Before I can tell you how I met Ella, you first have to know how I met Alex. Now, there isn’t much of a story behind that. We made first contact through an online forum a couple of days before my arrival in Los Angeles, the renowned City Of Angels. I was pretty active in the whole pick-up scene then, so I thought that it would be cool to come here and meet fellow “pick up artists” and hope that some of their ability with women would rub off on me.
In Alex’s introduction, he claimed that he had been in the game for four years now. Four years is a pretty long time compared to my single year, and as such I had high hopes. I was excited to hang out with the guy. And he didn’t disappoint. Alex invited me out for a game of pool with him and ‘his girl’—who didn’t show up at all. It was the first time I’d meet someone from the community so I didn’t know what to expect. Alex was a short Mexican dude with immense amount of energy. He had an uncanny ability to make people comfortable around him with his chatty—albeit slightly crude—personality. Throughout the night he was opening girls left and right with absolutely no hesitation. Granted, he was pretty drunk—I would later realize that alcohol was the source of his confidence—so it wasn’t as impressive as if he had been sober.
The night ended with him being kicked out of the bar for talking shit to the bouncer. I wasn’t there to witness what happened but according to Alex, the bouncer was rude to him and he wouldn’t take it. Nevertheless, it was getting late so I decided to call it a day. I must have been really drunk from the two Coronas because I wasn’t even worried about his ability to drive when Alex backed the car into the wall of the bar and breaking the backlight just as we were trying to leave the parking lot. Five bouncers appeared from around the corner to see what was going on. I don’t think they knew it was us because they let us pass. We sped out of that place.
Now back to Ella. She was Alex’s roommate. She and Alex had met on the streets and went out for quite a while, until Ella realized what a douchebag Alex was (according to her) and consequently ended whatever they had, whilst still living in the same apartment. The reason she does that escapes me. Alex thinks she still has a thing for him, but he tends to exaggerate…a lot. That, and he has a ego the size of Mount Everest stacked on top of another Mount Everest, but a fragile one too.
Anyway, I was just hanging around with nothing to do when Alex invited me over for a round of beer pong—the infamous American national sport. I scanned through my imaginary schedule, pretended to mull over it in the privacy of my room, and replied with a single “Alright.” He said he was around the area so he would pick me up in ten minutes. I jumped out of bed, brushed my teeth, showered and did my hair all in that time. I must be Superman. Or just really sloppy.
When I got into his car he told me that he had to go pick his roommate up before heading to his ‘loft’. He wasn’t shy to emphasize that this roommate was a girl, and a ten, too. He cautioned me not to get all awkward around her. Since when do I get awkward around beautiful women. Haha. Right?
We drove to Marina Del Ray and there she was, in the sun looking all gorgeous. She greeted me with a smile so sweet I could have gotten diabetes. Her soft, silky black hair blew in the wind. It was literally a scene straight out of a movie. My respect for Alex immediately went up tenfold just by the fact that he was living with his girl. My attempts to make conversation steered into the mundane boring stuff like where I was from, what I did, how many pets did I have, what did I have for breakfast, et cetera. Luckily, Alex helped by occasionally puncturing the formality of the situation with his usual crude remarks. First impression with hot roommate: failed.
It all happened one fateful Thursday night. I had nothing to do and decided to head out to grab a bite. While I was enjoying my lonely meal, I got a call from Alex. He said he was in the area (again?) and asked me if I wanted to hang out. I checked the time. It was 11.30. But what the heck, I said yes. I hopped in the car and we drove to Hollywood for some ‘vagina hunting’. It was cool, except he was always halfway through a small bottle of cheap vodka when we met and he was speeding on the roads like a maniac with the music up at eardrum-bursting levels. I silently questioned his ability to drive, but decided to just let it go. Things got real when he almost forgot to brake, and nearly kissed the rear of another car, only to narrowly avoid it and run up the curb instead. “Ok, this is bad.” I wondered if I would be able to get back in alive that night.
My thoughts were interrupted by a loud bang on the windshield. There was a huge crack across the windshield. Alex had driven straight into a chain barrier blocking the entrance to a parking lot. People from the restaurant right next to us were looking out. People walking by stopped to see what happened. I told him to just drive straight and park.
Alex was freaking out. It was his roommate’s car and she had “lent” it to him in good faith. I would find out from his roommate later that she did not in fact lend it to him, but that he stole the car while she was asleep. Alex called her to try to explain what had happened, making sure she knew that it was partly MY fault for not warning him. I could hear her screaming at him through the phone’s loudspeaker from a distance away. This was not good.
I decided that it was a bad idea to get into a car with an inebriated driver, but I was more than an hour away from home and I had no money to take the bus. So I ignored my better judgment and instead got into the car again so he could take me home. This wouldn’t be much of a story if he just took me home, and I jumped into my bed and snuggled in the comfort of my sleeping bag. Somehow, the front tire thought that this would be the perfect moment to go flat. And so it did.
