Welcome to California.
If all your contact with the outside world is mass media, or, say, you’re an alien from space, seeking information about earth, and your research dart on the globe hit the USA, and you began, sensibly enough, with mass media –you would surely presume the only places IN America were…
New York, and California.
Because EVERYTHING on television, in movies, etc., is located in: you guessed it. NY or CA.
Naturally, when the opportunity flung itself like a blob of goo to head west with my two daughters to the flipside of mainland America, I figured: hmm? Why not see life as the extraterrestrials – I mean, Californians – do?
I kid, I KID.
Actually, this time I DO kid, because if you happen to be reading this…
Don’t you just HATE when writers write: “If you happen to be reading this?”
Talk about “author intrusion,”* which, of course, I’m doing now in a MAJOR way, but for some reason, I am egomaniacal enough – or feel strongly enough about this point – to have the nerve to think I can get away with it.
Duh. Of COURSE you happen to be reading this; if you WEREN’T reading this, you wouldn’t be READING this: the author’s SENTENCE that says, so very stupidly, “if you happen to be reading this.”
Why THANK you, Captain OBVIOUS.
(How do you spell “AAUGHHH?”)
I can’t STAND it when people don’t give other people the credit for the most BASIC intelligence. Or when they refuse to exhibit the most basic intelligence of their own, and simply swallow and regurgitate clichés.
Sorry. That’s just not thinking “out of the box.”
(That’s a joke. I am SO hoping you all got that….)
Anyway, tirade over, now that I’ve “intruded,” my job as a writer now is to suck you so hard back into the work that you forget about me again. So: forget me, move on without me, save yourselves….
To get back to Californians: if you’ve been wondering where all the nice people in the world have gone; if you’ve lost your faith in humanity, you’ve been betrayed, you can’t seem to find a kind soul in a cold-hearted world, no matter where you look…
<can you hear the swelling orchestral strings…?>
Get your ass to northern California.
…has scooped them all up in a giant net and deposited them HERE.
Of course, the New Yorker in me wants to warn you: I’ve only been here a few weeks, so they COULD be putting on an devastatingly good show (California, Hollywood, Oscar…), and I SHOULD keep checking my back for knives…
But honestly, if these folks aren’t genuinely nice, then I’ve landed where Ira Levin got his idea for The Stepford Wives, because everybody – and I do mean everybody – walks around with a light step, a friendly smile, and an open outlook.
This is either the Cosmic Galactic Nexus of Benevolence, or these folks are gobsmackingly realistic test robots for Disneyland’s newest animatronic attraction.
They’re cheerful and concerned for others in a state with a bigger unemployment problem and more housing foreclosures than New York.
And, unlike New York – and particularly unlike, say…oooh, I dunno, GEORGIA, they are warm and inviting to strangers. Even strangers who come from scary and disreputable places like New York. No one here has prejudged us at all.
(At least not to our faces, where it counts. As far as I’m concerned, I’m with Oscar Wilde. Let people say whatever they want behind my back; I’ll worry when they STOP talking.)
These folks are even charming and positive in an area located less than – well, my guess would be, less then twelve inches from the Sun.
I can’t seem to figure it out. We aren’t any closer to the equator (although maybe we’re WAYYYY higher. As in, we’re astronauts. Californunauts.)
When they say “sunny California,” they aren’t just whistling Dixie.
(Side note: having made a side trip on the way to visit family in Rocky Plains, Georgia, I know what I’m talking about when I say “Dixie,” too.)
The sun is so strong here I carry a bottle of water around with me nearly everywhere I go, wishing I could haul a tank around, like someone on oxygen. I never realized what a deliciously humid state New York actually was.
Someone PLEASE let me know what moisturizing cream I need. I’m going to look about 45 years old in about 45 minutes. In another 45, I’ll look 90. As it is, the jar that used to last me six months is half gone.
In fact, Californians are SO friendly, that in a recent trip to a music store (I was rescuing a guitar I’d discovered that had been criminally abused) I got to joking with the owner, who began to tease me – and then somehow, things got a little weird.
Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ve probably caught on: I’m not someone you want to DARE.
Play chicken with me? You’re pretty much guaranteed two totaled cars.
So when I jokingly said: “Well, then, I’ll just have to get one big, fat, sloppy kiss,” never in a million years thinking he would take me up on it – for no one in their right mind in New York would take that phrase as ANYTHING but, er, symbolic, when the music store owner said something along the lines of me not having the nerve…
… Well, what could I do? Apparently, he was calling my bluff – or thought I was bluffing. I had my entire state’s reputation to defend.
It was only later, perusing my copy of The Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual, that I remembered that those of us with a little too much tomboy in them have to be wary of dares and the like, and that boys will steal kisses when they can, particularly from impulsive redheads.
So I called his bluff back, and dashed over boldly right behind his workspace, again, never dreaming his own oncoming car would not swerve.
Yet swerve he did NOT, and put his arms around me, and kissed me like Bogart kissed Bergman in Casablanca.
Careful to keep my New York cool, I then shook his hand and said:
“How do you do? I’m Elizabeth. And your name is?”
“Larry,” he said. “Welcome to California.”
Author Intrusion (also sometimes called, literarily, “authorial intrusion” – I don’t know why they like the extra two syllables, but professors sometimes do…) is explained nicely here, at about.com:
Have you ever read a book where the author suddenly jolted you out of the storyline with a comment that just doesn’t flow with the rest of the work? That’s an authorial intrusion. Sometimes it works, but only when it’s done by a master storyteller/writer.
Authorial intrusions are of substantial length (not just a brief aside in a novel) and they are addressed to you (the reader).