Going for a Walk

A year ago, Sunday would have meant watching TV or catching up on work.

I hate the outdoors. I don’t like hiking, biking, or riding on whatever you call those pretentious three-wheel sit-down chopper-bicycles that you see tree-huggers on sailing down San Vicente. But I am such a changed man these days that yesterday I went for a walk.

First, I stopped at Coffee Bean and got a coffee. I hate all the losers sitting on their laptops but I like coffee so it’s a trade-off. The guy at the counter is paid to make small talk, so it doesn’t count that we discussed (for about thirty seconds) how glad we are that the fucking L.A. Marathon is over. Those people make our lives a living hell with all the road closures.

Next I was heading east on San Vicente and stopped at that frame shop. There’s never anyone in there and I always wonder how they pay the rent in such a pricey location. I learned the owner is from Iran. But he said he was “Persian.” I asked him why people from Iran always say “Persian” when there’s no “Persia” anymore. Apparently, Persia was the western name for Iran. It’s a lot more complicated than that, but that’s basically the gist of it.

I had lunch at Barny’s Burgers where there is this cute waitress that I always talk to. She’s told me her name a bunch of times, but I have a mental block and can never remember. But I did remember that she’s from San Francisco and we talked about that. She misses the vibe SF has. She says L.A. is too self-absorbed. I said, “Sorry, what did you say? I was reading a text under the table.”

I headed back to Barrington and stopped at Whole Foods. Saw that nose ring girl and said hi. I think she remembers me. Whole Foods is easy to talk to people in because there’s a lot of stuff that’s confusing, especially in the cheese shop. Asking questions is always a good way in.

Walked home with some groceries. Half-way there I wished I had taken my car, but still…

Hall Pass

Went to see “Hall Pass” last night with Paul.

The movie mostly sucked. There were a few laughs but the Farrelly Brothers were showing their age. Just seemed like a movie from 15 years ago.

Anyway, the movie didn’t start on time and the audience was getting restless. When it eventually did start 20 minutes late, and after 15 more minutes of previews, the movie turned out to be “No Strings Attached.” People in the crowd started getting up to leave. We checked our ticket stubs and we were definitely in the right theater. Pretty soon people were shouting and eventually they stopped the movie, came out, and explained there was a mistake. They would put the right movie on asap.

But a funny thing happened. After all the shouting to the projectionist, and before “Hall Pass” started, people started talking to each other. It was a cool phenomenon to witness if you’re tuned into these things like I am. Strangers were commenting on the fuck-up with each other.

I have found the hardest part of talking to strangers is finding that shared experience to comment on. If and when I do notice it, it is always a perfect in. It has taught me to be more observant and also a better listener. And it was cool to see it in action all around me.

Garage Guy

I was leaving the parking structure in Santa Monica on Saturday night after seeing a movie with Marny.

(We saw The Town. I thought it was stupid and obvious, Marny liked it). It was late and there were no cars behind me so I started talking to the garage attendant in the booth.

“Hey, seen any good movies lately?”

Hey looked at me like, “Who, me?”

I continued, “We just saw The Town. It was okay. But I’m really excited for that Due Date movie. That looks funny.”

He bit. “Yeah, movies mostly suck these days. I don’t know the last time I went to the movies.”

“But you work right here. Did you see Inception?”

“Yeah, that shit was cool.”

I confessed, “I didn’t understand what the hell was going on, but it looked cool.”

Marny put her hand on my arm and whispered, “What are you doing?” That brought me back to reality where people don’t talk to the garage guy.

I wrapped things up. “Next time I go to the movies, you should come with us.”

He laughed and said he would if I bought the popcorn. I didn’t get his name or his info or anything so it was just one of those things you say. But if I see that guy again, I will follow up and really invite him to go to the movies.

P.S. Now Marny thinks I’m a little odd.