A letter from La-La land

October 27, 1994|By Lisa Respers

Los Angeles -- ASK ME IF he did it. Go ahead. It's not as if everyone has not already picked my brain for even the tiniest morsel of insider information that I may have concerning the case.

Since moving here in June, friends, relatives, even total strangers have regarded me as the official Los Angeles-to-Baltimore pipeline for any information regarding the O.J. Simpson case.

The brutal murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman, outside her Brentwood condominium raised many questions, and I feel as if I've been asked practically every one of them.

Friends and family assume that my job with the Los Angeles Times -- the newspaper of record for the Simpson proceedings -- gives me an advantage over the public when it comes to O.J. news.

They seem to think that I'm privy to all of the behind the scenes action of the prosecutors and police, but that I'm sworn to secrecy as a member of the press. Please!

I had hoped that as the proceedings dragged on and America grew bleary eyed with the courtroom circus, the folks back home would soon grow tired of the case and stop asking me questions.

No such luck.

During a recent call to an old college buddy from College Park, my mental list of questions about hometown happenings had to wait after he blurted out: "So how are things in O.J. land?"

Attempting to sidestep the inevitable, I rambled: "Can you believe that I went to a restaurant that served a crab cake on a plate with a piece of avocado."

My friend, sensing an opening, said: "Was that at Mezzaluna, the restaurant where Ron Goldman and Nicole first met."

So much for catching up.

Initially, I too could talk of little but the Simpson case. It contained elements that appealed to me as a Generation X'er who was raised on talk shows featuring confessions from dysfunctional people entangled in dramas of their own making. And given that it involved a celebrity, I was particularly enthralled. My generation practically cut its teeth on People magazine.

The whole case stimulated conversation among my peers about everything from interracial dating to the connection between violence and contact sports. But the intellectual exchange about the Simpson case lasted all of two weeks before we had moved on to other topics. If only everyone else in my life concurred.

During a recent conversation with my mother, she pulled the typical matriarchal routine, worrying about health and appearance, not mine -- O.J.'s.

"Have you seen him in person yet?" she asked. "He looks tired on television, like he's not eating right."

Even a telephone conversation with a credit department clerk at a Baltimore department store (I was switching my account to the L.A. branch) eventually turned to the Simpson case. She wanted to know if I had seen Nicole's condo and if I had heard any new rumors.

I told her I have and I hadn't. She assured me that everyone back home knew that it was a Mafia-inspired hit.

My best friend dived into the subject directly.

"So, do you think he did it?" she asked the other day.

I gave her my standard, "they-have-a-pretty-good-case-against-him" response.

"I expected that from you," she snorted. "After all, you are a member of the press."

I countered that the public may never know conclusively who committed the murders because some key points might not be brought out at the trial.

"You know something you're not telling me?" she asked suspiciously.

Just when I think the fire of curiosity has died down, some new detail fans the flames of public interest. And I will be right here, ready to answer everyone's inquiries.

Lisa Respers is a reporting intern with the Los Angeles Times.

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