Walter Mencken 7 p.m., Dec. 10
I went to Outback Steakhouse last night and thought I saw someone I went to school with. This is difficult for me as I went to Elementary and Jr. High in Clairemont but to a magnet school for High School. So, what I'm saying is my memory has to stretch a lot to get that far back.
I will call her Valerie. She was a Clairemont hottie. She wore jeans that were tight in the waist and belled at the bottom. Her spaghetti-strapped tank top was topped with a plaid flannel shirt and feather earrings topped off the ensemble. This was in the 70s, not last night.
Last night she was possibly the mother or possibly the grandmother of two children who yelled "hey!" to each other for the entire hour I was in the restaurant. There was another woman there and she could have been the sister or daughter. The men were tall, barrel-chested and sporting ponytails.
Long hair on men is not exclusively The Clairemont thing but it is certainly a Clairemont thing. So's being stuck 20 or so years behind the times. My brother had long hair all throughout our time there but I got mine cut after being mistaken for a girl one too many times in the late 70s.
Of course, moving to a theatre school and taking up acting and ballet did nothing for my Clairemont Stoner Street Cred. Of which I had absolutely none. I was amazed at seeing a dude riding a BMX bike in Clairemont the other day. He was an adult, way past driving, smoking and even drinking age, but he rode a mini BMX bike, his long hair and plaid Pendleton trailing behind him in the wind.
Just like the coolest guy in Clairemont circa 1977. In those days, my best friend John and I would go to the pinball arcade (a slice of pizza to the first one who remembers what it's called) that used to be a fern bar and is now a bank in the Clairemont Renaissance mall. This mall will always and forever be The Clairemont Square, thank-you-very-much.
Anyway, this guy was the best pinball and video game player I ever saw. His name escapes me but the point is he rode to and from the pinball arcade, that once was a fern bar (with tons of rough wood and stained glass all over the place), on a BMX bike, had long flowing hair and smoked Marlborough Reds. And he could beat any machine in the place.
It was years before I realized that I couldn't play, look, ride or smoke as well as Mr. Clairemont. The 70s progressed into the 80s and I adopted the high-high heart-shaped hair do, the flashier clothes and drove my parent's VW Super Beetle while Mr. Clairemont, it seemed, stayed on the bike and bread.
You will see these iconic Clairemontians in the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which was set in Clairemont High. I have friends who went there, who remember Cameron Crowe going there and who spoke Paul-Cooper-ese. If Jeff Spicoli was not modeled after Paul Cooper, I'll eat my 80s hair do. Spicoli's cronies look just like my brother, his friends and, it would seem, people who still live and ride in Clairemont to this day.