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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tex & Daisy. What a pair...

Susan Beth Stiefvater

I met Sue Stiefvater when I got my first job on the "Mainland". That job was at Sambo's Restaurant in Reseda and I was a busboy. I had just gotten off the boat from Hawaii and was trying to make my way in the big city. I didn't yet know that people who lived in "the Valley" were actually nesting there to foster their denial about living anywhere near a city. I was so naive I had my feelings hurt by an operator who hung up on me when I couldn't answer her because I didn't know what an area code was. "Do you live on an island?" Then I met Sue. My pal and co-worker Carol Carbone introduced me to her after another co-worker, Dana had introduced me to Carol...

Carol: Who is that guy?
Dana: A Mexican who speaks really good English...

Carol and I hit it off at once. Even though she was wearing a brown Polyester Swiss Miss uniform. Carol took me to meet her best friend Sue who had her face buried in a school book and would barely look up at me. I smiled, turned on the charm and used my best tap-dance to get her attention. Nothing. I made quips and did funny voices. Crickets. I was put off, insulted and left hating the little snob. I should have known I'd end up crazy in love with her.

Sue and Carol were roommates and they took pity on me when I broke up with my first LA girlfriend Jeannette. I moved in with the Sambo's girls. I was jobless, demoralized and dumb. But Carol and Sue were New Wave Valley Girls. They lifted me up, encouraged an 80's hair-do and dragged me over the crest of San Fernando to West Hollywood and The Odyssey disco. There we met all kinds of New Romantic young folks, popstars of the day (Kristy McNichol, Rick James, Billy Idol) and encountered the most alternative of lifestyles. I also threw up for the first time from drinking too much. Then there were the mythical drives up and down the winding gauntlet of Laurel Canyon, shit faced. Carol with her forehead against the steering wheel sorting double vision from curves while I held Sue by her waistband while she leaned out of the Subaru backseat window and filled the canyon with Southern Comfort.

This is as far as I'll get. A few days ago when I mentioned to Sue that I was writing a blog about her, she had a bona fide fit. She not only got angry that I might be embarrassing her, but the thought of me talking about the past dredged up some pretty big issues. It made me a little sad, but if you know Sue, you know she doesn't like the attention and HATES being misunderstood or misrepresented. Susie didn't want me to tell the story. So, this is all you get. I won't tell you about our 5 years together or what we learned or should have over that time. I guess the most important thing for you to know is that we survived each other and are still very close friends today. I call her "Little" she calls me "Big". We still fight, laugh and lend each other money. She was my first true love. I will love her forever.


  1. I cannot express to you the HUGENESS of the smile on my face upon reading this, Joe. A smile of recognition, and warmth, and memories of the same winding roads -- Laurel, Mulholland, Topanga. The nights of too many clove cigarettes and too many shots of JD, the same '80s backdrop so fully in the foreground if one could only see past the long bangs of New Wave hair.
    I too had a first real, reciprocal, crazy, shouldn't have worked (and eventually didn't of course) relationship with a strong, guiding, passionate and flawed/wonderful woman who taught me much I needed to know, and much I didn't.
    I know I can only grasp as much as you've shared here, and I realize very well the two situations are, in the important detail, wildly different, but I have to laugh at recognizing so many aspects they do share.
    I am still close with mine, and I am glad to read you are still close with Sue. "Surviving each other", bloody brilliantly true.
    Nothing like an object lesson and a good friend rolled into one.
    Excellent post, thank you.
    Merry Christmas.

  2. Bravo and thanks once more for your inspiration Joe.