Aaron Michael Plaat knows what you probably think about Lenny Dykstra. That he's a licorice-chomping prick or a shifty grifter who belongs behind bars, like he currently is. But the 24-year-old Ohio State "go-getter" grad doesn't see him that same way, though he easily should.
Plaat — a web developer originally from Columbus, Ohio — says he worked as Dykstra's driver for the final pre-walls-crumbing 2.5 months of Nails's free life and didn't get compensated like he'd been promised.
On a 1-10 dickhead scale, "if you're the wrong person, he's a 15. But if you're the right person, he's not that bad of a guy. I saw the positive side of him that the cameras don't see. Lenny would've paid me if he could. He doesn't lie. He just overpromises sometimes," Plaat tells me.
"He's the kind of guy who'd give you the shirt off his back, but most people see the selfish prick. He has a very good heart," he continued. "I wish things could have worked out for him. He would've been successful."
A relative of Plaat's runs an "executive assistant placement service" in LA and came to learn that Dykstra needed a driver earlier this year. He recommended Aaron. There was never a formal interview, just an "I like you, hop in the car." Plaat moved from Ohio to LA in May and served as late-stage Dykstra's chauffeur and sounding board.
He didn't want to talk too much about the United States's case against Mr. Dykstra – the publicity friendly chap considers him a mentor and "father figure" – considering others who'd worked for him saw their computers seized. He's clearly coming from the "feds jammed him up" frame of mind, though.
"He'd always tell us ‘I'm fighting for my life here guys,' and he was. The news says one thing. [I think] it was just a high-profile case of predatory lending gone really, really sour," Plaat said. "He taught me a lot about life and money. You win some, you lose some. And by the end, it was clearly taking a toll on him.
"Lenny's not stupid, that's what people don't get. He's one of the smartest people I've ever met. Even with all the things piling up against him, he thought he had a winning case. In a perfect world, I think he did too, but he messed with the wrong people. You don't mess with the banks."
But enough with the vouching for a guy he liked. The former driver offered several interesting vignettes from the time before Dykstra was an inmate number. They include...
On Dykstra's brohood with Charlie Sheen:
"We were at Charlie's house two or three times. Each time, we got stopped at the gate or at the front door. Sheen was locked up in his room, doing what he does best. Lenny would say ‘Charlie's in a bad place, always with that glass dick.' Lenny really did have a show set up for him, but Charlie never signed the paperwork. He was really sad that Charlie was not being smart about it."
On his unwillingness to pay bills:
"He'd take my brother and me to Wolfgang's in Beverly Hills, a super-expensive steakhouse, and he'd always try to get off without paying the bill. He'd slip the waiter $100 or something. He was so pissed off when he got stuck paying the tab three times. In better years, he was a regular there."
On the time Dykstra met a lady of the night on an adult "dating" site:
"She lived 45 minutes away, and he had her over to his hotel room where he was staying, Beverly Hills Hotel. I get a 1 a.m. call, ‘What are you doing? Can you come get her?' So I did. They just sat in backseat looking out opposite windows, like a prom date. After she was home, I asked what happened. ‘Oh, she wanted me to pay her. The day I pay a woman for sex is the day I'm a ballerina.'"
On how Dykstra got his front teeth knocked out in jail:
"By time went to prison, he was falling apart. He was dead broke. His teeth got knocked out after three days. Must've got into a fight with his jail cellmate, a big black guy. Lenny's a bit of a racist."
On his prank-calling gamesmanship:
[Someone I know] worked with a cult, a religious ministry. Lenny asked him about it so he prank called the leader of the ministry, pretending to be a really rich Jewish guy who'd just come into an inheritance. He ended up ridiculing this ministry leader ruthlessly.
On his unwillingness to pay employees:
"He always thought he could pull off miracles. Broke one day, a bunch of money the next. But, he could never afford to pay for things. He never really paid me. He'd throw us a couple hundred bucks every now and then. It was always promises broken. He would give us stuff out of his storage in Encino, all his crap was in there. He gave me suitcases of his clothing. An air mattress. My coffee maker. The stuff he stole from hotels. That's where my soap dish came from, all of my towels."
On his impressions of Dykstra today:
Oh, I'm pissed, but not many people paint a positive picture of Lenny. He showed me a side of business success that nobody else could have showed me, lessons that you couldn't buy with any amount of money. Who else had Gulfstream jets and Maybachs, who can say they had it all and lost it all. That's a lesson for life. What not to do. What to do. I'll tell you what: I won't make those mistakes. You can't pay for this kind of education.
So, why exactly did Plaat want to chat about Lenny now if he's not getting any recompense for putting a positive spin out there on the record? Why, he's putting all the stuff Lenny gave him up on eBay for bids. Selling a man's remnants. What a fitting second-half-of-the-bio chapter.
Like the "AUTHENTIC Lenny Dykstra Hugo Boss Jacket - Worn by Nails!" he sold for $150 last week after pimping it on a Wall Street Journal article about Dykstra.
Upcoming items include a half-sleeved warm-up Mets jacket that he hopes will fetch a grand, a 1993 baseball T-shirt owned by "Nails" and a bunch of polo shirts including "the last shirt he was wearing when he was taken into custody." Recompense Now!
Says Plaat, "Working for Nails was positive experience. Would I do it again? Yeah. I miss the guy.