Last year, during the day on New Year's Eve, we went to the Los Angeles Zoo. Mom wanted to for her birthday.
I remember waiting for Mom and Meridith on a bench a few feet across from the women's restroom, after we'd arrived and gone through the entrance turnstiles. As usual, Dad was talking to someone on his cell phone (sounded like someone from Broward County, Florida, one of the people he still knows who works in that school district), and I was looking over the zoo's map and attraction descriptions. I remember there was a "welcome" message from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa printed in the guide, as well as one from city councilman Tom LaBonge, who I guess represents the district the zoo is in. I don't know. I live in a valley where the city council is made up of people elected far too many times, but who will keep getting elected because that's all this valley has. No one else will run because 80% of the population works in Los Angeles, Burbank, even the San Fernando Valley, I'm sure. They live here to get away from those areas at the end of each day.
I sat there, wondering if LaBonge ever thought about his words in the zoo map either after he had sent them to zoo management to be printed in the map, or some time afterward, maybe months, maybe a year later. Probably not. More to worry about in being a councilman, I think. But it's like the apartments in this neighborhood. I wonder if the architect(s) in charge of these developments ever come back to look at what they did, or if the painters come back or the planters or whomever. Either to remember when they were younger, when they did better work, or a bit of satisfaction during a week not going well.
Mom and Meridith came out of the restroom, and we walked the zoo. It was a decent day up to when we got to the monkey cages, and then it got even better.
I've only used "Missed Connections" on Craigslist twice: Once in late June 2008, and once on New Year's Day 2009. Apparently, I'm still a pussy in trying to talk to women. Here's what I wrote for the latter posting:
You: A Blue-Haired Wit, Me: Gaston T-Shirt at the Monkey Cages - m4w - 24 (L.A. Zoo)
Reply to: (The given e-mail address obviously isn't valid anymore)
Date: 2009-01-01, 2:12AM PST
I did it again, and while I will most likely brood yet again over why I can’t simply open my mouth and strike up a significant conversation with a girl I find attractive, I post this, for peace of mind, and naturally in hope of finding the girl who, yes, got away.
I was at the L.A. Zoo on New Year’s Eve, as part of my mom’s birthday. She and my dad were elsewhere for the moment, and I was at a set of monkey cages with my sister, who was looking at one of the monkeys on the left, while I looked briefly at what would turn out to be a common interest between the two of us. I was wearing a t-shirt of Gaston, the brutish villain from “Beauty and the Beast.” I went over to look at the monkey in the middle cage, and there you were, beside me, looking at the same monkey. I saw you a little while before that, walking with your friends, but what you said at that moment really made me take notice. Well, besides your hair being a darker shade of blue that happens to be my favorite shade.
You noted to friends near you about that monkey in the middle holding his wrists. Whether up or in some other manner, I’ve forgotten, as I remember only you being there and wondering aloud why that monkey was holding his wrists in whatever way you noticed. I answered quickly, “Maybe it’s emo,” and after you had considered another reason, you latched onto mine and agreed. Then you mentioned either about this monkey or about our mutual favorite (a monkey in the cage on the right just sitting on a branch, eating berries, oblivious to the world) that it was auditioning for “America’s Next Top Monkey.” I didn’t only laugh at that because I liked your energy, your wit, and your blue hair. I thought it genuinely funny. Unfortunately, I laughed about it with my sister after you had gone. All I had to do was quickly continue the conversation after you agreed with my “emo” remark and maybe we would have gotten somewhere. Boy did I mess up there. Why is it that the events of our past sometimes still stifle us? I guess I’ve never been comfortable with speaking to an attractive woman directly in front of her friends. Bad results in middle school, especially in 6th grade when a girl I had asked to a winter dance accepted, and then after talking to her friends in P.E., came over to me and quietly turned me down. Not a major disappointment, mind you, but how in the heck could that even be a factor when I wasn’t even thinking of that when I stood next to you? Evil subconscious.
Like any writings here in “Missed Connections,” I hope you see this. I want to talk to you again. I want to share that mutual wit again. You were the first person I met in five years in Los Angeles with whom I felt an intellectual connection. But if you don’t see this, I know I will be continually inspired by you, as a writer. You reminded me to be what one wants to be in life, to just take it all in and laugh as you go along. And with blue hair. That brilliant blue hair.
Location: L.A. Zoo
it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
After there had been no replies for a few days, and still none after I reposted it a week or two later, I wasn't leave-me-here-to-slowly-melt-into-the-carpet disappointed; just disappointed that my mind's image of her had blurred.
And now, here we are. Thanksgiving ahead, and Dad's birthday on December 1. Then Mom's on December 31. I don't mind that Christmas was pushed at us by desperate, money-hungry corporations earlier this year. It doesn't bother me anymore. It used to when we didn't have XM Radio in the car in Florida. Heck, this was when XM didn't exist yet, and we got stuck with Christmas music for two weeks before the holidays on LITE 101.5 and MAJIC 102.7. (I'm not sure what Power 96 had in those years, but later on, I'm sure with the rap music format it adopted, it had something like, "Jingle my bells and kiss my mistletoe. That's right, girl. Kiss it sweet." Yes, I'm white. How did you know?) KOIT, my favorite radio station in San Francisco, has two streams available online this year: The Christmas music stream, which is the regular radio broadcast, and the lite rock stream, for those who can't take that much Christmas music in an hour or a day.
I'm shocked, though. I just briefly met that girl. I just posted that ad on Missed Connections. I just reposted it. And now we're already zooming back to that date, in this year? Life goes faster as one gets older, I know. I've also been thinking about this because I didn't do anything worthwhile this year. Yes, I learned to disconnect myself from the hype that Hollywood drowns in every Oscar season. I learned that voting in the Online Film Critics Society awards is a cycle that will never end unless Hollywood suddenly goes out of business, or unless I lose my membership in the organization, which is possible. Not many reviews written during the course of writing this book. But I think I might be happier watching movies on my own terms, not thinking at all about what Hollywood is pushing, and also being able to read more books. I'll still stick with ScreenIt (I get paid) and Film Threat (I still like watching independent films that have absolutely no connection to Hollywood).
That book, What If They Lived?, is a necessary first step in my writing life. It hasn't been completely fulfilling, though, and I'm disappointed in that upon reflection of this year. Maybe I should have written my own essays too. Maybe I should have spent more time writing blog entries. No one really reads this, but it's a personal space that allows me to do anything in words. Maybe I should have indeed read the plays I wanted to read and figure out something to do about that, figure out what play I would want to write first, out of all the ideas I have stored in my "Plays" folder on this computer. Maybe I should have written more about Las Vegas, considering what fascinates me about the city, what aspects of its history I want to learn right away, what I want to do when we get there again and especially when we live there, and what I have done so far there that has satisfied me. I wanted more days like that day at the L.A. Zoo; like that day at Boomer's in Fountain Valley, driving a go kart, then going to eat at Po Folks in Buena Park, then to Downtown Disney; or, better yet, like my birthday, spent at Downtown Disney, then some time at Buena Park Downtown, happily picking through the heavily discounted stacks of books at that temporary, makeshift liquidation bookstore, and then going to Po Folks. Or, that day the 8th graders of Dad's middle school went to Disneyland, and Mom, Meridith and I went along with him. That day with that perfect article in The New Yorker about that university archivist of various authors' things and manuscripts, and that short story by Junot Diaz, both carrying me to the bus parking lot at Disneyland.
I want my writing to satisfy me like those days. I want to sit in front of this computer and feel like I'm doing any of those things. I want better days. I don't want to waste them anymore, like I have already.