By E. Jean Carroll
Esquire, April 1992
Thus spoke the whole of womankind. —Honoré de Balzac
“I mean, this guy, I walked in his hotel room one day, and he had on a towel…. Am I lying?” says Miss Boyd. “This man, his body. He played for the Bulls. Oh! This man had a body. Oh, my God, I’m telling you! He opened the door….”
“He’s six nine,” cries Miss Power.
“He opens the door,” says Miss Boyd, “and he has on a towel; and he is so tall that the towel ends at his butt, and he opened the door and my knees got weak! His butt, I am not lying. And this muscle right here….”
Miss Power is sitting at the head of the table in a big white bra with gold cups embossed with turquoise ankhs (“Egyptian—it means eternal life”), with ruby pinnacles and six golden speckles in the cleavage, and she rises to look at what muscle Miss Boyd is pointing to. Miss Power’s bra is held up with a white suspender stretched around her neck. This is all she has on from the waist up except for her burnt-Italian-earth lipstick, a gold earring, and her thick, dark hair falling half a foot below her shoulders.
The muscle Miss Boyd is pointing to is the thigh muscle.
The idea of a Bull’s thigh muscle so freaks the other young ladies at the table that one of Miss Johnson’s shrimps falls out of its cocktail sauce and Miss Mendoza holds her hand over her own mouth and screams.
“This muscle right here,” says Miss Boyd. “Right above the knee. My God! That’s my downfall.”
The young ladies nod. Miss Boyd, Miss Power, Miss Johnson, and Miss Mendoza have ripened like melons on basketball players.
“That muscle…” says Miss Boyd, unable to stop. These young ladies are connoisseurs of the NBA. They study its stars with anatomical exactitude, understand its appetites like the great Turk’s harem, and grasp its morals like Friedrich Nietzsche. These young ladies recognize that it takes a hundred times more talent to love properly than to beat the New Jersey Nets, and they show no reluctance in delivering their wisdom over dinner at the Columbia Bar and Grill on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.
“It’s the washboard stomach for me,” says Miss Robin Power, who is twenty-five, half-French, half-black, and repulsed by all males under six four.
Of course, a great deal has been said about sex, women, and pro basketball lately, not much of it sympathetic, and for persons who have fantasized about what those groupies (hoop hussies, hos, freaks) are like, the young ladies have graciously agreed to elucidate. “And about time you got our side,” says Miss Power. A famous player and well-known womanizer in the Eastern Conference put me in touch with Miss Power. “You go to L.A.,” he told me. “Now, L.A.’s going to be kind of slow because all the girls are getting their money for their AIDS tests, but…” And he gave me Miss Power’s phone number. I didn’t know it at the time, but Miss Power is a social constellation of the first magnitude in the show business/athletics demimonde. She kindly introduced me to “a few friends who date basketball players,” and here we all are at the Columbia.
These young ladies are the philosophers of the future. They turn men into sexual objects. Into beautiful creatures to be won.
“No, it’s the long thighs,” says Miss Diana Mendoza, sighing and flinging back her hair. Miss Mendoza is so beautiful that it is even frightening: tall, lean, long-legged, Caucasian-rumped, auburn-haired, with an alluring, pouty mouth and a soft, velvety voice that runs the syllables together. Miss Mendoza is twenty-five, dates rock stars, comedians, actors, models, boxers, and basketball players.
“Washboard stomach,” says Miss Power.
“Knees to hips,” says Miss Mendoza.
“These dimples…” says Miss Shânn Johnson, also twenty-five, who is wearing a short, black stretch dress out of which rises a natural bust such as I defy any other woman in the state of California to produce without surgery for roundness, lift, and jutability. Miss Johnson is a striking racial salad of Native American and African American (“and maybe the master peed in the bedroom”), a former cheerleader at San Diego State (“we were royalty”), and currently president of Bodytronics, Inc. (“complete individual fitness consultation” and “body sculpturing”). In the back, the dress is cut down to her behind, and, well—I don’t care who you are, you’ve never seen anything like it.
“The dimples on the butt?” asks Miss Power.
“Yes,” says Miss Johnson.
And for a moment the young ladies fall into a sort of gentle reverie, as each bethinks herself of her own favorite butt.
