Act 1, Scene 1: Los Angeles. I leave work at 6:30pm Friday... much later than I should be leaving. My cell phone, presumed to be "charging" all day long, was near the end of its ropes, its "power" relegated to a few blips and bleeps. There was no getting around it: I would have to go to The Valley.
Act 1, Scene 2: The Valley. The voices are familiar. The streets are familiar. What the voices are saying is unfamiliar. I park around the corner. I check for parking meter change. I find it but it may not be necessary. It's not as if I'm parking on Ventura Blvd... just around the corner from it. Moments later, the lanky girl with the bruised heart hands me the nine dollars I am owed.
Act 1, Scene 3: Long Beach. I keep circling the neighborhood. It's as if they took my street away. Where did it go? Truth is, I'm in the wrong place. I find my way. Never trust the numbered streets of Long Beach. You see 3rd Street and then 4th Street and you're probably expecting 5th any moment now. There is no 5th Street. You see a street sign for the street you live on, a street named after a famous island nation. You see where this street begins and where it ends. You don't see anything familiar; you're confused. You consider asking a homeless person for directions to your own home. You choose not to, out of respect. The next thing you know, it's the next morning and your cats are hungry for new food.
Act 2, Scene 1: San Dimas. I switch back to first person. I am in a town famous for exactly one reason. It is where the film Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure was set and (partially) filmed. It is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The city's meager streets are decorated with the following ubiquitous sign:
Do you see the bottom of that sign - those final three words? I thought it was a dream but it was not. They really are holding on to that. And I totally respect them for it.
Act 2, Scene 2: Long Beach. I am speaking to my ex-wife on the phone while my ex-girlfriend's cat plays with another ex-girlfriend's packing peanuts. Meanwhile, I am texting two other people (ex, possible future ex) and considering plans to Facebook-message one of the two text recipients about the other text recipient. Where does it all end? I fall asleep on my living room floor before 10:00 on a Saturday night while watching a 30 Rock episode I have seen twice before.
Act 3, Scene 1: Long Beach. Same floor, same cat, same TV. The next morning. Now I'm watching a paid-pay-per-view movie, Funny People. I cry sincerely during the film. It is toward the end when..... when that one thing happened, when they came up with the perfect ending.
Act 3, Scene 2: Los Angeles. The sign on the 7-11 soda machine says "No refills." I am determined to get my money's worth. I wait until the man at the counter is distracted by a customer. I stealthily add Orange Whip to my Orange Gatorade. I am a superhero.
Act 3, Scene 3. On a Freeway. (Edited seven times because I keep changing my mind about the ending). I'm on a freeway heading south, going home. The 605 perhaps. Or maybe the 710. Or maybe the mythical in-between 657.5? (Why? It's the mathematical average of 605 and 710.) I'm listening to the one CD I listen to all the time in my car and I repeat to myself one more time: Get a new car stereo with the auxiliary jack! And before I can say "My name's not Jack" I hear this song not over the speakers but in my head:
And I imagine myself in that tree. Hoping, praying that I am in control of the mango mush.
But if you're really not down with the long loopy songs about jungle trees and fruit exotica, then I recommend you listen to the future anthem of the current soundtrack of our times:
And if that doesn't work, some comedy is in order: