Monday, October 13, 2014

Encountering Ellison

It was my first day in Los Angeles, which was bad enough, and I had a dull headache from the seven-hour flight out of LaGuardia, but  my luggage had made it in one piece so that was something, and the sun was shining and that was something, too. I got my rental car, tossed my bag in the trunk, and pulled out onto open road.

It was a time when only the rich and famous had GPS systems and I was neither. My mobile phone, like everyone’s mobile phone, was only good for making phone calls. But I had Harlan’s map on my knee and I figured he was better than average at everything else so why should giving directions be any different?

I figured wrong. Of course Harlan would say I just don’t know how to follow directions and maybe that’s true, too, but either way I ended up lost in Sherman Oaks.

If you’ve never been to Sherman Oaks, imagine long, narrow, treacherous ski slopes covered in blacktop that slant at 90-degree angles and turn on a dime at breakneck speeds if you’re doing better than 7 m.p.h.  Stop your near-vertical vehicle on one of those perilous inclines to ask the occasional jogging passerby for directions and you’re just as likely to hear, “No problemo—turn right at Richard Dryfuss’s house” as “Sorry, buddy, I’m just visiting.” So I was frustrated, but it was still sunny out and I did have that good-for-phoning cellular, which was indicating a whole two bars of range. So I dialed the Oracle.

“I’ll guide you in,” said Harlan after I explained my dilemma. And he did just that, turn by turn, over hill and dale, until I found myself riding my breaks down what seemed like an endless drop, fearful that I’d hit a bump and go flying, then fall off the face of the earth.

By now I was hungry and thirsty and the headache had gone from a throb to a thump. I needed a drink and I needed to pee and my ears were beginning to itch. Ahead of me, in the middle of the road, was a site that assured me my eyes, too, were off kilter.

“Are you still there?” I asked the phone.

“Yeah, where are you?”

“I think I might be on your street but it looks like there’s there’s an old lunatic in his underpants standing in the middle of the road, talking on a phone.”

I pulled up to the man and rolled down my window.

“Fuck you,” said Harlan.

1 comment:

Marc McKenzie said...

Oh man, I think I ruptured something from laughing so hard at Harlan's response. Thank you so much for this. Best wishes to Harlan for a full recovery.