California Or Bust
At the end of my time in college, in the summer before I started medical school, my boyfriend at the time decided to move to California to seek his fortune in the real estate business. As he was a completely broke college student, this was rather a remarkable goal, but he was a rather remarkable guy. His older brother had apparently gone to California and made a killing in real estate and he decided he would do the same. Since he was not on speaking terms with the older brother, he was not going to have any help. His middle brother was also living in California, existing as a starving actor. My boyfriend somehow persuaded his college roomate to go along with him and become a destitute partner in crime. Since he was rather a con man, he somehow managed to get a
sucker car salesman to sell him a brand new Honda, using a fake social security number. Allow me to say that I did NOT approve of this. Anyhow, he and the roommate drove the new Honda out to the promised land. I decided that as this was my last summer off before medical school, I would go out to California and spend the summer living in abject poverty for my personal amusement.
I flew out to LA where the guys were staying. They were holed up in a little (and very expensive) apartment that belonged to his starving actor brother. We were there for about a week before we moved out to Temecula. During our stay, the temperatures in LA hit over a hundred degrees and we were sweltering. I remember keeping all the lights in the apartment turned out during the day to help keep it cool. I had my first sushi out there, before the American sushi craze started. It was DELICIOUS. One night we ordered hot and sour soup and it was the best hot and sour soup I had ever had. I have yet to find its equal – it was brought right to our door in double time and the seafood in it was awesome.
We moved to Temecula and began to try some cons in earnest (at least, the two guys did). My boyfriend had purchased an extensive infomercial on buying up foreclosure real estate from scratch and selling/trading up. It was one of those ridiculous things that come on at three in the morning which you know is bullshit. I laughed and laughed inside my head at those two guys trying to get (almost) free foreclosure properties from scratch. But I observed them with great interest. They would pore over the newspapers and the foreclosure notices and then we would drive out and visit the properties. This was rather nerve wracking, as people who are being foreclosed upon are notoriously not happy with company, especially when that company wanted to
steal buy up their property. Fortunately, a lot of the properties were already abandoned so we never got shot at.
My role in all this was to attempt to cook on a budget (it is amazing what you can do with Bisquick) and spruce up their decrepit apartment to make it look half lived in. I accomplished this by sneaking plants out of the surrounding plant beds and putting them in plastic pots in the windowsills. We were sleeping in tents in the apartment bedrooms. I remember we would come back from scouting seedy real estate and I would read to them out of Cheaper by the Dozen. We of course had no TV. I ran up quite a little bill on my Amex while I was out there. I also bought CDs to listen to in the apartment. Somehow, we obtained a kitten, which my boyfriend named Hobbs. I did not have anything to do with the adoption of said kitten. He was a really sweet critter; when we would go for walks in the evening he would follow us, which worried me a little because there were mountain lions in the area. In fact, shortly after I returned to Alabama, he disappeared.
We spent some time also enjoying San Diego – what a beautiful city. If I recall correctly Temecula was about midway between LA and San Diego. Some of the cheapo properties were in each city, so we drove to both places a lot. Somehow my boyfriend managed to wreck the Honda and crunch the front all up. So, we started driving around in his roommate’s car. Keep in mind that no car payments were ever made on the conned Honda, and one morning we woke up and it had been repossessed. I have never before or since been involved with someone whose behavior was so questionable, but he was a very charismatic person and had his roommate and I both sucked in. Meanwhile, the roommate’s parents were frantically seeking him as he had just dropped out of college, which they were paying for, and disappeared. Eventually they found him and came and took him home.
At the end of the summer, I returned to medical school after our big loser adventure. I kept things up with the boyfriend for a while, but as he couldn’t afford to visit me and had no transportation, eventually I broke things off. He was not nearly so charismatic at a distance. The whole thing was a very interesting exercise in con artists, and I am grateful that I never loaned him any money. Last I heard, from his sister, he was still living in California and ekeing out a living, and dangerously riding a motorcycle that he had somehow obtained.
I saw him once more before we completely drifted out of contact. He appeared unannounced at my apartment, very distraught that I was seeing someone else. Apparently he’d thought I was going to wait around in some sort of limbo without him ever calling or coming to visit. I seemed to have broken his heart, and all in all, it was a rather unnerving evening. However, we parted ways amicably and I would get updates periodically from his sister. I wonder now if he is some kind of real estate mogul. As determined and as willing to break all the rules as he was, I would not be surprised if he were not somehow rolling in dough. Maybe one day I’ll find out. In the meantime, I don’t plan to seek him out.