When I came back from Hawaii, my friend Jane had a new spot she loved to hang out at in Hollywood. She liked it mainly because she had a crush on one of the bartenders, a slim actor from Canada. When someone tells me they are from Canada I instantly am on their side. When introducing myself to a new group of people, I like to add that I am half French Canadian and I can tell people are already endeared to me. I have found people are also endeared if you say you’re from Wisconsin, Georgia or anywhere in Europe. If you want people to immediately become apprehensive of you, tell them you were born and raised in Los Angeles. Jane and I would sit at the bar whenever Canada was working, and before I even had become aware of what my life was turning into, I had become a “regular” at this bar. I’ve never been a regular at a bar before and it was nothing like Cheers. Nothing makes you feel more pathetic than walking into an oriental themed bar and having a Canadian say, “the usual eh?” while he fills up a wine glass. Being a regular at a bar also meant you met the other regulars. Jane was not Canada’s only admirer, he also had a middle aged man named Stuart who hung out at the bar after work or when his wife wanted to watch The Voice in peace. While Jane was fixated on Canada, I became fixated on Stuart. Stuart knew everything that happened in that bar. “You were talking to that good looking guy three days ago around eleven pm, how did that go? Have you heard from him since?” he asked me one night. “I was what? You were here? How did yo-” Stuart shook his head, “I talked to that guy last night for an hour. He’s a good guy but I don’t think he’s interested in anything serious with you. He gave you his favorite books didn’t he? Don’t read too much into that, you look like the type that might.” I took a sip of my wine and stared into his eyes, I am that type, I thought.
While Jane and Canada’s relationship was either going nowhere, or progressing at the pace of a beached whale trying to make its way back to the ocean, I had observed enough of Stuart that I now considered him an oracle of sorts, a person with the ability to perceive information hidden from the normal senses through extrasensory perception. “Do you think Stuart is…enlightened?” I asked Canada one night. “That man tells it like it is,” Canada said, “I think it’s interesting, some people can’t take the honesty though.” We looked at Stuart at the end of the bar, he was sitting directly under a light which cast a soft glow around only him. “Look at that beeeaaauty! What a beauty,” Canada said as we both gazed at Stuart wearing shorts, loafers and a baseball cap, aglow. One night Stuart had gotten deep in a discussion with Jane who I could tell he was very fond of. I was sitting there on the outskirts of the conversation with my phone, sending out texts to ex-boyfriends:
On a scale of 1-10 how bad of a girlfriend was I? 1 being the worst.
Hey, do you hate me?
When Canada appeared. “What are they talking about?” he asked as Jane screeched “He was a drug addict, but I loved him!” I shrugged as my phone lit up with a text from my very first boyfriend: who is this? I sighed. “I can’t believe you’ve never read To Kill A Mockingbird,” I told Canada, remembering a discussion all of us had had the week before. “Boo Radley is one of the greatest fictional characters in my opinion.” Canada shook his head, “Hey if you bring it to me I’ll read it, I’ll bring you my favorite book that you have never read,” he told me. “I can’t believe you’ve never read a Mario Puzo book. Not even The Godfather.” I shrugged and then realized Jane had gotten up and had run out the door crying. I turned to Stuart. “What did you say to her?” I asked. He was studying me. “You have Bambi eyes, that’s what it is about you. I bet they probably get you into trouble all the time. You also look better with your hair up, and you don’t look as tired as the last time I saw you. Also, you speak very slowly, you’re a slow talker, has anyone ever told you that before?” I stared at him. “Is it true you sell your daughter’s girl scout cookies to people at this bar?” I asked, in a semi-threatening tone. He slid a napkin towards me. “Write your name, number and how many boxes you want,” he said, “unfortunately, we are sold out of Thin Mints.” Canada and I looked at each other. “I need to close out,” I told him. I paid our bill and went outside to find Jane, who was in tears over Stuart analyzing all her past relationships with men. “You can’t listen to that guy. I mean who even is that guy? He doesn’t know you,” I said and then added, “Hey, would you say I’m a slow talker? Did I say that slowly? Am I speaking slowly now?”
The thing about LA, a city full of good looking actors/models/musicians that need day jobs, is that even though you can be (not seriously) dating or involved with someone else, you also end up developing crushes on everyone you see: cute barista at Starbucks guy, every bartender and waiter/waitress everywhere, the bouncer who sits in front of the medical marijuana dispensary that you walk by everyday on your way to work, your cute lyft driver. In theory it makes sense, you date around until you find someone you connect with more than the others and then you become exclusive and all of the sudden you stop noticing how cute the guy who is making your sandwich at Subway is. In reality, all that happens is you upset absolutely everyone and lose not only all your credibility and respect, but followers on Instagram. Jane had been dating a guy who was a total dick but had a crush on Canada, Canada seemed interested in no one but his acting career, I had been tagging along, newly single and just obsessing over old boyfriends like a psychopath, and eventually what happened was I did bring Canada To Kill A Mockingbird, just before the ground beneath my feet split open and I burst into flames and was swallowed up by evil. This confirmed that Stuart is not in fact, an oracle, because apparently exchanging books is a big deal that should always be very carefully read into no matter what type of person you may be. The book lead me to hang out with Canada and once I realized I was in fact interested, it was way way way too late. A good friend would have asked Jane before ever scandelously lending out a book and asked permission to be interested in the guy, a really really good friend would have just ignored Canada completely. I called Jane to apologize, and talk about it, and she told me she wanted to meet me at The Grove.
