Back then, the Warehouse Restaurant in Newport Beach had a dark, almost seedy décor. October 16, 1986 fell on a Thursday, so I’m not entirely sure my 21st birthday didn’t start getting celebrated a day late. Then again, I was 21 at the time so who can tell? All I know is that I spent the weekend in an inebriate state. Richard Lind and I drank. Sean Roberson and I drank.
But when I went to the Warehouse, I went with Rosa. I remember clearly how much I was surprised. As usual, I put on a suit – I used to like dressing up back then… back when I would fit in a suit – and Rosa drove us to and parked in a seemingly random parking structure. But when we walked into the Warehouse, well, I was kind of blown away. It was my kind of place. It looked like the kind of place the Rat Pack would eat at and, though I wasn’t too aware of exactly who the Rat Pack were at the time, that was the kind of place I wanted to be. Rosa told me she had looked for a place where I could eat a good steak and drink… my fill…
I don’t remember what I was drinking back then. The other day, I seemed to remember Tequila Sunsets. This morning, I recalled that the first legal drink I ordered was a scotch on the rocks. Odds are, I kept trying different drinks. After dinner, we went down to the bar, which was also equally seedy and dark, and we listened to a band and I drank. I drank so much, I started using furniture and the wall to guide me when I went to the bathroom.
I remember this because, as it turns out, I’ve got a hangover this morning. There’s a shock. Vicky, Jeff, and I had a little dinner on our patio last night and my bride and I polished off two bottles of good, red wine. Okay, she helped. I did most of the polishing.
This year’s birthday, my 42nd, hasn’t been my favorite – but, then, what birthday is? I’ve always hated my birthday – but Vicky’s done what she can with a depressed Ken. And I'm glad to have her around. I’ve lost a lot of friends in the last few years, some intentionally, some just because. And that’s probably what has made me so nostalgic of late, thinking of the old times and people I miss, some things that were just unavoidable.
And then, I look forward and I realize how anything is possible.
Do this experiment. Cut your age in half – that’s simple math, people – and try to recall what your life was like back then. At 21, I was a man becoming. I didn’t know what direction my life was taking me in or even how I could lead it. I knew I wanted to write. I knew I wanted to act. I knew I wanted Rosa around and it would help to move out of my mom’s house. But I hadn’t finished my first book and I hadn’t done a show in four years. Rosa and I would soon move in together – and marry shortly after that – but I had no idea what being a good partner or even a good friend meant.
Now, with 42 just a day away, I think about everything that’s happened between now and then and how you live through extraordinary changes you can never see coming. Now, I am a writer. I’ve finished a number of books. I’m in college. I have a career. Though things with Rosa ended tragically, I am blessed with Vicky and I have a clearer idea of just how much that means and what I can do to help things work. True, I’ve lost a lot of friends but I can make more… somehow, I’m sure.
Life is good.
Let’s see what 63 holds…