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True Story: The Third Crash
Do you remember Rebecca Resnick?
Do you remember Rebecca Resnick? She was a Jewish girl who lived down the street from me when I was growing up in the Conejo Valley. Rebecca and I were friends and went to the same high school. Rebecca didn’t like the way she looked. She wanted to look like a WASP, so she straightened her curly brown hair and bleached it blond. She tanned her porcelain white skin every weekend in her backyard, next to her black-bottomed pool, the one with the little waterfall coming down from the Jacuzzi. She would slather Hawaiian Tropic oil all over her body, frying like a little piece of Gentile bacon. Do you remember her now?
In the tenth grade, she turned anorexic. For a year, she lived on Diet Sprites, which she drank through a straw because it took longer to consume that way and therefore made her feel fuller, less hungry. But she would get hungry eventually, and when she did eat, she would eat a single rice cake. She got so skinny, her ribs stuck out, and her cheeks became gaunt. It was disturbing, because in World History class, we had to watch those black-and-white movies of Jews in concentration camps during World War II. There was Rebecca Resnick, sitting right next to me, looking so hungry, starving—emaciated. It wasn’t that I thought it was ironic; I just found it sad.
Her parents had come from New York to Southern California for a new life. Her dad did something to do with the movies. Before Rebecca became anorexic—before she decided she wanted to look like a Protestant surfer girl—she had been a fat goth. That’s what she called herself anyway. She used to Dep her hair so that one side stuck to her scalp while the other stuck straight out like a rooster comb over her ear. She was going for that Robert Smith look.
The Cure was the first concert we ever went to. We went to see them when they came to the Hollywood Palladium. My mom drove us there, and we told her she had to drop us off around the corner, so the other kids waiting in line wouldn’t see us getting out of my mom’s station wagon. Then my mom drove off to sit in some café for two hours to wait.
Before Rebecca and I went into the Palladium, we snuck into an alley around back to drink from the jam jar of mixed alcohol I had brought along, hidden in my Army surplus issue vintage canvas messenger bag. I had mixed the contents of the jar the night before, while my parents were sleeping, blending liquors from my folks’ supply, one part whiskey, one part rum, one part crème de menthe. Pretty potent. Afterward, I had poured tap water back into the bottles to even out the levels so my parents wouldn’t know I had taken any.
Well, once we did that first Cure concert together, Rebecca and I used to go to a lot of concerts. It was always the same deal, steal liquor from our parents’ stash, and one of our moms would drop us off around the side of the venue, so the other kids in line wouldn’t see us getting out of our mom’s car. We saw Fishbone, the Untouchables, Bad Religion, the Buzzcocks, the Circle Jerks, Social Distortion, you name it, if some cool band was in town, we went. One time, Rebecca’s mom was driving us to an Aztec Camera show, and Rebecca sassed her mom out somehow, I can’t remember what she said to make her mom so mad, but her mom had had it, so she stopped the car right on Ventura Boulevard somewhere in Encino, and kicked us to the street. We had to hitch the bus home. Good thing we were carrying change.
Rebecca Resnick’s mom had purple acrylics and drove a BMW sedan. She didn’t like me very much. She said I was rude because I never spoke, but it was just because I was so shy. It wasn’t personal; I didn’t speak to anyone. Alcohol helped, but I couldn’t get drunk in front of Rebecca Resnick’s mom. When Rebecca’s mom wasn’t home, when her parents went on trips, Rebecca and I would take out that BMW for a drive, even though we were only 14 years old. We would drive it to some house party, where we would drink Coors in red Solo cups from a keg seated in a plastic tub of ice. Then we would snort whatever lines of coke had been given to us by the 18-year-old high-school dropout surfer/skaters we had met, and once the party got broken up by the cops, we would drive Rebecca’s mom’s BMW back to her house, and stay up all night, watching MTV.
Rebecca turned sixteen before me, and her parents bought her a car, a Pontiac Fiero. She used to drive me around in that car. Everywhere. Then, one day, while she was driving alone, speeding seventy miles in a 35 mile-per-hour residential zone, she crashed the Fiero, and smashed her face up so badly she had to get a nose job. The Fiero was totaled, so her parents bought her another car, a Toyota Supra. Well, it wasn’t a year later that she crashed that car, too, driving on a winding road through Santa Rosa to some party. Smashed her face up again, got a second nose job. Her parents decided they had better buy her something less sporty, so they bought her a Celica.
Senior year, she crashed again. This time it wasn’t her car, the Celica, it was Lulu Gonzalez’s Renault convertible. They had been out at County Line Beach together. Lulu Gonzalez sometimes lived next door to Rebecca, when Lulu was living with her dad. Rebecca said Lulu Gonzalez’s dad was a cocaine dealer. Otherwise Lulu lived in Boyle Heights with her mom. Well, Rebecca crashed Lulu Gonzalez’s Renault convertible, because she wasn’t looking when she made a U-turn across the Pacific Coast Highway, and got broadsided by another car. This time there wasn’t another nose job because this time Rebecca didn’t make it. She was airlifted to the nearest hospital where she was pronounced dead.
By that time, I wasn’t even friends with Rebecca anymore. We had had a falling out for some reason at the end of eleventh grade; I can’t remember why. A few months later, Lulu Gonzalez died, too, got shot in the face in Boyle Heights. She had gone back to live with her mom, and had become part of some girl gang.
Yes, do you remember her now: Rebecca Resnick? She never made it to college. I did, but I still remember her. Rebecca Resnick from down the street.
#Real #PersonalEssay #TrueStory #Memories #HighSchoolFriends #SeniorYearOfHighSchool #CaliforniaStories #BackThen
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