In the center of the dinning room at the once famous West Hollywood Palm Restaurant, flanked on the right and left by green cushioned booths and thousands of caricatures of famous celebrities and regular guests staring down at you, was table number 21.


It was a simple, square table that usually sat four, covered with a green and white checkered tablecloth like all the other tables and booths, but unlike most of the other tables, it opened up on all four sides into a round table that could sit 6 customers comfortably, 8 snugly… assuming they all liked each other, and 10 literally on top of each other.


Every Monday night, back in the early 80’s when I first starting working at the restaurant, the table was reserved for Skip Short and seven of his guests which included a young and beautiful model named Melinda. She would eventually marry Skip and they would have a daughter named Lauren.


Skip was tall and lanky, with dark, straight hair, brown eyes and a narrow face. He possessed a smile that could easily put a person on his death bed at ease, and a voice both comforting and reassuring and he treated everyone respectfully… busboys, waiters, bartenders, managers and whatever customers he ran into at the restaurant who he knew, and at times didn’t know except for the fact that he saw them regularly eating at the restaurant.


Skip preferred a round table because unlike a booth, where 4 people sat on one side and another four on the other side, a round table allowed everyone to see each other and participate easily in whatever conversation they were having at the moment. Skip and his guests were not big eaters, but that didn’t matter to the waiter because Skip was a gem of a gentleman and a great tipper, meaning very simply that with a $300.00 check he would easily leave between ninety to a hundred dollars and on a Monday night, the slowest night of the week, that was a major score, especially back in the early 80’s.


Over the years, these Monday night gatherings got fewer and fewer but Skip’s presence at the restaurant never decreased. He was considered a great customer, a regular, who ate at the restaurant at least 4 times a week and always sat at a front table reserved for the most cherished and respected customers. Instead of 7 guests like in the old days, he usually ate now with two or three other guests. He typically arrived early, ordered an old-fashioned Manhattan from the bartender, and then took his drink and sat at his table and conversed with the waiter, busboy, or other customers he knew and recognized.


One night in the early nineties on a very busy night Skip sat at his table, alone, sipping his Manhattan as he waited for his guests to arrive. Suddenly, a disheveled, malnourished man with scabs across his face entered the restaurant to the horror of our upscale customers, celebrities, and politicians… many of who were outspoken champions of the homeless and people with AIDS… but when push came to shove, and like true cowards, they looked on in horror and backed as far away from this human being as possible.


The poor man insisted on staying, begging for food, and making quite a scene and then Skip stood up and walked over to the man, touched him gently on the shoulder and started to converse with the him, human being to human being, in a soothing and comforting manner. The man calmed down, and Skip with his arm around the man’s shoulders, lead him out the front door while handing him a small wad of money.


Skip then sat back down, as if nothing had happened, and greeted his guests who arrived shortly thereafter. Despite what certain rich people might want you to believe, it is easy to hand out money, but it is not so easy to treat the most humble and downtrodden of human beings with the dignity, class, and understanding that Mr. Skip Short exhibited at that moment in time.


Skip and I got to know each other quite well over the years. After all, I saw him more than my wife and I can honestly say that within the confines of that once famous restaurant I never met a better person than Skip.


Toward the end of my unceremonious departure from the restaurant, Skip confessed to me how worried he was about his mother, who was approaching ninety years old, and who had recently been very ill and had to be put into a nursing home. True to form, he went to visit her every night and hoped that she would recover and be able to go back home. “If only she could get back home, whatever happened after that would be okay” with her and with her son.


A week ago, my friend Sean informed me that Skip had passed away at the age of 74. It had been over a decade since I had spoken or seen Skip, but the memories of those Monday nights a long time ago suddenly seemed just like yesterday, and the spirit, generosity, and unfiltered warmth he displayed and personified is a high water mark that I can only pray that more human beings strive to achieve.

Rest in Peace, Skip, and don’t forget to order that second Manhattan.

#palmrestaurant, #westhollywood #Sean #james #stamie #pasquale #losangeles #steve #waiters #bartenders #gigi







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