Car(e) Free Los Angeles: The Wong Sans Wheels Chronicles #2: I CAN ROCK A SHOPPING CART

August 17th, 2008 → Leave a comment

Last night, my friend Greg came by to comfort me in my new car free existence. Greg is a dancer/ performer and doesn’t even have a driver’s license. Yet he performs all over town, parties and does all sorts of stuff in Los Angeles with no car. I think this car free life will mean I will be entertaining more around the apartment, as people will have to come to me more than I am able to come to them. I cooked fish for us and we drank wine.

Already, being car free has reintroduced alcohol into my life. I had two glasses of wine before my audition yesterday, in fact. It feels very New York to me to be able to drink at all hours like this and not worry about how I will DRIVE myself home or leave the house to go out. This is also why I had decided I couldn’t be a permanent New Yorker– because three Long Island Iced Teas a night and drunk dialing my parents from my Brooklyn sublet is funny for a week, but not a way of life.

We watched my UCLA commencement speech on DVD. It just arrived in the mail. I had a hard time watching myself on the DVD. Did you guys know that I have the strangest voice in the world? Where did the Midwestern thing in my voice come from? From growing up in San Francisco? The edit of my speech looks great except the sound source from my mic doesn’t match evenly with the non-mic’d reaction of the audience— so it almost seems as if all my jokes are landing flat. I swear there was laughter that day! I swear! It doesn’t help that when the cut goes to the graduates in the audience, that they just wave to the camera and smile instead of looking extremely involved with my amazing speech.

Greg and I took the bus to the Promenade (only .75 cents each!) and walked to Venice to go to the Roosterfish (the local gay bar). Greg taught me how to pack for these night ventures sans car. No packing a purse or wallet, instead, just the basics were carried in his pocket– cash, credit card, ID. And I put my phone in my pocket.

We were walking and walking and walking to get to Venice. At one point I screamed out, “I don’t know why, but I feel homeless right now!” It was kind of unreal (mostly because I was tipsy) to experience so much Los Angeles by foot for function, not leisure. I felt like such an outsider with no big machine to go back to at the end of the night when I walked by all the obnoxious frat people on Main St. This car free thing is making me feel like a college freshman all over again. Like I’m rediscovering the world for the first time, from a new and more vulnerable space.

I was such the enabler at the Roosterfish thanks to the two long islands. At one point, I demanded reparations from a cluster of men, and got $2 from them. I put the money into my underpants and later handed the bills to Greg to pay our tab. I also kissed a couple of the gay men. Neither of us seemed to really enjoy it, but it was funny and that’s what matters. And at one point, this one guy told me to feel his boyfriend’s package from outside his pants. And who was I to say no?

A few times I’d spot two men talking together and scream, “Give him a kiss! Give him a kiss!” And the response more often than not was, “Sweetie, we’ve already fucked like ten times.”

At one point I had a huge cluster of men around me adoring me and hugging me for being so awesome (apparently, I was hilarious). Despite their love, I kept demanding reparations from them in one dollar bill increments. This one guy who is a hotshot hairdresser offered to cut my hair for free in my kitchen. And outside, Greg was nursing some guy who kept punching his fist against the wall because he was mad that his boyfriend was flirting with other men.

Me and Greg took a cab home (it is possible to hail a cab in LA, btw). We stopped up the block from my apartment for the world’s worst tacos and managed to freak out the cooks without trying to freak out– we were just trying to order. I woke up in the morning on the living room floor and “The Room” DVD was playing on the TV. I crawled to bed. Greg was passed out on my couch with his hand in his underpants.

What is the point of this story? To show you that not having a car in Los Angeles is bringing out new kinds of social depravity I never knew I was capable of at my age.

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Today was my first Saturday being car free. I put little flyers up on my neighbors’ doors telling them I was car free and renting out my carport for $90 a month. That’s right! I now have some valuable real estate on my hands. If someone rents it… that’s $1080 a year! Enough for 108 Long Island Ice Teas at a mid-scale bar. If nobody uses the carport, I will set it up with a hammock and read poetry.

It also took me a good two hours to psyche myself up for running errands via little black shopping cart on Santa Monica Blvd.

So there I was, pushing this shopping cart down Santa Monica Blvd to go get kitty litter and toilet paper from VONS and also to check my PO box. It was getting hot. The gridlock of cars on the road is overwhelming and it feels totally vulnerable to be one of the few pedestrians walking on a big boulevard packed with moving cars. As I am dragging all my belonging in that little hand cart, I found a remarkable kinship with other Angelinos pushing shopping carts– homeless people, Latino families, older people, and people who talk to themselves.

Did you know there are people in Los Angeles over the age of 50? Yes! You can see them if you walk along Santa Monica Blvd!

Anyway, so I’m kinda checking myself out in the reflection of all these store windows and checking out how silky my black hair is and how tight my little body is in my sundress and the cart is bumping along behind me.

I’m thinking: “Hot damn! I look good for a girl pushing a shopping cart down Santa Monica Blvd! I bet I’m the hottest girl pushing a shopping cart in Los Angeles right now.”

As the big wheels clunked up and down the squares of gum stained pavement, my hotness was confirmed with a nice long whistle from a homeless man crawling (on his hands and knees, no less) in the street.

That right America! I push a shopping cart filled with kitty litter and toilet paper down Santa Monica Blvd. and I look damn good doing it.

Category: The Wong Sans Wheels Chronicles

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