Saturday, May 8, 2010

Giving Tanks

(This is a continuation of the entry Ain't That A Mother)

I suppose it was the universe’s little joke when I got to the Hertz location at LAX and looked around for my car in the President’s Circle and found waiting for me a vehicle as big as my ego. All of the sass disappeared from my walk and I crumpled like a trailer in a tornado. Suddenly, looming before me was the largest SUV I had ever seen. It was a Lincoln Navigator. It seats seven comfortably. It probably sleeps seven comfortably too. I am pretty sure as a kid I rode on smaller school buses. In a moment of panic, I almost went in to the counter and insisted on a smaller car. However that is always a pain in the ass and they were just being polite trying to upgrade me.

It was just ironic that on my last trip to LA, they gave me a Prius and this time, I was handed the genetic opposite: a thundering thirsty mastodon. Of course, last time it took me thirty minutes and a dutiful scan of the owner’s manual in the parking lot just to figure out how to drive the Prius, so perhaps my issue is not so much the cars they give me, but instead the fact that I am just not a very good driver.

Times have been tough since my heyday in Hollywood and jumbo SUVs have been getting a bad rap. Gas prices have been high, the environment is in a shambles. Just this week, a massive oil spill in the gulf has dominated the news. This is not the moment to tool around town alone in something four times the size of my little convertible at home. I felt self conscious as I drove down the street, the wheels barely fitting inside the white lines on the road. “I’m not an asshole. It’s a rental,” I wanted to call out to what I assumed were astonished locals, shaking their heads in deserved disapproval.

Driving was hard enough but parking it was virtually impossible. I was staying over the weekend at Cyd and Dan’s apartment. Cyd runs a gay website called and Dan is a dentist. They are the poster gay couple straight women everywhere dream of befriending: handsome, professional, toned, and charming. I met them both in Manhattan and last year they packed up and moved west to a smart two-bedroom apartment in Hollywood right on the key’s edge of West Hollywood. It is a neighborhood known for its Russian immigrants, hunky joggers, and the elderly but not for its generous street parking. Last year I had trouble squeezing the Prius around. I didn’t know what I was going to do navigating a Navigator that was almost twice as long.

Opening the door to the Navigator, I discovered that a sideboard automatically rolled out from under the monster. Stepping up into it using that extra helper really only ended up making me feel like a delicate lady. I thought barreling down the road in the vehicular equivalent of a beer can cock was supposed to engender the opposite feeling. Instead of feeling powerful, I felt dwarfed and overwhelmed, and whatever masculinity I had left seemed drained from my body.

As it turned out, the insanely large SUV was a wealth of comedy gold. Joking about it was the only appropriate thing to do. Later in the evening when we went to Dennis Hensley’s Mismatch Game, I parked it far away from the other cars in a lonely stall, the oversized wheels giving a generous bear hug to the white line dividers. Later at the West Hollywood parking garage that used to be a switching station for Ma Bell, I joked about slipping into a space marked “compact” and reflexively ducked my head as we drove under a beam. In a way it is emblematic of how I feel about LA itself. The city so wants to be taken seriously, but it is all so ridiculous, that it is just not possible. But it makes for a good story though.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sow nothing, reap nothing.