Three Quick Stories



One: Party of the Year

In high school, this brother and sister I was friends with decided to throw the Party of the Year. They enlisted my help. “Fredde, will you invite a bunch of people and say it’s an open party?   You know everyone.   Our parents will be out of town. We want to make it epic.”

I don’t know if they used epic, that’s more of a word from today, but they did want it to be memorable. And it was. Sort of thanks to me. I spread the word. The house was full of rabble-rousers. The place was trashed. And now the kids would be in some deep trouble. So, what did they do? Blamed me. Yep. They said Fredde Duke told everyone to show up here and she threw a party. I did not.   But they were now out of trouble, and I was considered quite the shit stirrer.

I waited 35 years and decided it was time to set the record straight. I look the number up. Still listed. And, yes, I hear from a mutual friend that both parents are still alive. I dial the number. “Hi Mr. and Mrs. ______. I’m Fredde Duke. Do you remember me?”

I got a very lovely, “Yes, of course we do, Fredde. “

“Well,” I said, “I have a confession to make and I feel I really need to tell you. I didn’t throw that party in your home all those years ago. Your kids did. They were afraid of getting into trouble and put the blame on me.”

They’d forgotten the whole thing. They hadn’t thought of it ever in all the years. They thought I was hilarious to make this call.   I explained more, like how I had made the phone calls that got all the people there, and that I did spend the night in their house with my then boyfriend. But, I was not the one who came up with the party idea. I could always throw my own parties with my parents’ permission and supervision (more or less), so I didn’t need to throw a party at someone else’s house. But I happily obliged their kids. The parents thanked me and I felt very good about it.

I never told the brother & sister that I called their parents 35 years later and ratted them out. But the girl and I are Facebook friends, so she knows now!

I swam in a vintage bathing suit.

I swam in a vintage bathing suit.



Two: Swimming with the Sharks

I like to swim.

I didn’t have my own pool, so I went on a pretty regular basis to use the pool at my dad’s. He lived in a condo in the Wilshire Corridor. I would throw this yellow robe from his closet over my bathing suit to head down to the pool. It was a high-end satiny cotton robe with a lovely Asian motif and a soft terry cloth lining. I liked it. It wasn’t like my dad at all and must have been a gift.

At the pool, I’d toss the robe on a chaise, drape my towel over the railing, and ease into the water. It took many minutes to get my torso and limbs used to the frigid temperature. 86 degrees. I’m more of a 92-degree swimmer.

There were some edgy old people that lived in the building who used the pool. They were always looking for a fight. I would win the old codgers over with my huge smile, make fun of them a little, and then stay in my lane, which is all they really wanted. Sometimes this older woman would swim at the same time I did.

One day, as I was running back upstairs for warmth, she admired my pretty yellow robe.   She seemed lonely. I hadn’t a clue who she was.

A few weeks later, I asked my father if it would be okay to give the lady on the ground floor his robe. It’s not like he ever wore it. Only I did. He said that was fine.

So, I went to her door and knocked. When she opened it, I said, “You admired this robe and I’d like you to have it.” I handed it over. She seemed completely overwhelmed by the gesture. She didn’t refuse. We stood awkwardly at her door and she told me in a whispery, almost Edie-from-Grey-Gardens voice that she was an artist.

Years later, I found out that she was a spinster, and quite a wealthy one, the aunt of some sisters I went to school with. It seems that my little gift went to a woman wealthy enough to buy anything she wanted.

But then I thought: it’s okay, because in spite of her being uber rich, I don’t think she had anyone who would ring her bell and surprise her with an exquisite yellow robe.

Screen shot from student film called "The Date."

Screen shot from student film called “The Date.”



Three: Coming Clean

My first boyfriend had a childhood friend that we would sometimes hang out with. Larry, the friend, went to USC, and one weekend we helped him shoot his student film. He cast us as the actors. Unfortunately, whenever I was with Larry, to be frank, I clashed with him and exhibited my bratty side. We were not a match. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Forty or more years went by. It takes me awhile to work through things. But I came to understand what it was about.

Early in my relationship with the boyfriend, I found these photographs sitting on a desk in his room.   They hadn’t been there a week before. The photos were of him and his ex girlfriend. I asked a few questions: When were you together with the ex? Where were the photos taken? Who took them?

The truth came out. The photos were taken by Larry. At Larry’s parents’ home. And it occurred during our relationship. So, to me Larry was complicit in this clandestine meeting. I never told Larry that I knew they were all together and it made me uncomfortable. But something about the photos weren’t kosher. It’s as if they were all keeping a secret from me. Which, they were. And I eventually found out that the ex and my boyfriend were together-together that night, if you know what I mean.

So years and years later, after reflecting on the photos, I knew why I behaved badly with Larry. I felt I owed him an apology. I found his e-mail through a mutual friend and shot off a note:

Larry Grauman. Sending you an email after 40 years to apologize for being a cunt.

He was totally surprised to hear from me. He remembered none of it.


Food:  If you find yourself in Santa Barbara for anything at all — filming a movie, seeing old friends, perhaps visiting family — grab an unforgettable bite of Mexican food at La SuperRica Taqueria.  Known as the famed, no frills spot.  Prepare to wait in line or go at off hours.



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2 Responses to “Three Quick Stories”

  1. robin says:

    you knock me out.
    so does la super rica

  2. Linda says:

    “Sorry for being a cunt” … priceless and pure Fredde!

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