There was this time…(pt. 14)

Anacapa is Chumash for “illusion”, or ironic for “sucker”

I met Phil one night at a bar called “Rocks” on State Street in Santa Barbara. It was a good bar/restaurant that lasted for quite a few years. As far as Santa Barbara restaurant life-spans, that’s a millennia. My friend, Jessica, and I were friends with the owner and we spent many happy hours there depleting the bar of their olive stock. —shut up, we were really poor.—

At Rocks one night, this handsome man chatted me up and we ended up making a date for the following week on his sailboat in Ventura. 

I arrive at Ventura harbor and Phil’s boat. The sailboat’s cabin was already occupied by two stunningly beautiful women, Erin and Lynn. Both who, I find out later, were there to size me up. As is my go-to, though I couldn’t surpass them in beauty, I did make them laugh—I do a great impression of trying to back up a 43’ sailboat out of Ventura harbor—and from that point on, we were all friends. 

One day, Erin and Mikhail (her then boyfriend) set sail on their even larger sailboat with Phil and I as passengers for a 3-hour tour to the Channel Islands.

I hope you’re getting the reference. 

We sail out through the channel towards Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands carried on the strong Santa Ana winds blustering us towards the horizon at a furiously-hot pace. 

Once there, we find a shaded, calm cove for Erin to wake board–dive for pearls/hunt for pirate treasure/save every whale shark in existence–whatever adventure she does on a daily basis. Mikhail and Phil have drinks on the deck in the gloriousness of the shimmering daylight…

While I awkwardly fumble around for something to stop the cataract of blood that is now violently forcing its way out of my body like it, early or late but always inconveniently, does every month. Because I’m me and, if things went smoothly, I would cease to be me.

And, yeah, it’s a gross detail but a necessary one to contrast that while I’m trying to shove coasters in my shorts because it’s the only thing I can find to stem the horrible tide,

Ms. Pro-Windsurfer/photojournalist/USskiteam/whalesharkprotector is effortlessly wake boarding in a way one could only see on ESPN, and filmmaker Mikhail and entrepreneur Phil are casually discussing how they’re going to assuredly and quite literally save the world. 

The Gilligan reference starts making sense now, doesn’t it.

My only hope to maintain any dignity I may have is to go back home soon so I can attend to this typical over-the-top, slapstick, Molly-type moment of a normally (for other people) fair-weathered experience.

Because we are. This was only a 3-hour tour, after all.

It’s Sunday and I don’t have anything keeping me rooted to the shore (except for work on Monday), so I settle in to a great afternoon. Having effectively yet comically fashioned whatever-it-was I did to fix my womanly problem, I do what I feel is my honor and privilege to do and entertain; both intentionally and not.


Then it starts getting late. 

Really late. 

I’m pretty sure there are people back on shore who might be missing me if we don’t return me by at least late evening. It’s downright dark now and I politely inquire as to when we’re going back. 

“Can’t. Santa Anas,” is Mikhail’s response. 

“What? Really?”

“Yeah. Off-shore winds. We can’t sail against that. I mean, come on.” He smiles and makes another drink. 

“Well, um, I should really call someone then.”

“Can’t. Sun spots,” Phil says. He’s the only one with a cell phone in the early 2000s so he clearly knows what he’s talking about. 

“What about ship-to-shore radio?” I ask. I didn’t know shit about sailing but I’ve heard about radios.

“Can’t,” Erin says smirking though I bought it anyway, “Island is in the way.” 

None of their answers seem quite legit but I accept them as truth. I’m in no position to argue with these world travelers.


I kept up the worry for a fast minute as it didn’t take me long to give up on going home that night. Besides, we were having too much fun pretending we were pirates that I was okay with it. Okay, I was pretending we were pirates. We’ll be home tomorrow, work be damned. After all, no one can blame me for sun spots.

The next morning, I wake up to Bloody Marys, visits from random sailing-types also seeking out a shady cove, and a glorious sun. 

