My night begins with 3 cancellations as I drive downtown. Gonna be one of those nights, huh?
1. But then a hip-but-not-too-aggressively-hip young Asian couple see my mustache and flag me down. I pull over and tell them they have to request a lyft through their phone before I can let them get in. He does so and they climb in. They are going to two separate parties, him for a friend that passed the bar, her to a party for a friend that didn’t pass. They cheerfully tell me that they only had 1% power left on their phones and were just gonna take the metro or walk and I’m amazed how relaxed they are. Not worried about getting a car, not worried about their phones. It could have easily turned into a couple argument. You forgot to charge your phone! I can’t believe we have to walk! You’re never prepared! etc. etc. But instead, it all just works out for them. KDAY, the old school LA rap radio station, is on. The guy knows all the words to every song.
2. A 20-something Indian dentist bummed about UCLA’s loss to Arizona(?) earlier that day. He’s going to a friend’s birthday party near West Hollywood. He doesn’t know who David Lynch is. Twin Peaks? You don’t know Twin Peaks? He looks blankly at me. Sigh — kids these days.
3. Three young white dudes, calculated scruffy with crisp collared shirts untucked and hair allowed to grow a little long, going to Greystone Manor. I ask them what’s going on there? “We’re gonna try to get laid!” The one in the backseat pipes up, “I just want a hand job from Rihanna. I don’t want to sleep with her tho. Just a hand job.” I tell them I will say a prayer to St. Onenightstandius that this will be so.
3. A Latino couple just finishing dinner at Barney’s Beanery. He’s from San Fran, she lives here and is doing an internship in clinical psychology — they’re doing a long distance relationship. They are going to her place in Encino. First time in Encino. It’s not technically that far but it feels emotionally far. That’s my thing about LA — it’s not the mileage, it’s all the different areas you drive through to get somewhere. Hollywood, Silverlake, Laurel Canyon, Beverly Hills, Studio City, every area has its own distinct feel. So by the time I get across town, I feel like I’ve time travelled, I’ve seen the ghetto, I’ve passed by mansions, I’ve driven up a mountain, I’ve driven down, oh it’s walking Jewtown, then it’s restaurant row, then it’s shiny, one shouldered dress central. No wonder people don’t leave their hood…
4. I get a request from the Burbank area. I go there. It’s the Forest Lawn Cemetery. I call the guy. Turns out he’s at the West Hollywood Gelson’s. #lyftlocationfail
5. Another #lyftlocationfail. I wind my way up to the top of Beechwood Canyon, near Moby’s famous house, Wolf’s Lair. No dude. Nothing. Crickets. I call. His phone is dead so it keeps going to voicemail. I honk lightly. After all it is 1 am. I call his name out the window. Finally I get him. He’s at the bottom of the hill on Franklin. Ug.
6. I am back at Greystone Manor. I pick up two females who are going home, back to where I picked up that trio of dudes. Oh my god, I say, I just did a pick up there earlier, and there was a cab in front of me with a bunch of girls getting in… Ooo that was us, they squeal. It turns out they were friends with the guys and all went to Greystone together but there were too many people for one car. I ask if the guys got laid. Oh god no, they reply and roll their eyes. I guess I didn’t pray hard enough.
7. Now it’s late. Now people are sloppy. I have a pick up at Palihouse but it takes them 5 minutes to get in the car. Three guys get in, they wait for two girls, one guy gets out to retrieve them, finds one and brings her back, now a guy has to smoke a cigarette, finally last girl shows up but that’s five people so I tell them they have to get another car so two guys get out to follow the blonde. Here’s your SAT math problem: how many people are left in my car?
8. A Korean girl and her Taiwanese boyfriend. They ask if I’m Korean and are surprised that my English is so good. Funny how from a white person, I’d be offended but from them, it just seems like an observation. She tells me that Taiwanese men are a good match for Korean women who are apparently known to be hot tempered, materialistic, and hard to handle. Yup, that’s me. Burberry scarf, Gucci bag, Camry. Whatchoolookingat?
9. So close to home but I take one more call. I go to Echo Park where there’s a car with its headlights on. A dyed blonde kid with his 80s paint-splotched cap askew gets out and tells me I’m going to take his sister and her friends home. Three incredibly drunk blondes slowly stumble out of his tiny car like some circus clown shit, each one drunker than the other. They’re going all the way to Westwood, which is not just emotionally far but far far. They stuff themselves into the backseat and arrange themselves like sleeping puppies, heads lolling back, and don’t make a peep for the entire trip. When I arrive, I wake them up. They blink slowly and smack their lips, confused. They try to gather their things as they stumble out of my clown car into the night. One blonde turns to me, “I really liked the music.” I didn’t know she was listening. It’s a sweet note to end the night on. Literally.