El Pollo Loco

I was in the mood for El Pollo Loco for lunch yesterday. Don’t ask me why. I just felt like it was time to go back.

So I drove to the El Pollo Loco and ordered the three-piece combo. Oddly, the place was jam-packed. No open tables and the counter was full, too. So I waited by the salsa bar until they called my number, and when I got my food, I scanned the place for empty seats at tables occupied by friendly-looking people.

Being a people person with a lot of experience talking to strangers, I picked a guy in a shirt and tie (like me) sitting alone at a table for two. I walked up and said simply, “Hey, there’s no empty tables, mind if I join you?”

He looked up at me and said, “Fuck off.”

Seriously. I was actually startled by the reaction. I didn’t even respond. I just turned and walked away.

This guy totally crushed my confidence for the day because I went back to the counter and asked them to wrap my order to go. Then I ate the food in my car.

Honeymoon Period

The reason I haven’t updated this week is because I’ve been too busy going out with Scott.

The move was not as bad as I thought. Scott doesn’t have that much shit which is nice and he put a lot in storage. I was worried we’d be at each other’s throats immediately, fighting over using up all the milk and leaving pubes in the shower, but I have to admit, Scott has gone out of his way to be cool.

In fact, we’ve gone out every night this week. Sometimes with Marny, sometimes just with some of Scott’s actor friends. All these guys do is drink, talk about auditions, and hook up with hot actresses. Aside from the narcissism, it’s kind of a cool life. Maybe it’s because a lot of Scott’s friends never went to college, but it sure seems like they’re in a 24-hour party mode all the time.

So last night, we went to shoot pool in this place called Q’s. This one friend of Scott’s, Charlie, has been in a ton of commercials. He’s a good looking dude and he just flirts with every girl he sees. It gets a little embarrassing at times but the surprising thing is how often it works. At one point he started talking to the waitress who was bringing us drinks. She was a edgy looking hot girl with super short (but still sexy) hair. Anyway, long story short, he hooked up with her in the ladies’ room. I know it’s kind of disgusting, and it’s not like I was the one doing it, but there was something cool about hanging out with a bunch of degenerates. Something liberating.

Flurry of Strangers

  • Newspaper guy said hi to me this morning. I asked him why the L.A. Times combined the real estate section with the business section. He said he didn’t know.
  • Talked to another waitress yesterday. She wasn’t as hostile as all the others. She said she was an actress but she was thinking of moving back to Minnesota. I told her it was probably a good idea.
  • I left a note for the mailman. I never see him because I’m at work, so I wrote him (or her) a note to introduce myself. No idea if he’ll write back.
  • I met the check-out girl with a nose ring at Whole Foods. She thinks people who eat meat are assholes but she tries not to say anything all day long.

P.S. Scott is moving in tomorrow.

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.

Gay Guy

Paul and I went to the new mall in Santa Monica on Sunday. I don’t know what the big deal about a new mall is but there were about three million people there.

I mean, it’s nice, but it’s not like Justin Bieber was performing.

Anyway, a guy asked for directions to the CPK and I tried to explain it to him but it was pretty loud in there, so I said I’d just show him. Being a people person, I struck up a conversation. He was from Minnesota, in town for Labor Day weekend, visiting with his boyfriend. Boyfriend? Hello! I was suddenly super interested in being his friend.

Now I am friendly with lots of gay people but I don’t really have any gay friends. I felt like such a loser for being so excited about meeting him, but I swear bagging a gay friend seemed like nailing a supermodel.

I know. It’s 2010. Who cares? But let’s be real. I do. Maybe I am buying into the stereotype that he would have good taste or something. That him accepting me as a friend means I passed some sort of big coolness test. Like I’ve been admitted into an elite club. This whole thing was pretty embarrassing to admit to myself but I was totally into being this guy’s friend.

Paul looked at me like I was crazy but he knows the Project and he must be used to me doing weird shit by now. When we got to CPK, I invited myself to have lunch with them. The four of us hung out, had pizza, exchanged info, and went our separate ways. Michael (the gay guy) said that people in L.A. were the nicest people he’s ever met. I said, “Yeah, we’re all really friendly here.”

Ferrari Guy (Compliments, part 4)

Pretty much everyone who drives a Ferrari is an asshole.

I can only imagine the little shriveled-up penises that drove these guys to make that purchase. But as I pulled up beside a stereotypical Ferrari owner (fat, bald, old), I suddenly started feeling sorry for him. I mean, all he wants is for people to admire him. Maybe have a few hot girls initiate a three-way. But mostly it’s just about someone–anyone–telling him, “You made it, Irwin. You are cool.”

