I Have Stayed Too Long in California

I have stayed too long in California. It is time to come home. I have overstayed my welcome in the TMS (“Too Much Sun”) of California. We have sun in the Southern states. We get enough sun to be happy, but we can still think, for the most part. We know what is odd and who is odd; and we tolerate them. I am beginning to suspect the constant Los Angeles TMS has caused brain damage. Readers may recall that I made reference to the phenomena last year—except it was happening to other people, not me…

Why do I suspect this? It happened last night. I elected to stay home from a meeting because it was too cold to go outside. It was 59 degrees and with the wind chill factor, it was a chilly 58 degrees… I turned up the heat and stayed home. Living in Los Angeles makes the South look sensible. My blood has thinned from the constant sun and I am losing all remnants of logic.

A person can stay too long in L.A. This is particularly true when your birth place is below the Mason Dixon Line and you are fond of exaggeration. We have always encouraged individuality in the South, but in California even the most bizarre individuals simply blend into the crowd. While Southerners are prone to flights of fantasy, the citizens of Los Angeles live in a world of fantasy.

When you drop a Southerner into the Western Culture known as California, what you get is overexposure. My friend, Debbie, is an excellent example of what can happen to a Southerner who stays too long in the LA sun.

Debbie is a former beauty queen from Atlanta and a former member of the Rejuvenating Society of the Virgin Phoenix (RSVP). Many of you have met these RSVP ladies. In college their misdeeds and adventures were legend–for never having really happened–even though, they really happened. For example, it didn’t count because she had her fingers crossed instead of her legs; it didn’t count because she still had her boots on; and it didn’t count if she had been sleeping.

Debbie’s age is somewhere between thirty-eight and fifty-three. For years Debbie has told me that she has never married. Recently, we shared a long lunch and she confided in me that she was married once in Las Vegas, but it didn’t count because she doesn’t remember the ceremony. And further, she confessed, “I did marry him one more time when his green card came up for expiration or something, but that didn’t count because it was also in Las Vegas. “It all seems like a dream, anyhow,” she added, “I look at it as a long engagement.” See what I mean? Debbie has stayed (way) too long in LA Sun. She is definitely afflicted with TMS.

Another reason, I suspect, that I have stayed in Los Angeles too long is…
I no longer stare at women wearing the combination of hot pants and sheepskin boots. These fur boots are worn in January and July; in 60 degree weather and 100 degree weather. Having stayed too long, I can, also, select five women from any crowd who consider their primary physician to be their plastic surgeon. In L.A., Botox is sold on street corners.

For instance, you can walk into any of the hundreds of restaurants in Los Angeles and ask for sweet ice tea, but not one will have it on the menu. You can dine on sheep’s head, octopus, or sweetbreads, but never enjoy a tall glass of sweet iced tea. However, there will always be on the table ten different types of sweetener and each tiny little packet will be imprinted with the obligatory note: no harm was done to animals in the development of this product.

In West Hollywood, a city within Los Angeles, you can purchase whips and chains for your own personal amusement, but it is against the law to chop off a puppy’s tail. I think that makes sense. If someone is crazy enough to enjoy being beaten, they deserve to be beaten. But the puppy does not volunteer for the knife. His tail is cut off without his permission.

In Los Angeles, backyards, if you have one, are the size of postage stamps. But this slice of dirt and grass barely larger than a single car garage will be maintained on a weekly basis by three Latin men and two Japanese gardeners. It will be landscaped to include a palm tree, two Japanese maples, an abundance of tropical plants and a cascading waterfall. The lawn could be mowed with an electric razor or clipped with scissors. The scissors method would require ten minutes so is usually considered too time consuming.

The final reason I need to come home is because whooping cough is on the rise in California and, I caught it. Recently, I visited my doctor for what I thought was a cold. During the appointment she decided to run a blood test for whooping cough. A week later she called to notify me that the test was positive and that she had turned my name into the Los Angeles County Health Department and the CDC (Center for Disease Control). I am now on a first name basis with the nurses at the County Health Department and they have informed me that adult whooping cough cases are on the rise in California, which means it will soon be on the rise across the country…

You would think a woman with three, used, white wedding gowns would slide effortlessly into the culture of Los Angeles, but it is all too much for me. I am coming home to NASCAR country where professionals are paid big bucks to drive fast and fishtail while driving in circles. Drivers in L.A. will do it for free. In this “All about Me” place known as Los Angeles, there are no rules. Los Angeles makes the South look like the home of good sense, sound thinking and compelling logic.

— From Ferry Tales, a monthly column by Judy Rozzelle in the Mt. Island Monitor, Huntersville, NC

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