“MOVE IT, FAT GIRL!” Spiderman shouted as he ran by my sister and I, clearly on his way to some important mission on Hollywood Boulevard, leaving startled silence in his wake. Ah, Los Angeles, what a magical place you are.
-12 hours earlier—
After months of breathless anticipation and a million spins of Miley Cyrus’s eternal classic, “Party in the USA:”
the day finally arrived when Jessica and I would be setting off for HOLLYWOOD. This is my third trip and her first. I will now have spent a month of my life in this city, which isn’t a lot, but more than most places around the world. In fact, aside from Paris, I don’t think I’ve spent so much time anywhere else in my adult life. I like the ridiculousness and the vanity and the occasional glamor of LA. And I can easily see myself living here. In fact, it’s part of my plans, UCLA offers a degree in Egyptology, after all.
Far too early, we arrived at the Des Moines International Airport, a misnomer if there ever was one. We didn’t need to be there two hours early. In fact, we surely could have arrived while the plane was boarding and still managed to get through security, buy a coffee, and then leisurely saunter to our seats. But, that was not to be, and I’ve rarely had an easier time getting aboard. I printed my boarding passes at home, which was magical and makes me glad to live in the future.
I was dressed resplendently, head to toe in GAP. Why are they closing the shops? I love them so much. I am a really good person and I don’t deserve to suffer this way. They had better offer online services if my local GAP closes. It’s basically the only place in my price range that I shop anymore. My outfit was an attempt to confuse people at LAX that I was Harry Styles. I think I did a damn good job, too, but then Harry spoiled everything, but that’s a story for a little while later.
So, in an attempt to waste time before boarding I went and bought a smoothie and judged the other people around me. Only one other person had a sense of style, but his hair was unfortunate, so I still felt comfortable as the reigning king of Terminal C. My queen was an older woman across the way who looked awfully familiar to me — she kept looking at me, too, so perhaps I knew her — who suddenly shouted out, “SPERM AND BALLS!” Everybody looked at her, but she never explained her strange behavior, and it never occurred again. Sadly, she was not on the flight to Minneapolis. (It’s really bothering me because I know her face so well, but it’s not clicking in my brain.)
We finally boarded, and as soon as we went up, we were going back down again. Flying is a wonder. We were, of course, hungry, and there was a lot of talk about the terrorism on the news, so we went and sat inside some pub and ate cheese fries. If the plane is going to go crashing into the Hollywood sign or something, might as well have have cheese fries, you feel? As we sat there, eating our own weight in potatoes, the people at Delta kept offering gift cards to people who would accept a later flight. This nonsense always irks me. Don’t book more than you can fit on the plane. In fact, there is a great deal about the airline business that could do with some tweaking. It’s a greedy organization that is dependent on giving you less every year, but I shan’t start a list of complaints now. The gift cards were worth $400 to Amazon, which is actually a good deal (twice what I paid for my tickets), and if the flight arrived earlier than nine o’clock in the evening, I surely would have considered it. I would have bought a lot of beauty products and Egyptological books and even a Slendertone with the money. I was in a hurry to arrive in Los Angeles, though, so I passed on the money making opportunity.
It was about three hours from the gate in Minneapolis to the gate to Los Angeles, and I can’t exactly say that I enjoyed the flight. I have no terror of being thousands of feet in the air or crashing or anything — if I’m going to die, I’m going to die, but I have an immortality complex. Is that a thing? I sincerely think that I’ll never die. Perhaps I should see a psychoanalyst? I just don’t like sitting in one spot for so long; I’m always moving. I love listening to my Ru Paul podcast, but I don’t want to just sit there! I want to be walking or pretending to like running or cleaning or slathering myself with coconut oil.
I was sat beside an older woman who did not say a word to me when I sat down, so I decided I would not treat her to my charming conversation. Instead, the entirety of the flight, she copied everything I did. I’m not kidding. I don’t know if she was mocking me or what. I’d put on a show on the seat television thing and suddenly she’d watch the same one. I’d put a crossword up; she’d do the same. I would order a coffee and a water; she would order a water and a coffee. I’d make a playlist; she would, too. It was endlessly amusing.
Then, after an awfully long time, we arrived at LAX. I was ever so glad to be there because I could legitimately tell everybody that I hopped off a plane at LAX with my dreams and my cardigan. I brought a cardigan especially for this day. I also brought it because we are going to San Francisco later and I learned my lesson the last time; it was FREEZING.
Annoyingly, at the airport, there is some kind of ban on Uber. Something about them being illegal or whatnot. WHATEVER. I love Uber. I’ve never had a bad experience with them — well except for that one weird night in Chicago where they never showed up and called with an angry voice. That was awkward. So we had to get a cab, and I really don’t care for cabs. This wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t what I wanted. The windows were open and the fare was easily three times what an Uber would have cost. But that is what Queen Miley did in her iconic song, so I suppose it is fine by me.
