Photo by James BunoanThree-Bedroom, Two-Bath House on Corner Lot, Orange
1,800 square feet (plus mother-in-law quarters upstairs)
Occupants: JJ Jauregui, smooth guy, plus roommate not in evidence
Paid $340,000 in 1990
We are, of course, huddled around the living-room bar. JJ Jauregui, who manages his elderly aunt's Azteca Restaurant (and its homey Elvis-themed Crooners Lounge), has brought a small group of us back to his pad. And we are drinkin' till we're sloppy (not to mention loud, but most of us started that way anyway) with JJ in the space at which he is most at home: as host holding court behind the bar, under the TV monitor that is tuned to the "Cocktail Standards" station on the music end of the satellite dial. Rosemary Clooney wants you to come-onna her house. JJ would be there in a hot second if he didn't have guests and Clooney weren't dead.
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JJ's sprawling ranch house is a mixture of Rat Pack and pack rat; he is a collector of anything and everything, and everything has its place. There are Franklin Mint-y baseball plates marching their way around the entire house, in a line as straight as the line from third to home. The guest bath shows off his photo collection of celebs on the can. The walk-in closet in the master suite (and it's the kind of room that can make people say things like "master suite") holds perfect rows of at least 30 pairs of creepers and more than one gold lam jacket. We are awed, especially by the jackets, and a heretofore latent kleptomania is shining very, very blatantly in one guest's eyes. Now, "When Joanna Loved Me" is playing on the radio/TV. JJ is such a suavay anachronism.
More than a hundred grand has been plowed into the Orange home on the quarter-acre lot. "The last owners Mickey Moused everything," JJ says. "Every time we opened a wall, it was, 'Okay, there's another $10,000.'" He mentions something mystifying about copper plumbing on something galvanized. Apparently, this was bad.
We troop around the house again and examine the slant-ceilinged hidden space in JJ's terrifyingly well-organized closet. He has not yet decided what to do with this small panic room. I suggest guns or gro-lights, but the boys in the party see it more as a potential (and claustrophobic) porn-viewing room. The women are underwhelmed. But JJ imagines a satisfying scene with city construction-permit types. "Hey, you like drinkin'? You like porn? How you doin', City Guy?" There is another television screen over the kingly bed (with slyly positioned mirrors). There is a third monitor in the master bath, which has his-and-hers sinks, an Elvis radio, and a shower that's just too darned big. "That was a mistake," JJ says. "It's too big for two people in there. You get lost." I hate when that happens.
There is a kitchen, I think in blues and silvers. I note vaguely that it is pretty. There is a garage, of which JJ is inordinately proud. I note vaguely that it is a garage. Perhaps one of his convertible Cadillacs is being stored in it. Perhaps not. I remember only that stored out there is a coat rack of which I am vaguely jealous because I really need a coat rack. JJ pours another round and lights a cigar. He has been talking about Elvis for some time, I note vaguely, but I might just be muddling the dozens of Elvis conversations we've had over the years into one. His girlfriend sits silent. She is probably waiting for us all to scat so she can rip off all her clothes and run nude around the house till she reaches the his-and-hers shower that's too big for two people. I hate when that happens.