Exactly a week ago, like an angry teenager, Donald Trump infamously went on a Twitter rampage until 5 a.m. attacking the former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado. Can you imagine a Commander in Chief encouraging citizens to search online for a sex tape? Is this the president we want for our daughters? That said, this week I need a Trump break. Hopefully you do, too. Actually, I’ve been wanting to write about something else since June.
June 11 was the 30th anniversary of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” which starred Matthew Broderick and grossed $70 million. I have a personal 50-year anniversary uncannily similar to Ferris,’ I’d like to share, though I’m slightly embarrassed. (Okay, maybe more than slightly.)
It was fall, 1966. Two friends and I owned the valet parking concession at the newly opened, La Dolce Vita restaurant in Beverly Hills. The money and the food (a free dinner with each shift) helped put me through UCLA. Also, at times, the job could be rather exciting.
La Dolce catered to celebrity and mafia types. Dapper Chicago mobster Johnny Roselli was a regular. However, before he could testify before Congress regarding the JFK assassination, Roselli was found not so dapper. He was stuffed in a 55-gallon drum floating near Miami. Yikes!
George Raft, who played gangsters in the movies, came to La Dolce nightly. Seemingly lonely, he’d often sit with me in folding chairs in front listening to Dodger games.
This particular night Fabian pulled up in his red 1965 XKE with chrome wire wheels. The son of a cop, Fabian (Fabiano Anthony Forte) was a handsome, young rock and roller from Philadelphia, a cross between Elvis and Ricky Nelson. At 15 he was “The Promising Male Vocalist of 1958.” Get this, in 1959 he graduated high school and, by the way, earned $250,000. He would go on to sell millions of records and appear in a handful of movies, including The Longest Day with John Wayne.
Back at La Dolce, two hours later, Fabian came out with a beautiful blonde on his arm. He hands me $5 and says he’s spending the night at her place. Wink, wink. He asks if it be okay if he came back the next day to get his car. “No problem,” I replied and the happy couple took off in a cab.
Unfortunately, as I was closing shop that night, an idea came over me. If Fabian wasn’t coming back until tomorrow, what would be the harm if I took his car for a little spin? As the late comedian Flip Wilson used to say, “The devil made me do it.”
So, as Ferris took his friend’s father’s Ferrari, I took Fabian’s Jag. I went all over the city looking for anybody I knew. (And some I didn’t). For example, I drove to Delores’ on Wilshire, a popular drive-in for the in-crowd of which I was not a member. Things changed, however, when I showed up with Fabian’s wheels. I then drove to Mulholland to see how the XKE cornered. (Surprisingly, not that well.)
Throughout my version of “The Great Escape,” I didn’t come close to an accident. That is, until I returned to La Dolce Vita and inadvertently backed into a pole! (As W.C. Fields said in the movie “It’s a Gift” after backing into a tree, “They must have moved it.”)
A little Trump-like now that I think of it, I came up with another lie. I rationalized that if I parked the Jag on the street, when Fabian comes tomorrow he’ll figure someone hit it overnight. Suddenly I looked up in horror. A cab was coming toward La Dolce… Fabian! (Apparently, he struck out with the blonde.)
As he got out of the cab, Fabian was in shock. “My car!” he kept mumbling. Like a method actor, I feigned innocence. “When was the last time you looked at the back of your car?” Fortunately, Fabian couldn’t remember and seemed to buy my story. In fact, as I gave him his keys he tipped me another $5.
Yes, I feel guilty! In fact, Fabian, on the off chance you’re reading this, email me your address and I’ll send you $10. (Sorry, I can’t afford the back interest.) Or how about I plug your website and we call it even?
In the movie, Ferris Bueller did far worse than I did and he was the darling of summer 1986. Maybe I was just 20 years ahead of my time? Okay, okay. Albeit a half-century late, at Yom Kippur next Tuesday evening, I’ll add to my list of sins. (Assuming there’s enough time given all the others.)