Bad Plumbing (Or, The $50,000 Poop)
Even if you’ve never lived in Los Angeles, you’ve still probably heard of the Sunset Strip: The Viper Room where River Phoenix died, the Whiskey-A-Go-Go, The Roxy? The reason behind the fame of one of the most recognized boulevards in America is that she has an interesting history leading up to this iconic party scene. In the 1920s, this specific stretch of real estate was outside the jurisdiction of the LAPD which meant businesses operated in a sort of parent-less free-for-all. During prohibition, this is where the clubs with backrooms, live entertainment, and, of course, booze flourished with the lack of governmental oversight.
The Strip became a Mecca of late night fun for politicians, the entertainment industry, and gangsters alike. This is where Liza Minelli had her first date with her husband and where Joe DiMaggio allegedly proposed to Marilyn Monroe. Sunset has morphed over the decades from glamorous to sleazy to revolutionary (the impetus for songs like Buffalo Springfield’s, For What It’s Worth,) and where The Doors played their first gig. Today, it’s still the place to party. And, it was here, at the infamous Cowboy Bar, that Natalie met the Australian plumber.
Natalie is a Gemini. Not to put too much stock in the stars, but she does have two quite distinct sides. One is the woman who put herself through college, immediately landing a job where she had to wear a suit and pumps when the rest of us were temping and waitressing. She has intelligently invested in the market since h er 21st birthday. She’s the mature one who takes the blame when something goes wrong and sees the best in people. And she’s very smart with her money. The other side of Natalie is a girl who cannot say no to an adventure - of any kind.
She’s traveled around most of the world as a nanny on a yacht, gone to the airport without a ticket just to jump on the cheapest flight to a place she’d never been, and moved into a house with a bunch of strangers on the beach because it “seemed like fun.” So when an obviously well-muscled plumber with a thick Australian accent chatted her up at The Cowboy bar and then invited her to a Laker’s game with his other (plumber?) friends, she couldn’t help herself - she said yes.
LA takes their professional sports very seriously, especially basketball. The Staples Center hosts a famous DJ and a ridiculous halftime show with more gymnastics than the winter Olympics.
Sometimes it feels like a nightclub. There are full bars everywhere blasting the Billboard Top 100 and A-List celebrities in sunglasses sitting court-side. The people-watching rivals an airport Thanksgiving weekend. On that fateful Friday night in April, Natalie downed vodka after vodka as the Lakers took on the Bulls, partying with the ‘plumbers,’ dancing for the Dance Cam, and high-fiving Lady Gaga because it was that kind of night.
The Aussie was cute; holding her hand, buying cocktails, downing nachos, pizza, hot dogs, and gazing at her adoringly in a move that was positively punctuated by his charming accent. He was excited about the high-scoring game and loved it when Natalie pointed out Snoop Dog in his own box. It was a darn good, albeit totally random date. The players on the court sprinted faster than Natalie had ever seen - until the Kiss Cam made it’s way around the stadium and her date jumped out of his seat, booking it to the exit faster than LeBron on a breakaway. Now, Natalie may have been young, pretty, buzzed, and caught up in the glitter of the night, but she was no dummy. Ugh, she thought, he has a girlfriend. She looked around at the other plumbers and they just shrugged like they’d picked up a Phillips instead of a Flat Head screwdriver.
The Aussie returned, flustered, a bit red in the cheeks, and went back to holding Natalie’s hand. Her head spun: Whatever, he’s going back to Australia next week, there’s no ring on his finger, it’s fine. The halftime show was ridiculously entertaining with the Laker Girls (and guys) flipping all around the court and dancing to blaring J-Lo. Five minutes into the second half, the plumber jumped up again.
Huh. Maybe he had to take a call…? The game flew by, the Lakers won, and the entire gang of Australian plumbers headed to a bar downtown to celebrate. The rest of the night was a bit of a blur for Natalie. There were shots and beers and more shots. There may have been some dancing on the bar and a lot of being dipped back then thrown up into the air by the Aussie. She was having a ball, Eventually she went back to the hotel with him. She passed out in the white sheets, slept amazingly well, and woke up the next morning to an empty room with a note saying he had to leave early. This was, she thought, a relatively uneventful night.
She ordered room service, took a shower, and as she sat in bed, flipping through her phone, she decided to Google him. And that’s when she found out what had really happened that night.
The ‘plumber’ was indeed Australian, but in truth was a quite well-known rugby player. He did have a girlfriend (a somewhat famous model,) but also seemed to have some recent gastrointestinal issues.
For, that night, an hour or so after he and Natalie fell asleep, he got up to use the bathroom. Maybe it was from traveling or maybe it was the nachos or the hot dogs or the pizza... or maybe it was all the excitement of a big night out in. Los Angeles. Whatever the reason, it was urgent. Being quite drunk, he opened the door to the hallway instead of the potty. Then, it closed. Then, it locked. Then, he panicked.
Pounding on the door did nothing to wake up a very drunk Natalie who was probably dreaming about a Hemsworth bother. So the also very drunk, not-a-plumber, had no choice but to relieve himself right there on the carpet. (Apparently) he’d been having tummy problems all night. The banging never woke up the beautiful brunette in his bed, but it did interrupt the sleep of a handful of hotel guests, one of whom recorded the entire incident on his phone. By the time Natalie was awake and Googling, the Australian gossip sites had gotten ahold of the story and the ‘plumber’ had been suspended by the team and ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution. Natalie sipped her mimosa, very confused about whether or not she claimed any blame in this very, very expensive poop. As a woman who's always been smart with her money, she reckoned she and the plumber wouldn't have lasted very long anyway.
She got dressed and slipped out of the room, walking down a hallway that smelled, overwhelmingly, of bleach.