The Grove is the perfect place for shit to go down. The fountains, old timey music playing, trolly, chain restaurants and gigantic three story Abercrombie and Fitch creates an idealistic setting to tell someone you want a divorce, or you are pressing charges, or filing for a restraining order. As I walked through the crowd of tourists I saw Jane. She was wearing a colorful jumpsuit, large sunglasses and her hair was up in a bun, adding height to her. I walked up and before I could even get a word out she took off through the crowd. “FOLLOW ME,” she barked. An overweight man wearing a Disneyland t-shirt and eating a Wetzel Pretzel looked at me like you better follow her. I tried to see where she was going, I lost her in the crowd until I heard, “I’M NOT UPSET THAT CANADA CHOSE YOU OVER ME. I’M UPSET THAT YOU CHOSE HIM OVER ME.” I started jogging to keep up with her. “I didn’t choose him over yo-” “NO. LISTEN TO ME. I’M TALKING. YOU LISTEN.” I realized we had just walked through an Asian family trying to take a picture of themselves in front of the Nike store. They were all staring at me, “I’m so sorry,” I said, thinking about once they return home and are sitting around showing their friends and family their trip to LA, a picture of the family blocked out by Jane, red in the face from screaming, tears running down her face and me wearing a black romper chasing after her wide eyed and fearful. “YOU ALWAYS TRY TO JUSTIFY EVERYTHING WITH YOUR FEELINGS, BUT YOU DON’T REALIZE YOU HURT PEOPLE!” she yelled. In the background Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me,” was playing. “WE ARE NOT FRIENDS ANYMORE JENNIFER.” In llama-land there’s a one-man band and he’ll toot his flute for you. Come fly with me, let’s take off in the blue. We had now gained an audience and I felt like I was on a special episode of Maury that was filmed at a 1940’s themed lounge. “It’s not his baby! It’s not his baby!” I wanted to scream over Frank Sinatra. “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DID THIS, DO YOU REALIZE WE ARE NOT FRIENDS ANYMORE.” Everyone was looking at me and I wish I could have paused the moment and interviewed members in the crowd. “What do you think is going on?” I would have asked the large black man who just exited Cheescake Factory. “Obviously that skinny bitch slept with her husband,” he would say. “Or maybe that skinny bitch stole money from her. Maybe murder…. that skinny bitch has wild eyes.” I had never really had someone yell at me before like this, especially in public, not even my mother when I was five and walked out of Ralphs with a ring pop we didn’t pay for, so I had begun to shake. “Maybe we should talk about this later, when you- we, feel calmer, maybe take some time to think-” I said meekly, and I realized that in paralyzing fear, I clench my butt, like people do when they are trying to hold in farts. Which probably added to this whole scene we were putting on for The Grove shoppers. “NO. WE ARE NOT FRIENDS ANYMORE! AND IT’S YOUR FAULT. YOU DID THIS.” As Jane kept yelling I realized she probably wouldn’t stop unless I either ran away or vanished into thin air. If I could have vanished into thin air I would have, mainly because I’m a puss, but also for the benefit of the tourists, so they could go home and tell everyone they saw a real life evil witch when they were in LA. “How did you know she was evil and not a good witch?” their friend would ask. “Because this enthusiastic woman was screaming at her,” they would reply, “screaming in a BAD way.”
I often wish I was born a man, and this was another one of those times where I was just like, God, men are better than women. If this situation was happening among brethren, and a boy went out with a girl his friend had no history with except for having a crush on her, a crush that was not reciprocated, I don’t even know if they would talk about it. “Dude, I know you are interested in her, but since I’ve been going with you to this bar all the time, we talk and I don’t know, it seems like we may have a lot in common. I think we may be interested in each other, can I move forward with my feelings or is she off limits?” I mean I can’t even imagine that conversation. I had a guy friend who once dated a girl all through college, broke up with her and she started dating one of his friends and no one gave a shit. And even if it resulted in anger and hurt feelings, one swift punch to the face and all would be forgiven and forgotten. None of this screeching and yelling and exploding in the middle of a retail complex. Jane was still exploding and we were now in front of Barnes and Noble. I, with clenched butt, opened the door of the bookstore and closed it on Jane, her muffled voice through the glass “WE ARE DONE! DONE!” I turned around and a tiny elderly couple was standing behind me, they looked shocked. “My girlfriend and I are fighting,” I tried to explain. “Oh, not my girlfriend girlfriend, like my lover, just my friend who is a girl. She likes this guy, he says ‘aboot’…it’s cute, lots of girls like him I think, who really cares, love is crazy bullshit…” I trailed off as they walked away. I sat down in an oversized chair next to a stack of Maxim magazines. Stuart is going to hate me, I thought and then slapped myself across the face.
Now when I am a mother, I know exactly what to tell my children when they turn 21. You never want to become a regular at a bar my child, Cheers was nothing but television magic…..also, friends are always more important than boys, so think before you act. Also, books are like your virginity, only give them away to special people who love you, don’t send mixed messages or be a whore. And never mix wine and whiskey, that is so irresponsible and stupid. Don’t be a fool.