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California Surfer

A Special Love Story

By Los Angeles Storyteller Don Noyes-More

 

 

1965-6 Los Angeles

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Another Story by Don Noyes-More

As a teenager, especially a California teenager, the beach was like my own private living room. It was a place of socializing and being away from parents and restrictions. I also had the lure and intoxication of the ocean, the waves, and the hot summer sun. Like many of my friends, I surfed, and body surfed during the long Los Angeles summer. Often after being up most of the night, my friends and I would head for Zuma or Malibu beach to surf and hang out until it was late. Then we would go into Hollywood or a friend’s home and party. We went home for money, clothes and a shower only.

As all boys of 16 and 17, I was on the hormone hunt.  I rarely hooked up with anyone outside of my group of friends. Seduction came as second nature to me – perhaps an innate Queer thing. I was self assured, very outgoing, and testing those around me often. I carried an air of determined self assuredness that was truly boorish. My group of friends found my attitude and how I carried myself as cool. I was determined for some unknown reason to make every person I met my friend. One of those people was Jody.

Jody at 17 stood 5’10” – very Nordic. He was tight and tan, lean, and long limbed. He had longish, almost white blonde hair, "puppy dog" blue eyes, and a smile that would make people just stop where they were to watch him. He was the surfer no one could ever touch. He had his pick of anyone, anytime. He was the most popular, coolest dude on the beach. When on his surfboard he made everyone look like an amateur. I would never surf near him; it just made me feel too insecure. He was known to us all. He lived with his dad in a house in the hills just above Westwood Village. He went to a private school. His mom died when he was 11. Jody was not in my group of friends, but everyone wanted to be his group of friends.

On the beach I noticed he would walk away from his friends and sit at the waters edge by himself, smoking and looking out at the ocean. It was as though there was an invisible wall around him. Something seemed to be troubling him, something secret on his mind. My interest grew.

One weekend I was with Jeannie, my best friend, and our group of friends at the coffeehouse, The 8727 Club, on Melrose Avenue. It was a mixed crowd of young – gay, straight, hip, and the “gee I donno” group. The music was good and we felt terribly grown up. It was a better place than many of our other haunts in Hollywood. You had to be 18 to get in but we knew the doorman. He was the son of a neighbor of mine. There were six of us at a table trying hard to be very “cool.” I got up to go to the restroom. I took a piss, zipped up and started to walk out. The door opened, and in walked Jody. The 8727 Club would be that last place I would ever have thought I’d see Jody. We caught each others eyes. He nodded and smiled. I said “Hi,” and left the restroom. I went to my table and sat down. Now all my attention was on watching for Jody to come out of the bathroom and see who he was with at the club. He finally came out of the restroom and stood by the bar, lit a cigarette, and did nothing. How did he get in? He’s with no one. Why? From across the room his eyes met mine. We kept looking at each other. I was not going to go over to him, and he made no move to come over to me. Then all of a sudden he smiled at me, nodded and walked out of the club. The people around me were caught up in their own talk. Jeannie leaned over to me and said, “He’s cute, isn’t he?” I smiled and nodded. Jeannie knew me all too well.

All week I kept thinking of Jody. I didn’t get to the beach until the following weekend. At the beach the first person I looked for was Jody. He wasn’t there. Later in the day I was out in the water waiting for a wave and noticed Jody at the water’s edge, standing alone. He saw me and waved. I waved back. A few minutes later I got out of the water, surfboard under my arm. Jody was sitting on the sand in front of me. “Hey what’s going on,” he said smiling, cigarette hanging in his mouth.

“Nothin’ much,” I replied. “I saw you at the club last week, how’d you get in?” I asked.

“Fake ID, I got from someone,” he said.
“I’m Donnie,” I said smiling.
Jody looked amused by the introduction. “I know,” he said.

“I’m Jody, and I know you know my name,” he said in a joking manner. He turned his head and looked back at his friends and said to me matter-of-factly, “You want to do something tonight?”

