Thursday, August 19, 2010

SoCal will eat your soul!

I don't think anyone who isn't from Northern California can really understand the contempt that some of us denizens of the fog have for anything below, say, San Jose. Southern California is the 8th circle of hell. It's as close to the 9th as one can possibly get without BEING it. Oh sure, you may laugh. But I grew up hating the Dodgers, smog, and the freeway culture that exists down there.

However, every so often I forget this and think, "It can't be ALL bad. Like a eleven billionty people live down there. There are sunny beaches and al fresco dining and the chance to run into celebrities. Let's give it a try!" This is what led me to go visit my adorable 22 year old ex stepsister in Long Beach for my post bar trip. And holy mother of god, was I reminded that L.A. was not meant for me. So many lessons learned, so much money spent, it really would have been a better idea to just go to Europe. And probably more affordable.

I drove down. On this drive I realized that at the ripe old age of 30, my selective memory is already starting to kick in. I thought to myself, "This is the longest solo drive I think I've ever taken." All my trips back and forth to Louisiana were accompanied by others. But as I rolled down 101 I suddenly remembered, "Oh. What about all those times I drove Baton Rouge to Fort Worth to visit Chris?" Ah, how quickly we forget about our pasts. (In fairness, I made Chris drive this far more often than I did, but I did do it.) This was certainly my first solo trip to SoCal, but not the longest I'd driven alone.

My memory immediately got selective again when I finally arrived in Long Beach at my stepsister's apartment and we walked to her local drinking/eating establishment, Panama Joes (seriously, the 2.5 Yelp stars should tell you EVERYTHING). We walked in and the bouncer and the bartender and the waitresses were all like, "Yo! Kathryn!" And she told me about the ones she'd made out with and how it's her "SUNDAY FUNDAY!" place. I thought, "Damn, wish I'd been cool enough in college to have a place where everyone knew me and remembered my name. Sigh. I guess that's just reserved for cool, outgoing people like Doug and Kathryn..." It was a full five minutes before it dawned on me: Rotolo's. When I was Kathryn's age, crazy chick I was friends with at the time was dating the bartender. We drank for free. We stayed after closing. I may have maybe perhaps hooked up with the other bartender. And a bouncer. As with most things in college towns, Rotolos isn't even in the same spot it was when I was there, but for one glorious summer and fall, I owned that place.

Mostly being with a college kid in a predominantly college area brought up a whole flood of memories from when I was 22/23. I was jealous of her super cute apartment. "But she has WAY better stuff than I did in college!" And through no fault of her own, I was a little angry. Angry at her mother for being an uberbitch when *I* was in college, and my dad not kicking in cash/standing up to her. But ya know what? That's ridiculous. My apartment was twice as big and cost half as much. And it had it's own personality with the three couches and flower lights over the bed and the Power Puff Girl sheets. And I knew how to cook. Her fridge, on the other hand, was empty. She didn't have ketchup. I can't fathom not having ketchup. Then again, she's borderline anorexic and I could stand to skip a few meals...

When she went to work on Thursday, I made my way to the grocery store. I stocked up on stuff for us to eat. Well, for me to eat, because Kathryn barely eats. I have started making a trick out of discovering what she will eat and gorging her on these things. One of things she will eat is guacamole. And I make excellent guacamole. I bought us stuff for roast chicken and caesar salad. And beer. Truth is though, I left and most of it was still in her fridge. I was going to give into her way of life way before she came around to mine. Because despite an intention to make dinner that night, we ended up eating chips and guacamole and going out. Her guy friend came over. They went to the liquor store. They started drinking straight from their bottles of liquor. I drank beer. I may be older but this makes me wiser and staying away from hard liquor is always a good idea.

We were going to go to Panama Joe's to start but Kathryn's guy friend was wearing Dickie shorts and apparently those are verbotten at night. Wha? Way to discriminate. We went to the other bar down the street. Second Street is basically the strip you find in any town. Cute boutiques, restaurants, and college bars. Liquor was vastly cheaper in Long Beach than it is in SF. Immediately upon being in a crowded bar on thirsty Thursday in SoCal I was reminded of it's differences to Nor Cal. While Nor Cal is generally laid back cool, with a splash of pretentious trying too hard not to try Mission Hipsters and Marina douchebags who are all from IN, OH, and TX anyway, SoCal is all hair product, tans, short short skirts, and general cheesiness. Nothing about the place is genuine. Nothing. Especially the breasts. So as Kathryn's other friend showed up and she flitted around, I told her guy friend to not dare leave my side, lest I be swallowed by these masses. Um. Yeah. Choose your words carefully, dumbass. We drank giant beers in giant cups. Her friend Jen joined us, who was hysterically funny. But it just...doesn't quite fit, ya know? I am not So Cal. So Cal is not me.

And as much as I feel ridiculous and insecure and way too old for this shit when in So Cal, Kathryn does more so (except the old part). Which murders me. She's equally as funny as I am. More innocent. Ridiculously gorgeous, although she needs to gain a good ten pounds. So when she says, "I have a love hate relationship with the beach because I love being here but it makes me MORE insecure!" I want to both smack her and force feed her a cheeseburger. "But!"

Recently, when talking about male/female relationships with a friend and my dad, my dad said, "You're schtick works." I didn't question it at the time but since then I've wondered, "What IS my schtick? What did he mean by that?" I've come to the conclusion that what he meant is just me being me. So Cal makes me insecure. Everyone is very pretty. Artificial, as mentioned, but pretty. Tall leggy blonds everywhere you turn. Many of you received texts or were bombarded with my use of gchat on my cell phone about how all this prettyness made me feel. Special thanks to Andy for putting up with neurotic me for six days and the regular ass kickings. When I get past that and remember to be just me, things tend to work better. Sure, I may be surrounded by leggy blonds, but can they say anything interesting?

