1309 Promenade

My first home as a grown up was so bitchin. It just was. The location was movie set worthy. Right on the Strand, same beachfront as the Santa Monica Pier just steps away. The little funky bungalows and homes were an art colony. We were all actors, musicians and, okay, one sweet guy was our local postman. I lived there with my boyfriend and my beloved, fat Siamese cat Cosmo.

When the boyfriend was either at work or school, I would crank the heat way up, shut all the windows and fall into a near coma of sleep. It’s a miracle I survived and didn’t succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning. Cosmo would get hungry while I slept and feed himself; not an easy task because he had to climb up on a shelf, knock the box down, pull out an individually wrapped bag, open it with his teeth, then paw out each piece of dry food. He was very respectful of my sleep, never waking me up.

On many of these days, I feel like my life might have been saved by my friend Peter. He would come wake me up around noon so we could head over to our favorite little Mexican place on Pico — Campos (for taquitos). These were the days that I never ate breakfast and went straight to lunch upon waking.

asleep in my beach bungalow

One morning, during REM sleep, I had a dream in which I walked out onto our beach and a crowd of people — my fans (delusional) — were clapping for me. I had quite an inflated ego, at least subconsciously. Then I woke to hear real clapping coming from the Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist building nearby. Namu myoho renge kyo, anyone?

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I worked a few days a week in the Beverly Hills office of a famous plastic surgeon. On those days, I did wake up at a decent hour. And to offset the straight-looking nurse’s outfit I had to wear, I would throw on my hippie feather earrings.

working at the doctors office

I love costumes but a nurse’s uniform is just not sexy. Guess what I thought was sexy? My hairy armpits. Yep. Thought that was the coolest. But there was a cooler-than-me girl on that beach — Sally. Sally was a great volleyball player and all the boys wanted her on their team. We played two against two. I say “we” though I’m not very sporty. But I knew I was losing the boyfriend to his passion, so I joined in as his teammate. Do you have any idea how difficult it is for a really short, not very athletic chick to run around that big area, setting the ball up for another person to smash it? And in the sand, mind you? Sally always made it look effortless. Not to mention that when she raised her hand to serve the ball (excellently, of course), her armpit hair was blonde. (This is probably grossing out a lot of people but we were hippie chicks, we didn’t shave.) Also, the hair on her legs was light and blonde. She was profoundly tan and it made the blonde hair even cooler. So I bought some Jolene bleach. Do you see where this is heading? If you think I’m not that great at playing volleyball, I was also not the chick that knew how to use bleach. I left it on too long and now had bright, neon-orange armpit hair. Which actually turned out great for our games, because it blinded the opposing players and allowed us to score.

When I started getting cast in television commercials and working a lot, the plastic surgeon gave me an ultimatum: his office or my acting career. I loved my friends at the office — they had become family, in a sitcom kind of way, but he was right.

Around this time, I did a toothpaste commercial and the following week, was told that it needed to be reshot. Everyone was recast but me. Some new actor, just arrived in town, was now playing my boyfriend. He was fresh and different on every take, so clever. I called my dad on a break and told him he must come to the set to see this guy. The guy’s name was Henry Winkler.

That day at work, I told Henry something I thought was hilarious. That my phone number at 1309 Promenade was 393-FUCK. It was — by accident. 393-3825. And no, I would not have probably figured this out on my own, had I not received some phony phone calls asking me about it. One day, shortly after working with this new actor Henry, he called me at home. He said he was just checking to see if it was true. And since I do swear a lot, we thought it was fitting that my phone number was 393-FUCK.