So I decided to kill two birds with one stone and compliment a Ferrari driver on how nice his car is. I rolled down my window and yelled, “Hey, man, sweet ride!”

He just looked over at me, checked me for sincerity, then just nodded. A little hint of a self-satisfied smirk. But mostly just the nod. Like, “I know. But thanks for saying so anyway.”

The light turned green and he peeled out, as required by the unwritten rule of the road that says the nicer car goes first.

I have mixed feelings about this one. I drove off wondering whether it was wrong to fuel his pathetic but fragile ego like that.

Compliments, part 3

1. To the guy at the ticket booth in the garage: “Hey, great song. Who’s that you’re listening to?” Turns out it was Shakira. Don’t get me wrong, I know who Shakira is, but I have to honestly say I’ve never heard a single thing she’s done.

Her music is just not on my pre-sets. But it was all right, I guess. Anyway, he looked at me like I was dumb for not knowing.

2. To the (heavy) woman picking out apples at Whole Foods: “Hey, I love your earrings.” Her response was basically, “Are you talking to me?” but after the initial shock of a stranger talking to her, she smiled and said, “Thanks.” I wish I could convey how blown away she was by this simple little thing.

Compliments, part 1

1. As I step into the elevator to the only guy in there: “Hey! Nice tie!”

Guy’s confused response: “Huh? Oh. Thanks.”

Awkward elevator ride ensues.

2. On the phone to woman in H.R. in New York office whom I’ve never met: “Wow, you’ve got a great voice. You should be in radio.”

Her response: “You are so sweet. You know, I used to be a cabaret singer.”

We talked about that for three minutes before she told me where I could find the personnel transfer form (I’m not transferring out, someone is transferring into my department).

3. To the guy at dry cleaners (not Ramon): “I love your watch, man. Is that a Rolex?”

His response: “Thanks, no, it’s a TAG Heuer.”

I listened to him talk about all the features but I kept thinking does anyone really ever use the timer and stopwatch features on a watch when you can just use the ones on your phone?

All in all, Monday was pretty successful. Still, it’s hard to pull off not looking like a psychopath complimenting someone’s tie in a closed elevator.

Gas Station Guy

So thanks to modern technology, you don’t have to talk to anyone at the gas station anymore. You just pay outside with a credit card. But sometimes I buy a lottery ticket when I fill up (I know, it’s stupid, but it’s a better vice than Slim Jims).

So I went inside and the guy behind the counter was reading a book.

The new me was required to ask, “Whatcha reading?”

He lifted the book to show me. It was “Of Mice and Men.” Seriously.

Now I’m not going to get drawn into some awful stereotype about the average intelligence of a gas station attendant. But I’d be lying if I wasn’t surprised. I read “Of Mice and Men” in high school. Or maybe even junior high. I don’t really remember. But I’ve never seen anyone reading it who didn’t have braces.

So out of surprise, I blurted out, “Oh, great book. It’s a classic. I was totally traumatized when George had to shoot Lennie.”

He looks at me like, “What the fuck, dude?”

It never occurred to me that this was the first time he was reading it. Oops. I guess I should have said, “Spoiler alert.”

I totally turned red. I just said, “One Super Lotto Plus, please.”

I passed a one dollar bill across the counter and he printed out my ticket. I think the law requires him to say “good luck” because he did, even though he clearly didn’t mean it.

I said thanks and got the hell out of there.

The Proverbial Dry Cleaner

I keep mentioning the dry cleaner as the type of person I should be talking to. So when I actually went in this morning to drop off my dry cleaning, it was hard to avoid thinking about it.

I bit the bullet, looked up at the TV they have on CNN all day long, and led with…

“Hey, I bet there’s one group of people pretty psyched about the oil spill in the Gulf– the dry cleaners!”

I thought that was pretty funny for off the top of my head but all I got was a pity laugh. So I asked the guy who’s handled my dry cleaning for the last year and a half, “Hey, what’s your name?”

He said it was Ramon. He already knew my name from his computer screen but I introduced myself anyway. We talked about the oil spill, how his brother has a restaurant in New Orleans, and about how dry cleaning works. Not too deep but he did give me some extra 40% off coupons for next time.

When I pick up my dry cleaning tomorrow I’ll see if Ramon has any thoughts on that city manager down in Bell who was ripping off the whole town.