“If an athlete is clean and he sweats…” says Miss Boyd, the youngest lady, at the end of the table. “I love the smell of clean sweat.”
“I say, ‘Go take a shower,’” says Miss Power, adjusting her suspender strap. “Because before I ever let a player put his hands on me, I take a shower first. I don’t care if I just took a shower. I go take a shower. I make sure I’m straight, and then I come back.”
“That’s nice,” says Miss Johnson.
“Always, always,” says Miss Power. “I always smell good.”
“Good!” the young ladies sing back like little canaries.
Miss Power grins.
“I always primp,” says Miss Power, “before I pump.”
These young ladies do not have the bad taste to act like other young ladies. They are free, very free, spirits. They believe the morals of men and women are the same and refuse to be reduced to the role of sexual objects purely for the pleasure of men. No. These young ladies are the philosophers of the future. They turn men into sexual objects. Into beautiful creatures to be won.
“In fact,” says Miss Power, “there has never been a man that I had my sights on that I did not get.”
This is an unlooked-for turn. To prevent hives of excitement from breaking out on my neck at the prospect of perfect knowledge passing from this factory of pleasure, I clear my throat.
“Okay,” I say. “What if Michael Jackson—”
“Really!” snorts Miss Johnson, her bust bouncing in disgust. “Michael Jackson!”
“I was trying to think of the most famous, richest star!” I say.
“Honestly,” says Miss Power, “there’s no star that I haven’t been with—well, there’s one I’d like to meet.”
The young ladies hang, waiting, inflated. Miss Power has been to France, Spain, Germany, Brazil, and Israel with basketball players, and to London with Prince. No, it is impossible to imagine to whom she still wants to be introduced.
“Who?” says Miss Mendoza.
Miss Power drops her eyes.
“David Robinson,” she says.
Her eyes have fallen on her drink. A fruit concoction called Sex on the Beach.
“Does David Robinson have a girlfriend?” I ask, picturing Mr. Robinson’s feet. Yes, the San Antonio Spur is rich with physical and mental beauties I would prefer to imagine, but all evening the young ladies have been talking about feet (“He wore a size fourteen!” “His toes were as long as this table!”), and I cannot help myself. At one point I even find myself staring at the waiter’s feet as if they are shoe boxes of natural oddities.
“I have no idea if David Robinson has a girlfriend,” says Miss Power, rolling a naked shoulder through her hair. “But in every city that I’ve been in, he doesn’t go out.”
The young ladies laugh, all except Miss Power, who lifts her chin delicately.
“Okay,” I say. “If somebody bet you fifty thousand dollars that you couldn’t get David Robinson, do you think you could get him?”
Miss Power looks me in the face. The last time I asked an interesting question (“Who here likes basketball players the most?”), all the young ladies had turned and looked at Miss Power, and Miss Power, throwing both hands in the air, had crashed over backward in her chair and nearly knocked herself unconscious.
“Absolutely,” says Miss Power.
“How would you do it?” I say. “Every move! Leave out nothing!”
Miss Power ruminates.
“First of all, I would find out where he would be,” she says, clasping her hands on her bare midriff. “The man is not a hermit. He goes somewhere. Then I would probably wear my most classic but most seductive outfit, which is a kelly-green silk minidress that I had tailored to be extremely short and very sexy. And my kelly-green pumps. With a green purse. Then I would strategically position myself….”
These young ladies are daughters of Darwin. They want the tallest, the strongest, the leanest, the fastest; so they, themselves, have to be the tightest, the softest, the roundest, the sweetest. The competition is as stiff as in any playoff.
“In the bag,” says Miss Johnson.
The young ladies look at Miss Power with an admiration usually reserved for home-team starters and burst into a sitting ovation.
“Eye contact is the first thing,” says Miss Power.
“How do you get him to look at you?” I ask.
“Walk in,” says Miss Boyd.
Now, if anyone knows Miss Robin Power, it is Miss Saralyn Boyd, her roommate, a junior at USC. Miss Boyd is soft, gentle, bright, speaks fluent Portuguese, reads avidly (“I like James Baldwin and Angela Davis”), is planning to be a lawyer, wears a black cat suit, and is seated at the far end of the table with her six-month-old baby, Maleek. Maleek’s father is a white basketball player who never made it out of the minor leagues.
