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Seven years ago tonight, my friend Jay and I moved to LA. We got off a plane and took a cab to a motel at Hollywood and La Brea, which we thought was the center of all that was happening in Los Angeles, partially because it was close to the Walk of Fame. We joined a long line and ended up seeing a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live, and later realized that our motel room had bloodstains on the bed sheets, bullet holes in the wall, and a condom wrapper in the trash.
Last night I looked at the clock in my friend’s car as it passed from 11:59 on Halloween to 12:00 on November first as we were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on Hollywood blvd. We were not going anywhere. I googled what had happened and we found out that some people with some guns had fired at the crowd, wounding 3 of them. The street was shut down from Cahuenga to Highland, and people poured onto side streets dressed as sexy cats and Mario Brothers and “I added sunglasses and a hat to what I wore today because I’m lazy,” clumsily stumbling toward their cars or a bar or somewhere that wasn’t being evacuated by riot police.
We had two strangers in the backseat, Tiffany and Danielle. Hitchhikers, essentially. They’d seen us get into my friend’s car and asked for a ride, and we said yes. We were driving sexy lion tamer and sexy Hamburglar (she was really just a regular burglar but adding ham to it is way funnier) to some party we couldn’t get to because a major street was shut down and we’d never picked up hitchhikers before but why not, right? It was Halloween and they weren’t wearing enough clothes to conceal a weapon and my friend had just told me that she wanted to get into some weirdness.
After a certain point, we gave up on trying to circumvent the blockade and they offered to give us their numbers so we could call when we parked. They wanted us to come to the thing they were going to, but we said we were going home, because police blockades and beanbag guns are kind of a buzzkill. And on top of that, my friend was yawning and I had work in the morning. They tumbled out of the car and high-heeled off into the night. It was a few hours later that my friend found a whip in the backseat of her car.
I would have been more determined to get to that mythical other party, but if LA has taught me anything, it’s that the next weird fun thing is right around the corner, and sometimes literally. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I lived anywhere else, but I have to think it would involve fewer left turns and surprises. And I used to hate surprises, but like a lot of things, that’s changed over the last seven years. Here’s to however many more years doing however many more things in this weird, confusing, terrific place. And here’s to people with guns not firing them into crowds of thousands of people. That’s the real takeaway.