We drove a good two hundred meters before turning into a small street. We got out and inspected the damage. Just a tire-change would do the trick…except neither of us had done it before. While I tried to figure out what tool did what, Alex was on the phone with Ella. He was furiously trying to convince her that we were really stranded in Hollywood with a flat tire and not out somewhere else. I don’t know why he thought that interrupting the conversation to ask the stranger, who was helping us, if he was smoking weed and to ‘light that shit up’ would help prove his case because Ella didn’t think so.
Alex tossed to phone to me and told me to try to convince her that we were really stuck, and not out partying somewhere in Hollywood. What followed was basically a heated conversation between the two of us. Ella started shouting at me, telling me that everything was my fault ,from the broken backlight incident the week before to the events of that night. She then said that never wanted to see me in her car ever again. Wait, what? How was any of it my fault? All I was guilty of was trying to make an otherwise boring night, fun. And it didn’t seem to be going well. How was it my fault that Alex stole your car and thought it’d be a good idea to drive drunk?
I can’t remember when the last time I raised my voice at someone was. I usually try to take the diplomatic route. Maybe it was the single can of beer I had earlier, but I shouted back over the phone. I was being unfairly accused of something that Alex had done. After all, I was the only one trying to help while Alex and the black dude were smoking a joint on the curb, convinced that we were going to be there all night. I guess Ella didn’t see that coming because she went all quiet and then told me to just get the car back in one piece. I assured her that everything was fine, and that Alex wasn’t smoking or drinking anything (he was).
Soon, the black guy left and Alex came over to try to help. We couldn’t get the bolts turning because the tire iron kept smoothing them out. Alex out of frustration, kicked the tire over and over again. I noticed that the rim was coming out so I ripped it off to see what was underneath. Lo, and behold, proper bolts! We promptly loosened the bolts and removed the tire. I was going to get home!
We had trouble getting the spare tire on, but a nice homeless man stopped by to help us. He got it on quickly and tightened it on for us. Salvation! We didn’t have any money to give him, but Alex had a bottle of beer in the car. He opened it and offered it to the man, but the man refused and went on his way. He said something about doing a good deed. What a nice guy.
If you thought this was when I got home safe, you would be wrong. With the newly opened bottle of Heineken in hand, Alex was drinking and driving again. I was too tired to even think twice. The music was up at maximum level, and we were speeding on the roads again. Barely five minutes after we got going, Alex sped past a sheriff’s car without even thinking anything about it. He probably didn’t notice the cop. I turned around to see if we were being followed. I tried to warn Alex to slow down but he wouldn’t listen. Too late. We were being pulled over.
From all the movies I’ve seen, I expected the cop to be a total douchebag. He asked Alex a few questions. From the way Alex replied, I knew it wasn’t going to be good. I tried to explain but was told to shut up. The cop led Alex back to his vehicle. I just sat waiting in the passenger’s seat like an idiot for about the next thirty minutes. I didn’t know what was going on. Was he going to be arrested? That was what it sounded like when the cop came over to ask me if I could drive the car back so that he could take Alex to jail. I couldn’t drive, so he just said ok and went back to his car. It was more waiting. More cops showed up and hung around. “I just want to get home”, I thought to myself.
At about 2, I saw Ella walking over. “Oh man, this isn’t good.” If she came to get the car, it meant that there was no way I could go home. I couldn’t expect her to send me home while Alex goes to jail, right? She talked to the cop for a bit and then returned to the car with Alex. It seemed that Ella had told the cop that Alex had Alzheimer’s and asked him to give him a chance. He was let go with a warning and a ticket for speeding.
Inside the car, the atmosphere was so tense that just saying anything would unleash an explosion of angry emotions. Alex being himself, of course, just went on and on about how he was lucky that the cop didn’t take him in. I just sat quietly in the back while Ella screamed at the ecstatic man-child. Unable to get the reaction she was searching for out of him, she turned to me and directed her anger at me instead. Initially I just sat there nodding and not saying anything, hoping that it would shut her up. But she just kept going on and on. She even said something about how Singaporean guys were supposedly nice and polite, and that I wasn’t at all what she expected. And that she was surprised that I would even want to be like Alex.
She started bashing the “pick up community”, throwing me in together with the likes of them. “I’m not like that at all,” I thought. Many thoughts ran through my mind and I tried to find the appropriate response for her unfair accusations. I wasn’t out ‘chasing vaginas’. I just wanted to have some fun on a slow night. But in the end all I came up with was, “You don’t know me. I don’t want to be like him.” We reached my stop and I got out. I bade them good night and shut the door. I would never see them again.
The night ended with me laying in bed, replaying what she said about me in the car. I didn’t join the community just so that I could “meet women and use them”, whatever that meant. It wasn’t about “chasing vaginas”, or being irresponsible, drunken assholes with no regard for anyone else other than ourselves. I knew that, but she didn’t. The side of the whole pick up business that she saw was represented by Alex, and it wasn’t a good image. But I told myself that it didn’t matter. I would be going back to Singapore, and I would never meet them again…hopefully. I was finally home. I turned off the lights and drifted off to sleep.