It’s suggested that we hike to the top of the hill on this protected, no-humans-allowed island. I, again, quietly suggest we try to get a hold of someone on shore in Santa Barbara. Hell, I’d settle for someone in Ventura knowing I was still alive at this point. 

They’re having none of it. On the island’s beach, Mikhail is putting rocks on his chest claiming he’s trapped under a landslide and can’t captain the sailboat back home. 

“How are we going to call anyone to save you if we can’t call shore?”

“Oh, never mind. I’m fine.” He giggled and jumped up, rocks flung aside, to start up the steep hill. I’m ignored and left to either follow or twiddle my thumbs.

I do take a second to begin to think this might be a setup. 

I do enjoy the illegal hike, follow Phil’s asthmatic wheezing (another tip off that we weren’t far from help considering his lack of worry) towards another glorious view. From that vantage I can see California’s Central Coast and have a quick, twingey thought of who might be worrying about me. I care as much as the thought is fleeting.

We return to the boat to engage in an extremely competitive and somewhat frightening game of Pictionary. In addition to being beautiful inside and out, Erin has competed her way to the top of everything she’s ever tried and her accolades are very well-deserved. The list is exhaustive and I won’t get into it here. You can here, though.

And apparently, Pictionary was something she wasn’t going to come in second at either. 

I say with pride that she can win everything else in the world but no one can beat me at Pictionary. I only wish I kept that drawing of Barry White that ended the ill-fated game amidst nefarious accusations. It was a draw. I won the game, she won at pouting.


Come Tuesday…

TUESDAY! I wake up suddenly to what felt like gentle waves rocking the boat and the hum of a well-maintained motor I didn’t know the boat had.

I know what you’re thinking, “How the fuck did you not know the boat had a motor?”

I didn’t. It was a sailboat. I knew about the sails! Stop judging me. I know other stuff. Jeez.

Mikhail is at the helm (see, that’s something I know), and Erin is filming a pod of a thousand dolphins surfing alongside us. Phil is smiling, sipping a mimosa with his leg up, as I creep out from the cabin. 

“Morning.”

“We’re motoring back? We’re MOTORING BACK?? OH MY GOD.” Giggles then outright mocking me competed with the sound of the happy motor.

It was hard to be mad at the great time or the great people on the deck smiling and enjoying the day despite my kidnapping and collected plotting against my return. If I were ever to be Shanghai’d, I couldn’t have asked for a better one. 


There were a lot of concerned then angry messages when I finally got home. I deflected them by being an ass about it. I’m sure I’m over it.

20 years later, we are all still friends. Though they are a tough crowd to keep up with.

Phil can be found selling giganto-yachts in New Zealand or Monaco or Tahiti or… somewhere, I forget.

Erin is still doing everything more exciting than any of us can imagine, just ask Richard Branson.

Mikhail, though, had to one-up everyone by accidentally flying his helicopter into a glacier. It sucks that he left us but if there’s a way to go, that’s pretty much the most badass way to do it. 

RIP, our friend

Me? I’m writing stories and taking the frequent naps they refuse to in honor of all them.

Someone’s got to. 

There was this time…(pt.13)

Geoff, the Santa Barbara boyfriend of 10 years, the chick-wrangler or “Sport-fuck” as his friends used to call him in my presence, was not one to keep his pants on when he should. Seeing as it’s been more than 15 years later, he and I are good friends and I don’t begrudge him the, um, multitude of indiscretions in which he may or may not have indulged.

The indiscretions so plentiful that it was reported in the local newspaper. 

You could wonder why I would put up with something like that and I don’t blame anyone for wondering that. The answer is simple: I didn’t know at the time and how could he not? In a town with a population of only around 30,000 permanent residents, 90% of whom are female, it’d be almost rude of a man this beautiful to not indulge. 

And it has been over 15 years. I really couldn’t care less now. We’re past it, so should you be. I appreciate your righteous anger, though, dear reader. If anything, I’m impressed that anyone could have that much energy or time in their day.

I only report that previous detail because, goddamn, it was in the fucking newspaper!

But I digress. This is just a story about a time.

__________________________

There was this time when we went to a movie.

