He was an imposing man, both in size and demeanor, although not loud nor physically brusque. He carried some weight in L.A., to use a pun, and his influence benefited me. But not for a single second would one wish to trust him, as generous as he was. It was understood that everything was done for his ultimate benefit; selflessness was not exactly a Hollywood buzzword, after all, and was never expected.

I knew him through his stepdaughter, a bright, pretty, charming, and volatile teenager who effortlessly attracted people to her and who also had a deep fascination with the seamy side of life. Not for a single second would one wish to trust her. But her influence benefited me, so like everyone else in Hollywood, I said nothing. Everything comes at a cost.

One day as the stepfather visited his stepdaughter’s Koreatown rental house, which he paid for, he sized me up with a bemused look on his face. Someone like me, apparently, was notable in the parade of people that came and went. No one needed to introduce me. He had already done his research.

“A nice Midwestern girl!” he said to me when his stepdaughter left the room, “I like you. You’ll be a good influence.” He smiled, satisfied. Things were in place.

I didn’t know what to say, so I just offered a polite grin. It seemed, actually, a bit insulting – like I had hay stuck in my hair and carried a milk pail instead of a purse. And I wasn’t going to be able to fix that girl; no one could. But I guess you couldn’t blame him for trying some damage control.

Midwesterners are at heart a sensible folk, and it was not long afterward that my discomfort outweighed anything I might have gained. I made a very poor Hollywood player, and I felt like I was getting sucked down into something I wanted nothing to do with. Elsie the Cow would go back to the farm, a sadder but wiser beast. I would not go back to Los Angeles for many years; I just couldn’t do it. I never saw the stepfather or stepdaughter again.

Within a few years, the stepdaughter’s roommate, as well as her famous best friend, were dead, an O.D. and a suicide. I heard she wrote some sad songs about them, on a record deal won by her stepfather.