Zoot Suit Riot
“What on Earth,” I asked, “does White Party : Black Tie mean?”
“It means,” said Laurie, “that everyone has to wear all-white formal attire to the party. So you’re going to have to find an all-white tux.”
“Are you serious?”
Laurie pouted. As in, her bottom lip actually flapped out and dangled from her chin. “We have to go. If Victoria Beckham invites you to a party, you go. You don’t ask questions, you just go.”
“OK. Listen, are you sure it’s not an invitation to a Klan rally?”
Laurie huffed and puffed, and I decided to leave it. I had no interest in getting into an argument about her acting career and how I never supported her and all that stuff. I was interested in her career, I just wasn’t interested in going to any more parties. I’d moved all the way out to L.A. for her, which seemed pretty damn supportive to me. So what if I wanted to complain about it sometimes? Plus, it’s not like she ever came to see any of our gigs. But I know how Laurie can get, so I gave in and went along with it.
Finding an all-white tux was a lot easier than I expected. The store had something called a “zoot suit,” with a long jacket and a matching hat. The pants felt a bit high in the waist but the woman at the store said it was the fashion and she gave me a pair of suspenders, which did make the suit more comfortable. I thought it’d make a great outfit for our next gig. And the whole thing cost me just $89.
“Ohmygod-ohmygod-ohmygod,” said Laurie when I tried on the outfit for her. At first I thought she was going to cry, and then she did cry a little, but I sat down next to her on the bed and explained that this was “in fashion” and that I probably wouldn’t be the only person there wearing a zoot suit. Laurie gets sensitive about image and making a good impression all the time. After a little talking I got her to laugh, and she eventually admitted that I did look pretty good. I could tell it made her a bit nervous still, but the thought of going to the party alone made her even more nervous, so she got over it.
On the day of the party, we got dressed at home and took a limo to the Beckhams’. Their house was the largest house I’d ever seen. It was part-castle, part-hotel, part-village. We were ushered into the backyard where there were about a million celebrities walking around all in white. I knew a few of them, like Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore and that girl who sings in the Black-Eyed Peas who always looks like she needs to take a shower. But most of them I didn’t recognize, even though Laurie said I was supposed to know who they were. One of the guys from the show Entourage was there, but I didn’t care. I don’t watch that show because it sucks.
“Nice threads,” said someone from behind us. It was Lucille Winstrom, Laurie’s agent.
“It’s a zoot suit. It’s in fashion,” I told her. I looked around for confirmation, but no one else was wearing a zoot suit that I could see.
Lucille had been Laurie’s mother’s agent back in the ’80s. She was the only reason we’d been invited to this party. Laurie had been in a few commercials and in a few bit parts in straight-to-Netflix movies, but that was it. She wasn’t exactly A-list or whatever. But Lucille was still able to get us into these parties all the time. That aside, I liked Lucille. She laughed at everything I said, which was nice, even if her laugh was all weird and high pitched.
I let Laurie mingle for a little bit while I talked with Lucille. Usually when Lucille and I were alone, she’d lean forward so I could get a good look at her cleavage. She was too old for me but the boobs were fake and nice to look at. I didn’t mind if Lucille wanted to flirt with me, or even press up against me. That’s probably why I didn’t notice what was going on with Laurie right away.
What was going on was that Laurie was talking with the guy who played Dawson on Dawson’s Creek and he was so close to her face that he could have touched her with his tongue. I left Lucille by the bar and moved across the backyard to where they were standing. This creep had his hand on her arm and she kept laughing this awful laugh and looking at him like she was so impressed. I got right up in his face.
“Hey, Dawson,” I said.
“Um, my name is James,” said Dawson. “We’re talking, do you mind?”
I looked at Laurie and she gave me a frightened shake of her head. I figured she didn’t want me causing a scene but I was already getting pissed and it felt like the whole thing was getting away from me.
“I do mind, Dawson,” I said. “You’re about two inches from sticking your tongue down my girlfriend’s throat.” At this point I put my hand on his shoulder, like we were buddies, and gave him a squeeze. “Maybe you should back off.”
“Don’t touch me, asshole,” said Dawson, and he shoved my hand away. “What are you, some kind of asshole pimp?”
So I punched him in the nose as hard as I could.
I always punch how my dad taught me: lead with the front two knuckles, snap the wrist and elbow on the follow-through, and drive through the target. Dawson’s nose exploded all over his face in a spray of blood. The spray also hit the front of my zoot suit with globs of blood and snot. It was a good punch. Security was right on top of me. They knocked the wind out of me and dragged me from the Beckhams’ house and threw me out. I waited for twenty minutes down at the gates to the driveway but Laurie had apparently decided to stay at the party without me.
Looking back, I guess it’s not all that surprising that Laurie and I are no longer together. I must admit it’s kinda funny, considering everything.