Friday, March 26, 2010

La-La Land

There are times where I struggle with what to write about. Then there are the times when the entry for the month really just writes itself...let me begin by saying in March I went to LA.

Now, almost every New York resident has an opinion about LA. The fact that the vast majority of us have never even been there really doesn't concern us; we know in our bones that it's an inferior urban sprawl good for Mexican food, bottle-blondes and little else. My personal opinion has been softened by both the large number of friends I have living there, and the knowledge that, should my "acting career" ever take-off, I would be required to spend a significant amount of time there. So I went to visit Brooke, Adam and company on the west coast and let me tell you, New Yorkers: we can be as arrogant as we like, but you cannot beat the weather. Also, if you fly out on Jet Blue, you might be treated to the amazing flight attendant that I had who sniped at someone in the bitchiest way possible to "Speak up! I can't hear you!" which had me giggling like a Catholic schoolgirl not wearing panties on a windy day. If I could have tipped him for it, I would have.

While in LA, I did many things. Most revolved around a strict schedule of get drunk, sleep, repeat, which is similar to lather, rinse, repeat but is much more expensive and somewhat less hygienic. However, without a doubt the most ridiculous thing I did was go for an overnight stay in a little town called Solvang about two hours north of the city. Thursday we piled into Brooke's car and the two of us set out for our destination, which it just so happens is situated directly in the heart of wine country. Brooke suggested it because a) she understands my sense of humor, b) she shares my sense of humor and c) we both REALLY like wine.

Solvang, as it turns out, is a town that sprang up from a Dutch settlement. Now when I say the term Dutch settlement, please don't confuse this town with, say, New York which sprang up from a Dutch settlement in the 1600's. Solvang was founded in 1911 which means that the Dutch "settled" a piece of land that had been part of the United States for more than 50 years. And let me tell you, I will go to my grave believing that Susan Harris, the creator of The Golden Girls visited Solvang while she was writing the pilot script and that the town inspired Rose Nylund's hometown of St. Olaf, Minnesota. I was half-expecting to be offered Eggs Gerfloofen for breakfast and invited to The Festival of the Dancing Sturgeons. Basically, Solvang looks like a Hans Christian Anderson storybook exploded all over it and no one bothered to clean up. There are windmills. Almost every store has a reference to Copenhagen, vikings or both. I was actually surprised I saw no one in a pair of wooden clogs.

One of the places that Brooke and I visited was a small shop called the Jule Hus (pronounced, if I'm not mistaken, as Yule House). The Jule Hus is a delightful corner store devoted entirely to the sale of Christmas paraphernalia. When we walked in we were greeted by the dulcet sound of Christmas March. Now, you might be thinking "A whole SHOP dedicated to Christmas ornaments and the like? That's crazy! There aren't enough things to make ornaments out of to make a whole store's inventory for the actual holiday season, let alone year-round!" Which is exactly what I was thinking...and let me tell you, we're all wrong. As it turns out, the owners of the Jule Hus are not fettered by such considerations as having their decorations actually have anything to do with Christmas. Instead, it looks like they basically walked into an episode of Hoarders, picked up as much crap as they could, threw on some glitter and a tree hook and slapped a price tag on it. Among some of the ornaments that we discovered: a zebra dressed as a referee (complete with whistle), a mechanic holding a tire (with extremely red lips, which led us to believe that the mechanic both female and a lesbian), a 3-D rendering of a Norman Rockwell painting with a child preparing to receive an injection (in the butt, which it's worth noting was rendered anatomically correct with a small crack peeking out of the top of his jeans) and a miniature Coke can (just for the taste of it). Needless to say, the adventure was crowned the moment when, while handling a 12-inch tall model of Santa, I caught my first glimpse of an employee: an elderly woman, dressed in traditional Dutch garb. Picture an over-sized, poofy white blouse under a bright blue dress, with colorful stitching to bring some excitement. I dropped Santa, and needed to give myself a time-out.

After our holiday adventures, Brooke and I got dinner; since Solvang is a small town, everything closes at approximately sunset, which left us with nothing to do but retire to our room at The Royal Copenhagen Inn and start into the various and sundry bottles we had purchased. It's important to note that, because of our early dinner we didn't real feel much of the first bottle. However, neither Brooke or I are particularly known for our high alcohol tolerance...once we got through about half of the second, things were looking considerably more hazy. We ended up watching The Marriage Ref on NBC...take it from us, host Tom Papa's laugh is so irritating you can't even pay attention to the completely unqualified celebrities offering questionable advice. We decided to practice a few songs for karaoke the following evening, offering our renditions such classics as "Does He Love You" and "Bad Romance," and yet somehow managed to not garner a noise complaint. We dove into a third bottle with gusto and somewhere around 3/4 of the way through with that drunkenly passed out in our beds at 1 o'clock in the morning.

At approximately 3 AM in the morning, I woke up having to use the bathroom. I can't say exactly what my decision making process was at that point, but suffice it to say that the idea that there was a bathroom in our hotel room did not cross my mind. Wearing pair of gym shorts and nothing else, I blithely walked out of our room into the 45 degree night, onto the second floor balcony. I wandered around for a moment or two, quite frustrated that the inconsiderate architect of the building had not made the public bathroom obvious. I couldn't say how quickly I realized that there was an easier way for me to take care of business...I'm going to be generous and say it took about 15 seconds. Deep down, I'm pretty sure it was closer to a minute. However, even this realization didn't faze me...rather than having a moment of "Oh, hell, what am I doing," I calmly returned to the room and found that by some miracle the door was open. I walked back in, did my business and passed out. The whole event was so common to me that when I woke up I wasn't even 100% sure it had actually happened which led me to a realization: while I enjoy being jaded about most things, I'm not certain that stumbling around drunk and mostly naked is something I would like to be blasé about. I feel like it leads to headlines and sex tapes.

After we returned from Solvang, our adventures continued. I sang karaoke, which is something I only do under the influence of a great deal of liquid courage. I ended up doing "Midnight Train to Georgia," though I sometimes forgot that I was supposed to be Gladys Knight and would slide into the role of a Pip. Brooke and I went to go see Cats, which had been the first musical for both of us many years ago. Turns out that Cats is not only a bad musical (which we knew), but is also chock-full of sexual imagery, including a feline orgy to round out the first act (which we did not). And ultimately, I landed in NYC out $600 as a charge for my own rampant stupidity, since I apparently can't tell the difference between March 21st and April 18th when booking a return flight. And making that reservation is pretty much the only thing in this whole post that I did stone-cold sober. You can draw your own conclusions from that...I'm going to choose to believe that I'm meant to have a delicious bottle of wine with me at all times. Even when not on vacation.

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