Julie Blows Her Cover

I went to The Grove last weekend and paid eleven bucks to see a movie, eight bucks for a shrimp po'boy at that great Cajun place in The Farmer's Market, and twenty-two bucks for parking. For an additional three bucks I could have parked on the street and taken the expired one-hour meter ticket, so it's nice that they give you the option.

Granted, I parked at the fancy valet that looks like you could be pulling up to The Beverly Hills Four Seasons. They have couches, coffee tables, magazines and Tiffany lamps, and naturally they're going to want extra for that. There were only nineteen spots left in the regular parking, and the wait was estimated at half an hour, which would have meant missing the entire first trimester of Knocked Up. Either way, valet parking was a bold choice, since I've recently filed for unemployment, and my friend B. quit his sensible, well-paid job to find himself.

Living below the poverty line here in Hollywood, we are strangers in a strange land skulking around under cover. Since we are both loquacious, alarmingly overeducated and impeccably well-dressed, it's not much a challenge for B. and me to pull one over on our would be peers living the life that somehow eludes us. Passing muster with the ever suspicious help, however, is another matter. A guy who knows desperation when he smells it doesn't appreciate you masquerading around as one of them when you're really one of us.

I sensed I'd been made right up front when the valet made me an offer on my car. He was one of those fast talking young Latinos with a future in either high end auto sales or the ministry. I'm pretty sure he wasn't having this conversation with the drivers of the Mercedes and Lexus SUVs lining up all the way out to the curb for a crack at one of those monster salads at The Cheesecake Factory and a quick buzz through the housewares department at Barney's.

No, it was definitely the dented, 1998 Civic hatchback my mother passed down when she bought herself a new hybrid that gave me away. You have to roll your own windows up and down, so I shouldn't have been offended by his lowball offer. He seemed somehow hurt when I politely declined it, as though he couldn't imagine any other reason I'd be in this neighborhood if not to make a quick cash sale of my most valuable personal belonging.

In retrospect, my biggest mistake was laughing at him out loud, brushing him off and going back to my really important conversation with B. about Steven Spielberg's choice to support Hillary Clinton for President over Barack Obama. Three hours later, when I went to retrieve my car from the enormous, high-end operation, defying all odds, the same valet hopped out. He'd adjusted all the seats and mirrors and was listening to a festive Tejano station on the stereo. He'd either taken it to the car wash and asked for their cheapest air freshener or spent enough time driving it around town that his own cologne--I'm guessing an Aramis knock-off he picked up at Rite Aid--had perma-stamped his signature fragrance throughout the interior.

He seemed disappointed when I offered proof that I had indeed been able to pony up the colossal sum for the parking, as if my failure to do so might have resulted in his ownership of the vehicle by default. B.'s generous tip only added injury to insult. Taking my keys from him, I looked directly into his eyes, something people rarely do in this town, and I felt a twinge of guilt. While I have a dream to cling to like a life raft, bobbing up and down in this ocean of endless possibility while patiently awaiting my rescue, any number of equally deserving folks never even make it off the boat.


  1. Hey, HE has a dream! He wants your car!

  2. He's probably an actor, Julie. With dreams as big as the Hollywood Bowl and no claim whatsoever to human pity.

  3. Anonymous6:08 PM

    Pithy, observant, mordantly funny, self deprecating and poignant all at the same time as usual. Bravo!

    The very hardest part about living in this town is that your frame of reference is completely blown out of whack! We live in a tiny bubble and think this is the world. It warps our financial aspirations, our political point of view, and worst or all our self perception.

    Our bi-racial lesbian neighbors borrow sperm from, and share parenting with, their gay chiropractor and we only wonder where they got the cool stroller. We fool ourselves into believing the country is an unbigoted, gay-friendly, progressive place.

    We live in lovely home and drive serviceable cars and pity ourselves because "everyone else" lives in a mansion and drives a Benz. National Geographic once published this great of global happiness chart. In a nutshell, the shortest pathes to contentment are living in a cultural that values family life and joie de vivre over shopping malls and designer handbags or moving to a poor neighborhood where you are "the rich one"! Unfortunately most Southern Californians are in the top 10% of wealth but rub shoulders saily with the top 1% and feel deprived. At least we've got the sunshine . . .

  4. Wait so it's not a compliment when the Valet makes an offer on your car? I thought that was just proof that my 21 year old ZX was so much cooler than a Jag. Dang.

  5. I came here prepared to be broke but nothing prepares you for being Hollywood Broke.

  6. Broke but never broken, my friend. Thanks for writing.

  7. hey, just returning the visit, and i must say you've got a great thing going. your blog is hilarious, and i love it!

  8. Anonymous7:23 PM

    while walking out of the Aladdin... I mean new Planet Hollywood Hotel on the Vegas Strip, one of those time share idiots came up to me as I put on my sunglasses and tried to walk around him. He said "Hey, Mister Spielberg, I know it's you, you can't ignore me"

  9. The important thing is, did he offer cash to co-finance your next project in exchange for a walk-on for his bimbo?