One normal night, we went to go see Golden Eye, Pierce Brosnan’s debut as James Bond. 

As we’re walking through the doors of the Arlington Theatre, I excuse myself to make a bee-line to the ladies room. Geoff meanders towards the outside patio; doing the agreeable nod that we’d meet out there.

I find him holding a martini and grabbing stuffed mushrooms off a passed plate. It looked great, albeit odd for a random movie night, but I graciously accepted a martini off a tray held by a smartly-dressed waiter. 

We wordlessly enjoy our good luck for whatever conceivable reason this was happening; not wanting to say anything lest saying it makes it stop. I look up and notice that everyone mingling in this little quaint outside patio was far better dressed than we. We were no slouches but we weren’t dressed in tuxedos and evening gowns. I also notice that Pierce Brosnan was about 5 feet away from us. 

“Oh shit.”

“What?”

“Look!” I point with my pinky finger towards the doorman checking off names but otherwise turning away many people not on his coveted clipboard list. The doorman who let us through because our dismissive, belonging attitude–due to the fact we didn’t know we weren’t supposed to be there in the first place–gave us unquestioned credibility.

“We just walked into a movie premiere.”

Giggling at our stealth and trying to find ways to shove martinis and steaming hot mushrooms into my purse, we followed the elite crowd into the theater to watch the best James Bond ever portrayed.

–Oh knock it off. This is my story and my opinion. Get off your Connery.–

Two hours later, we stumbled out of the theater; stunned by our luck, and dazed by the many martinis…and also having hatched a plan. 

Lightbulb lit, for the next few months, there wasn’t an event we couldn’t get into. We arrogantly strutted our way into gallery openings, elite polo gatherings, exclusive Montecito galas, and one hilariously successful entrance into the world-famous Sky Bar at the Mondrian hotel in Los Angeles to meet Geoff’s “agent, Jaime Bemis” whom he had conjured out of the air. 

We had a great time. We really did. And, to this day, we both look back at it as a triumph.

It couldn’t last though. The problem with faking your way through life is that, unless you’re a psychopath, you can’t keep it up. Microexpressions, fatigue, and anxiety show through the facade.  It makes pulling this kind of thing off harder and harder. You just don’t have the energy to do it anymore anywhere.

And when you’re trying to pull this kind of thing off in a town of only 30,000 people, most of whom know one of you really well by now, eventually someone is going to write up your story in their local newspaper. 

There was this time…(pt. 12)

Massive secluded spaces to pull over and enjoy

It was an old Reddit post I only recently came across that made me think of this story. The Reddit story is funny and a huge relief for all of us thinking we might be alone in doing stupid shit.

And stupid shit is what this blog is made of, god damnit.

After I was gifted by my wonderfully generous father, David E. Knop, a car, my former-boyfriend, Geoff, and I decided to take our new-used Toyota 4Runner, with our adorable dog, Chimi…

Camping.

We decided to drive up the amazing El Camino Cielo road that rings the mountains around Santa Barbara.

Good idea, of course.

Except that our decision was made after spending an entire day at Butterfly Beach in Montecito under the hot, hot sun.

Butterfly Beach was about 100 yards from our apartment. Once, I went swimming there to “exercise” at 9 am. I say, “exercise” because I have no idea what the hell I was thinking. With no one on the beach to point and scream instead of saving me, I came way too close to being Great White fish food. I only saw how close when I made it to shore to find that what I was swimming alongside of was a huge, dead sea lion with a man-sized hole chomped out of his middle. But that’s a story for another time.

Usually, it was me and Geoff and Chimi and a foot-long sub sandwich from the Greek-Italian Market and a 12-pack of Coronas.

It clearly sucked.

This particular day was a long day in June. Around 5 pm, perfect weather and my perfectly-tanned ONLY front-side of my body (yes, just perfectly-tanned front, totally white ass,) was fried. My half-tan was due to the awesome chairs I’d found that were too comfortable to get up and flip over. They were so comfortable. I miss those chairs.

By then, Geoff’s perfectly-tanned tennis-perfected body had had enough of fending off the coeds flirting with him. That’s “hims”– plural. Both Chimi and Geoff.

