As everyone within 100 miles of Los Angeles knows, this weekend is Carmageddon, i.e., the shutdown of the 405 freeway.

The spillover onto the surface streets means it’s going to be gridlock everywhere. Most people are staying in the whole weekend, which is actually kind of nice. I don’t have anywhere I need to be this weekend, except there’s one problem: Chloe lives in Sherman Oaks.

To get from Sherman Oaks to Brentwood (or vice versa) may in fact be impossible this weekend. That’s why I have proposed to Chloe a novel idea: we are going to have a sleepover. That’s right, Chloe is moving in. At least until Monday.

We have a lot of activities planned. Movie marathon, dog park, game of Monopoly. Maybe we’ll even make S’mores on the stove. She has to go to the adopt-a-pet thing on Sunday but I’m wondering if walking around exclusively without any driving will enhance my opportunities to talk to strangers. Stay tuned…

Cheesecake Guy

Went to see Bad Teacher with Chloe at the Arclight in Sherman Oaks (because you can reserve your seat–totally worth it).

The only bad thing about the Galleria is that there are very few places to eat and no stores to browse in. So left with few choices, we went to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner before the movie.

Now I’m not one of those people who decries chains like the Cheesecake Factory as symptomatic of the decline of society. All things being equal I’d probably choose somewhere else, but the food is actually pretty decent. The problem with the Cheesecake Factory is that everyone else in the world seems to think it’s a fine dining experience and that makes the place too damn crowded.

We put our name down and were told it would be a 20-30 minutes wait. I was ready to bolt, but Chloe is more patient than I (by a factor of 93) and said we would wait. Of course, there’s nowhere to sit down, just a massive crowd of people waiting to get seated. So I made the best of the situation and turned to the guy next to me (wearing a Lakers jersey) and said, “I should just wait until they beep me and then sell my beeper to the highest bidder.”

He thought that was a good idea. He said, “Yeah, you could come here every night and auction off your place.”

“Sounds like a great business plan,” I replied. “Like we stand outside yelling, ‘I got a table for 6 in five minutes, table for 2 in ten, who needs a table for 8? I got a table for 8 and it’s beeping right now!'” I acted out the ticket scalper routine which he seemed particularly familiar with.

The bit ended and I turned back to Chloe. She was looking at me a little oddly. She said, “Do you know that guy?” I said no, I was just making conversation. She said, “You know, I’ve noticed that you talk to strangers a lot. Like when we were in Vegas you talked to that guy at the roulette table for like an hour.”

So I made a decision. Over the course of dinner, I told Chloe about the Talk to Strangers project. (I didn’t mention the blog. Baby steps.) She thought it was a cool thing I was doing. Especially when I told her that’s how I met her.