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.