Last night, my cousin Liz visiting from Denver, my wife Ann, and I decided to see the Groundlings, a comedy troupe on trendy Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. Liz was excited because she could see a section of the city that she's seen for years on TV shows. Also, considering that each day we're assaulted with bad news--such as this morning's paper that Six Flags Magic Mountain stock has been delisted from the NYSE because it was trading at a mere 27 cents per share--we just needed a bit of fun.
We were running late. The Cuban chicken I was cooking was taking longer than I thought. I was using Versailles restaurant's special mojo sauce, which is cheaper to buy in a bottle than the three of us to go to the actual restaurant because, of course, we're on a budget with the economy.
My cousin turned on the TV. Katie Couric announced that tornados ripped through Arkansas and Tennessee, and fires destroyed over a hundred homes in Oklahoma and Texas. From the stove, I saw an old man rake through the rubble and matchsticks of his former house for mementos. Cut to wind-whipped flames consuming a house, and then a man said, "I buried my wife two days ago, and then this wall of flame came through last night."
"Sponge Bob is on another channel," I suggested. Liz was grimacing at the tube, caught in the tractor beam of despair. I saved her and clicked off the TV.
My wife was making a salad, but the avocado I'd bought at the 99-cents store (cheaper to buy there than at Vons because we're on a budget) looked like tooth decay inside and had to be thrown away. My own tooth started throbbing, reminding me I should go to the dentist, if I could only afford it, what with the economy.
Ann finished, and we ate the salad and the Spanish rice she'd made. I pulled the chicken out of the oven and put in it in the refrigerator, which, for some reason lately, has to be jacked up to it's top setting, Antarctica, to keep cold. As the Earth warms globally, our refrigerator seems to match it. Maybe we can get a new one (refrigerator, not Earth) if more colleges were offering me classes rather than canceling them, due to the economy.
"This is going to be great," I said.
"The salad?" said my wife. "But you love avocado."
"I'm talking about the Groundlings. They're very funny. And the salad will be good, too. Put in raisins." I didn't tell her I'd prefer grapes, but we can't afford to have fruit with high water content.
In short order we jumped into the car, but I saw we didn't have enough gas to get to Hollywood. The gas station is once again like the stock market in reverse, going up each day. The price was fifteen cents higher than last week. Time was short, gas was high, so I decided to get by with ten-dollar's worth. As I put the nozzle in my tank, a young woman in dirty jeans started talking at me, holding a box. I thought she might be homeless, but somewhere in her torrent she said, "and it keeps me off of drugs and things."
"I don't understand," I said.
"Drugs are bad," she said.
"Not that. What are you selling?"
Again words like an Arkansas tornado came fast and swirling and this time I heard, "My high school class is going to Magic Mountain tomorrow and I have just three more items to sell."
I would have told her about Magic Mountain being delisted and the company lost $201 million in the fourth quarter, but I didn't know about it until this morning. "How much are your items?" I asked her. I wasn't clear if she was selling candy or hammers.
"Only eight dollars each."
"I'm using a credit card here at the pump because I don't have money," I said to cut off debate.
"How about five dollars?"
"Thank you anyway," I said.
We made it to the Groundlings Theatre with time to spare, so we walked a few blocks of Melrose to show off the place to Liz, but many of the clothing stores were closed, and many were empty with "For Lease" signs in the windows. There was an "adult clothing" store that offered nighties full of holes, and five, we counted five, tattoo-and-piercing parlors. You never know when, in this economy, you might you might need a good piercing.
The show started on time, and it was a comfort to know that none of the skits had anything to do with the economy. There was mention of the Octomom, but, heck, she's funny.
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