Not Such a Nice Girl — or Boy — After All

Jake Tapper, previously an ABC corespondent and now with CNN, on the NPR program Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me — of all places — told about having a date with Clinton White House intern Monica Lewinsky before news of her relationship to the president had broken. Some time after that date, Tapper was on a scuba-diving vacation with his father in the Cayman Islands when he saw the headline in the Caymanian Compass. His reaction?

“Oh, my god!”  http://www.npr.org/2012/12/01/166240236/jake-tapper-of-abc-news-plays-not-my-job

That was my reaction to the news many years earlier that O.J. Simpson was the primary suspect in the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ron Goldman — except that I had never dated Simpson. In fact, I hadn’t even met him. But like just about everybody else in the country, I knew him.

Or thought I did.

Football great, Hertz and HoneyBaked Ham pitchman, Naked Gun movie actor, all-around good guy.

Seeing him in the courtroom, interacting with his defense attorneys and others during his 1994 pretrial proceedings and his 1995 trial,  didn’t do much to challenge that image, despite evidence alleging otherwise. At most, the self-centered sense of entitlement that isn’t uncommon with gifted athletes who are courted and coddled from high school — and even earlier — on through scholarships and ivory-towered college sports program, began to bleed through.

An example was his lawyers bringing special food to the courtroom for his lunch so he wouldn’t have to suffer the “mystery-meat” sandwich and apple sack lunches given jail inmates in courthouse lockup. That lasted until word got to the trial judge, Lance Ito, who ordered it stopped.

I got a better sense of another Simpson during his 1997 civil trial that resulted in a $33.5 million judgment against him. Unlike the criminal trial, Simpson was not in custody, so he frequently held forth in the Santa Monica courthouse corridors.

One day a high school student whose teacher had arranged to help me out as a volunteer said she didn’t want to be around him because he hit on her. Interestingly, she was a pretty, shapely blonde.

I never actually “met” or talked to Simpson until his 2008 Las Vegas trial on robbery and kidnapping charges  trial. It was an awkward moment. I was going into the courtroom during a break in the proceedings and he was coming out. We met in the doorway.

Although we had never spoken, I knew that he knew who I was. How could he not? I was in the courtroom almost every day of both his ’95 criminal trial and his ’97 civil trial.

After we each said “hi” as we stood there in that Las Vegas courtroom doorway, what to say next. So I blurted out, “How are you?”

Well, duh. He had a ten-year-old $33.5 million judgment against him that he hadn’t paid a penny toward. The ivory tower of his youth and glory days had crumbled to dust. He was the ongoing butt of endless jokes. And he was, yet again, on trial for crimes that could land him in prison for years. (And did!) So, how the heck did I think he was?

And what the heck was I doing at that trial in Las Vegas, anyway? I no longer worked for any court in the country and had long-ago moved out of California.

Although the Simpson trial in Las Vegas would be interesting, the only reason I went was to see my friend Dominick Dunne who had been diagnosed with what was expected to be a terminal illness. (And it was.)

So, have you known, or thought you knew, someone who turned out to be vastly different from the image they presented or passed themselves off to be? Someone who gave you an “Oh, my god!” moment?

 

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