“What if Robinson is already talking to a woman?” I say.
Miss Power tosses her head like Meadow Star pestered by a botfly.
“For some reason, I always get noticed,” says Miss Power. “You can ask anybody at this table.”
I look at Miss Boyd.
“Her whole presence just says sex,” says Miss Boyd, softly wiping the baby’s chin with a clean napkin.
“But what if he goes on talking to the other woman?” I say.
“If he’s in another woman’s presence the entire evening,” says Miss Power, “then, of course, I would never be disrespectful. Because I am not a disrespectful person.” She shifts her shapely haunches and flashes her turquoise ankhs and scarlet pinnacles. “But as soon as she slacks up…”
These young ladies are daughters of Darwin. They want the tallest, the strongest, the leanest, the fastest; so they, themselves, have to be the tightest, the softest, the roundest, the sweetest. The competition is as stiff as in any playoff. Miss Johnson and Miss Power spend as much time in the gym as any Laker. Honing themselves into the finest figures in the city, however, is hardly enough for this contest. Like their prey, the young ladies must wage war as a team; they must aid one another in battle. Miss Mendoza introduces Miss Power to Prince; Miss Power introduces Miss Mendoza to Sam Perkins; everybody introduces everybody to Eddie Murphy; everybody meets Iron Mike; everybody waves at Isiah; everybody smiles at Gary Grant (“He’ll lie down with anything”); everybody rocks in the NBA (“They all fool around”); and every, everybody knows Magic.
Yet Miss Power is presently very happy with her new boyfriend, who was cut twice from the Lakers training camp. “He’s the only man I know whose dick gets hard when the wind blows,” she says elegantly. “He’s the only man that has the stamina that I have. I have a very, very, very strong sex drive.”
We have left the Columbia Bar and Grill and are batting along in Miss Power’s 1991 red Mercury Capri convertible (with ground effects) toward R&B Live, the club on Wednesdays (the club on Tuesdays is the World, on Thursdays, Paradise 24, on Fridays, Friday’s, on Saturdays, the China Club, on Sundays, Stringfellow’s). Miss Power says that absolutely Olden Polynice and Gary Grant of the Clippers and Elden Campbell and Sam Perkins of the Lakers will be at R&B Live.
“Most of the athletes I’ve dated swear to God they could not marry me, ’cause I’d kill them,” says Miss Power, smiling at two waving chaps in a black Range Rover. “They tell me, ‘Between you and basketball, I would not be alive.’” She accelerates and the percussion of the motor fills the front seat. “First of all, I will not go to sleep without an orgasm. No. Not with any man I’ve been with. And I don’t fake orgasms.”
I am from the East Coast. I am surprised to hear women still have orgasms.
“He’s gonna get his, and I’m gonna get mine,” says Miss Power, taking a right turn with a nice drift on the back wheels. “The thing is that I’m always ready! And for a man that I care about, I guess I’m a nympho for that man. But I’ve dated basketball players who—well, they tried, but they don’t have the stamina,” says Miss Power, checking the rearview mirror.
“Oh, dear!” I say. “Is this after the game?”
“Doesn’t make any difference.”
“Good heavens!” I say. “You’re not wearing anybody out before the game?”
“I’ve done that quite often,” says Miss Power, switching to the passing lane and tooting past a red Trans Am. “I dated someone that played for Orlando,” she says. “And we got together one afternoon before a Detroit game. And he kept saying, I’ll see you, but I can’t do anything before the game. And I said, all right. Sure. Right. Okay. Sure. But I knew better. Because I hadn’t seen him in quite some time. And we got together and we made love, and right after the game he called me and he said, ‘Robin, I felt like I was running in sand the entire game.’”
Coming up on the left, the Trans Am shrieks past us, and Miss Power smiles.
“And then I have another friend who never would have sex before a game. He just wouldn’t. He would please me, but he would never have sex before a game.”
“That’s smart!” I say.
“That was Magic Johnson,” says Miss Power, weaving into sudden traffic.
