Los Angeles is really an odd place for all the reasons you expect. I meet people with funky hair and funky outfits and beards that stretch down to their knees and I have a conversation with them and it might end with them telling me they’re a burner or a lawyer or a waiter. They might have grown up poor or they might have grown up rich. They might be most interesting or they might be a pile of rocks. You really don’t know what you’re going to get. I like that about Los Angeles but I also hate it.
I work with this one guy who is one of the most enjoyable people I’ve ever met. He’s kind and nice to everyone. If I start being angry or talking shit about people he’ll most often call me on it and tell me to chill and out and not be so angry. I always appreciate that point of view. He was wanting to dread his hair for awhile and he grew it out but soon gave up and cut it. Whomever it was gave him a really cut and he looked really good. Clean and fly were the words I chose. He didn’t like it. He said it made him look too square and he couldn’t stop feeling like a square.
“You’re not a square though,” I said.
“But I feel like a square and I look like a square.”
“But you’re not.”
“But I look like one.”
We couldn’t get past that point and I couldn’t stop thinking about it, even now a couple months later. He looked like a square. We can get so preoccupied with playing the part of an interesting person in Los Angeles that we forget to actually start being an interesting person. It’s a difficult dance. An entire episode of South Park deals with this subject better than I ever could.
I worked with this other guy who was big into Crossfit and eating paleo. It didn’t take more than two minutes into a conversation to find out that was his thing. One time at work he was trying to show me proper form when doing squats. This other guy came over and corrected him. The other guy–I won’t say his name here, though he just came over to my house tonight and we shared a beer and had a good conversation for twenty minutes before he left–doesn’t look like he’d know much about squats. He’s over 40, heavy but not necessarily overweight by the look of him, with a ragged beard and hair that’s become a tangled mop. When Dirk Nowitzky retires and returns to Germany the two will be twins. Anyway, the Crossfit guy said something like, “Come on, dude, I think I know what I’m talking about,” followed by a look and a shrug that clearly said he assumed the other guy did not. The long haired guy then corrected him on each and every way he had made a mistake in form with the squats, followed by a declaration of his own: He had been an a scholar athlete at Arizona State playing on the offensive line for the football team. His dead lift was this, his squat max was that. He was an athlete and he’d been one at top form for a long time. He didn’t look the part the way the Crossfit guy did but he had more experience and knowledge but wasn’t prone to wearing that experience and knowledge on his sleeve. Why? Because he’s an interesting guy. He’s got a wife and a kid and he goes to Burning Man and he travels the country and the world. If he wore all his interests in an outfit–if we all did for that matter–the outfit would completely clash and he’d look a hot old mess.
So my hope for our future, Los Angeles? How about we practice being a little more interesting. I have a feeling the interesting outfits will soon follow.
© 2013 Christopher Dart