Sirens. They are so much louder in this city, it seems; louder than anywhere else. (And I’ve heard my share, trust me. I hate it.)
They are louder than in that other place I keep procrastinating returning to, regardless of its coordinates as the Center of the Universe (because I haven’t paid my dues here yet, you see). But then, these police hollers are not as as loud as those other things, up in my neighborhood’s sky every bloody night, shooting down searchlights into a zip code that shoots searchlights back up at it, from every douchy new joint that won’t last.
Nothing really lasts, it’s true. But LA-LA has a special talent for transience.
Everybody despises it here, at least at one point or another. It’s what this city is here for, don’t cha know? This poor, used-up girl!
When I think of LA-LA’s face, I think of a woman, of course; of someone who is moderately pretty and lovable, but with time. She is the girl one settles for, not the heartbreaker perfectly dressed at all times who ruins a man’s heart with her impossibility and expensive, addictive perfumes. No, LA-LA is much simpler than that: She is there, for the taking — if one is kind enough and patient. But if ever you decide to break-up with her, she’ll let you go so freely you’ll wonder if she ever even loved you at all. So, the joke’s on you, really. And no matter where the departed go from here — from her — don’t you worry: She’ll be fine. She’ll still be here, for the next guy.
The natives (who are in the minority here, because the minorities — are not): They despise the newcomers. And there are plenty of those, every day climbing off their Greyhounds and shuttles; interrogating their cabbies as if they were tour guides. (I would hate to be a cabdriver in this city: too many flights.) It’s endless, this influx of dreamers. Perpetual. THANK GOD.
And then, the newcomers despise not being important enough, not quickly enough. Back in the pond where they’ve come from, they used to be so beloved: How dare you not know their name?! Or maybe, they weren’t loved enough, and they’ve come here to avenge themselves. Regardless: They have yet to learn that LA-LA doesn’t give a damn about their personal agendas. Here, time is made of liquid rubber (and it stinks equally). It takes time to make a name for yourself (even if you’ve come here with a name). But first, you have to make a living — and a life.
The beautiful girls, of which LA-LA has plenty: The beautiful girls who lose their beauty here — that’s what they hate this city for. They would’ve wasted their youth elsewhere, it’s true; but then, it least, it would’ve gained them something.
I bumped into one of them the other day: She’s been paying her dues for six years now, just like me; and after endless auditions and plenty of cocktail waitressing, she’s finally earned herself an Under-Five on a some show about Hollywood douche bags.
“Congratulations, love,” I said. “Where to next?”
“HOME. I’m going home.”
The young, heartbreaking boys with low expectations and a high tolerance for deprivation; who sleep in cars in between apartments (because it makes for a great story, once they’re famous) — they think they don’t need love around here. They can do without it, for now: They’ve got time. But when they learn that time is made of liquid rubber, randomly, they start poking around. Poking themselves into any moderately pretty girl who’ll pay attention after enough drinks — and attention. All this random poking into loveless girls — that’s their beef with this city.
“No offense,” one of them shot me a stare the other day as if I were the one offending him. “But there are no decent women here.”
I rebutted quickly and well (I’ve had practice, you see). He laughed, changed his mind (was I worthy of a poke?), and asked me if I had “anything on me”.
“Anything on me?”
“Don’t cha like to have some fun?” he said; then, shot me another spiteful stare. I was just another dumb bitch, who, at least, had the decency to be decent. But he wasn’t after decency, really.
Oh, we’ve all had a share of mistakes here; have fallen prey to douches and scams. But that’s okay. Silly mistakes are okay. Just don’t be stupid. LA-LA is too small of a town for stupidity, because somebody knows somebody else. The word gets around.
Here, you’re always supposed to know a Somebody: Knowing a Somebody gets you closer to your own Somebody-ness. So, you hang on to the few famed ones, drink up from their expensive pool, up in the hills. You memorize the names of their siblings and pretend liking their dogs, just so one day you may say to somebody, over pizza:
“That’s my friend: Somebody!” And you all stare at the face blown up on the screen and feel like you’re ever so closer to having paid your own dues.
And every once in a while, an actual friend of yours — not just a Somebody but a comrade-in-arms — books something big. (This must be the reason why I myself love pilot seasons in LA-LA.) And it’s wonderful. Oh, how wonderful! THANK GOD. And if you haven’t lost the ability for compassion to your own sense of despair, you feel thrilled for her. Because it also means there is still hope; that dreams are not forsaken, in LA-LA.
But then, your friend leaves. If she doesn’t leave for another city, she leaves for a different demographic. You may still have a chance to hang out at her expensive pool, up in the hills; sitting next to the next transient guy, despising this city:
LA-LA has a special talent for transience. But at least, you have a chance to cash in your own big check (after enough time and patience; dues and poking around). And if you’re still with it — at your turn for Somebody-ness — it’ll get you closer to your next dream. Or the next city.