Wilson and Phillips are here (“She should simply go to the gym and stop eating,” says Miss Power) and Richard Harris (“Who’s he?”) and Lisa Stansfield (“Like, she’s not Marvin Gaye”) and some L.A. Raiders (“I’m gonna be shocked if Olden Polynice and Gary Grant don’t show up”) and Prince’s bodyguard (“Is he coming?”) and Beverly Johnson (“Her butt’s too big”) and Prince, himself, finally, in a big yellow coat, with his hair in a pompadour. He stops, removes the sucker from his mouth, and kisses Miss Power on the lips (“My heart ain’t doin’ nothin’”).
Miss Power has been in Graffiti Bridge, House Party, and Coming to America; she guest-hosted NBC’s Friday Night Videos, she did a Baywatch, a Joan Rivers, was on Arsenio twice, has done two Prince and two Young MC videos, leads an all-girl band called Why Wait, and was a Chicago Bulls cheerleader (‘They wouldn’t let us date the players, so I quit after a year”). Naturally, she is recognized.
“Aren’t you a Fly Girl?” asks an enamored fellow in an acorn hairdo, coming over and handing her his card.
Miss Diana Mendoza shows up an hour later and a Raider begs for her phone number but she won’t give it to him. Miss Power spies a man staring at her from the other side of the velvet rope and she shouts, “Of course, I look better with my clothes off!” Then she points out a pretty young lady in a white blouse and says, “By the way, you should interview Sloane.” Why? I ask. “Because Olden Polynice asked her, ‘Would you suck somebody’s dick for a million dollars?’ And she said no!”
Miss Power’s hair springs up in consternation. “She’s a damn liar!”
I look through the crowd at this astounding young woman. She is about fifteen feet away with a worried expression on her face, trying to close her handbag and hold her club soda at the same time.
“I mean, it was a group of players,” says Miss Power. “And they asked what I’d do, and I said, Hell, yeah! And she said the only dick she’d ever suck would be her husband’s. Everybody at the table said, ‘You’re a damn liar!’ because she dates Mike Tyson. Come on! I believe she’s suckin’ some dick! I’m sorry!”
Every time Miss Power’s been at R&B Live, Eiden and Olden have shown up. But not tonight. “I think they’re more terrified than anybody,” she says, counting the cards the chaps in the record and video business have been handing her all night. “Because of the Magic Johnson thing. You know, they think that people are going to look at them like they have a disease.” So we return to the Mercury Capri and head home.
“Tomorrow I’ll have to start getting your history,” I say.
“I have a hell of a history for you,” says Miss Power.
Silence. Miss Power glances over at me.
“Let’s just start off with the people I know who have AIDS,” says Miss Power, dropping her voice, but not afraid. “So we’ll start with that.”
An NBA star asks me if he can be blunt, and I say he can be blunt, and he says, no, he is asking me if he can be really blunt, and I say he can be really perfectly blunt, and he says okay, and then he says, “White girls fuck guys whether they’re married or not. No problem. Boom. Boom. Boom. Okay. Black girls want to get to know you! Want to know where your children are, have a relationship. You know what I’m say—conk… conk…”
His voice blanks out. Car phone.
“Okay… conk… Charles Barkley… conk… had the nerve to say that black women don’t have good hygiene. Well, he’s an asshole. He doesn’t know that the pores and the sweat-secretion glands, the hair products, and all that is different and is why—the different foods… conk… is why they smell different. He’s an asshole ’cause he didn’t know that.”
This player was studying to be a gynecologist before he joined the NBA and is ready for any question that requires sagacity on the subject of females. He is equally decisive on the topic of white men smelling like wet dogs, and his voice booms in very strong when he says, “Okay. You get guys who just love oral sex and white women who’ll just do oral sex and go to sleep. Or do it and leave. And they can be happy as hell that you called them. That’s all they need. But sometimes you get black girls that say, ‘Well, I need this, this, this, and this.’ White girls never say that. Whether they’re starvin’ or strugglin’, they’ll never let you know.”
Twenty seconds later the phone goes dead. Hello?