I was shocked. I stammered out a, “Yeah.”

“Meet me in the parking lot of Ted’s at the Beach tonight at 10 PM,” he said as he smiled again and walked away.

I was numb. I was thinking “no way will he be there,” but I’ll part the ocean to make it, maybe he’ll show.

I was at Ted’s at the Beach by 9 PM. I waited unsure as to what to say, or even what was really going on. 10 o’clock came and no Jody. “Stood up,” I thought to myself. At 10:30 I decided not to wait any longer and go meet some friends. Then up drove Jody in his red Mustang. He pulled up next to me.

“Get in Donnie.”
“I’m parked.....” I started to say.
Jody interrupted me, “get in, com’ on, get in.” I hopped into the passenger side.

We drove up the coast listening to KFWB.... “Hot night summer in the city...” “Not too many people know about me,” Jody said. “How ‘bout you?” This was an odd sort of question for me since my entire family and friends knew I made it both ways. Hell, I was making it with three of my friends.

“Everyone knows everything about me,” I said proudly. It was for me a political response to an ever growing gay awareness, mixed with a few years of radical politics – all sort of mixed together in an strange way. Bisexual and Gay teens didn’t use the “gay” word much. We were the forefront of the big change to come for Gay people. We were lucky to live in Los Angeles. Things were hip and people less uptight.

Jody and I finally ended up on a Ventura beach. We parked and started talking about our home lives, parents, friends, and of course, school. We got out of the car and walked on the beach up to the waters edge. “All I want to do is surf,” Jody said sadly. “If my dad ever found out I liked guys he’d kick me out. Shit, he’d kill me,” he said. I just shrugged my shoulders and nodded at him. “I don’t want to live past 30. I don’t want to be old.” There was anger in his voice. “I don’t wanna be like my dad, ever!” “Sometimes I think of killing myself and getting it over with.” He was getting more upset.

“Why would you do something like that?” I asked.

He didn’t have an answer. Jody lit a cigarette, inhaled and let out a sigh with the smoke. He stared at the sea. “That’s where I want to die, right in that goddamn, fuckin’ ocean, right there, prick side down,” he said pointing, eyes focused on the waves.

“Hey, everything’s gonna be OK. Just relax man. It’s gonna be OK.”

After a moment he turned to me and said, “You’re the most fuckin’ positive person I know.” I reached for his hand and took it into mine. We sat holding hands. A few moments passed and he put his arms around me and hugged me so tightly it hurt. He kissed me, over and over saying, “I love you, Donnie., I love you.” Christ, how often do boys use that line!

We sank into the sand kissing, kicking off our shoes, tearing off our tee shirts and shorts.

“Ain’t no doubt about it we were doubly blessed, cause we were barely seventeen and we were barely dressed. It never felt so good, it never felt so right..... And we were glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife, glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife, C’mon. Hold on tight! C’mon. hold on tight!”

Bat Out of Hell: Paradise by the Dashboard Light, Meatloaf, lyrics: Jim Steinman

Hours later we were exhausted. We left the beach and headed back to LA. We didn’t talk much on the way back. Jody dropped me off at Ted’s at the Beach to get my car.

Before I got out Jody said, “I do love you, Donnie.”

I said, “Sure, I know.” I gave him my phone number and told him to call me, or we’d meet at the beach. He smiled, waved, and drove off. I felt great – free in an odd way. This was the first person outside of my group friends to tell me I was loved, desired deeply, and needed. I felt new and excited. All the next week I could hardly eat. All I thought about was Jody. He didn’t call.

The following weekend I headed to the beach hoping to catch up with Jody. I sat talking with friends until about 2PM. I was anxious. Then about 3PM Jody came on the beach. He saw me and nodded, walking directly over to some of his friends who were sitting and talking. After about a half hour he got up to surf. As he was walking to the water I caught up to him. “Hey what’s going on?” I asked.

