City of Dreams, Hall of Mirrors, Closet Of Wrong Clothes

9 Mar

IMG_0199Every day of every week, Dear Reader, I feel wildly new. And old, and lost, and found. Strange. Happy. Sad.  I’m a children’s book of emotion–at the age when one is supposed to be moving into a  settled wisdom, content understanding, indeed, enlightenment (Ithaca is continually voted by Utne Magazine  Most Enlightened City in the U.S., an oxymoron if I ever heard one)– I feel five. Selling Juice Detox down Charleville Street, just off Beverly, and wandering around Rodeo Drive–as A Former Something Looking For Some New Thing, (or a Chanel bag?) my  over-riding thought has been:  people look different here.  OK,  you don’t need to be a brain surgeon, plastic surgeon, or even juice girl to have observed that.  It’s a cliche and well known fact that the Body in Beverly Hills is  God-forsakenly good looking:  The Dick Tracy and Katherine Hepburn jaw lines,  the taut, tan skin, the blazing white teeth, the long, smooth hair, runaway runway legs, the tiny, gym-y butts. And those are just the dogs.IMG_0161

The M.O. of the body here is not as it is in Ithaca, where B. O. is OK because we just came from Bikram’s, and deodorant and perfume are For Republicans, and where being vegan isn’t about sex appeal, it’s Just What We Do in Our  Patagonia, Carharts, Smart Wools, and  Stiff Rubber Thigh High Boots (which are about actual snow actually encountered,  five months of the actual year).  And those are just the dogs.

These days, at the juice store I have to concentrate on thinking about the ingredients of Green Dream Vitality Smoothie  or the health benefits of goji  berries and maca in order to keep my jaw closed as the parade of bony svelties traipse in and out like a Vogue spread,  sloe-eyed and pony-tailed, carrying purses that cost what I make in many moons, wearing 7-inch heels that look like they were designed by Bosch if he’d been commissioned by Neiman Marcus. Another part of the style/ethos involves straps–leather ribbon-y things between fingers, over shoulders, and around thighs that make me think my customers just engaged in S & M  and forgot to or don’t see the point in taking off  gear before walking outside.   The naturalization of  strip tease performative sexuality should make the Ithaca Me blanch, and begin Judith Butler discoursing.  Instead, I am Blanch, coveting something that isn’t mine, wouldn’t be right…and, I’m too old to boot (the platform, pointy red suede boot.) But I love it, I want it,  I strain to smell it. A Juice Bar Named Desire.

“Good Morning! Bee Pollen with Serenity, right? Is your clutch Alexander McQueen?”

With the male customers I am more detached, since understanding them is not an option in City of Green Dreams, and I enjoy just standing next to guys I’ve seen in Hermes ads. (I already know what they look like in their underpants.)  I talk to them about de-toxifying (you and l know we’re talking intestines and colons. So, like–there I am talking colons with Mr. olive-skinned, marine-eyed Adonis in the ad with the boat and Gorgeous White Bikini but he looks like he’d rather be running with panthers, flying with Eagles. . .or, possibly talking Clean Colon with me.)

Amidst the world of physical uber-perfection,  I stand out. And firmly believe, in my quaint flat shoe-ed way that I am appreciated for not quite fitting in.  The Beautiful People of Beverly Hills often ask, “WHERE are you from?” which I take as a badge of honor, or something.   As for the dogs, their little tops are cuter than mine,  but in this hood, a well-timed spill of dehydrated Kale Chips solidifies most relationships.

Two final sartorial and physiognomical (nod to Henry James) observations, one specific, 0ne broad. To wit: 1) The Beverly Hills Crotch. They’re not like in Ithaca, or perhaps anywhere. The way these folks wear pants is just better. A treatment of some sort, right? The men? Things under the jeans seem to be holdng together neat, and arranged just so. Fearful symmetry, Blake said–about something else, but he was never in BH. The female package? Well, it’s just sort of all there in the ubiquitous black leggings/second skin lay-out. A look that is not my cup of tea (icky metaphor), but out here, that’s how it’s played from Kim Kardashian to Jodi Foster (saw them both in ten-day period) so call me crotchety crotch observer.

The show-it-all female Wicky Wangle leads, to wit:  2) What I Love About The Body in Los Angeles. It RULES. It Plays Dress Up in Over the Top Girl-ness and Boy-ness (in West Hollywood and elsewhere this does not correspond to one’s so called actual gender) and Acts Out. Full Disclosure: I’ve worn a dress at night that my mother would have labelled Cartoon Whore. Having worn mostly sensible academic clothes for the last twenty years (said mostly), I’ve earned a costume or two; it’s my mid-life crisis, and I’ll Wicky Wangle if I want to.

I feel about five. I dress about 20. Healthy Body Image? You betcha. You should see my colon these days.IMG_0208


6 Responses to “City of Dreams, Hall of Mirrors, Closet Of Wrong Clothes”

  1. kwasson2012 March 9, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

    Reblogged this on lostandlaughinginla.


  2. nic March 10, 2013 at 2:34 am #

    Ain”t real life a wonderful story!! See you at 7 for a drive and dinner and hope you’ll be sporting a leather ribbon-y thing between your fingers, over your shoulders, and/or around your thighs! Marcus will love it!


  3. Elizabeth Sachs March 14, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    I’m enjoying this vicarious ride, Kir! I like the way you’re liking it–helps me revise my tight-assed, snarky memories (Sitting at “The Ivy” and saying “All these men are identical,” and my friend remarking “Many of them have the same plastic surgeon.” Etc.) I remember that specialness of appearance. Definitely an L.A. thang, and not a No. Cal. thing, where it’s still special but more like Ithaca. I used to think it was a bit like being On Leave in Star Trek, where they’d beam down to a planet where folks wafted about in caftans or togas, wore string-y things around their fingers and wrists and ankles (and probably thighs) and gazed at James T. Kirk with eyes as blue and blank as calm summer seas. Or Children of the Corn (No–there’s that snark again. I’ll keep reading you, and revising my memories. Hard, because they’re on my mental hard drive. But possible, given your prose).


    • kwasson2012 March 15, 2013 at 3:13 am #

      Thanks, Liz. I really hope you will visit me out here. I think I’m staying! On Leave in Star Trek, yes!! It is crazy and strange but somehow not alienating. It helps to be 51. And it helps to have felt like an alien in Ithaca for 21 years! (I wish I’d discovered Buffalo earlier!) Miss you, and really appreciate your reading–you are probably my most savvy reader Hope things at work are OK? And I’ll bet snowdrops are up; what have you read/seen/played lately? xo k ________________________________________


  4. Robin Botie April 1, 2013 at 12:52 am #

    I guess I better start working on my gym-y butt and jeansskin. I’d hate to get out there and discover I can’t even keep up with the LA dogs.


  5. maw14747 April 8, 2013 at 12:56 am #

    What a great read. You identified something I’d only vaguely noticed and had never put into words: the LA crotch! Men…. women….dogs too.


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