That’s soooo Hollywood.

Hollywood

It’s that time of year again.

On Sunday, the world will spend at least 7 hours focused on Hollywood and the movies. People will plan meals and cocktails around the Oscars, many will dress up and more will start the event early in the day watching the Red Carpet announcers try and remember the stars’ names. They’ll ask that most important question, “Who are you wearing?”. Just once I’d like one of them to instead ask, “What the hell are you wearing?”.

Every year at least one person from out of town asks me if I am going to the Oscars. As if distance is the only thing that’s preventing them from going.

Others find this event the appropriate time to mention their 6th degree of separation from one of the honorees. “My college roommate’s uncle used to date a girl from Vassar. She was in Meryl Streep’s class.” This is said softly with a discrete nod.

Personally, I like to celebrate the Hollywood moments that happen daily in this town of tinsel. You have to listen and watch carefully as they are performed without a blink. Here are some of my favorites.

At Party City, a Mom and her little girl and boy:
Girl: Ooh, look, a piñata.
Boy: A piñata’s a must.
Mom: Let’s not over-think it kids.

Two young women shopping at Whole Foods:
Woman 1: I’m invited to a Tapas party on Saturday.
Woman 2: Ew. Isn’t that like being told to eat before you come and expect cheap wine?

At the Malibu Farmer’s Market:
’50’s B Movie Star: What are these things called?
Farmer: Avocados.

On Melrose:
Pedestrian 1: Can you hold my dog while I go in for a wax?
Pedestrian 2: Okay, but I don’t have time for a Brazilian.

At Mitsuwa Japanese Market:
Guy: Should we get some fresh fish?
Girl: You never know if it’ll be good. I’d rather have sushi.

These everyday snippets are what make L.A. for me. They are the unforced, natural manifestations of a free-spirited life unsullied by what others think.

Will I watch on Sunday? Heck yeah. I’ll cheer and criticize and pass judgement on every nuance of a flaw I spot. After all, I’m only human.

Deconstructing The “Little White Lie”

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We’ve all heard them, and probably said some of them. Those polite little phrases and idioms that are anything but. In fact, they are delivered with a neon sign that says, “I’m lying to you, but I’m doing it politely.”

Finally there is a quintessential guide to the true meanings of these “little white lies”. Not since “What’s up, Tiger Lily?” has a translation been so precise.

“Let’s agree to disagree”
“You’re wrong but I don’t feel like arguing”
“With all due respect”
“You are an idiot”
“Just between us”
“I’m going to tell you something benign and you’re going to divulge a dirty secret”
“You never know”
“Pigs will fly first”
“Have you done something different with your hair?”
“Good God, I hope this wasn’t intentional”
“Don’t take this the wrong way”
“Stick your face out, I’m going to verbally slap it”
“Far be it from me”
“I don’t judge, wait, yes I do”
“My two cents worth”
“I’m going to ‘wow’ you with my false humility”
“You haven’t aged a bit”
“You’ve aged A LOT”

COMING SOON: The Little White Lie Translator App!

You give yourself away with accessories

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My Mom gave me that cautionary nugget way back when my accoutrement pretty much amounted to a Ponytail Barbie and her travel case. When a year later I was given her pink Corvette, well, I walked around with my head held up high, strutting all 3 1/2 feet of me. While this revealed my preference for heavy eye liner and a French stripe bandeau maillot, I was still able to maintain an air of mystery throughout the 2nd grade.

Today is a different story, sadly the Art of the Reveal is gone. We have so many ways to tell people about ourselves with accessories that we no longer have to even open our mouths. Let’s start with the basics.

Printed Tee Shirt:
1. Where I went on vacation/drinking/sports or music event
2. What I like to do/eat/listen to/watch on TV
3. My sexual preferences/innuendos “I Just Did It”
4. How stupid I am or all of you are

So now that you’ve introduced myself, let’s add some layers.