Because how could you not flirt with that?

No one apparently.

On a rare day off work I had once, I took my dog to the beach. He ran off because he owned that beach and it was normal. I expected him to come back to settle into his palapa we had to make him every time out of sticks and usually my beach sarape. Fluffy black fur wasn’t the best at keeping a tiny dog cool.

I hadn’t even noticed how far he’d run off, as it was so quick, until I spotted some 20-year-old in a microscopic bikini holding my dog in her hands.

I stood up, walked over, “Um, excuse me, can I have my dog back?”

She says, “Oh, you know Chimi?”

I didn’t punch her. I swear.

I just took my dog and went home to wait for Geoff. And maybe carefully rearranged his things. All of his things.

–Ahem.–

Anyway!….

The day in question, we hosed off a happy, sandy Chimi and jumped in the new-used 4Runner.

We drove up the picturesque, windy roads, full of excitement. And way too many Coronas for which I’m ashamed of admitting. We found our perfect spot in the wilderness to camp with the glorious views of this magnificent place.

Santa Barbara; a quaint drinking village with a fishing problem

We pass out peacefully. And except for one sudden terrifying moment when the coyotes tried to lure Chimi out of the open back of the 4Runner, we slept like 3 logs. Lulled by quaint animal noises and crickets and the musky-sweet scent of ocean and night-blooming jasmine.

Until morning.

Morning, we woke up to find that we’re not in a secluded spot in the country.

No, the sound of slamming car doors woke us up to the fact we were “camping” in someone’s front yard.

Not the woods

Morning came with us hauling our half-tanned asses out of a trespassing charge.

Good times.

There was this time…(pt. 9)

Loggins and Messina, 1974

This story is a little…circuitous. But seeing as my rapidly increasing fan base has reached almost 9, I’m feeling a bit cocky.

One of the jobs I had while living in Santa Barbara was working as personal assistant to Kenny Loggins and his family, thanks to my friend, Melinda. In fact, if you’re an ardent reader of this fabulous blog, you’ll know as the friend who also got into the wrong green Saab after a long lunch one day.

That green Saab was formerly Kenny Loggins’ from back in the Footloose days. He eventually sold it to his business manager, who was, you guessed it, Melinda.

As things got tough for Kenny’s life at the time, during my tenure with him they got tough for me. I quit in a huff, quite unprofessionally, but it is what is what I did was it. Or whatever the kids say.

Fast forward 6 months and I’m happily entrenched in my new job with the greatest family ever, the Beaches, and working as office manager for Patrick Beach’s business, La Playa Properties. We were housed in a stunningly beautiful building owned by the one and only, Chris Edgecomb. (There are stories to come about that guy, may he rest in peace.)

Chris was a huge fan of music. That meant when Chris got wind that Kenny Loggins was to reunite with Jimmy Messina for a tour for the first time in 30 years, Chris jumped at the opportunity to host their rehearsals.

Which meant immediately next door to my new work home.

This was fine with my boss, Pat Beach, because he also loved music and was usually traveling anyway.

I did not know any of this was happening.

One day, I look up from my desk to see Kenny and Melinda walking down our walk, take a sharp turn right, and disappear into the cavernous office next door.

I watch as semis pull up and 30 people carry guitar cases, black wheeled boxes, mic stands, scaffolding into the same door.

I’m confused but it’s a small town so it’s not that weird that I would see my former employers walk by. It’s a small, wealthy, celebrity-ridden town, so it’s not that weird that I’d see famous people walk by.

It’s a small town but big enough that I’d never seen the elusive Jimmy Messina, who I’d heard lived there and who was notoriously…self-contained in his private retirement, but was now trailing the parade down the walk of my office building.

I’m assuming they’d set up enough to start tinkering and playing music loud enough to make our teeth rattle came blasting through our artificial adobe. The Mexican tile vibrated. But we got used to it.

A couple days later, I see Kenny standing at the door to my office.

He nods hello at me and sits down on my guest chair…then immediately falls asleep.

