A Life Lived in Shorts


Charlie BrownIt is a strange day in southern California when you wake up and the temperature reads 46 degrees. I’m not complaining, I spent 40-plus years in the Midwest and I still visit there regularly and prefer the softness of the air mattress over the possibility of being banished to the back porch to “suck it up and be a man you California wuss!”

Because we are wusses. People who are native Californians will try to tell you there are seasons here, but the sun does strange things to your head so I think it’s just the long term effects. I have never seen a more fearful expression on a human being’s face than when a young woman asked me what winter is like, she was considering going to Northwestern University, and I said “do you have any idea what a wind chill of twenty five degrees below zero feels like.”

The horror crept into her face the way a smile creeps onto the face of a Scrooge. She had to let it seep in, she had to calculate the fact that she probably has to wear a heavy coat when it hits 50 here so how many layers were required to insulate her body from that temperature. Now that I think of it, maybe her face looked that way because she was trapped in a math loop carrying the decimal.

But you see “business casual” in Los Angeles means shorts and a t-shirt. So it is just strange not to don that in the morning. Yes, yes, I know you’re going to react with “come on!” I’m just saying that I love a life lived in shorts. Easier footwear selection, easier to wash, you never even consider ironing shorts, and one pair of khakis goes with everything. And it’s just what I’m used to.

Really that’s all. It’s just what you’re used to. And we want it perfect. When it’s cold, people want it warm, when it’s hot people want it cooler. The fact is, we’re all wusses.

But…I wrote a blog on Tuesday about how my inner Christmas jukebox only plays two songs and this morning I’m humming “White Christmas.” And it’s probably all due to the cold.

I Miss the El

The difference between the public transportation systems in Chicago and Los Angeles is like the difference between something that’s very organized, convenient and efficient and something that is, not. Now it’s not all the Metro’s fault here in Southern California, it is a very spread out city and there is not the same Loop of Chicago’s downtown. So things don’t bleed into it as nicely from all corners. But there are some rather silly inconsistencies.

To Pay or not to Pay

The platforms of the lines here are all open, there are no turnstiles to pass through in order to access the trains. And the ones that they do have downtown are not locked for admission only if you pay. So really it’s on the honor system. And let’s face it, the honor system probably last worked in the time of Lincoln and that’s just because he was a good role model. But then again he was poor as a kid, so he probably jumped a train or two in his youth as well.

There are signs posted that there is a $250 fine if you’re caught without a ticket. Which people are caught all the time. I don’t know whether they get that fine or not, I do know that there’s not enough LA County sheriffs to monitor all the lines all the time and since I always see them writing someone up, I’m guessing that they’re only catching a small percentage of the offenders. Not that I’m complaining, I pay but I’m sure there’s a lot that can’t and they have to do what they have to do. As well, you have to pay on each line, unlike Chicago (and I think New York) where you get on one line and then you can transfer. Makes more sense to me.

But That’s Not What I Miss

But this blog is not about politics ((unless it’s funny (wait it’s always funny)) or public transportation, this is about the funny side of life. And what I miss most about the El (sorry, short for elevated train if you don’t know) is not the trains or the convenience or the expense, it’s the girls.

You see, nearly every morning during the Summer while I lived in Chicago, I would go to Einstein’s bagels on Southport Avenue, get my Powerbagel with peanut butter, and watch the women going into the station to g0 downtown to work.

Chicago only has a small window when you can see tan bodies; thin straps on golden shoulders and gorgeous legs in a skirt or summer dress wearing flip-flops until they have to change into their work pumps. It would brighten my day and give me the energy (the bagel helped too) to then ride my bike twenty miles along the Chicago lakefront where I could see more skin in bikinis and running shorts. Summer in Chicago is outstanding!

And then there’s the Blue Line

So now I’m in Long Beach, where one would think you could see the gorgeous girls every day of the year boarding the train for work. Nu-uh. Not quite the same scenery.

The equivalent here where I might be able to sit and enjoy a coffee (they have no bagel place downtown) also borders the park. And by park I mean Homeless Fields. It seems to be the main sleeping area for the city’s homeless and so in the early morning hours you are treated to the sights of the smelly and dirty (please excuse me, I’m sorry you’re in that situation, but a stinks a stink) and the grumblings and hangovers of those just waking up or still asleep.

Even just getting on the Blue Line in the morning hoping to catch some attractive women going downtown to work is not the same. You see, Los Angeles’ downtown is not the same as Chicago downtown. That’s not where everyone works; they work on the west side in the film and television industry. So you’re more likely to see a woman wearing skimpy clothes who has no business wearing skimpy clothes and I don’t see how they think it looks good. You see, California is a tease, but that’s tomorrow’s blog…