Did you watch The People v O.J. Simpson on FX? I have to confess, I was addicted to it, just as I was to the actual trial. The TV show featured a star studded cast. In some cases, their hair and make-up were frightening. John Travolta’s eyebrows come to mind. The writing and the acting were wildly uneven. Who knows if the “behind the scenes” events were even true? In the end, it didn’t matter. The show was the proverbial train wreck and I couldn’t look away.
It brought back memories of the hours, days, and months I’d spent (November 1994 – October 1995) watching the real life trial. As I cleaned, folded laundry, and made dinner, I learned about voidier, side bars, and DNA evidence, which was pretty new at the time. I used to joke that I probably could have passed the bar exam! Of course, the trial was my main topic of conversation. I plagued my friends by recounting the latest twists and turns in the courtroom. There were plenty.
In the series, as it had been in real life, the characters of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were all but lost amid the drama among the attorneys and the circus created by the press. In a news clip of a real life press conference early in the trail’s proceedings, Marcia Clark stated, “With all of the public sympathy for Mr. Simpson, we should not forget the fact that we have two young victims who were brutally slain. Two young people whose lives stretched out before them with all of the possibilities that that entailed.”
A couple of years after the real trial ended, a personal experience helped me fully understand her words. My cousin and I visited Mr. Simpon’s estate on Rockingham and Nicole Brown Simpson’s condo on Bundy.
The Rockingham estate was huge. In spite of the lush, neatly manicured landscaping, the place looked lifeless to the point of abandonment. Or was that me reading my preconceived notions into the blank windows? We saw the curb where the Bronco had been parked haphazardly. Behind the gate, a long, very wide driveway. Why hadn’t the Bronco been parked inside the gate on that big driveway? There was the call box the limo driver had used. We saw the row of guest houses where Brian “Kato” Kaelin stayed. The mysterious “bump in the night” came from behind them. The bloody glove had been discovered, or perhaps planted and supposedly discovered, there. We took pictures of everything.
My cousin and I made the very short drive to Nicole Brown Simpson’s condo and stood on the front sidewalk for a moment. Passers by, probably local residents, rolled down the windows of their cars, shook their fists at us, and screamed, “GO HOME!” We took a few steps up the sidewalk toward the gate. The area inside the privacy wall was tiny. The massive amounts of blood that had covered the crime scene had been washed away, but the pavers inside the gate were still stained with it. From the pattern, it was obvious where each of the victims had bled to death. Shocking to say the least. Those dark, amorphus shapes on the pavers drove home the fact that two very real people had been brutally slain in that little, tiny space. Sickened, I signaled to my cousin that it was time to go.
The Rockingham estate was recently torn down. A knife found in the rubble was tested and found to be unrelated to the murders. For me, all that remains from reliving “the trial of the century,” is a deep sadness. I cannot imagine what having all of this stirred up again must be like for the family and friends of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Lyle Goldman. I can only express my belated, heartfelt condolences.