Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In 'n' Out: Animal Style.

My first morning in L.A. begins at a surprisingly civilized hour.  DP and I are deputed to construct breakfast. Eggs, salsa and tortillas. Then I discover some sliced chicken in the fridge. DP runs the skillet and we just toss things in. Like you do. Sitting down in the living room, we are about to tuck in, when the presence of said poultry is revealed. SB turns Goth-white and lets a mouthful of food fall to her plate with a fairly comical sound. DP runs to the bathroom to make himself vomit. I swallow my first mouthful and conclude, "Needs more spice." Apparently the chicken slices are a couple of weeks old and, while no foul aroma or texture were detected while said slices were diced and thrown into the pan, it is decided that breakfast elsewhere is the way to go. (DP tells this story several more times during the morning, to apparently anyone who will stay still for more than 30 seconds. Fine. I get it. I ruined your fucking breakfast. Mea-fucking-culpa, okay? Now, shut the fuck up about it...)

We head to a local eatery with the somewhat banal name of 'Home Sweet Home'...or something. I order Soyrizo and scrambled eggs, SB: Huevos Rancheros and DP: Damned Good French Toast (I swear, that's what it's called on the menu...). A pot of Earl Grey makes my breakfast complete. (Seriously, DP...shut up about the breakfast from earlier....). After the meal, we return to the car park, where DP and I take pictures of a giant billboard advertising breast augmentation. ($2,999. Buy one, get one free, presumably.)

The afternoon is spent with  friends of SB. I buy 6 Dos Equis and we sit on a small, but very cozy patio, with their dogs Camper and Paco.  6 beer, a bottle of wine, several bourbons and a few hoots later we return to SB's place.  DP plans to spend his last evening in town at a hotel in Venice Beach. After watching an LAPD helicopter fly in circles for about half an hour, quite near to us, he departs.

SB and I load our bags and her insanely cute wee Italian greyhound, Cooper, into the car and we head off into the night. Our destination: Crestline in San Bernadino.

The drive is fairly inconsequential, until SB gets a craving...nay, an almost feverish desire. She has, I believe the best word is, a "hunger". We pull off the freeway into the community of San Dimas, home of Bill & Ted. This is, as far as I can tell, a community consisting of strip malls and car parks with occasional housing. One such car park beckons to us and we pull in. She wants it and she wants it now. The hell with getting out, we're doing this in the car, in front of Cooper and anyone else who cares to watch. We're eating at In 'n' Out Burger. The legendary fast food chain that, frankly, puts all other fast food chains to shame. The menu looks like any other burger chain menu. Then SB informs me of the " off menu procedure". Y'see, there are a number of  variations to the standard burger and fries on offer, and you have to know what they are. For instance, "Animal style" means that the burgers are slapped with mustard before they are put on the grill and pickles and diced onions  are added. She also gets "sauce" added to the fires, which turns out to be a faintly ochre tinged variation on 1,000 Island dressing. Topping off the order with an Arnold Palmer (iced tea and lemonade), we park and inhale the food. It's amazing. The produce is fresh and crispy (locally sourced, I am assured) and the burgers are....the only term I can come up with is.....FUCKING MAJESTIC.

We return to the freeway and continue towards San Bernadino...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

'Ello, L.A. (with apologies to Ray Davies for the title)

My plane touched down at LAX right on schedule. 8:20 pm. A short stroll from the gate to the baggage carousel and grab my luggage. Deep breath. This is it. I'm really fucking here. Los Angeles. Home of...fill in the blank with damn near anything. My friends were arriving to pick me up and mere moments later I would be relaxing in the finely appointed domicile of my good friend SB.

That was the plan.

15 minutes pass and the street outside the arrival area is jammed with  vehicles, full baggage carts and a remarkable variety of, frankly, weird looking people. "You're not in Kansas any more." I think to myself before reminding myself that I had never actually been in Kansas and that the quote is more of a general idiom than a literal truth.

Fuck you. That's how I think. 

My friends are now forty minutes late and I'm starting to shit panic freak the living fuck out worry. Good thing I wrote down SB's phone number from an old e-mail tag, now to find a pay phone. Ummmm....there has to be a pay phone, right?


Yeah, there they are. I blow the dust and cobwebs off one and proceed to look for a quarter.  "U.S. coins only" reads a small engraving on the change slot. Ppthbth. A quarter is a quarter. ....except when it's not American, apparently. Damn. They're not kidding. My coin rides through the chute like shit through a goose. Okay, make a collect call. Dial, state my name, wait for a response. It goes to her ex-husband's voice mail. Hmmmm....should have looked for a newer mail tag, I guess.  Ah! I know! 411. If it still exists. Who knows? Maybe it got shit-canned when everybody and their dog started carrying phones around with alarming frequency. Well, might as well have. It costs a fucking quarter to call it. Maybe the people at the Air Canada desk can page DP, who is accompanying SB, figuring she'll likely stay in the car to avoid heavy duty parking costs. The desk staff oblige and page DP over the P.A. So, that should take care of that. Except there's no sign of him or her anywhere. My internal panic alert has progressed from orange to Black Watch plaid. Not good.

Let's review, shall we?

Sunday night at LAX. No idea where I need to go. SB has my money, so, I can't even get a cab. I don't know anyone else here and what the living six-headed sheep of fuck am I going to do?!?

"Hey, Dave!", yell two voices in unison. I turn around and there they are, pulling up to the curb in a slick silver Honda. DP jumps out first and we shake hands. We haven't been face to face in 23 years. Next a warm hug from SB. Okay. I can un-pucker. It is 9:20 on the nose.

"How's that for timing? Your plane gets in at 9:20 and  here we are!"

"Uh, my plane got in at 8:20. "

"What? We were checking online to see if there were any delays and it said you were arriving at 9:20."

"Clearly I've stumbled onto a conspiracy between Air Canada, California, the FAA and the internet. Somebody get me Oliver Stone."

Into the car and off we go, my nervous anxiety (from a fucking long-arsed day of travel on nearly no sleep for two nights) is sitting in my guts chewing various glands and organs. I really need to yell. But not while we are still driving on LAX property. Frazzled as I am, I still know the wisdom of being away from uniforms and guns before screaming at the top of my lungs....I'm Canadian, not a fucking moron.

Shut up.

We pull onto the freeway and SB opens the sun roof and offers me a joint of what she claims to be grapefruit flavoured weed of the most unassailable quality. Spark, flame, inhale deeply. Eyes closed. Now look up at the open sun roof and scream:


Huge relief, interrupted only by one very prominent thought. This stuff really does taste like grapefruit. I pass the joint to DP in the back seat. Look out in front of me to the sight of the pop culture equivalent of Byzantium. Something's not quite feeling right...


That feels better.

My journey has begun.