Tuesday, August 27, 2013

L.A.

I lived in L.A. for six years. When I first moved there, I worked at a doctor’s office in Westwood. On breaks, a friend and I would sometimes walk to a nearby bakery that sold day-old cookies in bags of a dozen for a dollar. One day I bought a bag in spite of the extra 10 or 15 pounds I was carrying at the time.

As I drove home that day, I looked over guiltily at the bag of cookies. Huge mistake. I knew my roommate would not eat them. They were all mine. They had to go. 

I was waiting at a light near a freeway on-ramp. I noticed a homeless guy sitting in some shade a few yards away. I rolled down my window and said, “Hi, do you want cookies?” He looked at me, nodded slightly, and then slowly got up and walked over to me. The way he moved did not suggest ill-health or infirmity. It was more of a demonstration of his complete confidence that the cookies weren’t going anywhere, and the light wouldn’t turn prematurely. Or if it did, no big deal. There would be other cookies.

He took the cookies and nodded slightly again, then walked back to the pile of stuff he’d been sitting on. 

L.A. is unique in that the place is just thick with cool. Everyone has this kind of calm, satisfied certainty that there is nothing going on anywhere as interesting or awesome as what’s happening right here, because this is L.A. Most people there, whether they are aware of it or not, carve the world up into two parts: L.A., and those other places that are a little pathetic because they aren’t L.A.

Lots of places think they’re cool, but L.A. knows it in its asphalt/concrete bones. You will never hear someone from L.A. explaining why L.A. is great because, for them, that would be like explaining that sugar is sweet. They just assume you know. 

Which isn’t to say the place is flawless. I love L.A., but I’ve never met so many people in one place that I would cross a street to avoid. 

I watched the homeless guy in my rearview mirror thoughtfully chewing a cookie as I drove onto the freeway. He looked as though, right before I drove up, he’d been thinking, “Man, I sure would like a cookie.” And then some chick drives up with a dozen. Because this is L.A. and that shit just happens. Stars fall out of the sky here and get in line behind you at the supermarket. 

The homeless guy seemed so easy and at peace. I considered getting off at the next exit and looping back with a quart of milk.


16 comments:

  1. I saw a man begging for change andI had two fresh cookies my son decided not to eat. So I offered them to him and he took up the offer. Maybe Californians juat like to give away cookies?

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  2. I like the idea that getting a dozen cookies can "just happen" in LA. I've never been there. And I think now if I visit (it's on the bucket list), I'm going to be on the look-out for random cookie kindness. Or may feel the need to try some of my own.

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  3. I have several similar interactions with homeless in Baltimore. What I love about Baltimore is that we know we are not cool and we are cool with that :) I look forward to going to LA one day and observing what you have described.

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  4. Man, I loved this post! Especially the last line, although there were many good lines throughout. I know what you mean about LA. When I went to acting school there, a sort of running joke was that the LA school and LA itself was so much better than NY and the NY school. When I transferred to the NY school, (not because I didn't like LA, but because I just love NY so much) it was the New Yorkers talking about how much better NY was than LA. Same kind of confident cool, same cool things happening "only in NY", but with a different vibe. I will definitely say that I missed the laid back vibe of LA once I was entrenched in the frenzy of the East.

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  5. New Orleans is probably the next coolest place to L.A. that you'll find. Except people bring beer to the homeless dudes.

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  6. this was just... lovely. I really enjoyed everything about this--the pace, the descriptions, the tone.

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  7. I want to experience this cool...

    Wonderful post.

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  8. Really perfect description of LA, both in the content and the writing!

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  9. First, that was very nice of you. Second - I am dying to visit LA. I've always wanted to go and almost made it through there on a road trip this spring but diverted south to SD instead. I liked reading this :-)

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  10. I love your description of the homeless man just hanging out, and of LA. It makes me want to plan a trip there, stat.

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  11. Very well written and descriptive. Great post. But now I'm really craving some cookies. Damnit.

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  12. I love all your details. Your tone is fantastic, too. I don't know L.A.very well, but I do feel like we've had a proper introduction now. And that's a great way to get rid of cookies that you can't bring home!

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  13. Ha! I'm from LA, and it's always interesting to read other people's opinions about it. Mostly I don't even think about it, as I've lived my entire 30 years here, but I guess you're right, it is pretty laid-back. One think I dislike though, is that it can be so laid back people are perpetually late and/or underdressed...

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  14. "I watched the homeless guy in my rearview mirror thoughtfully chewing a cookie as I drove onto the freeway. He looked as though, right before I drove up, he’d been thinking, “Man, I sure would like a cookie.” And then some chick drives up with a dozen. Because this is L.A. and that shit just happens. Stars fall out of the sky here and get in line behind you at the supermarket."
    This is amazing. I LOVE this part! L.A. sounds damn magical.
    Great work!

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  15. I kept waiting for someone to say, "WALKED to a bakery? I don't think this chick has even been to L.A." Seriously thank you all for the comments and taking the time to read. I loved reading what you had to say.

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