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Really? I really need a car in LA?

USA | Saturday, 2 February 2013 | Views [256]

You really, really, really do need a car in L.A. You just do. I was surprised to learn that they even had a public transport system. So why I didn’t hire a car I don’t know. The subway is inadequate as it services only a small area, so for the most part, if you don’t have a car, you’re going to spend a lot of time on the buses. And waiting for those buses, because often they don’t come. How anyone can rely on them to take them to work is beyond me.

Not only this but everyone has a car in LA, everyone. Except for the mentally ill, the disadvantaged, the poor – who are often one and the same – and me, it seems. And there are a lot of mentally ill and disadvantaged and poor living LA, travelling on the buses. When not enclosed in a little bubble, there is far more grit and grime in this city then glamour.

The stench of the eternally damned, the unlucky and unblessed, fills the buses. Sometimes it’s in the form of overladen garbage bags filled with recyclable bottles and cans. Other times it’s in the form of shit stains on the seat of the pants of a one eyed man, his bare limbs shingled and pocked.  Sometimes it’s in the arguments people have with themselves, sometimes it’s in the arguments that are shared. Sometimes it’s in the compulsive twitches of the man sitting across from you as he stands, and sits, and stands and sits, then stands, hangs off the hand railings, flexes, then sits and then attempts the foetal position.  Sometimes it’s in the facts that you learn, that God is great and lives in Oklahoma, for instance. Some times it’s in the questions you are asked, like do you date the homeless, and in the salutations offered such as I want to suck your toes.

And then there are the between places, where the buses stop and the destinations haven’t begun and so the journey continues. Past rows of camped out homeless that find respite between garbage and hard places, past sex pests and unhinged belligerent people who scream insults at walls and sky. Past the elderly rummaging through trashcans and corpses – two, separate – stiff with rigamortis and alone. When these people talk to you – the alive ones – they converse in degrees of coherency, oscillating between the real world and some other place. If the American dream exists for these people, then it exists in that some other place. But listening to their agonised and muddied ramblings, I doubt it does.

But don’t get me wrong. If you’re not unfortunate, relegated to the bowels of existence, then Hollywood is the place to make dreams happen. It almost happened to me.

I am standing on Hollywood Boulevard, waiting for a bus to come, watching a dorky tweenage boy, flanked by burly black men in black and pursued by a handful of paparazzi, wave to passers-by. I’m not sure if he is famous or if it is part of some kind of tour you can buy, where for $70 you can get the celebrity experience. As I debate whether or not I would pay $70 for fifteen minutes of fame, a man named Jay approaches me.  As it turns out he saw me while driving and had to park his car to say hello.

Flattered? No. Confused? Yes.

His bulbous guns bulge out of his muscle-T and Swarovski bling is studded into his ear lobes. He has lines razored into his shaved head. We are not like species.

“Why?” I ask.

“Well, I want to do a shoot with you. You got this real nice, natural, plain Jane look going on. I want to do a shoot.”

Plain Jane? Fuck you Jay. I am wearing make-up.

Sensing that perhaps I didn’t think much of his plain Jane call, Jay continues.

‘Yeah, you know, the girl next door. You’ve got these nice red lips and you’ve got a nice warm skin tone. I think you’ll look good in red.”

“What?”

“Yeah, you know, I see you’ve got no varnish on your toe-nails. We’ll just paint them red and put you in a heel. I want to do a shoot. I’ll pay you $500.”

I really didn’t understand what was going on, but as soon as anyone mentions my foot and a heel, I have a knee-jerk reaction.

“I have hoofs. You’re not going to have shoes that fit.”

“No, girl. I’m after someone with a big foot.”

“What?”

“You know. Big feet. What size are you?”

“ Ergh, an Australian 10.5. So that’s a 41 – 42.”

“Yeah girl. I’ve got some nice red heels we can put you in. I’ll pay you $500.”

“Umm, yeah right. Ok.”

“Look here’s my card. My name is Jay. Text or call me. I want to do a shoot with you.”

“…Ok.”

“Ok. Real nice to meet you, you know. Have a nice day.”

“…Ok… Bye bye.”

And then Jay leaves. Probably in a land rover with a white leather interior and personalised number plates that reads fornic8. I look at the card. Jay from Sexy Girl Video. The penny drops. So he wasn’t from Vanity Fair. His business card also states that he pays $500 – $1000. Not that I needed a clincher, but plain Jane at the lowest rate seals the deal. No. I will not be calling Jay from Sexy Girl Video. Despite running low on funds, I’m not into jobs that increase the risk of infection of everything and bruise my ego.

I file the card away in my purse and wait for the bus. Eventually it comes. I board and take a seat across from a balding morbidly obese man with a guitar case and a clocked off human statue, head to toe in silver. The morbidly obese man stares at me for a while, imploring me to make eye contact with him. Eventually, I do.

“Why do you have such long assed legs?” he demands to know.

I sigh.

“Dude. I don’t bloody know.”

I plug my headphones in. I watch a woman get pissed off with a man who brought his cat on the bus.

In a week I’ll be gone, but this bus trip will always continue.

 
 

Tags: hollywood, los angeles, the american dream

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