Wednesday, August 8, 2012

California, Day 4, Santa Monica

"Look, Mom! Another man in his robe!"

He's the second gray-haired guy we've seen walking thus around the lobby of the Lowes. Entitled studio execs? Midwestern tourists embedding themselves in LA casual? Or just lifelong Angelenos who live the easy vibe?

Then there are the barefoot girls in bikinis walking around who make me think of John Updike's "A & P" and from there I must go to "Hello (bing) there, you (gung) hap-py pee-pul (splat!)"

A trapeze course on the beach below our window gives us a show, men swinging against the afternoon sun, grabbing ring to ring to ring in wide spiraling orbits.

We rented two tandum bikes this morning, per dear friend Kate's suggestion, and wobbled our way to Venice. Found a couple of picture-perfect streets lined with bouganville, wild gardenia and sweet shingled cottages. Had lunch under the arches of the Sidewalk Cafe in the last of the Venitian-style buildings put up by Abbot Kinney at the turn of the century. Next door was Small World Books, one of those beautiful endangered species of indpendent bookstores with crowded aisles, hand-written recommendations and  a sleeping tabby in the biography section. We got maps and some new Mo Willems and old Jon Muth but had to stop when my backpack reached capacity. Need to throw out some of those theme park flyers.

I've got nothing against Legoland where we spent much of yesterday, well, except for the sexist marketing and the weapons-toting characters, but what do you expect, Cindy? The "factory tour" exhibit made it clear everything there has a Plastic origin. I give them points for being Danish but after visiting three theme parks in two days, my appreciation of the Disney attention to detail is renewed yet again. The workers meticulously pruning trees at our hotel, the guy touching up the scuff marks on the teacup-shaped armchairs in the lobby, the button on our bedside table that turned on a hidden light display of fireworks in the castle scene on our headboard, the Fastpass system that takes us to the front of lines as a reward for merely planning ahead, I love it all.

Not that they have every kink worked out - at our Blue Bayou dinner, despite a lovely ersatz setting under Chinese lanterns and a faux moon occasionally hidden by light projected clouds, three different eager but confused waiters appeared at out table, including one who asked if we were ready for our check before the food arrived. I quibble.

I felt an earthquake last night. It shook the bed a moment or two, long enough to make a widow cry, remembering the way he used to crawl in next to her.

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