“Nothing, what should be going on?” He said tersely. “What’s the matter?” I now sounded pleading. “Nothing’s the matter,” he said curtly.
“You want to get together?” I asked.

“Nope,” was his answer and he walked into the waves with his board. I sat on the edge of the water watching him, angry, hurt, and confused. I mentally went over and over every moment we had spent together, wondering what had gone wrong. Finally Jody got out of the water, walking right past me without even saying a word.

I froze with deep teen hurt. I finally got up to go to my car, passing near Jody and his friends. When I walked past Jody he looked the other way. I yelled out, “Hey Jody, fuck you!” Everyone but Jody looked at me. No one said anything. I walked towards the parking lot to my car.


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MALIBU 1965-6

Days went by and the pain was ever with me, digging at me. I felt abandoned and confused. About two weeks later I got a phone call. It was Jody. “Hi, it’s me,” he said, as if nothing were wrong.”

“I know who it is,” I said.
“Let’s meet tonight, OK?” Jody asked.
I said, “Where,” without even pausing to think of self dignity.

He gave me an address on the 6th Helena Drive in Brentwood. “Be there at 8, my Aunt and Uncle will be out of town,” Jody said.
“OK,” I’ll be there,” and I hung up the phone. I thought to myself, “Donnie you’re a fucking jackass.”
Jody was waiting in front of the house in his car. I parked, and we went in the house together. “You want a drink?” He asked. “Sure,” I said.

He poured us two Scotch and cokes with cherry juice. After finishing our drinks and some small talk, he stood up and crossed the room to the chair I was sitting on. He stood in front of me just looking at me smiling. He took his T-shirt off, leaned over me and started kissing me. He said over and over, “I love you.” He began holding me, and in a sad yet impassioned voice said again, “I love you, Donnie. I love you!”

That night we were intimate in ways I had never been intimate before. He was romantic, kind, caring, and loving. I wanted to be with him forever. It was a very long night. I had a real summer romance.

I woke in the morning with him clinging to me, wrapped around me, holding me. For a long while I watched his face – so handsome. I felt so in love, so very connected, so young, so dumb.

We had breakfast. We sat for awhile talking and Jody said, “I’ve got to be going.” He wrote down his phone number for me. “Let’s get together in two weeks, I’m going down to Laguna with my dad for awhile. Give me a call.”

I said I would. We hugged tightly, and he kissed my cheek.

Two weeks passed and I finally called Jody’s house. There was no answer. I called over and over – never an answer. I decided I’d see Jody at the beach. Once at the beach I kept my eyes open for Jody. He never came. His friends were sitting together but no one was surfing. “Odd,” I thought to myself. Finally it was 4 o’clock. I got up and walked over to Jody’s group of friends. I wanted to ask if anyone knew where he was. I walked over to a small blond girl who was with a number of people. I looked at her and said, “Anyone seen Jody?”

They all turned and looked at me, saying nothing. The blond girl began to cry. One of the guys spoke up, “Jody’s dead. He broke his neck body surfing in Laguna.” Then everyone began talking at the same time.

I walked away dazed. Once in my car I began to cry. I don’t remember much of the next week except the grief I felt. Jody had died, where he wanted to die, in the sea – an expressed wish that was wrapped in his fears and anger. It had all come true. For me it was the loss of a first romantic love. It was such a small piece of time. It felt so intense, so very crushing. After Jody’s death I went to the beach less often. I never surfed again.

In 2000 I returned to Los Angeles to live. One warm and clear day I drove up to Malibu beach where Jody and I surfed so many years ago. There were kids surfing, looking so much as we did. I could smell the suntan lotion on the warm breeze.

The sun was hot against my face as I looked out into the cresting waves. I could see Jody catching a wave, smiling.

 

Los Angeles - Malibu - Santa Monica

1960s Surf Culture

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