“See, we’re different than most NBA teams,” he says. (Was having the car washed.) “We don’t get to stay the night. We fly in, we fly out. When it was my first year in the league, I knew every club, and every player knew every girl. Like, ten players, twelve players might know just one girl.” He is reminded of the $900,000 baby story: Women, it seems, are bristling with the desire to bear $900,000 babies. “…And she took him to court and never had to work again.” Personally, I do not understand how grown players can be so naive. Any man innocent enough to think white girls are “happy as hell” to “do oral sex and leave” deserves whatever a woman can haul him in for. “But I had good veterans when I came into the league,” he says. “They let me know how guys were gonna be when we played against them, and they let me know about what we call the hos.”
The pretty, glazed-peach-colored woman Miss Power pointed out at R&B Live meets me for lunch. Sloane (who does not wish her last name printed) looks like gilt all over, wears diamonds in her ears, around her neck, and encircling fingers on both hands (gifts from “a movie star, a very big movie star”). She speaks in a soft, low, New Orleans voice that makes you want to lie down. Before she finishes speaking—telling me that she has known a lot of players, basketball and football, and that Mike Tyson is a buddy and “has always been there for me as a friend, period. He’s never disrespected me”—I feel like throwing myself down on a mossy bank and glazing myself with begonia pollen.
Miss Sloane is twenty-eight, a graduate of St. Mary’s Dominican College, and is looking for a job in marketing. Her parents separated when she was young. (All the young ladies come from broken homes. The point could be made that they attach themselves to tall, bold, masculine men to feel the security and protection of maleness they missed as little girls.) She was given a strict Catholic upbringing. Unfortunately, Miss Sloane met Gary Grant, the Clippers star, fell for him, and became like a she-tiger in a love agony.
“He gave me a jersey and a pair of Clippers biker shorts. And sprayed his cologne on them. He was full of shit,” says Miss Sloane. He told her he loved her. They made love. Was he great? I ask.
“He was until he lost weight,” says Miss Sloane. “He lost weight there too.”
“Impossible!” I cry.
“Yes, he did,” says Miss Sloane, shaking her ginger-colored hair.
“No,” I say, emphatically tapping the salt shaker on the table. “I’m here to tell you a man can’t lose weight in his penis.”
“He did. He did.”
“Well, we can’t prove it either way.”
“I can. Gary lost weight. He lost forty pounds.”
“And he lost weight in his penis?”
“Yes. But that’s off the record.”
“No, it’s not.”
I am at Miss Saralyn Boyd’s house to pick up her and Miss Johnson—the one with the body—for the Clippers game. Miss Power is there in an undershirt-bra, cut-offs, and little white socks, sitting on the sofa with a Thighmaster between her legs. Miss Power can’t go to the Clippers game because she has to work. At R&B Live I heard Miss Power describe herself as “a rapper, writer, dancer, singer, and producer.”
“Let me explain,” says Miss Power, putting down the Thighmaster. “I work at the Shark Club. That’s where I go-go dance in a cage. Then Diana Mendoza and myself also work at a place called the Flamingo. This is a dance-hostess club. And what happens is, guys pay to dance with you.”
“You gotta stop that,” I say.
Miss Diana Mendoza is going to Tone-Loc’s record party tonight, so she has to buy a new bustier, but she has time to whip by in the Jetta Eddie Murphy bought her and meet me at the Source on Sunset Boulevard for a sandwich.
“Well, first of all I can make a hundred dollars a night!” says Miss Power. “In tips!” I shake my head.
“And, it’s at night,” she says, stretching her neck like Dame Margot Fonteyn. “It leaves open my days for auditions!”
“Is it really okay?” I ask. I want to beat her over the head with the Thighmaster till she listens to reason, but then I recollect that Miss Power has taken care of herself since she was a girl, that she never knew her father, and that as far back as she can remember her mother was not a responsible person. “But she was the best mother that she knew how to be,” says Miss Power. “She was gay. Bisexual, I mean. I always knew. She had been molested by a female foster parent. But I never had a problem with my mother’s sexuality, as long as she wasn’t being abused. I was happy if she was happy. Now she’s in Chicago. She was a drug user, so she’s been very ill. She’s done all types of drugs. She’s done everything.”
