.

            I looked up to see DP, substitute for a name I do not feel disposed to mention. “Wow, it’s good to see you.” I stood and gave the girl, whom I had not seen for more than year a hug. “I thought you were in Europe studying to be a chef?”

            “No that’s my sister. I’ve been here, but just lying low.”

            I invited her to sit at my table. I accepted her offer to fetch me a coffee. My thoughts drifted to the night I talked her into letting me give her a backrub on my couch. My couch, if only it could talk, what stories it would tell. We chatted. There had been much drama in her life. Fight with her sister, run over by a car, and a year off school.

            “I was just thinking about you the other day.” I did not go into the detail that I was thinking about the aforementioned night. But apparently the memory was ricocheting around her cortex as well.

            “I was thinking about you too,” she responded lowering her voice.

            “Really, what were you thinking about?” I asked wondering why she had come back into my orbit after more than a year.

            “I was thinking you might be up for a three way with me and my boyfriend. I mean he wants to and I was trying to think of someone that might be up for it and thought, ‘Oliver would probably do it.’”

            “Sure,” I said, not feeling my usual elation over such an offer. Things with Misha and April were already complicated.

            Later that night, after my first non-impaired day of writing in weeks, I strolled down to the Grand Opening of Rivera. I was feeling relaxed, optimistic; the warm air of So Cal winter was gently caressing my body. And then my blood ran cold. Mr. Lee my accountant was on the phone.

            “Oliver, we have to talk.”

            I gulped like a nervous twelve-year-old moving in on his first hot teacher. “About what?”

            “Do you want the good news or bad news first?”

            I did not hesitate to ask for the good news first, given the fact I have AT&T and the bad news might be mercifully prevented from reaching the hairs of my cochlea.

            “The good news is that your book and movie royalties this year were almost three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.”

            “Please drop my call. Please drop my call,” I prayed.

            “The bad new is that your expenses this year are six hundred and fifty-seven-thousand dollars and five cents. You continue to spend more than you make.”

            I didn’t have the heart to tell him about the millions I had lost playing poker the last two weeks.

            “Any suggestions, Charles?”

            “Sure Oliver. Spend less and work more. Stop buying things you don’t need….”

            Charles went on for a while. I would have just shot myself but Rivera looked like a nice restaurant and my friends were waiting.

            I spoke to the manager for a few moments. The restaurant was designed to incorporate four different environments offering a range of dining experiences. I sat with my friends all of whom were very happy with their food. I could write a whole blog on Rivera, but my intention for now is just to draw a contrast between two nice additions to the neighborhood. Rivera has a private Tequila club and special ice cubes that don’t melt in your drink. The lounge has custom designed Tequila lounge chairs, made here in Los Angeles, that cost about eleven thousand each—the equivalent of flying first class back when you could still light up on a plane.

            Billy The Trainer and Drew the FIDM Student suggested I walk with them over to Yard House—and leaving a perfectly nice group of girls we headed for still greener pastures. I should mention here that Billy had been trying to get me to train with him for months, but I was sure from the beginning that it would be my lifestyle that would prevail. We were at three drinks when we left Rivera. Tequila infused with vanilla from Madagascar mixed especially for us is what I think did the trick.

            At Yard House we ran into Andy The Printer From Colombia and his ex-girlfriend. An attractive young lady that caused me to remind myself every two minutes that she was with my friend and that I had two girlfriends, which were already more than I could handle. And my friend DP wanted to involve me in her venture into polyamory. Andy secured a large corner booth for our rapidly growing party. Billy wrangled five very attractive young ladies, three from FIDM and two that were visiting the three—they had just arrived from Austin.

            The food at Yard House is fine and about ninety percent less than Rivera, although no special ice cubes. However, it’s the vibe at Yard House that makes it worth going to. Yard House is the only venue at LA Live that has struck a chord with locals thus far. Good music and two happy hours. The happy hour from ten to midnight is all about locals—thank you Yard House for getting it. The cute blonde from FIDM that so clearly had a crush on Drew warmed me.

Usually, I would have been seducing one or more of these girls, not this night. Maybe my rapidly approaching birthday, meaning my advancing years, gave me pause. Everyone wound up back at my place where my glory as a writer finally bubbled up into the flow of conversation. We all sat on the couch. Drew commented as I already have about the what if furniture could speak. I broke out the Chivas and the Patron, the house music blared and I introduced the youngsters to life Downtown Oliver Brown style.

But I digress. The point was, I met up with friends at Rivera and then made new friends at Yard House, which is the kind of neighborhood place, you can make new friends at—and have over and drink to the point nobody can manage to walk for and hour or two. If I may indulge for a moment I would like to add that around three in the morning the population of Downtown Oliver Brown’s Bar and Grill demanded a reading of “Criminal”, since all had missed my presentation at Art Walk the week prior. I felt like Capote, all be it a heterosexual version with a far more imposing physical stature. I donned my reading glasses and began. Having done some two hundred readings the last year, I have to say this was the best.

I smiled when I woke up. The ax seemingly buried in my skull a nice memento of the night before. It was strange to be alone. I thought about all of those cute young girls that had been floating around my place like so many precious butterflies. And my net harmlessly left in the closet of time past. I mused that one would have been nice to keep, not for my sake, for her sake, so as to be protected from the world I know all too much about. Too late. I decided to go with Ed The Energy Management Guy to visit his elderly parents down in Long Beach. They’ve known me since I was seven and for some reason I cannot fathom like when I come to visit. 

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