August 7th, 2001


I went to California and all you get are lousy journal entries.

On with the vacation recap.

Shortly after I wrote on Thursday, Dale and I headed to the beach. Of course, the one day that we were able to devote to bumming around on the sand was cloudy and a balmy 68 degrees. From the appearance of the locals around us, I could tell that this was unseasonably cold weather, as they were all dressed in jeans and sweatshirts. Maybe it was because the air temperature was so low, but my hopes of submerging myself in the Pacific for the first time were shattered once the first wave of wake rolled over my feet. I’m sure to an observer, I must have looked like one of those cartoons when they put their toe in the bathtub and ice rises from the water covering their whole body. Disappointed but undaunted, I returned to my towel and took a nice surfside nap.

We were set upon by a flock of sixteen-year-old boys, acting as cool as they could with mom around, who chose to set up camp not two feet from us. Taking our cue, we went back to VJ’s, dusted off and went for a walk to downtown Manhattan Beach and the pier. The Strand, the road to downtown was lined with beachfront houses, each one more artsy and outstanding than the next. We bummed around the downtown for a while, headed back and got ready for dinner. We ate at a local Mexican place and since VJ had to work the following day, Dale and I were on our own for the night.

We started off at Sharkeez, the barely-21 trust-fund-surfer-dude hangout, and after a few we headed over to O.B.’s, which we were about to promptly leave until I noticed something in the corner of the bar. Stout and proud, O.B.’s had a photohunt game. You will all be pleased to know that Team Pantload is now represented on the west coast, with a nice run of the top six scores on the O.B.’s machine.

We struck up a conversation with Brian, the bartender, who if you have ever imagined a salty older beach town bartender, Brian’s your man: long gray hair in a low ponytail, Hawaiian shirt barely buttoned, gray beard, and as an added bonus, he’s a fan of the Big Lebowski. As it turns out, his wife recently left him for a doctor that lives in Morristown, NJ, where the three of us grew up, and said he’d stop by for a visit when he’s up there kicking him some doctor ass.

Enter the town drunk. Lisa steps into the bar soon after we began talking to Brian. I have spent a total of three hours with this woman and here’s what I can tell you about her life: she’s 48 years-old; has two sons, 16 and 17; does nails out of her house but not hair; collects furniture from people’s trash to paint and decorate; and she had a breast reduction two years ago to bring her down from a 36G to a 36D, but hasn’t been laid in four years. Lisa made a pass at Brian every 75 seconds. Then she told us jokes that I think have legitimate punchlines but when coming from her they were more like “How do you piss off a whore?” “You don’t pay her”. Lisa said we’re the kind of people that she likes to hang out with, so after Brian let us stay at the bar a half hour after closing time and gave us each a Pilsner Urquell souvenir pint glass for the road, she took us next door where Gregor the bartender filled us with beer and shots simply because we were in the presence of a legend. She gave us her number hoping we’d stop by to get our nails done before we left.

Stumbling home, Dale and I were quite proud of ourselves that we had meshed so well with the locals so quickly.
  • Current Mood
    tired tired

A day at the park

After combating the impending hangover with a brimming bowl of Corn Flakes, we decided that Friday was going to be devoted to doing something touristy and amusement parky. We considered going to Disney, but figured it wasn’t something that could be done in one day, so we opted for Universal Studios. The ride in was the first time I had seen any other part of California outside of the airport and the beach (which was good, because I was starting to think that California was nothing more than a big beach town). Universal Studios and the mall that encircles it, City Walk, are in a huge complex on top of a hill that, as I learned on the Studio Tour, are part of an individual city complete with a mayor and a fire department. Sunnier than the previous day but not quite as cool, it was a perfect day to be at an amusement park.

It wasn’t quite what I expected. Most of the attractions weren’t actually rides but stunt shows and 3D displays. I’ll spare you the boredom of talking about all of the rides we went on, but it was the perfect tourist day. There was a Terminator show that featured a 20-minute Terminator movie with Arnold, Linda Hamilton and Eddie Furlong. I had seen the making-of special on TV, so it was especially neat to see that (the making-of said that the biggest problem they had with shooting it was disguising the fact that in the ten years since T2, Eddie Furlong grew to a healthy 6’1”, dwarfing the 5’10” Austrian Wonder), and listening to the German tourists behind us as we left the theater mocking Arnold’s accent was even more of a joy. They also had a Mummy Returns Chamber of Doom, a haunted house style place that was a great time. Even though I knew that there were going to be things jumping out at me, I screamed like the girl I am every time they did.

We took our sweet time leaving the place, popping into as many stores as possible. I finally bought the required boxer shorts; I got Rocky and Bullwinkle ones with pictures of all of the characters on the leg parts and the words Rocky and Bullwinkle repeated around the waist. I was pleased to discover that thanks to the placement of the seam on the back of the waistband, it says Rococky and Bullwinkle on one of them.

After Universal Studios we headed to Hollywood, drove around looking at people and stuff and stopped off to check out the walk of the stars and the Chinese Theater. We were all pretty beat from the day at the park, so we pretty much just hung out for a while, had some pizza and headed home.
  • Current Mood
    good good