Around the time Miss Power made cheerleader, her mother brought a man home to live with them. “Well, this man started making sexual advances toward me. I started sleeping with a knife under my pillow. I would have killed him if he had touched me, so I moved out. I had my own apartment and a full-time job by the time I was a junior in high school.
“Eventually my mother argued with him and ended up moving in with me. Then he moved in, too. And I moved out and let them have that apartment, and I moved someplace else. Then she moved in with me again. Now when my phone rings, I know my mother needs something. That’s when I hear from her. You know, because she doesn’t pay bills and she gets evicted, so I”—Miss Power’s eyes suddenly fill with moisture—“take her from place to place.”
And I’m worried about her taxi dancing?
“Oh, yeah,” says Miss Power, giving one last squeeze to the Thighmaster. “The men are gentlemen.”
The Clippers are playing the Portland Trail Blazers. Miss Boyd and Miss Johnson are in the $105 seats eating nachos with hot cheese and jalapeños and drinking diet Cokes. Watching a white player, Miss Johnson observes, “I wouldn’t be talking to him.” But why not? “He just, he just doesn’t have anything going for him. They don’t have to be black, but he looks unhealthy.” It is almost half time and the game is surprisingly close. Olden Polynice drives in for a stunning, almost indigestible, slam dunk.
“The ugliest player in the NBA,” agree the young ladies, dipping into the jalapeños.
After the game, Miss Boyd becomes the center of attention for half a dozen USC players who haven’t seen her figure since the baby was born, while Miss Johnson, a star dancer on Soul Train, wearing a T-shirt tied up under her bust, has a word with Kevin Hooks, the director of Strictly Business, and then we go back and stand around the players’ dressing rooms to see what Magic Johnson’s announcement has done to groupie action.
Olden Polynice is signing some kids’ basketball cards. Clyde Drexler and Danny Ainge come out and autograph the programs of four girls, all wearing corduroy pants and built like loggers, with identical 1976 Farrah Fawcett hairdos (Portland fans, needless to say). Behind the kids and the loggers there is one old lady in silver ballet slippers and a track suit with a home-baked item of some sort in her hand, trotting back and forth under the bleachers opposite the dressing rooms, searching anxiously for her favorite player.
And that is it for groupies.
Miss Diana Mendoza is going to Tone-Loc’s record party tonight, so she has to buy a new bustier, but she has time to whip by in the Jetta Eddie Murphy bought her and meet me at the Source on Sunset Boulevard for a sandwich. Miss Mendoza is Austrian, Spanish, Native American, and Moroccan and has been an extra in a couple of movies. She has hung out at Magic’s house with Miss Power and says that she “loves Earvin,” but the one person she always wanted to meet was Sam Perkins. “Sam was like everything,” Miss Mendoza had told me and now tells me again. “Magic had a party at the Palladium and all the ballplayers were there, and I told Robin there’s only one NBA player I want to meet, and she said who, and I said Sam Perkins. And she introduced me! And I said when I met him, ‘I rooted for you!’ And we’ve been liking each other ever since. We had a date, but”—her bosom rises and falls with dejection—“we’ve never gotten together.”
Miss Mendoza has a lovely, soft demeanor and a three-year-old daughter, Chanel, whose father is a Michael Jackson impersonator. Miss Mendoza looks like Julia Roberts and has mentioned that she is interested in acting. “I met a big-time manager for people behind the scenes and he was so infatuated with me!” I ask her what her plans are for the future.
“Well,” she says, playing with her carrot cake.
Miss Mendoza is very beautiful.
“My one dream has always been—the only dream I have—what I want to accomplish…” She looks up and smiles, suddenly timid.
“What? What?” I say.
She lowers her head. Her mother is a celebrated hairdresser.
“I want to be on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine.”
She glances up and blushes.
“Why?” I say.
“It’s not the money. The money’s nothing,” says Miss Mendoza, who taxi dances at the Flamingo. “I just want to be on the cover of Cosmopolitan.”
