Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's Hot in LA

It was a strange day at the beach, a hot afternoon in late fall when the temperature hovered near 90 degrees and the air was so dry your skin felt stretched over your bones. The only time of year that I hate living here is now, when it's STILL HOT and there aren't any colored leaves to speak of, much less cool and crisp air. It looked like fire over the Santa Monica Mountains but the people who were at the beach in the middle of the day didn't seem to mind. I heard a lot of Russian, spoken by people dressed in that fin de siecle Russian sort of way (I think that when the Iron Curtain was drawn, they must have positively swarmed toward the logoed sequin tee-shirts). I saw an older man dressed in safari clothes with giant black cushioned earphones on, methodically pushing his metal detector over the sand, and lots of naked toddlers with their California bikinied moms wearing floppy canvas hats and huge sunglasses.

Sophie and I walked a little and sat a little. She leaned over and dug her hands into the sand and then she'd stand up and we'd walk a little again. Sophie loves the ocean so much that we say she's actually a mermaid and the reason why she's so uncomfortable on land is that she belongs to the sea. Whenever she gets to the beach and sees it, the edge of the water seems to pull her like a magnet and she smiles, which is rare. Her walk is purposeful and fast and you almost feel like she's tugging you toward it. Like the moon and the tides.

Today, two old men with white, white hair and tan, sinewy bodies walked down toward the water. One of the men had wasted legs and dragged himself with two crutches out into the water to about the depth of his calves. The other guy took the crutches and helped him to sink down into the water until he was on all fours. Then he walked the crutches up to the sand and joined his friend who was slowly crawling out to the water until he could actually swim. When they both reached the break, they started body-surfing. Two old guys in Los Angeles on a hot fall day. What a fabulous sight for the Mermaid and me. Who needs fall leaves?


  1. When we lived in LA I got so bored with the weather that I felt guilty saying it to my friends back East. Now when I don't see sun for 3 weeks at a clip in PA I kick myself for those thoughts.
    So glad you can drink it in

  2. The water and the air are other states of being, I think. Robert, too, loves the water--he's in another state and another element when he's in it, one in which some of his disabilities drop away. He loves to swing--I think of the line from "The Waste Land": "In the mountains, there you feel free."

  3. I haven't been to the beach since August, and I don't miss those bikini moms in floppy hats and big sunglasses. But I do miss that ocean...

  4. When I lived in Philadelphia I was amazed to see grafitti in Cyrillic letters--Northeast Philly has a big Russian contingent.

    I wrote a short mystery story (hasn't sold) set in Venice West of 1959--this post seems to be telling me I need to rework some of it.

    The vignette of the two old guys in Los Angeles was a fine ending to this post. But I love the love the line about Sophie tugging you "Like the moon and the tides."



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