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October 08, 2009

One night a few years back, I was out having a few drinks with some co-workers at Power House, a local dive bar on Hollywood and Highland.

As luck would have it, I struck up a conversation with a lovely little bohemian chick with red hair who called herself Keller. We instantly hit it off and spent the whole night talking. She was cute and sweet and had a great sense of humor. And when the bar closed she told me she knew about this cool afterhours bar in Hollywood that we could walk to. Things were going well, and it was looking like I had a good chance of getting laid, so I was more than willing to follow Keller to her secret after hours bar.

As we were walking East on Hollywood Boulevard, Keller wasn’t paying attention and she bumped into this young Black Woman who politely said, “excuse me.”

A that moment, Keller stopped acting like a sweet little bohemian girl and started behaving like an unruly Jerry Springer guest. She was snapping her fingers and shouting, “Excuse me? No, excuse you, bitch! You better get outta my face or I’m gonna smack you right upside your bitch-ass head!”

I dragged Keller away and apologized to Black Woman, blaming Keller’s behavior on excessive drinking. The Black Woman who was clearly angered said, “Yeah, that’s right! You better get her outta here! Next time I see her, I won’t be so nice!!!

At this point, I probably should have left. I was obviously aware of Keller’s sudden development of multiple personalities, but I was really horny and the thought of hooking up with her outweighed any red flags I was suddenly sensing.

We continued walking a few blocks until we arrived at a dilapidated house on Gower, between Sunset and Hollywood, next to the Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. The house was dark and dingy and surrounded by tall, thick shrubs and a chain-link fence.

It was really creepy and for a moment I actually thought that I was being taken to one of those parties you see in movies where all of a sudden everyone turns into a werewolf and eats me. And if it wasn’t a werewolf party it easily could’ve been a vampire one.

Keller took me to the gate on the chain-link fence where the bouncer, a large black man with a Jamaican accent, was standing. She said, “it’s, Keller, let me in.” The bouncer unlocked a large chain around the chain-link door and Keller walked in.

The Bouncer than closed the door in my face and asked if I knew the password. I smiled and said, “please?” He didn’t open the door so I assume I got the password wrong. Keller told him I was with her and he asked me for forty dollars. I thought about it for a moment and figured forty bucks was an acceptable price to pay to be eaten by a bunch of werewolves at a werewolf party, so I paid him and we went inside.

We went inside the house which I later learned was called “the Firehouse.” It was owned by a Jamaican family and apparently every night they turned their home in an underground Jamaican speak easy, complete with a fully stocked bar and several illegal narcotics floating around.  

Now although I was the only white guy there – and a dorky white guy at that -- I wasn’t worried for my life. Some people automatically assume that all black people have a secret desire to harm whitey, but I didn’t actually think I was gonna get hurt or anything. The way I saw it, being at a Jamaican speak easy was waaay safer than being at a werewolf party. But still, I definitely got the feeling that nobody wanted me there. And I only say that for three reasons:

1) When I tried to ingratiate myself by sharing one of my joints, the Jamaicans took my marijuana and went into a private room.

2) The large woman behind the bar, although sweet and polite to me, still charged me $30 for a bottle of Red Stripe.

 3) Several people came up to me and suggested I leave before any “accidents” happened.

And it certainly didn’t help that Keller was mouthing off to everyone she looked at. At one point she turned to this guy wearing a baseball cap under his sweatshirt hood, who kinda looked like the Black Unabomber:

She said, “why don’t you take off that hat and act like a gentleman so I can see your eyes instead of looking like some dumb street thug.” He didn’t say anything, but I could tell that the Black Unabomber didn’t seem too interested in taking her criticism so I tried to lighten the mood by saying, “you know, I usually don’t wear hats at all because it messes up my hair.”

The Black Unabomber was even less interested in my bad jokes.

If things couldn’t get any worse, the Black Woman that Keller accosted earlier on the street walked into the speak easy. She immediately spotted Keller and made a beeline for her. And I kid you not, they got into a shouting match which quickly escalated into a full on cat fight, complete with hair pulling, face scratching, and boob punching.

The bouncer rushed into the speak easy to break up the fight and Keller yelled at him, “get your fucking black hands off me before my boyfriend kicks your fucking ass!”

On cue, the music stopped and everyone inside the speak easy looked at me. I smiled nervously and said, “I’m not her boyfriend. We actually just met a few hours ago”, but it didn’t matter. The bouncer walked up to me and said, “so you’re gonna kick my black ass, huh??” I offered to challenge him to game of N64 Mario Kart, but once again my joke fell on deaf ears.

I was starting to get a little worried. These people were kind enough to invite us into their underground speak easy and although Keller was the one starting fights, everyone was blaming me for it.

It was kinda scary. I was in a strange place where everyone hated me. I didn’t have any friends and I never felt so alone in my life…

It was right then and there that, my roommate and good friend, Zach Johnson opened the doors.

And Zach didn’t just walk inside -- he strutted through the friggin’ house like he was Norm on “Cheers.”

Immediately all of the Jamaicans yelled, “ZACH!!!” with excitement and began hugging him. Now I’ve known Zach for many, many years, and I’ve know him to be a world class drunk, but never in that time did I suspect that he was secretly hanging out at Jamaican speak easies on the side. Hell, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he knew of a couple of werewolf parties either.

Anyway, after Zach got there, I had a great time. The Jamaicans loved me, and shared my weed with me, and the woman at the bar only charged me $10 for a bottle of Red Stripe.

Keller ended up hooking up with the bouncer but I could have care less. I was with friends and having a good time and that’s all that mattered. And above all else, no one turned into a werewolf and tried to eat me.