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Miscellaneous Life in General Crap

This is a bit of a kick- here they call this area "The Southland." Which would make true southerners like me laugh, if it was funny, in any way. At all. Cough.
Oh, and the east coast is always "back east." Like everyone here is just visiting. "I'm going back east for the first time" seems to be an allowable construction under SoCal-speak rules.

I used to despise the grinning, suntanned, sunglassed types I saw frolicking on my TV screen whenever those documentaries about Southern California came on. But now I have come to realize some things:
1. Sunglasses are actually a pretty good idea in a place where the sun, I swear, is trying to kill you. All that UV crap? Nasty.
2. A suntan is a smart biological defense here, seeing as how the sun is trying to kill you. In fact, it's almost unavoidable. It's all I can do to keep my ghastly white pallor in this hideously sunshiny state. Every time I wear shorts or a short sleeved shirt outside, my body makes so much vitamin D I get woozy. Once I went out in the sun right after drinking a big glass of vitamin D enriched whole milk and I passed out from the vitamin D O.D.
3. Lastly, and this is mostly conjecture, but when you squint, you kinda grin, and you squint when the sun is in your eyes, which in Southern California is all the time, sometimes even at night, the sun is so bright, because, remember it's trying to kill you. Cripes!

Here's a handy rule of thumb- Think of the fair and reasonable price you'd be willing to pay for any meal. Now multiply it by 1.75. Now you know how much meals cost in L.A.!

If your waiter doesn't automatically bring you water, grab him by the collar and demand "What are you trying to do? Kill me?!" Dehydration is your biggest enemy here, second only to earthquakes, carjacking, riots, fires, mudslides, "road rage," scientologists, medflies and being stabbed to death by O.J. Simpson. Remember, free water is a right, not a privilege. You'll also want to check the fine print on the menu to see what beverages come with free refills. You don't want the embarrassment I recently suffered at a restaurant so chi-chi their cake had no flour in it (it was derided as "filler," and until the waiter explained, we thought it was for the wheat-intolerant):

WAITER: More coke, sir?
JASON: Thanks. (waiter pours more coke from pitcher)
WAITER: Can I get you more to drink, sir?
ME: Yes, more lemonade please, thanks.
WAITER: So, you would like another lemonade sir?
ME: I'd like more lemonade, yes.
WAITER: So you would like another drink?
ME: I'd like more drink, if that's what you mean.
WAITER: I'll be right back, then. With an another lemonade.
ME: Wait, aren't you going to take my glass? And refill it? Because I'd like this glass refilled. With more of this delicious lemonade. In the same glass.
WAITER: I'd prefer to get you a fresh glass, for your additional lemonade. A glass of delicious lemonade in addition to the one you already had.
ME: No, I'd like additional lemonade, but not an additional lemonade.
WAITER: I'll just get you that second glass of lemonade.
ME: Baby, be reasonable! (waiter exeunts)
JASON: Should've got a coke.
ME: Ah, shut up and loan me two dollars.


A Job You Don't Want in L.A.:
Shopping cart rounder upper. Maybe that's not the official title, but it's real; I seen it with my own baby hazels. People here will walk the shopping carts fulla groceries to their home for unloading and just leave 'em. A guy with a small flatbed truck drives around the residential areas hunting stray shopping carts and corralling them onto the truck.

Another Job You Don't Want in L.A.:
Driving a very specific ice cream truck in Glendale, where I was staying with friends. "Truck" is gross flattery, this unit was an ugly, ugly Ford van with absolutely no decoration or children-attracting bright colors. Seen from the non-ice cream serving side, you would more likely think it used by kidnappers and white slavers than in the service of delicious frozen treats. But the evil, FD&C red dye #5 infested cherry on top was the lobotimized, ice cream truck version of Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" that warned children of its approach. Every day I was in Glendale I heard its hellish call and wondered at the soul of the man who could stand its torments to drive that thing day in and day out. Was he insane? Before he started driving the truck? Was he a martyr to ice cream and its delivery to small, overheated children? Where the hell do you get a tinkly, ice cream truck version of "You Light Up My Life?" Who thought it would attract children? Regardless, I salute you, ice cream truck driver- you're a better man than I am.

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