Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Talking Sandwiches--A Day in the Life: Hollywood

So I was in kind of a hurry the last couple of times I wrote, and I fear I may have left out some of the juicy stuff.

I’m in Hollywood right now, hanging out with my Bro and trying not to tie up his phone line too much. See, I’m trying my hand at the job market here in L.A., but it seems there’s no such thing as classifieds in the newspapers these days. So I’m doing a lot of looking online, and he’s raised eyebrows at me more than once today alone. Sorry, Bro.

But anyway, I think I have to backtrack a little to Pamplona and the bulls and all that. The thing is that I didn’t actually see any running of any bulls, which is probably a good part of the reason that the experience was such a pleasant one. I think that if I had witnessed anybody getting mangled I probably wouldn’t feel so happy about the whole thing.

But I was there for the opening festivities, and, like I said, the Aussies made it an incredibly exciting experience. I don’t know what it is about those people. It’s as though being an adventurer comes along with Australian citizenship or something. All the Aussies I met abroad were traveling for 6 months or more (some with surfboards under their arms). When I told them that I would be gone for roughly 5 weeks, most of them asked me questions along the lines of, “Why even bother?” They’ve explained to me that Australia is such an isolated country, and it’s so expensive to leave, that they’re gone for long periods of time in order to make it worth the trip.

So I already told about the smelly bus ride (as in, I was smelly because of the caked on eggs and various beverages), and I already told that I visited beaucoup monuments during my stay in Paris, which was brief but pleasant. I could tell you about my stay with my old pal Renee in the Hamptons, but that was just soooooo mellow that I fear I could lull anybody into a pleasant, dreamy siesta just by talking about it.

I’ll just say that Renee’s house is The Cutest and she was The Most Gracious and Entertaining Hostess and the other friends she had staying (a friend of hers from kindergarten and two Swedes) with her for the weekend provided excellent conversation and the whole thing was wonderfully refreshing. Wonderfully relaxing after the whirlwind travels. That is despite the fact that her septic tank burst (or something like that—I’m pretty ignorant about plumbing) while I was there and she spent about 7 hours dealing with getting it pumped by an Emergency Septic Tank Pumping Company. I actually welcomed the waiting-at-home-for-the-guy-to-come-and-do-his-thing thing. That was part of what made the stay so relaxing.

So that leaves me with Hollywood. Oh, but first lemme just advise all readers to avoid Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris like the plague. I arrived 3 ½ hours early and STILL I was running to catch my plane. Nightmare. Part of the thing was that the security inspectors were moving sooooo sloooooowly. I kept getting frustrated while I was watching them from the line because it seemed that they were just chit-chatting with all the passengers; it was like they were flirting or something because they had these smirks on their faces and all the passengers were smiling all goofily while they talked. ‘What IS this?,’ I thought. But when I got to my guy, I realized the people were smiling and laughing because the inspectors’ accents were so strong (accentuated by the fact that they were speaking through smirks for whatever reason) that it was nearly impossible to decipher what they were asking. Example:

Inspector: What do you do to leave?
Me: What?
Inspector: What do you do for to leave?

(I’m thinking well, I packed my bag and checked out of my hostel and then took the Metro to the RER train to the airport shuttle and now I’m here. But I know that’s not what he means. I just can’t figure out what he DOES mean. I answer just to answer something…)

Me: Well, I packed my bag and checked out of my hostel and then took the Metro…
Inspector: To leave!!! What do you do for to leave???!!!!!
Me: Oh, you mean what do I do for a living?
Inspector: Yes, for to leave.
Me: I’m a student. (I lie to make it less complicated)
Inspector: And who pack your bag?

And on and on. But the funny thing was that, at first, the way he asked questions was so unassuming that it almost seemed as though he was just making pleasant conversation, and that he was really interested in my trip, which is the other reason I think all the passengers were smiling. Because he said, “Where did you go on your holiday?” and I thought he was just passing time while he did the official business of checking my passport. So I said, “Well, I was in Italy and then I went down to Malta, oh and then I was in Barcelona and Pamplona and then I came up here to Paris.’ I was about to pull out my pictures and tell him the story of Sea Malta when he started in with the “What do you do for to leave?” business. The whole thing was just kind of goofy but cute somehow.

Not cute enough to overshadow the rest of the de Gaulle nightmare, though, so be warned.

And Hollywood.

It’s only my first day, but I’m just returning to old stomping grounds anyway, so I feel at home. Except that I think there’s a limit to how much one can feel at home in Hollywood. There is definitely an anonymity about the place. And yes, everyone here is trying to make it. And yes, the smog is yucky poo poo. And yes it’s dirty and somehow sad. But something has me drawn here, so we’ll see what happens.

The best thing that happened to me today was that a human sandwich spoke to me. There was this sign twirler dressed like a big sandwich standing on the street corner outside of Subway. When I walked by, he spoke. It seemed to me that that sort of thing shouldn’t be allowed—like talking sandwiches are scarier than they could ever be effective promotional agents, but that’s just me:

Sandwich: Helloooooooo.
Me: laughter
Sandwich: I know why you’re laughing.
Me: A talking sandwich is pretty funny.
Sandwich: Do you want something to drink?

Silliness. I had just had something to drink, so I walked away without answering, but now I’m curious. I mean, did the sandwich have beverages tucked between his folds of lettuce? Was he giving away free drink coupons with subway sandwich purchases?

Maybe I’ll go by tomorrow to kill to boredom that will inevitably come while I wait for responses to my employment queries.

Bottom lines are that I’m back on American soil and safe and mostly happy save for the sad that has come with the end of my fantastic voyage. I’m currently looking into jobs with travel opportunities. The travel bug dies hard like Malta mosquitoes, it seems.

Love to you all.

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