Saturday, April 27, 2013

My homeless encounter w/Charlie Sheen

Lizzie never tells anybody, but I am not ashamed to say it.  We were homeless for a while.  We lived in our car, the car we no longer have, in fact it was while we were homeless from 2003-2005 that we lost the car.  Because we got too many parking tickets.  When we were living in our car on the streets of L.A. the only thing the county ever did for us was give us parking tickets. 

Homeless lady from CofA 11
Because I kept losing track of what day it was.  So I’d park on a street-cleaning side of the street thinking, boy all those other people are really stupid, why aren't they just parking here, then come back and find a parking ticket. When you enter a period of homelessness, it's amazing how quickly the brain stops functioning. 

December 2003 our credit cards ran out, so we could no longer stay in places like the Hollywood Star Motel on Sunset, and had to start parking and living on the street in our car.  Then I'd scrounge together some cash and we'd go back to a motel for a few weeks, then move back into the parked car.  After several months of that kind of chaos, we finally ended up in a shelter, but first thing they required was that I apply for Welfare.  It was silly because as soon as I had a home where I could plug in my equipment somewhere, I would be back to work, as I had the same profession then as I do now, transcribing for TV shows.  I'd even lugged a desktop computer, portable TV, and DVD player into motel rooms a few times so I could keep doing freelance jobs..  Sometimes I'd sign over checks from Disney Studios to pay for a week in a hotel.  At one point while we were homeless I even parked outside Paramount Studios to work the overnight shift at the Dr. Phil Show while my daughter slept in the back seat of our locked car a few blocks off Melrose.   Lizzie was fifteen at this time and you’d have to get her point of view of this period of our lives by asking her.  Like I said she doesn't tell her current friends about it.

While we were homeless, I was so proud of my daughter that she did not take up the motel guys on their offer to trick her out, no matter how badly we needed money.  I did something right raising Lizzie, we stayed together through this whole period.  One reason there was no help for us was that in the homeless population in L.A., almost all social services for teenagers are separate from their parents.  There are not many homeless families with teenagers, usually by that age in that situation the kids have hit the streets on their own. 

We were part of a new wave of homelessness in 2003 to 2005, as always, I was just a little bit ahead of my time  

We were middle class people who lost our home through a fluke, really, a slip in the cracks as apartment buildings in the West Hollywood area were looking for ways to get tenants to move out so they could move in new tenants who paid higher rents.  I tried to write a story about the whole experience in 2005 as “What happened to Lizzie and Kay when Hollywood Highland Mall went up,” but that title is way too wordy. . .

Here is what happened with Charlie Sheen.  

The Lighthouse Christian homeless mission on Sunset Boulevard insisted that I go apply for welfare instead of putting an internet connection in the room I rented from them for five hundred a month and getting back to my job. 

So I ended up in this county program where in order to get our $600 a month I had to apply for five jobs a week and document that I’d gone there in person, no phone calls or applying online,  You had to write down the name of the person to whom you spoke in person about a job at each company. 

Problem is there were no jobs the summer of 2004 in L.A.  The process was all a charade.  Most the others in our Monday morning seminars at the welfare office nodded, telling the instructor, of course I'll go apply for five jobs in person.  Then they filled in fake names and addresses on the form and went back to the ghetto to smoke crack. 

Not me.  I'm Kay Ebeling, one time JO3 in the U.S. Naval Air Reserves, I'm Kay Ebeling former public affairs officer at NASA.  I'm the fifty-something homeless lady who wears a blazer to the welfare job-hunt seminars, rumpled and ill fitting as it is. 

The car died during that fake job search. 

In that L.A. summer heat I drove from the Sixth Street downtown welfare office all over the west side, to Beverly Hills and Culver City.  

I had no money for auto maintenance, and I wanted to just leave the car parked, but the welfare worker said they would follow up to make sure I’d applied in person for five jobs a week, and I believed them.  I know now I should have just used the train and buses, but back then I was like most working people in L.A. and had never even tried to use Metro, had just heard from everyone that it was impossible to get anywhere in L.A. on public transit (which it turns out is not true).  The car died from being driven around in heat and traffic with low levels of fluids and lubricants.

One incident from this time I will never forget is my encounter with Charlie Sheen. 

Because I've worked in the industry most my time in L.A., I went where I was familiar, to do my five applications in person, at film studios and talent agencies and production companies.  As if they hire people who walk in off the street, right, but it was all a charade, and it filled my day.

The day I ran into Charlie Sheen I’d decided to take my resume in person to blah-blah-blah production company.  I was on Robertson Boulevard when I got stuck in traffic outside a chi-chi restaurant where really nice cars were stacked up as valets interacted with their drivers. 

Just as I pulled slowly past a massive double parked SUV, I looked over at the driver and he looked at me.   It was Charlie Sheen.  He saw me, this bony bedraggled female steering a 1995 Ford Taurus covered with dirt and dents, I think at that time I had the right rear fender attached with duct tape so Charlie Sheen saw that too.  The dirt had been on that car for so long that the sun had beaten it in, so the paint job had a granular look and feel.  My skin also had a granular look and feel.

Charlie Sheen’s expression was one I'll never forget.  He was smiling as he exited his car and handed keys to the valet, then his eyes met mine as I inched by.  Horror.  Repugnance shock.  Ugh.  UGH!!!  That's what his face said.  I was probably the most horrible looking thing Charlie Sheen had ever seen in his life. 

Traffic finally moved forward and I got to the next corner and drove a few blocks to a place where I knew there was free street parking.  I arranged my graying wisps of hair, covered the stain on my blouse with a scarf, and walked on Robertson to the production company building.  I went up the elevator to the corporate entrance and the receptionist refused to take my resume saying, “You have to apply online.”  I said, “Can I get your name?” and wrote it on my welfare form.  Then went back to the shelter and parked the Taurus on the street.  Next time I tried to drive that car, the steering wheel would not turn and the wheels would not go forward.  It was a ton of steel stuck in its place.  So I left it where it was and got more parking tickets.  When it came time to renew the car’s registration, the cost for parking tickets had increased with interest to several thousand dollars that I’d have to pay to keep the car legal. 

So I sold the 95 Taurus for three hundred dollars to the Mexican guy who did maintenance at the homeless shelter.

Since that time, Charlie Sheen showed himself to be a crazed sex addict with a bottomless appetite for mind-altering substances and I've often wondered if he too is a pedophile priest victim.  His dad is Very Catholic.  Charlie does share character traits with many pedophile priest victims, sexual dysfunction and an alarming appetite for self-destructive substances.  Someday I'd love to ask Charlie Sheen if a priest got to him when he was a kid, and also ask if he remembers the most horrible looking female he ever saw in his life, me, driving by him that day.

Life goes on

-Kay Ebeling

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