The blonde fox in the white Ferrari.
That is how a screenwriter I know who lived in the same part of town as Nicole Brown Simpson - the poor man's Brentwood, a colony of lush little bungalows and starter condos in the flats south of Sunset - described the woman he used to see tooling around in her sporty little car, driving home after a run or a cup of coffee at Starbucks, or maybe just, as her license plate suggested, L84AD8 ("late for a date").
The point her was making in describing her this way was that he had no idea she was O.J.'s wife, no idea that her romantic affiliations would eventually be the death of her, or that she would ever be world-famous for any reason other than that he, like other guys he knew around Brentwood, thought she was a real hot mama. A hot tomato, I think, was the expression he used.
And I mention this only to dispel a myth that gained some currency - in fact, rich acceptance - during the couple of years or so that constituted the O.J. trial and its prelude and aftermath. It was a dismissive belief that Nicole Brown was somehow nothing special, just another SoCal beach babe, another girl who offers to show you her tan lines, a dime a dance, a dime a dozen. To me, this was always ridiculous.
As many lovely starlets and beautiful beachcombers as you may find in Los Angeles, in Hollywood, in counties like Orange and Ventura, as many women as there may be waiting for rich husbands or a lucky break in those parts, I was certain as soon as I saw those first pictures of Ms. Brown that she was never among them.
She was also never going to marry a dentist. She was certainly never going to be a dentist. She looks too shielded and expensive to be bothered with such mundane things...
There is something offsetting and off-putting about Nicole in photographs, something eerie and otherworldly in her exceptional, heartrending beauty - beauty of the kind that one assumes, or at least hopes, expresses a spiritual truth greater that just good looks; though of course it probably doesn't.
Nicole's face had grace, austerity, serenity, the snobbishness of a person rich with secrets, of one who has something to tell and isn't telling.
Which turned out to be the case.
True, Nicole's taste, at least in the public photos that we all saw over and over again - the most commonly repeated one was from the opening of the Harley-Davidson Cafe in New York in the autumn of 1993 - ran to ultra-sheen stretch Lycra, to the tartiest, tawdriest, tackiest mall-girl looks that never quite seem to have gotten out of the mid-eighties - and should have not have been worn by any woman out of her mid-twenties.
The skirts are too short, the necklines too long, the fit always seems to be inspired by a tourniquet. But forget that stuff. Because the woman was physically just blessed. Her features are so regular, so even and smooth, by physiognomic standards possibly even perfect, with a straight nose, high forehead, sloped cheeks and such fine, fine bones.
And her hair has such shiny blondeness, while her expression is so blank, her eyes so far away: everything about this woman is so golden and frozen, stiff and perfect, just like a statue, a statuette, an Oscar, an Emmy, a trophy that O.J.'s acting was never going to win him.
She is a trophy wife, and in all her tanned bronzeness, she actually looks the part.
What I am trying to say is that it doesn't much matter to me what real refinements this woman, who was simple, would never acquire, that she wasn't educated, that to her a big goal achieved would have been owning a coffee bar in Brentwood.
It doesn't matter to me that her idea of "romantic" was to create a Calgon advertisement out of her bathroom and light scented candles all around the tub - or, for that matter, to arrange the same fiery display in the living room, or bedroom, wherever...
It doesn't much matter to me that Nicole wore real fur and fake leather, that in the late eighties her hair was feathered, that almost all the women she knew had silicone breast implants, that she liked to have a good time, that sometimes she had a few too many margaritas and often she danced with men she didn't know very well. All these issues of taste and aspiration and desperation matter to me almost not at all.
Nothing matters, at this point, but still life and dead images of a woman who looks so fine and dignified and full of airs. Beauty like hers is greatly powerful, especially in a place like California, because far from being just another pretty face, a slice of sunshine and good cheer, Nicole is arch and strong to appearances, suggesting all kinds of dignity, all kinds of haughtiness.
And at certain times, if she made you really mad, I am sure that you would want to punch that face and make it go away. You would just plain want to bash it in.
That is how I know that O.J. is guilty...
(Quartet Books Limited 1998)