Just Regular Folks

We were snooping through one of the many, many rooms in a marbled McMansion (which can be yours for the low, low price of $16.5 million! Call now!) in Laguna Beach's most fabulous gated community—and if there's one thing we in the county are perilously short of, it's big, fat fences—Emerald Bay. There, on what I believe was the fourth floor of the modest dwelling, we found the models' changing area. Was there a catwalk? Were they serving? Were they hawking Jger shots? No. They were just wearing fancy clothes, the tags secreted inside, and infiltrating the party to make us all think they were just like usand might someday let you into their size 2 pants.

The guests themselves at Rivieramagazine's first-anniversary party—an intimate gathering for several hundred of their closest advertisers—were hot enough. There were people like Victor the Gay Russianand painter Donnie Molls and art critic Daniella Walsh, who looked smashing. But since the ringers had been brought in, there was no way of knowing with whom you stood a chance of eventual goo-slathered sexing (not that anybody has sex anymore) and who would have laughed their very flat, Episcopalian asses off at being approached by a schlubby nonmodel like you.

Weekly columnist Jim Washburn; his bride, Leslie; and I had just finished throwing peppermints on people from the balcony overlooking the two-story living room (before Jim got into the spirit of things and started throwing Washingtons) when we discovered the unlocked room. There, by some boxes, some fast-food wrappers, racks of kind of ugly striped turtlenecks and the models' unattended purses, was a chess set. Playing chess, Jim confirmed, was how models usually like to spend their down time.

The Sept. 12 party was lovely and huge and stuffed with the rich people who read Riviera and the hired help who write it. Overlooking the inky sea, with Laguna's canyon lights twinkling above, a scruffy, heavy kid with a goatee said, “Nice view, huh? Yeah, I almost got this place.”

It was an opening gambit second only to “I own two companies,” which were the first gems out of some prince's mouth at Newport Beach's Gulfstream once. Oh, how I love my job! But adding to the mystery was how the young man said it dismissively and immediately walked away—before I could grub for his money. Sad me!

Even sadder, we didn't get a gift bag, which everybody knows are the most sincere token of nonpersonalized esteem our society knows, short of handing someone a stack of drink tickets. The frazzled old Cerberus who guarded them while attendees waited for their shuttle up the hill to the party (a wait accompanied by Champagne and a jazz band) told us they were for after and then actually grabbed one out of my small son's hands. “Those are the bags for men!” she shouted as we apologized insincerely. Somebody needs an OxyContin! Perhaps Noelle Bush can help her out.

“Some people might call it brain damage,” Tom Robbinswrote in the preferred novel of community-college philosophy TAs everywhere,Jitterbug Perfume. “I call it pruning.”

For those pruning themselves clear to a stretch in the pokey—paging Nick Nolte!—The Huddle is coming to the rescue. Bartender Dana Wildes, lovely in a sparkly, sophisticated semiformal dress instead of her usual sassy ass shorts, was racing to get drinks before her patient customers at the Costa Mesa dive late Saturday night; there was no wait for a pool table, and some fine levels of play for those who wanted to put their markers up; and in the bathroom stalls, held neatly and conveniently in a plastic container on the doors, were post cards for Myles L. Berman, Top Gun DUI Defense Attorney.

On the back of the card were 10 TIPS to MINIMIZE your RISK of a DUI CONVICTION. Unfortunately, the tips weren't terribly interesting; there were no suggested alibis for weaving (like, say, a big icky bug that had flown into the car) or speeding (“Trying to get home before I pass out” is an incorrect answer).

Instead, the tips focused mostly on remaining polite in all dealings with the fuzz—and where's the fun in that, I'd like to know?—and politely refusing any and all tests. Naturally, you want an experienced DUI drunk-driving defense attorney to represent you. Also, if at all possible, be a Bush. Any old Bush will do.

The DJs segued from “Sexual Healing” to “Between the Sheets. Subtle? No. Effective? You betcha. The smallish crowd (“smallish” being a perfect number for the patio, which, bizarrely, featured cow hides on the pavement) at The Lodge was outgoing and twitching their asses in their eagerness to dance, but nobody could quite bring himself to be the first to boogie when there was no specially demarcated floor.

Enter Cato. He's the black guy you've seen about, with the Elizabethan plucked forehead, the Einstein hair and the Hitler mustache. Yeah! You've seen him! He and his sister were chair dancing and holding court at a table that was rapidly drawing every last person in the place like rich folk to money. The only way the table could have been having more fun is if there were lap dances and coke.

I couldn't stand it anymore. I had to go over and be with the most fun table ever, too! Even though they were hanging out at the Lodge—the fancy new restaurant in Shaheen Sadeghi's new mall, The Camp—and even though the Lodge is brought to you by the folks of Aubergine and Troquet, they were friendly and sweet and welcoming, and it wasn't long before the DJ threw on Michael Jackson, and once Cato danced, it took exactly four seconds before everyone else did, too. Later, sitting and drinking again, Cato mentioned friends in San Francisco and described them as “pretentious but nice. You know!” Oh, if I don't, who does? Regular folks. Just better.

Are you good enough? Co**********@ho*****.com">Co**********@ho*****.com.

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