Thursday, August 04, 2011

Thoughts on California - Missive No. 2

I'm really enjoying my first trip to California. I'm in Southern California, near the mountains, the valley, the beach and Hollywood.

I can't help but think about the movie "Pretty Woman" while I'm out here, especially the part with the homeless guy at the beginning and end of the movie.

"Welcome to Hollywood! What's your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don't; but keep on dreamin' — this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin'."

How about that? Hollywood is the land of dreams.

I guess it probably is. I know I dreamed about coming to Hollywood when I was a kid.

Since I was voted most likely to succeed out of my class of 38 in high school, I figured I would go to Hollywood and be some big time actor or producer or waiter, or something.

I never made it to Hollywood. Until this week. And I guess in the traditional sense of "made it to Hollywood," I still haven't. But I did make it to Venice Beach.

Venice Beach is another one of those places you dream about growing up. It's a pretty iconic place you see in a lot of movies. It's known for the beach and the outdoor weight room where all the muscle heads work out, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, and lots of crazy people.

I didn't see the outdoor weight room, but everything else is pretty much spot on.

There's a lot of, what I can only describe as, homeless people on Venice Beach. I could be totally wrong and these people may have great homes in Bel-Air, but they appear to be homeless to me. But man, what characters they are.

The first homeless dude, I encountered was in the middle of a spirited conversation when I happened upon him.

"I swim with the dolphins every morning at 7 o'clock. You have to be careful or they will take you under. I swim about 2 feet under water. Lauren says he swims at 10 feet but he's full of shit …," he says to nobody in particular.

I smiled when I first heard him because I thought he was funny and that he was talking to himself. Then I thought, you know what, he could be just talking on his Bluetooth to a friend of his in Bel-Air. It could happen. Maybe he was recounting the story about swimming with the dolphins to his friend, who was just calling to catch up.

I don't know.

We live in a small world where we are all really inter-connected. We share so much more than similar DNA in this world. We all have the same goals and dreams and wants. I mean they may differ in how we want those dreams to be realized, but in the end we wall want the same things.

Security. Love. Friends. Happiness. We all have that dream.

Everybody. The homeless guy on the street. The housewife in Bel-Air. The shopkeeper along Venice Beach.

My second run-in with a homeless person (again, I'm only speculating here) was with a nice lady in a floral dress with a floppy beige hat.

"Hey, I remember you, young man," she said as she stopped by where I was sitting.

"I'm sorry," I said, running images through my mind of where I might have bumped into this lady — Bel-Air, perhaps? I don't know.

"I remember you," she said again before trailing off and walking away.

I guess I look like somebody she knows. I get that a lot.

It's another example of the small world we live in. I see people all the time that I think, I know that guy from somewhere. Where do I know him from? Where have I seen him? Oh, yeah, that's my uncle.

Anyway, maybe it's not that simple.

The beach is a great place to people watch too. I observed several people having a great time frolicking in the surf and sand.

There was one British grandfather having a great time with his grandkids. The interesting thing was he was completely rocking a Speedo.

I kid a lot about wearing a Speedo, but I usually don't. I have a Speedo, but I find it's best for walking around my bedroom and not exposing the public to what I can only describe as, ewwww.

But this older guy was owning that Speedo. He didn't care if his pasty-white beer gut was hanging over the top of that thing at all. His grandkids didn't mind either. They were having a great time. He was running around like a 20-year-old having the time of his life.
"You're going to hurt yourself," his wife warned him. He just smiled and said, "I know."
Not a care in the world. Just happiness and joy.

Another older couple in their 70s were enjoying each other in the cool Pacific waters.

He was wearing a conservative pair of swim trunks and she was wearing a bikini.

In it, she thought — and more importantly he thought — she looked like Christie Brinkley on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1981. And she didn't look bad in it at all. That's the beauty of bikinis, there's no age limit.

She had her back to the surf and the he had his camera out snapping photos of her as the surf crashed over her. It was awesome.

After the beach, I walked along the strip for a while. I bought a bracelet, looked for a nice hat and watched the people.

Everybody looked like they had a dream. What's your dream? I wanted to shout at the passersby. But I didn't.

I did run into another homeless guy.

"I am not full of shit," he said. "I was swimming 10 feet under with the dolphins. You weren't even there, Tom."

Maybe it was a Bluetooth after all.

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