Jess and I had a very relaxing night at the Chez, alternating between spending time with my little cousin, Sevy, and pillaging through my aunt and uncle’s stocked pantry. I don’t know what it is, but raiding other people’s pantries always seems more exciting than perusing through mine at home. If you click here, you can see for yourself that we made the right decision. With full stomachs and a good night’s sleep under our snug belts, Jess and I took off for LA at 9am the next morning. We arrived at my new crib in Santa Monica just in time to accept my mattress delivery, and we spent the next several hours unloading the car and setting up my new life.
We met quite a few interesting characters our first day in LA. While we were unpacking the car, one of my neighbors walked up and welcomed me to the building. His name was also James, and he told me that I was going to love Santa Monica, as it doesn’t have any of the Hollywood stereotypes that one sees in movies. Please keep in mind that James was wearing a blue tank top, he said “dude”at least five times, and he was on his way to go skateboard with friends, so I’m not really sure what stereotypes James was envisioning when he made this statement. He then leaned in, as to let Jess and me in on a secret, which was that “LA is full of hot people.” Thanks for this mind-blowing news, Captain Obvious. And Jess and I are also hot, so what’s your point? Just kidding. James seemed nice enough, but I don’t think I’ll be accompanying him to any skating parks in my near future.
After James’ comment, Jess gave me a quick inspection and subtly suggested that I go get my hair trimmed. Within seconds she was “Yelping” barbers in Santa Monica, and before I knew it, I was sitting in Fernando’s chair at Lincoln Barbers. I had never been to a barber shop, so this was quite the experience. When I first sat down, I explained to Fernando (in great detail) how he should cut my hair to prevent cowlicks from sticking up everywhere. He stared at me with a confused expression, and then he then asked me what my numbers were. I shot a perplexed look right back at him. Just then, an apparent regular sat down in the chair next to me, and said to his barber, “2-5-6,” while he motioned to different spots on his head. I still had no idea what the numbers met, so I just explained, “Please don’t show any scalp.”
For the next fifteen minutes, Fernando had several conversations in Spanish with the barbers around me. Like Elaine’s experience at the Korean nail salon in Seinfeld, I became convinced that the barbers were talking about me. Now people have often told Jess and me that we could pass for Latino, so I thought it was presumptuous of Fernando to assume that I didn’t speak Spanish. Therefore, I did my best to act as if I knew what they were saying by adjusting my facial expressions with every few words that Fernando uttered. He eventually asked me to sit still, so I don’t think that he was buying my performance. Regardless of what Fernando was saying, I have to admit that my haircut looked just as good (if not better) as every other haircut that I have received in my life. Who knew that I could get the same results for almost a quarter of the price? The next thing you know, I’ll find out that the only difference between my Lacoste polo shirts and the generic polo shirts sold at Target is the $1 crocodile emblem stitched on the front.
While I was getting my hair cut, Jess called to tell me that she had just seen Julianne Moore walk past my apartment with her children. Even though Jess previously lived in LA for two years, she never tires of her quest to spot celebrities. Imagine if Lucy Ricardo had had a camera phone when she dined with Fred and Ethel at the Brown Derby, and that pretty much sums up my sister in LA. I occasionally question Jess’ eyesight when she tells me about her various celeb encounters, but I remembered watching Julianne Moore on Letterman a few years ago, in which she described frequenting Kentucky Fried Chicken with her family, so it didn’t seem too outlandish that she would be slumming it in my neighborhood.
The rest of the day, Jess and I ravaged through various furniture stores, in search of the best deals. At World Market, Jess met Mark, the store manager. They became fast friends, as Jess was hoping to negotiate sales prices, and I’m pretty sure that Mark was hoping to negotiate a date. I was just looking for a desk. After Jess introduced me to her new friend, Mark told me that I was a “fool” for moving to LA. He said that he desperately wanted to move to the “middle of the country,” maybe even Arizona. Way to dream big, Mark. He asked me about my career goals, and then he suggested that I get a job working at Bubba Gump Shrimp at the Santa Monica Pier. I thanked Mark for his counsel, and I now had a “Plan B” in case my interviews the next day didn’t pan out. Once Jess realized that Mark wasn’t able to adjust the price of the desk, she was done with him and we were onto the next store. I had only been in Santa Monica for 8 hours, and I had already made a skateboarding friend, gotten a lead on a serving job that I hoped I’d never have to take, and found a barber who might have criticized me in Spanish but knew how to manage my cowlicks. Overall, I’d say that it was a pretty successful first day.