Helping Rose Bowl fans get their L.A. bearings

Our hair smells of lemon zest. Our mayor looks like Bert Convy. Welcome to Los Angeles, the big shopping mall by the sea. No refunds. No exchanges.

If you happen to be in town for some football, you’re in luck. On Friday, we’ll all squeeze -- kinda cozy like -- into the big stadium for a game pitting some flu-colored team from the Great Northwest against a bunch of hicks from the heartland.

Don’t get me wrong, we love you yokels. Full of heart, the heartland. To me, the only way you could make the heartland more appealing would be to wrap it in bacon, which you could, of course, and still have plenty left over for a nice pork pie the next day -- yum.

So, welcome, welcome, welcome . . . pull up a starlet, make yourselves at home. Sorry, no wildfires right now. But if you stick around till the next rain, you’ll probably see a mudslide or two. And that Charlie Sheen, he’s always getting arrested.

In fact, the locals are all a little frazzled and raw this time of year. Our shrinks are all off skiing. And for a week now, the temperatures haven’t topped 70, leaving us bone-chilled and a little ornery.

First Paula Abdul leaves “Idol.” Now this.

With the weather so rotten, we have had to make do with our home tanning salons and emergency vacations to Maui. Out here, when the going gets tough, the tough call their personal assistants. In that sense, we’re a very resilient people.

“My tan is fading! My tan is fading!” is something you’ll hear a lot while you’re here. Don’t be alarmed. No one has actually ever died from a faded tan. They only wish they had.

So yeah, we’re a little off our game, the weather being so awful lately, the shrinks on hiatus. We’re also a little wiggy because we usually have a local team in the Rose Bowl, which helps justify all the work we put into it.

There’s a parade, for example. Parades don’t just appear one day out of nowhere. They need to be overproduced and, if all goes well, visible from Mars.

In a way, the parade is an homage to our harvest, which happens smack dab in the middle of winter. See, agriculture is a little different here. About the only things we grow are flowers and pot. We tried soybeans, then discovered you couldn’t really smoke them.

In fact, we are continuing to transition from a traditional agrarian society to a fully digitized entertainment behemoth supported by an overabundance of medical marijuana clinics. Not a template for America, perhaps. But for us, it seems to work.

Let’s see, what else do you need to know? Well, “Wheel of Fortune” comes on at 7:30 out here, so plan accordingly. The best cheap lunch is at a joint called Langer’s Deli, near MacArthur Park. Don’t even try to find it. Really, you can’t get there from here.

In fact, you’ll find that L.A. has only three directions, west (toward the ocean), east (toward the mountains) and “where the $&$#@&* am I?” (which is pretty much everywhere else).

Here’s another tip: If you can stay off the freeways (particularly the 5, the 10, the 110, the 134, the 405, the 210, the 605 and the 101) and the surface streets, you’ll be fine.

That’s right, walk. You’ll find we have a fine, ultramodern mass transit system, though it goes nowhere you’d really want to end up. It doesn’t go to the airport, for example, or past the Rose Bowl (too obvious) or even to the beach (too much sand and sun).

To paraphrase Yogi Berra, nobody ever goes to those places -- they’re too crowded.

Speaking of confusing, that probably wasn’t the real Darth Vader you saw on Hollywood Boulevard the other night, so don’t go back to Mingo or Sandusky and try to sell his autograph.

And that woman in the airport bar was probably not really Drew Barrymore, even if she introduced herself as such. I’m sure you two had a wonderful evening anyway. To get your wallet back, call LAPD vice.

Till then, enjoy our humble little town and have the happiest New Year’s ever. Please keep a close eye on your luggage.

Erskine also writes “Man of the House” in Saturday’s Home section.