In The Fall of 1996, I was twenty years old and had just moved into my own apartment in LA. I was going to school, working full time, and was dead broke.
My one free day was Thursday. On one particular Thursday, my friend Joey invited me to the movies. Joey was Lebanese and very effeminate. What would now be called “a blouse.” His parents were beyond strict and thought I was a bad influence because I was gay. They never for a moment considered that he was, which shocked me, as his eyebrows were waxed like Christy Turlington’s; he practiced the catwalk incessantly; and all of his friends were girls. But, I was the gay one?
Joey lived at home with his parents in the San Fernando Valley. On this day, I drove over to his place to visit. Joey wanted to go to the movies. I was sick as a dog and not in the mood for a movie, but Joey really wanted to go, so I let Joey drive. I can’t remember what we saw, because I had taken three Sudafed tablets and was a puddle of phlegm and Kleenex tissues.
“Hey, let’s go to Balboa Park in Encino. I have all this film left in my camera and the leaves are falling,” he suggested intently.
“Please, let’s just go home,” I replied. I had no interest in going. As sick as I felt, I wasn’t at all in the mood for a photoshoot. But, after his relentless begging, I acquiesced.
I had also just broken up with the guy I had considered the love of my life, which is why I now lived on my own and was broke. Besides being sick, I was feeling very depressed from the breakup and everything to do with that.
We reached the park and drove around until he found a setting with lots of foliage. He wanted to take photos of the fall splendor, while I had no intention of getting out of the car. Joey tried taking photos, while throwing leaves in the air in an attempt to replicate photographer Ansel Adams’ style.
“Hey!” Joey said, calling over to our car. “The guy in that car over there is so hot! You should go talk to him.”
He knew I was sad over my recent break-up, but, I wasn’t feeling or looking my best, so I just remained where I was. I kept thinking, “This fool better take me home.”
Joey went over to the stranger’s car window and started chatting with him. I saw them look in my direction and Joey point at me. He then ran back to our car and told me excitedly that the guy was gay and wanted to meet me in the area near the public toilets.
“Joey, I’ve had enough,” I said. “Take me home!”
Joey got in the car and started the engine.
“Finally!” I thought.
But, instead of leaving, he moved the car to where the other guy had wanted us to meet. The guy was there, got out of his vehicle, and walked up to our car door.
“Hey, want to go for a walk?” He asked politely and smiled at me.
To be clear, this guy was smoking hot!!! He was 6’1,195 pounds, built, with black hair and green eyes—a total stud. He easily could have been a Colt Model. He implored me several times to get out and go for a walk with him. After turning him down four times, I finally agreed to get out of the car.
There I was, sitting on the grass with a man I’d just met. Joey had left us and gone for a walk by himself. The stud and I chatted for a bit, exchanging essentials: our names, our ages, where we lived, and our occupations. It all seemed kosher at the time.
“Wanna go in the bathroom?” He asked with a seductive smile. “I’ll give you a blow job.”
“What?!?” I physically felt like shit. My head felt like cement from the Sudafed; I had the sniffles; and I kept thinking about my ex-boyfriend. I had no idea what to say to this guy.
I told him a bit about my breakup and cried; he was unfazed. Once again, he asked me to follow him into the restroom.
“Maybe we could go for Chinese and a movie Sunday?” I responded—something I’d learned from being half Italian and half Jewish with parents from NYC.
The stud looked at me like I was a bit crazy. He ask me about six more times to go with him into the bathroom for a blowjob. I began to get annoyed, still hoping to go for Chinese and a movie with him (and probably pick out china patterns, decide how we could get married, and then I’d forget about my ex).
I was very naïve and idealistic at twenty and thought everything would turn out perfect…meet a hot dude in the park, turn down a bj, but live happily ever after. It all sounded logical to me.
The stud wasn’t fazed at all by my repeated rejection of his advances. “Why would he be?” I thought. “He’s my next hot boyfriend!”
I finally relented, we went into the toilets, and he directed me into a stall.
“Take your pants down,” He said matter-of-factly.
My gut was telling me something was off. I mean, how was this guy so hot and not wanting to go for Chinese with me? Ayyyyy! But, my gut was off-kilter, probably a result of the Sudafed, my depressed mood, etc. I put my fingers on my jeans top button and started to open my pants.
“I think I hear someone!” he said suddenly.
He led me out of the toilet and five men were waiting there for us. One cuffed me before my eyes could even adjust to the light. The stud and the guy who cuffed me high-fived each other in celebration.
“Oh, my god! The stud was an undercover cop!” I thought frantically.
Joey came running down the grassy knoll laughing. His hands were behind him; an older fat man had him cuffed too. Apparently, we’d driven to a cruising park, but, I was the only one unaware of this. Joey and I were fingerprinted and put on a school bus with several other men who’d also been apprehended. The bus was packed with guys, all arrested for the same thing. I felt like such a fool. I was not amused. My fingers were black from being fingerprinted, I was only twenty, and now I would have a rap sheet!I turned to Joey and scowled.
“I am going to fucking kill you when these cuffs are off me! How could you take me here and not tell me it was a cruising park?!?”. I had never been to a cruising park and didn’t really understand why guys went.
“Relax! All we have to do is go to court and pay the fine,” Joey responded calmly, while laughing, unfazed by the events. As we talked, I learned that this was his second such arrest. Joey was already familiar with the drill.