My boss comes in about an hour later.

He looks right then left, then back at Kenny, and asks, “Is that Kenny Loggins and why is he sleeping in my chair?”

I had no answers. I let him sleep. Kenny awakens, stands up, says nothing to me and walks out. I expected nothing less.

As far as Melinda and I could figure was that seeing me, his former assistant at a desk where he was rehearsing, Kenny had assumed that I was paid to sit there for him. Doing what, I have no idea. It’s actually pretty logical but kind of hilarious when the opposite is true.

We eventually had to cut Loggins and Messina off from “using” our office for their whims when they used our back patio for a meeting they chased me out of for being “private.” It makes me wonder if Kenny thought his assistant was getting uppity.

All of it was funny for entertainment’s sake but that paled in comparison the phenomenal treat that it turned into.

For days, I got to listen to one of my favorite songs, one I actually didn’t even know was a Loggins and Messina song before, get tighter and stronger and better as one of the best musicians in the industry continued his mentorship of one of the most iconic. Every day the music got better. Each evening, I would hang out with the roadies, sharing stories and beers.

Santa Barbara Bowl, 2012 (The first and better concert I went to was 2006: same venue, though.)

All of the effort turned into one of the best concerts I’d ever seen.

And with all those roadies around…

Gross! this isn’t porn. I’m taking that to my grave.

There was this time…(pt. 8)

Yet to appear at Longs Drugs, John Cleese, Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

About 15-20 years ago, I was in my local Longs Drugs store in the fancy town of Montecito. It was Halloween or very close to it. It was a beautiful day but they always are.

I looked up to someone asking me a question. 

I mean I really looked up at this handsome, thin man looming down at me from a great height. I’m no slouch at 5’8” but I wasn’t close to matching his height. 

“Pardon me, do you know where the glittery nail polish is? It’s for my daughter’s Halloween costume,” he asked in a stately English accent. 

“Um, sure.” I mumbled back to him. Nervous now because I was face-to-mid-chest with John Cleese.

I have always had a huge celebrity crush on John Cleese. Living in Santa Barbara for the past 10 years at the time, I was used to celebrity sightings. But John Cleese, though, —sigh— was close to my heart after seeing Monty Python for the first time when I was 10. Having practically memorized every Monty Python movie since then, I felt like he and I were tight. 

(Thankfully I didn’t actually tell him that. I’ve done dumber things. Including literally body-slamming a certain super model in the Starbucks next door to my apartment on Coast Village Road. Keep reading this series. You’ll see.)

I showed the tall man where the glittery nail polish was and walked away, casual, unimpressed, and totally cool. Like a dork. I’m sure I kicked something on accident or knocked something over. It’s what I do.

Fast forward about 4 months and I’m at Longs again and here comes John Cleese heading straight towards me. His face lights up then politely asks me to help him locate something in the store. Whatever it was, it was casual and not-at-all-embarrassing, while I pretended to not be stalled in front of some sort of hygiene product. We located his item and he thanked me with effusive British gratitude and went on his way. 

Dismissing the idea I possessed some deep, cross-ocean connection with my hero, it occurred to me that he must’ve recognized me as the nice employee who helped him the last time.

I like to imagine that he looked around for me the next time he came to Longs, maybe even asked if the nice blonde girl was working that day. Longs employees confused but excitedly trying to find me, whispering gossip. Maybe even the encounter rising my status to Employee of the Year.

Of course, the plaque in my honor would have to be a photo of a question mark because I never once worked at Longs Drugs store.

There was this time…(pt.6)

I keep saying it’ll be my last story but then I think of another one…

I was having martinis with some friends at the Biltmore in Montecito. This is around 2000. I think. I don’t know anymore.

What I remember is that I noticed my friend, Craig, was in the lobby and not joining our ragtag team for drinks despite our waving and screeching hysterical giggles.

Right about the end of 2 obnoxiously-large martinis and I excuse myself to go release them to the sea. Or to the fabulously appointed Four Seasons bathrooms.

On my way back to our way-too-loud table, I spot Craig speaking in, what I find out later, respectful tones to other business-clad colleagues.

