18
May

Yesterday my favorite pair of sunglasses broke. As I was driving, the lens just popped right out. Weird – and quite startling I might add.

Once at my destination, I examined them to determine cause of death. My impromptu autopsy results revealed that the frame had snapped. Dammit. How did this happen? Why did this happen? Did I cause it? Did I sit on them? Would it be totally ghetto if I glued them back together?

As you might gather, I’m quite attached to these sunglasses. They me cost nothing – I got them years ago at Target – so I can’t complain that I didn’t get my money’s worth. But they were my favorite sunglasses! Just the right color, just the right shape. They went with everything. Now what was I supposed to do?

I realize that I’m bitching and moaning over a piece of plastic, but this is why – sunglasses are as vital to the quality of life in southern California as safe drinking water or clean air. In fact, they’re more important since we have neither of the other two here in LA. If you don’t live in SoCal, you may doubt the veracity of my claim, but this isn’t some stereotypical LA gripe like complaining that your new highlights make your face look fat. If you think people in LA wear sunglasses all the time just because we’re a bunch of posers trying to look cool, well… Okay, not sure where I was going with that.

Here’s the thing – Los Angeles averages about 300 days of sunshine a year. Simply put, it’s brutal to enjoy such lovely weather when you don’t have a pair of shades on. (Is that not the most obnoxious thing you’ve ever heard?) Case in point – I was driving to meet a friend for dinner last Friday, and while on the highway, the sun was at that perfectly annoying angle where you’re pretty much rendered blind. It if weren’t for my sunglasses, the local news would have reported a pileup on the 405 that evening. In fact, my sunglasses are so important that if I leave my apartment, walk all the way over to my car, start the engine and then realize that I forgot them, I will turn off the car, get out and walk all the way back over to my place to get them.

It’s not just me, though. The quality of life dramatically diminishes for all those left suffering without their shades. Just the other day I was sitting at a light and happened to glance at my rearview mirror. Behind me were this father and his five-year-old(ish) son. The dad looked happy, sunglasses in place, while his little boy was obviously in agony from a lack of proper eyewear protection. By the way, lemme say that I have no idea why this child was in the front seat to begin with. I’m no kid expert, but aren’t the little darlings supposed to be in a car seat until they’re about fifteen? Anyway, this poor boy was helplessly trying to shield himself from the sun, his two little hands covering his face from the intense glare. I swear I was thisclose to calling 911 to report the abuse, but then the light went green and my thoughts turned to grabbing a McCafe before work.

However, I do pride myself on obeying proper sunglass-wearing protocol. What does that mean, you ask? In short, not looking like a jackass by wearing my shades just for the sake of looking cool. My two pet peeves are when people wear their sunglasses either a) in the airport or b) in a restaurant. Whenever I’m flying back from Chicago, I can always tell at the gate who’s visiting LA versus who lives in LA because the peeps who are flying back home always have their sunglasses on. In the terminal. In Chicago.

Then there’s the restaurant thing. Once, I was celebrating New Year’s Eve with some friends at some new, trendy hot spot in LA. It was pretty much pitch black inside with the exception of this fire at the bar that provided the only bit of light in the joint. It was so damn dark in there that I missed my mouth while eating and instead hit myself in the face with a forkful of lasagna. Nevertheless, I caught sight of this dude wearing his sunglasses. In a restaurant. In the middle of the night.

Now back to my eyewear meltdown. I bet you’re just dying to know how this one turned out. Well, I drove straight to Target – and lo and behold – found the exact same sunglasses again! But… I dunno. They didn’t quite do it for me anymore. Ended up buying this super-cute tortoise shell pair instead and went home a very happy (and perfectly shaded) girl. Wow, nail biter. I was so completely drained from that afternoon’s traumatic turn of events that upon my return home I promptly took a nap.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

06
May

As a teen, my all-time favorite activity was going to the mall. I used to make bank babysitting back in those days and would promptly blow my wad on clothes. Had I known then that one day I would be in Los Angeles, I could have invested that cash and now be living the impossible LA dream as a homeowner. I blame you, Dad. Thanks for giving me “independence” and letting me “make my own choices.” Anyway… My friends and I would spend every free moment shopping at Oakbrook or Yorktown until we literally dropped. The pinnacle of this obsession would be those uber-special occasions when my dad would drop us off (pre my driving days) at Woodfield Mall for an entire Saturday. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Woodfield Mall was the bomb back in the early nineties. Once the biggest mall in America, it had everything. You could walk around all day long and not pass the same store twice.

The sights, the scents, the sounds were intoxicating to me. The Gap, Express, Banana Republic… Do any of you remember when Banana Republic was a safari gear store? I still miss those fabulous t-shirts with the lions and/or leopards and/or rhinos and/or maps of Africa on them. If I remember correctly, Woodfield’s BR even had a Jeep sitting outside its entrance. What happened to that store anyway? It used to be fun and cool. Now it’s a slightly hotter version of Brooks Brothers.

But I digress. My point is that I used to love the mall.

As I’ve gotten older, however, my preferences are changing. Case in point – I hate The Grove. For those of you who aren’t familiar, The Grove is hell on earth. An outdoor mall with a so-so animated fountain and completely unnecessary trolley system, it somehow draws in half of LA every single day. The sights, the scents, the sounds are nauseating to me. I don’t even know why I go there.* Okay, sidenote: Who watches TMZ? Okay, full disclosure: I watch it every Sunday night. And every Sunday night, every other clip they show is of some B list celebrity at The Grove. This is partly why I loathe this place. Everyone there either wants to see or be seen. The stores are just a front for the main attraction: people watching.

Don’t get me wrong, though – I love to people watch. I will show up at the airport a good hour or two earlier than necessary just to take a seat and stare down all the very odd people that somehow made it past security and may be sitting next to me at thirty-five thousand feet for the next four hours. I also love watching people in their cars. Why does no one realize that they’re not magically invisible inside their Ford Focuses? I can see you picking your nose, sir! Anyway, I get the whole people watching thing, but The Grove somehow sucks all the fun out of it. For one, everyone struts around like they’re too cool for school. Second, they strut in slow motion. OMG! Move, people! I’m sure that mochaccino is delicious, but can you walk at the same time? Apparently not.

Honestly, though, no one really needs to shop at The Grove. All the big name stores – Barnes & Noble, Victoria’s Secret, Crate & Barrel, um… I don’t even know what the hell else is there – all these stores are just mere minutes away at The Beverly Center or 3rd Street Promenade or The Americana or the eighty-seven other malls in and around Los Angeles. After all, LA is just a city of malls conveniently connected by streets continuously congested by would-be consumers trying to get to the Pottery Barn before it closes. So again, the only reason people go to The Grove is to shamelessly stare down would-be celebrities walking around with their annoying Cockerpoos or Maltipoos or Yorkiepoos or whatever “poo” variety of dog is the new, hot, trendy thing. Get a life, people. Do what I do. Save the gas money and get your celebrity fix on TV.

* I do love The Cheesecake Factory. They make “real” cherry Cokes with grenadine. They somehow lessen the pain of knowing that I just wasted a few more precious hours of my life aimlessly walking around like a zombie with only a new blouse and an empty soul to show for it.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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