We were released and given a copy of the citation. I had been arrested for “lewd conduct” and was given a court date.
Joey dropped me off at my car and I drove back to my apartment. All I could think about was my ex, where our relationship had gone wrong, and how I had ended up in this place at age twenty. I figured I had just destroyed my life.
I called my friend, Robert, an attorney. Hysterical, I told him what had happened,
”Don’t worry! Everything will be fine!” He said, trying to calm me down. “Get me $900.00 to pay the fine and I’ll have it expunged.”
I had no idea exactly what expunged even meant, but $900.00 was basically $100,000.00 as far as I was concerned. Where would I get that kind of dough?
“But, I was tricked!” I responded anxiously. “Can’t we just fight it in court?”
“This happens all the time,” He said, “It was a sting. You’ll never win the case. Besides, we’d need $20,000.00 to begin to cover your legal costs to challenge your arrest.”
At this point, I was left with no option but to call my mother and ask her for the $900.00. The thought made me quiver.
Now, to be clear, my mother had no issues with me being gay. When I was five, she would put on her Barry Manilow after dinner while she did the dishes and I took a bath. When I was done with my bath, I would come out with a towel wrapped around my waist and another towel wrapped around my head and we would both sing “Copacabana” together…I didn’t stumble upon Barry Manilow or “Copacabana”…
But getting arrested was something else! This was a woman so tight and obsessed with money that she didn’t give anything away. She was now on husband #3 and had already collected three houses by that point from husband #1 (my father) and husband #2.
Husband #2 was from Israel. After about a year of marriage, he moved back there. My mother was supposed to follow him a few months later. However, after she had dropped him at the airport and had come home, she picked the locks of his filling cabinet and figured out he was having an affair and was never coming back. She then took ownership of his house, car, art, etc., by forging all the legal documents she could find.
Then, one day a new credit card in his name arrived in the mail and she was off the races. She used it to get a face-lift, have a chin put in and have her eyes done—all without an ounce of guilt or remorse. To this day she sees nothing wrong with what she did.
When the credit card company called seeking payment, they asked for him. “Sorry he doesn’t live here anymore!” she responded and hung up on them. They called again, asking for his wife. “Sorry, we’re divorced!” and she hung up again.
My mother was a direct product of the Great Depression and her parents who had not a cent to their name. She had serious issues with money and had learned how to finesse things from her mother. Stealing and forging, she learned on her own.
When I was in the second grade, my mother told my teacher to smack me if I got out of line. All the parents gasped in horror, as this happened at an open school night. She got up, turned to them, and said, “Oh shut up and mind your business!”
Once, I got into a fight at school and came home crying. When I told my mother, she responded, “Kick him in the balls!” She didn’t have much shame or care about what anyone else thought. Unless it came to a man she was trying to Marry or My father.
“So here goes…” I thought to myself with fear and trepidation, as I phoned her number.
“Hi, Mom. I need a favor and I really need you to do it without asking questions. I need $900.00, but you can’t ask me why.” I said it very fast and closed my eyes waiting for her response.
“Sure, honey, but, what’s it for?” She replied inquisitively.
“Something’s not right,” I thought. “She doesn’t part with money this easily.”
“Mom, I just really need the money! I can’t tell you what it’s for, but I’m in trouble!”
“Ok, tell me what happened,” She said calmly. She knew she had me by the balls.
We played cat-and-mouse for a little while until, left with no choice, I finally had to tell her the truth.
“Mom, I…I got busted for trying to have sex in a public bathroom.” I told her the whole story, including my hopes for Chinese food and a movie.”
I waited in awkward silence, expecting her to yell at me, drop the phone, faint—I didn’t know what. I was afraid her head was going to pop off or she was going to scream at me in tongues.
“That’s entrapment!” She finally exclaimed matter-of-factly (I had never heard that word or knew it until that moment). “I’ll call you right back!” and hung up the phone.
I was shocked. I had expected her to berate me for being a pervert or something similar. When I was young, I had gotten her wrath for everything, even when I wasn’t at fault.
A few minutes later, she called back with a lawyer on the phone.
“Aaron, I have Mr.___ on the phone. He’s an important lawyer.” She made me tell him the complete story. She then proceeded to call me back—five more times with five different lawyers. With each new lawyer, I had to repeat the sordid details of my crime with my mother on the phone. I was so embarrassed.
“You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. We’re going to fight this!” she announced, after the final lawyer was off the phone. “Aaron, I’m calling Gloria Allred. This is entrapment. We’ll go on the news!”
Oh, my God! I just wanted to curl up and die! Gloria Allred was a very well-known lawyer who handled women and only known for her sensationalist ways. My mother clearly had no issues airing my dirty laundry on primetime TV as she did when my father left her.
“Please, Mom! Can I just pay the fine and be done with this?”
“What?!? Are you sure?” inquired my mom, who had suddenly become a superhero fighting the injustices of the world. And thinking she wouldn’t have to part with the money.
I still can’t understand why anyone would think I’d ever want to go on TV and tell this story publicly, but she finally relented and gave me the money.
I went to court and pleaded guilty. I paid the fine and was ordered to perform forty hours of community service for the arrest to be taken off my records.
Mom and I never spoke of it again.