The drive to the apartment was lengthy and the entire time my thoughts were consumed by food. I have been on a severely restricted caloric intake for about two weeks, so I’m ready to consume everything in the city, and I have been doing a pretty great job.
Jessica was, as per usual, unimpressed by everything. I don’t know what her illusions of Hollywood were before arrival, but I don’t think they’re living up to them. I, of course, already had my tragic realization about what Los Angeles is two years ago. If I hadn’t had that breakdown, I would not be able to love the city as I do…and I truly do. There’s something so strange about it that absolutely charms me.
It didn’t take too long before we were on North Stanley Avenue, which feels rather like home to me now. This is where I stay every time I’m in Los Angeles, and even though the Internet connection here is a bit tragic, there’s nowhere else I’d rather stay. Well, I’d rather stay at the Chateau Marmont, but a night there costs about as much as renting this apartment for a week. So, for the sake of frugality, I come here again and again. If I’m ever wealthy enough to do so, I’ll absolutely make the Chateau Marmont my base in Hollywood — it’s perfection in every way, but you can read about that from my older posts.
As I was getting my bags unpacked, I heard Jessica wailing from her room. This isn’t unusual; she often has emotional breakdowns, so I ignored it for a while as I got everything settled. The noises weren’t stopping, though, so I finally went in to see her sobbing as she looked at her iPhone. I soon understood why. It turns out that Harry Styles was at the airport at the exact same time as us. Typical.
Though she would have happily remained on the bed, clutching her telephone for the remainder of our trip, the thought of In-n-Out got her out the door and onto a bus. This was also a shock for Jessica. She is accustomed to the relative chicness of the Parisian Metro, not the madness of the Los Angeles bus system. I can’t even begin to list all the strange things I have seen there. This time was a corpulent man in short shorts, his scrotum quite nearly finding freedom, a deranged racist, and the usual people who look as if they are dressed in various shades of “The Hell is that?”
Eventually we found ourselves on Hollywood Boulevard, and I must say, I don’t think there’s anywhere more unbearable on the face of the planet. It’s full of tourists and hustlers and the worst of the worst. Still, we had to go there to get our bus passes, to get to the restaurant, and it’s important to see on your first visit to the city, so there we were, in amidst the throngs of Michael Jackson impersonators and people handing out mix tapes. Jessica was beside herself.
After much longer than it should have taken, we turned down to walk along Sunset Boulevard, which makes me sing the musical every time. (Two days later, a woman was shot in the back of the head with a shotgun in a random act of violence in the same area…) As we walked, Spiderman came barreling by, dashing past Jessica as he shouted, “MOVE IT, FAT GIRL!” I didn’t want to laugh and offend her, but thankfully the presence of food had put her in good humor and she chortled merrily about it.
In-n-Out was the epitome of ridiculousness. The place only holds seventy-one people, at least their fire code says so, but people were climbing the walls looking for a place to queue. It was madness. Eventually we placed our orders, and it was awfully cheap, and then we had to wait for at least forty minutes as the food was prepared. It was absolute endless. Eventually it arrived, and Jessica became ill almost at once. I nodded. These things always happen. She’s the sickliest person on the planet. (She just walked in with her nose streaming blood, but I couldn’t tell because it matched her sunburn.) Slightly disgusted, I watched her hurry back into the overcrowded restaurant where she spewed the contents of her guts into the toilet. It would have been funnier if she had puked on the street, but that’s just me.
“Hey Russel Brand!” a man said to me on the walk back, and I was charmed. I was getting closer to being mistaken for Harry Styles. Long hair and British. I’m nearly there. We cackled the entire way back down Fairfax about Jessica being called “Fat Girl,” and I’ve decided to address her only as it from now on.
After relaxing for a spell in the apartment, we went down to the Grove, which is just across the street, to see the shops. Jessica, once again, was thoroughly disinterested. I love it, though. To me, there’s no more relaxing place to spend the day than in the Grove, watching the people pass by with their bags of purchases as you slurp on a kale smoothie.
Thankfully, she was much more impressed by the Farmers Market. It always makes me think of the Marché Richard Lenoir in Paris that took place by my first apartment. That’s a French thing I’ve never done. I don’t know why, but the outdoor markets intimidate me. I’m much more comfortable popping by the Monoprix, but I’m going to make sure I buy something at a market the next time I’m in Paris, whenever that is. I always get back to Paris before too long.
After a Jamba Juice, we were starved, so we went to Veggie Grill for dinner. It was wonderful to be back in that restaurant, which, judging by the line and the number of people inside, has only grown in popularity since my last visit.
I think my palate has changed a lot from the time I used to come here every day because I wasn’t as obsessed with it as I had been before, but it was still tremendously good. You really can’t tell it’s not chicken, which to a vegetarian, is startling every single time.
After a bit more shopping, we headed back to the apartment and crashed, ready for the next day. If only I knew what would happen.