One day, I came home to a note from my boyfriend. It said, “Call Gray Davis.” The previous week I had been at a party at my friend Barbara Dudley’s house. She and her sisters were all beautiful and popular and parties at their house were always filled with interesting people of all ages. I didn’t really remember meeting Gray Davis, but apparently I had made quite an impression and he was calling to ask me out on a date. It was really random considering how straight he seemed and how wacky (hairy orange armpits) I was. Knowing me, I was probably standing in a group of people, entertaining them with my easy-to-remember phone number. I had to call Gray back with the bad news that I was living with a boyfriend. Had things worked out differently, I might have been First Lady to California’s only recalled governor.

now I know why I save this useless piece of paper

The only dish I knew how to cook when I lived at 1309 Promenade was one I tried to copy from my mother. I made just the scallops, no side dishes at all. I also think I added freshly chopped garlic which I would not do today.

1 1/2 lbs. scallops
1/3 c. fine, dry bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper (optional)
1/2 c. butter, divided
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
3 tbsp. lemon juice
Roll scallops in bread crumbs. Melt half of the butter in frying pan; do not brown. Add salt, pepper. Add scallops; saute slowly until golden brown, turning often, about 10 minutes. Remove scallops to serving platter. Add remaining butter to frying pan with lemon juice and parsley. Heat until butter melts; pour over scallops. Makes 4 servings.

me and Cosmo, 1309 Promenade

movie still of me "playing" a nurse

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13 Responses to “1309 Promenade”

  1. Julie Phalen says:

    Another great read Freddy. I find out new things about you every time you write something.

  2. jennifer dudley arbaugh says:

    Oh Ms. Fred

    Beach houses? How bout Kim, you and me on Rocky? Gray Davis. OMG. My sis Deb might well have been First Lady of CA she dated him for years. Remember his stiff hair and hand always in his suit jacket Napolean style?
    He asked me to host a cocktail party at his small apt in Brentwood .. I remember cleaning out the tub, filthy and slippery greasy from washing the gell that held his locks together. Henry oh Henry Winkler. I invited him to host Cincinnati’s Springer School Gala 6 years ago in the Hilton Netherland’s magnificent Hall of Mirrors. He insisted NO mention of The Fonz. Henry as you know but not many others realize, graduated with a MA from Yale. He authored the Hank Zipzer books about a young boy with dyslexia something he clearly understands. He sat at the “head table” ahhh yes, with Mr Ed and me / A hushed 450 guests listened for 45 minutes while he spoke sans notes. It was stunning. I will always remember his last words. “thank you for listening/ My parents never did.” I stood and wept.
    Obviously I could write my own stories around yours. Best you continue bringing back MEMORIES for me. I love you wonderful Freddie… xxxx jenn

  3. Carol Ward Dudley says:

    Pretty Funny Fred – we know a guy who was in the phone book as Fu C. King – no kidding. Grey is a really good guy who kinda got caught in the switches – I see him occasionally around here and there – Love reading your blog = love you – xoc

  4. rex says:

    WOW Fred keep these coming…. memories shared are memories enjoyed. Best wishes – peace, love and stay in touch!

  5. Rex Sikes says:

    WOW Fred – memories shared are memories enjoyed. Keep them coming! Best wishes, peace and stay in touch! Glad you are inclinded to write.

  6. mitch says:

    You had me laughing on this one, Fredde.

  7. Lawrence says:

    How could you pixelate like that?

  8. cristi ulrich says:

    I can just see the armputs so clearly!! You are a NUT CASE!!! Just can’t help but love you. perhaps we should have called you “RED”!! Ha Ha – would Mark Laugh!!!! xxoxoxox

  9. Mumy says:

    Ahhhh, we have another winner. And the hits just keep on comin’! Thank you kindly, Ms. Duke!

  10. Bettsie says:

    Ah yes, those were the good old days!!!

  11. Carol Ward Dudley says:

    Repeat – but I cannot stop thinking about Duke screaming all the time because with all of us he could (1) never find his razor or (2) not think that someone had already used it and would cut himself. xxxoooc

  12. You are just writing better and better…Such great visuals for those of us who were there…I so remember that little bungalow…You…Mark…Volleyball and good old Gray Davis…Those lips!!!!!xo

  13. Pauli says:

    Wonderfully visual – and slightly meaty. Enjoyed every word!!

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