It was the summer of 1984 and the Olympics were coming to Los Angeles. I was a limousine driver and had just started my own one car service. A couple weeks prior to the start of the games, I got a call from a casual acquaintance named Andy to inquire if my limo was available for the weekend of the opening ceremonies. I had no idea what Andy did for a living and he explained that he was in charge of sports medicine for the Saudi Arabian soccer team and that this would be their first year to compete in the Olympics. He went on to say that he would need transportation for himself and five of his female friends to and from Los Angeles.
We arranged for the pickup at our mutual friend Peggy’s house in Costa Mesa. When I arrived, I was surprised to see that Andy had with him five of the most beautiful woman I had ever met. Andy had requested that I stock the limo with champagne so before we headed out, I asked him if he’d like for me to open a bottle for him, but he replied, “I’ve got this handled dude.” After only a few minutes on the road, I heard the “pop” of the champagne cork immediately followed by a piercing scream. Andy had launched the cork right between the eyes of one of the ladies sitting across from him. For the rest of the night, this poor girl had a big round dot in the middle of her forehead, which must have been a little unsettling for the Saudis.
Our first stop was a private party suite at the Beverly Hill’s Hotel. When I say suite, I’m talking about a whole floor with a full service bar, massive appetizer spread and a special table with bowls full of “party favors.” After all, this was the eighties. The strange part was that besides me, Andy, the five ladies and couple of armed body guards, there was no one else in the room.
Then suddenly, Prince Sheik Yerbouti (for lack of a better name) of Saudi Arabia and his entourage entered the room. The prince and his buddies were all dressed in designer suits except for one little guy dressed in traditional Saudi garb that I nicknamed “Tip”. Every time the Prince would point at someone, Tip would peel off a hundred dollar bill and hand it to them. Although Tip and I didn’t speak the same language, we became fast friends. After all the introductions were finished, we loaded everyone, including the two armed guards into the prince’s private Mercedes and the limo and headed to an unmarked nightclub located somewhere in the underground parking lot at the Beverly Center.
As we headed towards our destination, I kept playing a scene from a movie over and over in my head in which a foreign dignitary is kidnapped while riding in a limo. The first person to be eliminated is the armed guard, but you can guess who they take out next. That’s right, yours truly, but as it turned out the night went off without a hitch and I made sure that everyone except for the girl with the red dot on her forehead made it home safely.
It’s like I always say,“Keep your friends close and the dude with the roll of hundreds even closer”.