There’s an old baseball glove in my bed and a pond where our pet wolf was licking her paws – giant puddle, like London in April. Not sure how White Fang and the glove got into my bed. I’m usually so in control of my life, yet some things kind of get away from me.
Like the other night. We were kicking around Venice with my sister and a bunch of daughters. Venice is one long garland of Edison bulbs that runs from café to café, house to house. If you ever get a chance, you should experience this trippy little L.A. neighborhood, providing you can find parking, which you probably can’t.
On this night, all the valets were off at auditions, so it was a special kind of chaos, hybrid cars circling everywhere. Think I ended up parking on the pier, something that’s prohibited, but only so much as anything is prohibited in Venice. Generally, bystanders just shrug it off and mutter to themselves: “By gawd, Venice.…”
We ended up on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, too hip by half, where we searched for overpriced sushi amid the moonglow of a thousand cellphones … let there be light.
Seriously, if you ever wanted to capture the ethos of L.A., come on over to Abbot Kinney some soft night, where you’ll find edgy, world-class cuisine served to thready actresses who almost never eat.
The occasion? My baby sis is back in town from Chicago, and she is very chatty. I realize that the reason she was so popular in high school was that she is glib and energized, in ways that high school culture rewards. Plus, she has twice as much hair as normal people.
Out here, you see those same traits in the folks who run studios. Were she so inclined, I’m pretty sure my sister could’ve run Sony. Instead, she chose to raise six kids in the northwest suburbs, which is similar but even better in a lot of respects.
Her kids are chatty too, and so are my two daughters, of course, so there’s now this entire table of very chatty people overlooking a crowded enclave of very chatty people – at 8 p.m. on a weeknight, mind you, when most men my age are crawling into bed with their old baseball gloves.
Meanwhile, enormous plates of sushi arrive like Rose Parade floats. A round of uni shooters is next. What’s in that again? Sea urchin? Unicorn?
Like I said, sometimes life gets away from me a little.
But I try to be a good sport. By way of conversation, I ask my daughters and niece to explain this word “bougie” (pronounced boo-jee), which keeps cropping up lately.
In fact, I tell them how just that day my hair stylist told me how cheaper brands of vodka can really chew up her stomach, “not to sound all bougie or anything.”
So, that’s how I’m hearing bougie used, indicating overtly pretentious tastes in vodka and other important beverages. To be bougie, it seems, is not good at all.
As it turns out, my understanding is fairly accurate, but they tell me bougie should never be confused with “basic” or “extra,” other highly popular millennial terms.
By now, my head is about to explode, of course, so I’m ready to move on to other topics, such as off-point essays on Robert S. Mueller III, or idiot things their little brothers might’ve recently said.
“You know, this is a really good place to eavesdrop on first-date conversations,” the lovely and patient older daughter interjects. They’re really vapid, she says, and so uncomfortable as to be very entertaining.
I tell her I would never do that, though I would eavesdrop on a second date, when all the jokes land and you feel something building, possibly a soulmate, possibly a weekend away, in rare cases, love.
Second dates and second drinks – that’s a nice place to live.
You know, we live in odd times. I can’t tell my daughters’ cosmetics from their food – it all has a seaweed base. Their generation rarely watches much network TV, and seems to prefer dogs to children, plants to meat, Prague to Pittsburgh.
My daughters and I no longer relate to each other at all, though we do share a fondness for a jovial night out that’s so loud you can barely hear the server explain the specials.
We also share a fondness for ordering too much food, for the Cubs and California, and for this goofy and neurotic city where nothing stays the same for more than a month.
In the end, it takes the world to make a splashy L.A. meal like this: the sushi chef from Osaka, Japan; the busboy from Mazatlán, Mexico; the server from Shreveport, La.; the sister and her daughter from the Chicago ’burbs.
In California, we are all fleeing something, yet all ending up together at glorious tables jammed with unimaginable dishes, on twinkly nights that go a little late.
By gawd, Venice….