Just like Romy & Michelle, I have many fantasies about going back to my old stomping grounds and taking a victory lap.
Like all big cities, Los Angeles is full of transplants obsessed with leveling up. We’re all chasing the dragon of that first high of leaving home. It’s fun to create a mythology whereby Making the Big Move to L.A. changed you as a person. I can divide my life between before I knew the vagaries of transvestite hooking and after. (Note: Not from experience, for goodness’ sake, but from years of walking by the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and La Brea, a.k.a. Crouching Trollop, Hidden Penis.) I’ll take any chance to romanticize the humility of my beginnings.
I further subdivide my time in L.A. by recalling the various neighborhoods I called home. So far, the neighborhood I’ve lived in for the longest time has been Hollywood. I lived there 5 years. In anniversary gift etiquette, that’s the wood year. I achieved Wood in ‘wood! (Note: Perhaps more impressive if I’d achieved Wood in Westwood or Brentwood.)
To paraphrase Cher Horowitz, quoting Cliffs Notes, quoting Shakespeare: Shall I compare me to a song by Drake?
In “Started from the Bottom,” Drizzy says: “I done kept it real from the jump /
Living at my mama’s house we’d argue every month.” With my particle board Hollywood apartment — a dead ringer for Section 8 housing! — I surely kept it real from the jump. Key difference: just like the communal kitchen at work, my mama isn’t here.
But back in Hollywood, I didn’t want for maternal figures. The fabled Orange Drive Apartments (down the street from In ‘n’ Out, Roosevelt Hotel and aforementioned transsexual hooker corner) had a larger-than-life doyenne. She was the kooky landlord Jayne, optimistically named after Jayne Mansfield. Jayne made sure I was fed … by foisting her fuzzy mold-edged ancient takeout on me (I ate it). This Mistress of the Particle Board Palace also saw that I was clothed … by gifting me with duds marked for incineration due to general hideousness and suspicion of bedbugs (I wore them). And she saw to my education. I remember one night a pair of gruff male bandmates moved into the unit adjacent to me. In full ear- and eyeshot of the boys, she proclaimed didactically, “The dark one’s the butch and the blonde one’s the bitch” (I was snarled at by “butch” later).
Anyway, a few weeks ago Deepak and I had occasion to traipse back to the old stomping grounds. In the days leading up, I romanticized the trip. But as some clients of the Transsexual Slatterns of Santa Monica Blvd. will tell you, trips to Hollywood don’t always turn out as planned.