Do You Know The Way To Ol’ L.A.?
Three vignettes from a recent voyage
By Ed Goldman
I flew to Los Angeles last week with my OSSO (oh-so-significant other) to attend a birthday party for the eldest of her surviving eight siblings, a number of whom also flew in from hither and yon, which I think it would be a great name for a law firm specializing in the travel industry.
It was a wonderful trip. The hotel where we stayed (Shutters, in Santa Monica) is a magnificent resort—and it was running a “special”, meaning I didn’t have to produce a co-signer or first-born child as collateral before I was given my room key. Some observations:
- Our first unassailable evidence that we’re in L.A. presents itself when we have dinner in our hotel’s restaurant. I ask the waiter if he recommends the striped sea bass marinated in miso or the Chilean sea bass. He chooses the latter because the former “includes soy, which affects my testosterone levels.” I wonder: If I still order and eat it, will that also affect his testosterone levels? It seems an awesome responsibility but I do it. LA makes you callous in a hurry.
- The new snack-pack on Southwest Airlines seems to consist of a few tiny pretzels plus leftover croutons from a cafeteria salad bar. Not sure if COVID or a peanut-allergy incident is to blame—but I willingly dig in since it gives me a chance to lower my mask for the first time since entering LAX to board my flight.
- LAX has never been known as an LBT (laid-back terminal, lest you thought this column was about to take the plunge into gender politics). But these days—after its extensive, multi-year remodel, which still has you walking at least a mile from the building entrance to the grope-fest known as TSA, and from there another mile to your departure gate—the place and the employees give off a vibe more prickly Manhattan than sun-sweetened SoCal.
My driver’s license had apparently expired the very day we were checking in for our return flight—my birthday—and this caused one of the check-list scholars who had yet to work his way up the ladder to Grope Patrol to put on his reading glasses and examine it a few times. To be charitable, perhaps he hoped the numbers on the license would change miraculously and he could chalk up his consternation to having bought his cheaters on sale at Rite-Aid. It could have turned the experience for him and me into a Hallmark holiday special—or at the very least, a kumbaya moment.
I said, “I brought my passport” and he replied, “Well, if you’d only brought your passport.” It made me wonder if he’d also bought his hearing aid from a factory-irregulars bin at Rite-Aid.
Knowing this was no time to act wildly indignant—because, in truth, my license had actually expired on my birthday a year earlier—I just held up my passport for him to examine. “Oh, I see you did bring it,” he said, as though annoyed I hadn’t mentioned it.
I had the feeling that he then notified the Grope Patrol and said I might be a security risk. (Since I’ve been a bit insecure all of my life, this would have been somewhat insightful on his part—maybe even enough to get him reassigned to the Grope Patrol. I really was developing a battling-buddies bromantic feeling for this guy, as I’m sure you’re sensing).
They also have new, powerful x-ray machines at LAX (and other airports) and this one showed I had two mysterious spots just below my navel though not necessarily on my liver, which indeed would have caused me (and my OSSO) some concern. Turns out it had illuminated (we like to think) whatever holds in place the mesh from a hernia my surgeon caused nine years ago while saving me from a siege of osteomyelitis. (In the spirit of being a good person, I forgave him. I’ll confess I did so right after a medical malpractice attorney said I didn’t have a prayer of winning a lawsuit against the doctor.)
The whole experience made me wonder if the next step for American airports is going to be the installation of MRIs and CT-Scanners alongside baggage check-in. If so, it may be time for me to place that call to Hither and Yon.