This, however, all turned into a shit show. The night of drinking on Thursday. Mimosa's at Schooner or Later on Friday. Very little sleep, very little food. Veronica Mars marathons. Balboa Island. Mutt Lynch's. SUNDAY FUNDAY! (Kathryn doing jager shots before 1)...I thought of blogging a play by play but frankly, it's just way too much. And way too much that has to be redacted. Let's put it this way: if I ever run for office, a lot of what happened over the course of the last week would be enough to seriously help the opposition. I lost my Ray Bans in Disneyland. For the second time this summer. Lost my sweatshirt somewhere. And probably a good dose of pride and dignity. I bought carmel apples at Disneyland (a tradition). I was twenty minutes on the freeway getting the hell out of Southern California before I remembered they were in Kathryn's fridge still. Awesomesauce.

I was definitely feeling the burn after awhile and hating that my karma/chi/place in the cosmos was all out of whack in Southern California when Andy reminded me: It's not like you're a child soldier. I literally laughed out loud. He was right. Shut up and be glad you GOT a vacation, even one with quite a few hiccups. So it was a damn good time. A crazy time. A liver murdering time. At times frightening. This kid is going to KILL me in a month in New Orleans/Baton Rouge. I am going to start preparing now.

Some highlights:
1. "Booze and bad decision tour 2010!", Kathryn. Booze and bad decisions is my phrase for whenever I am hungover and the dog is sniffing me like crazy. "What? I know, I smell like booze and bad decisions." Angela even jokes about it with me now. "Oh, booze and bad decisions?" Kathryn has turned this into her motto. She wants to get a tattoo that says B'N'BD (as we've decided that is it's acronym). I am making t-shirts for New Orleans. If you can't beat 'em...

2. Friday, early afternoon at Schooner or Later, after all night Thursday drinking:
"Do you want a mimosa?" - K
"Not really...okay fine." - me
"A bottle or just one?" -K
"OMG! Just one!" - me
"It's $14 for 2 or $18 for the whole bottle..." - bartender.
"Fine, the whole bottle." - me (We would consume two bottles.)

3. Disneyland, text from my mother: "Are you okay? I haven't heard from you." I text back that I am fine, thinking, "OMFG, I'm 30. I haven't talked to you in four days, if I was dead or in jail, you'd know." I get a text from my brother a half an hour later. My brother who never ever texts me. "Call your mother, she's worried about you." Dude, you're kidding me right? I text him back, "Already did." In the mean time, my father who is pretty in the loop and who I have been talking to all week, I text saying, "You have GOT to be kidding me!" He says that yes, it's ridiculous, because my brother just called him OVER THE POLICE RADIO to get a 910 (well being check) on me because mom was worried. The whole SFPD now knows I haven't called my mother in four days and they were scared. There, fine folks, are your tax dollars at work. City wide services to track down one 30 year old for not calling her mom. Who, btw, I didn't live with through most of high school and only sporadically talked to during college. What does she think I was doing then? And who would NEVER pull something similar on her son. Oh, double standards, how awesome are you? Hysterically enough, my stepsister's twin sister texted her the previous day, "Call mom. She's worried." In fairness, maybe they should be worried. But still: Seriously?

4. There were these super skanky vivid video girls dancing with the guy in Mutt Lynch's I thought was GORGEOUS. We walked in and were at the packed beach bar and I saw him and went, "Holy geezus." He was in the military. He HAD to be. There was no way he wasn't. I eye him. I talk about him. I am WAY too sober/chicken to talk to him. I notice he's wearing a Ravens hat. I know football. I have an in. I use my fabulous resources (Andy) to find out about the scrimmage the Ravens played the night before and some quick stats on the team. I make sure to go over to THAT area of the bar to order my next drinks. I say something to the bartender. I say something innocuous to hot guy. I say how I can't possibly compete with Vivid Video girls. Bartender says not to give myself such short shrift. I say, "Oh, I'm the smartest girl in here. I just don't look like THAT." He laughs. And I strike up a conversation with super hot Marine guy. OH yeah, he's a Marine. I ask him what he does, and here's our conversation:
"I'm a Marine."
"Yeah, you couldn't have said a less shocking thing.'re an officer?"
"How'd you know?"
"I'm wicked smaht...actually, you don't look dumb enough to be a scrub."
"You're right. I love my guys, but they're pretty dumb. Yeah, I'm an officer."
"What do you do? Are you a pilot?" (leading question, in hopes)
"No, wasn't smart enough to be a pilot...I'm in charge of guys who blow shit up."
Turns out he went to VMI, is a Michigan fan, a Ravens fan, and spends every weekend coming from 29 Palms to hang out at the beach. I may have used my amazing powers of observation to read his name off his credit card. Sometimes having cop parents is good for something. (Although I have completely forgotten it now. Damn you, Newcastle!) And Vivid girls may have looked like they did, but I got guy excited by talking about football. He left though. Alone.

But I think *that's* what my dad meant by schtick. I stop freaking out about what everyone else looks like and thinks and I get by on just being me. Sure, I can be a little brash, a little difficult and demanding. But that's why y'all love me, right?

So there you have it. I call uncle. You win, Southern California, you win. I will not make the mistake of trying to visit you ever again. IF I do, I will stay safely ensconced in the Disney compound. But I'm claiming Santa Barbara as North. Just in case.

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