I give Miss Johnson one of my tape recorders and orders to “cover the freaks, nymphos, and strumpets” in the Forum Club after the game between the Lakers and Spurs, when suddenly, ye gods! here comes Magic Johnson himself! The people! The crowd! Move back! Move back! We’re all moving back from fifteen or so Forum guards. Whoa! A woman in silk jodhpurs darts out and throws her arms up around Magic’s neck and bursts into tears, and here he goes out the door, oh, he’s kissing the woman, the woman is clinging to him, and out he goes, no, he’s bending down, talking to a boy in a wheelchair, they are holding the door, move fucking back! Now there’s another little boy in a wheelchair but he can’t quite get to Magic, the kid’s father is struggling to roll him through the crowd, the father is pushing, there is a tiny Lakers flag on the wheelchair, the little boy is wearing a Lakers cap, whooops, the chair almost tipped over, stand back! Look out! The little boy holds Magic’s picture in his hand, and the father is pushing, people are running, the boy will never make it through the crowd, never make it, never, God in heaven! Look! Magic sees him! Magic sees him! He waves! He waves, is out the door, is in his black Mercedes 560 convertible, there’s his beautiful pregnant wife getting in beside him, trouble turning because of the crowd, the top is up, the windows are shadowed, he is gone.
The place empties out. I ask Miss Vickie Candles and Miss Virginia Lusby whom they are waiting for.
Miss Candles and Miss Lusby (not their real names) are quite tall and white and wearing spike heels. They burst into giggles, grab one another, and reel to one side.
It turns out they come to most of the Lakers games. Miss Candles works as a cashier at Hughes supermarket, Miss Lusby is a medical receptionist, and they are waiting for Demetrious Calip (the Michigan State star cut twice from the Lakers and reinstated after Magic’s illness) and the great Sam Perkins.
Mr. Calip at last appears, ravishingly got up in four-toned loafers and a Spanish umber suit, and we all go upstairs to the Forum Club where James Worthy is having his picture taken and signing athletic jackets in the corner opposite the free food. Mr. Calip runs around looking for two chairs and tenderly seats Miss Lusby and Miss Candles. Mr. Perkins then makes a handsome entrance, has his picture taken, signs some table napkins, and allows a small, white brunette with well-developed calves to run at him from across the room, jump onto his chest, and kiss him on the cheek. After she drops off like a wood tick, I have a word with him.
“I talked to a girl whose heart you broke,” I say.
“Broke?” says Mr. Perkins, looking down at me with a lofty frown of speculation.
“You were so delightful she couldn’t help herself,” I say, rising on the balls of my feet. It is like looking up at the dome of St. Peter.
Suspicious: “I broke her heart?” says Mr. Perkins.
“Does the name Diana mean anything to you?” I shout.
He frowns down at the floor. But he’s interested.
“Half-Austrian, half-Moroccan?” I say. I don’t want to confuse Mr. Perkins with all Miss Mendoza’s nationalities.
“And I broke her heart?” He cocks his head to one side. He is a sensitive man who plays the piano. “Was she at the game?” he says.
“Not tonight,” I shout. “But she says you are the most stylish man in the NBA and you dress better than anybody.”
It suddenly runs through my mind that I must sound like Chuck Woolery. “And that your hair is better than anybody’s and that you play better than anybody,” I add.
“I broke her heart because I had all that?” he says, lifting his great long arms away from his body and smiling.
I see Miss Candles eyeing me out of the corner of her left eye.
“And she’s gorgeous,” I say. “Gorgeous.” Every pore in Miss Candles’s prim profile is shooting green eyeballs from hell in our direction.
“Mmmmmm,” says Mr. Perkins. “I’m gonna have to call her up.” And the next instant he’s gone—“to meet the lady from Reebok.”
Yes. But the Lady from Reebok could never compete with our young ladies. And matters seem to be progressing very nicely. Miss Power called and said David Robinson just got married and that she is back with her old boyfriend, Donald Royal, of the San Antonio Spurs. One of the last statements I heard from her was she “desperately” wanted to get married. “I’m sick of it,” she cried. “Sick of it! Magic is too close to home for me.”
“Did you have yourself tested?” I had asked.
“Yes,” said Miss Power. “Negative.”
Well, bless her soul, and all the young ladies. I received an agitated, bubbling, joyful announcement from Miss Mendoza not long ago when she rang and said, “Sam called me! He left a message on my phone that said, ‘You’re breaking my heart. Please call me.’”
[Feature Image: Jim Cooke]