Ring Tone: Forgive me, but there are just some places where I don’t want to hear “Let’s Get It On”. The gynecologist’s waiting room comes to mind.
Smartphone Cases: In spite of all the technological breakthroughs that took us from a brick to a credit card-sized device, people seem to want to take a step backward and add a bedazzled case, or a purse with a strap or belt clip, a leather Harley Davidson pouch or a beer-themed case with a built-in bottle opener.
Pets: Animals provide a billboard for a whole other dimension to one’s personality. The type and breed are really secondary to its accessories. And their owners have a built-in “out”, they can disassociate themselves from the choices. “What?? They’re called doggles, he really loves wearing them.”

I could go on, but you get the point. With all this outward display, one has to wonder if these are reflections of an actual personality or just a private label version of a Kardashian.

I think it is time to pare down the visual and audible cues, to spend time developing and evolving from the inside out. Which is not to say that you shouldn’t wear short shorts while walking a Pomeranian, it just means that is all you’re giving up without a proper introduction. And at that point, as my Mom also advised me, “use your words”.

I think I just did.

Why Women Rode Sidesaddle

Sidesaddle

I know, this may not be a burning question in everyone’s mind, what with Bridgegate, the Flotus turning 50 and the scarcity of salty snacks in Denver, there are loftier issues to ponder. But I must admit that from time to time this muse perplexes me, it’s a conundrum, like Stonehenge, UFO’s and why you never see any baby pigeons.

Logic would say that, anatomically, it should have been the men who rode sidesaddle. But propriety stated that women in the Old West must be consummate ladies, and that ladies kept their knees together at all times. It’s a wonder we’re here to talk about it at all.

I’m not buying it. If a woman’s stance in the saddle was that important, then why did they have to scrub floors, skin rabbits and endure natural childbirth? Men got drunk to have a simple tooth extracted. Basic physics would tell us that childbearing requires a much greater displacement of matter and energy. Not very ladylike to me. No, I think it all comes down to handicapping. The day the first woman agreed to ride sidesaddle was the day we all agreed to take a disadvantage, to start a little behind the line.

Sure, today we women wear pants, ride horses astride, some even hunt. But are things really so different? Take hair, for example. Natural beauty notwithstanding, hair in itself is most women’s first handicap of the day. (There was brief period in the sixties when we didn’t care, we were young, free and hoped no one would be keeping a permanent record.) No, because of hair we get up earlier to endure a litany of tortures: we lather, rinse, repeat, comb, mousse, gel. Apply extreme heat, attack our scalp with coarse bristles, and finish with a strong cover of liquid glue that invariably gets misdirected to a sensitive, vital organ. All before our first cup of coffee. Why? We’re taking a handicap. The understood, but never acknowledged rules of the game.

In my youth, which was not so long ago, this handicapping really began with puberty. Recent studies postulate that prior to that fateful stage, girls are psychologically and physically confident, seemingly oblivious to the battle of the sexes. But when their androgynous bodies begin to change, rather than being a time of celebration for the onset of womanhood, this becomes a period of ridicule, separation and an introduction to life’s handicaps. Girls lose some of that openness, shun sports and alter the way they interact with the opposite sex. Why? There seemed to be a prevailing attitude that puberty marked the time when a girl must learn what she can’t do, not what she now can. As if subconsciously the beginning of menstruation was a signal to the male population that the games have begun. Time to batten down the hatches.

Thank God for the sidesaddle. Without it puberty might very well have been my Alamo. But when I finally emerged from that maze of overacting glands, still standing and able to face whatever came along, unknowingly I had learned the secret passed down from our pioneering foremothers.

So, why did women ride sidesaddle? Because it was harder, and they could. Why does anyone accept a handicap, we could have said “no”. Because it’s a challenge that we think we can overcome, and it makes the game much more interesting.

I don’t know what girls going through puberty today are told, probably nothing. But hopefully as the rite of passage begins, each new woman will discover the secret of the sidesaddle, and smile, knowing that every challenge met was conquered on an uneven playing field. I know I’ll sleep better tonight.

Now about those baby pigeons…