That doesn’t stop me from running up to him and cupping his butt with both hands. Hard.

I’ve never seen a person turn that shade of red before.

To his credit, he didn’t bat me away like a wasp. He slowly and calmly explains to me, “Molly, I’m in a meeting.”

To my credit, I quickly shuffle away.

But, he wasn’t just in a meeting.

He was mediating the sale of the Four Seasons-Biltmore to Ty Warner (of Beanie Baby fame and fortune and Chief-of-Resurrection of historical Santa Barbara landmarks.)

Right. At. That. Moment.

As I ran, then lunged and grabbed the cute buns of Craig, it was in front of that man, that not-quite-yet-but-soon-to-be-future owner of the Biltmore who would eventually spend $275 million in buying it and $240 million in restoring it.

I like to think, and Craig agreed, my bun-grabbing was probably why Ty decided to invest in Santa Barbara.

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2000-may-24-fi-33345-story.html

There was this time…(pt. 3)

The time I met a supermodel was the most un-supermodel-y moment I could’ve come up with.

We met each other, but we were never formally introduced.

One morning, I woke up to no water. That was particularly painful as I’d indulged in far too much fermented grape juice the night before. Apparently, the whole apartment complex was sans-eau and I sort of remembered the notices posted around the place for about a week prior.

So, the only option open to me was going next door to the Starbucks to their, now desperately-needed, restroom.

Shoving my hair into a hat but not finding sunglasses, wearing sweats and the same silk blouse from the night before, predictably-smeared mascara sideways off my face, I barreled through the Starbucks’ side door hoping to escape anyone’s notice.

Bad plan because I slammed full-body into Kathy Ireland.

Courtesy of Lane Report

She must’ve been in some kind of meeting because even supermodels don’t dress in business suits early morning on a Saturday to get coffee. Even models dressed in fabulous, clearly-not-a-drinker, form-fitting, business suits.

Now, I’m a tall 5’8″ but when I’m slouching in embarrassment and desperately needing to pee, I can lose an inch or two. At 5’10” plus 4” heels, Kath, as I like to call her now, make her stand out like, well, a supermodel.

And, of course, she is even more stunning in person.

She possesses such a confident presence that even someone body-slamming into her at 8am doesn’t seem to phase her.

She needlessly apologized to me. I gasped something inaudible.

Then, having to wait for the bathroom about 3 feet away from the aforementioned supermodel-body-slamming-incident-in-front-of-witnesses added to it becoming quite a bit more uncomfortable.

Yeah, it was like this. Warren Buffet, Kathy Ireland, and Bill Gates.

Except that it totally wasn’t and it was really uncomfortable.

No, wait? Not uncomfortable. Awkward is the word I’m looking for. Definitely awkward.

There was this time…(pt. 2)

The time I met Christopher Lloyd was epic and iconic. Sort of.

The movie was already 20 years old back then.

I happened to come across a friend who ran an auto-detailing shop in Santa Barbara who was waiting at the curb for a client to show up.

I don’t remember the car the client was driving but I do remember how tall and how his long legs made him seem more wobbly than he probably was.

Watching Doc Brown get out of his car, shaking himself off was exactly what you’d hope it’d look like; fumbly, like he just got out of a tumbling dryer.

He walked over to us. While shaking my hand, for a second, I felt like what I think Michael J. Fox probably felt around him, a little off-kilter. Especially, being looked at from that great height with those big, focused eyes.

Well, only if Marty McFly had a huge rack, too.

Courtesy of Wingclips

There was this time…(pt. 1)

Once Melinda and I came out of a restaurant in the Upper Village of Montecito after a long lunch and got into her car to go home.

Long after I went through the CDs and wondered when she became a Art Garfunkel/John Oats fan…

Long after she fully adjusted the driver’s seat, rearview mirror, shoulder belt height, and side mirror…

…did we realize we got into someone else’s car.

Trying to be nonchalant while escaping one green Saab to slither into the only other green Saab in all of Southern California while not laughing is something I’ll always be proud of.