Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
“This is so not a walking town,” I told Ryan. “People do not walk in L.A. They drive.”
When I have no idea what I’m talking about, I do this thing where I become very emphatic that I know what I’m talking about.
“I’m pretty sure the restaurant is less than a half-mile from the hotel,” Ryan said.
“These are not walking shoes,” I said, pointing to my 6-inch platform Mary Jane clogs I just bought at Free People. They have wooden heels and make me feel all topsy-turvy like those Russian dolls that fit inside one another. “These are city shoes. Let’s just drive.”
We were in L.A. over X Games weekend because Ryan had his first business trip for his new job, and I decided to tag along.
The trip starts out great because we are on a direct flight out of Aspen, so the plane comes to our house to pick us up. All we have to do is walk across 82, and bam, we are in L.A. in less than two hours.
Listen, I am smart. I know how crazy driving in L.A. can be, so I made sure we got a GPS for our car. That way, we could just relax and enjoy and have nothing to worry about.
Or so I thought.
I love so many things about L.A.: the smell of jasmine and gardenia, the tall hedges and painted stucco houses and rooftop patios. I love that you can get healthy, fresh food just about anywhere and there is a yoga studio on every street corner and you can live your life in flip-flops, leggings and hoodies. I’m always amazed that a city of its size still has beautiful beaches and tree-lined streets and houses with front lawns. I figure as far as city life goes, I’ll take it.
This trip was a bit different.
Ryan had to be at a seminar in the Garment District from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Despite my better judgment, I decided to drive him even though I knew it meant dealing with rush-hour traffic so I could keep the car.
I don’t know why they call it a freeway. They should call it what it is – a prison. I ended up spending almost four hours in the car that first day.
I must have merged onto 10 different freeways, all five lanes wide, all clogged with bumper-to-bumper traffic. I wondered where in the hell all these people were going. Where did they come from? How did we, as a society, get to the point where we’ve created such an elaborate, expensive, dysfunctional mess? After the two hours it took me to pick up Ryan and drive back to our hotel, my nerves were frayed.
That night we met my dear friend Ashley for dinner at Lucque’s, a French bistro on Melrose. Ryan wanted to walk. I wanted to drive.
“Ashley said she didn’t think walking around here would be that safe,” I said, reminding Ryan of the hooker and the strung-out dude we’d seen wandering around earlier.
“You girls are so sheltered it’s ridiculous,” Ryan said. Still, he agreed to drive to the restaurant.
“Turn right. Then right. Drive 100 feet, and turn right,” the GPS chirped.
Frustrated with going in circles, Ryan busted a ballsy left turn across two lanes of oncoming traffic. Now, as some of you know, I have no depth perception on account of being born with a lazy eye. I was so sure those cars were going to slam into us. I screamed so loud my throat hurt for two hours after that.
“Jesus Christ! Shut up!” Ryan yelled. If I looked carefully and squinted a little, I could see the steam coming out of his ears.
I am lucky I found that man and he agreed to marry me because driving with me in the passenger’s seat is no picnic, even when we aren’t in L.A. I just looked out the window and stayed real quiet after that.
“Drive. Point. Three. Miles. And arrive. At destination,” the GPS said.
We were so paranoid we wouldn’t be able to find a parking spot we pulled over and took the first open space we saw, even though we were still like 20 blocks away from the restaurant.
“Isn’t that our hotel up there on that hill?” Ryan asked as I hobbled down the sidewalk in my too-tall shoes.
This is when I really played up the whole I’m-blind-in-one-eye card. “I can’t see that far,” I said, even though I knew he was right. The GPS had sent us in a big circle.
The next day I let him take the car and I explored the area – on foot. It turned out we were just a few blocks off Robertson and the most heavenly shopping a shopaholic could ever imagine. I skipped down the street with glee, with my new sunglasses and freshly painted toenails and expertly shaped eyebrows, arms full of bags splashed with all my favorite labels.
We walked to dinner that night, to Everleigh on Sunset, a hot spot touted for its spectacular patio views and frequent celebrity sightings.
No one told us they’d encased the patio under a tent with heaters everywhere on account of thin-skinned Angelinos who think 65 degrees at night is cold. The closest thing to a celebrity we saw was the bitchy guy at the bar who claimed he was a screenwriter. The place was filled with Hollywood hipsters who seem to confuse trend with fashion, so they all look exactly the same, like clones.
The best part of the evening was the walk home when Ryan said, “It actually does smell really good here.”
I can’t really blame it all on L.A. – I’ve spent my life going in circles. It’s just that now, I’ve found someone who can stand by my side and never get dizzy.