A friend (Jane*) asked me to take her little sister (Rose*, a recent college graduate) around today.
I felt pretty proud. That was quite a vote of confidence.
I like it when people entrust me with their little sisters.
Well, I dated your big sister
And took her to a show
I went for some candy
Along came jim dandy
And they snuck right out of the door
Every time I see your sister
Well shes got somebody new
Shes mean and shes evil
Like that old boll weevil
Guess I’ll try my luck with you
Well, I used to pull your pigtails
And pinch your turned-up nose
But you been a growin
And baby, its been showin
From your head down to your toes
Little sister, dont you
Little sister, dont you
Little sister, dont you kiss me once or twice
Then say its very nice
And then you run
Little sister, dont you
Do what your big sister done
It all started as a joke. When Jane told me Rose was coming to town, I offered to take her around in my serial killer van, figuring she wouldn’t even consider my offer.
Now Jane has taken me up on it.
It helps that I’m about her only friend who doesn’t have a day job.
She says I can take her car.
Last week I made an acupuncture appointment for today at 10 a.m.
I figured I should reschedule so I could devote my whole day to Rose, but heck, I need my acupuncture. I got a lot of aches and little energy.
So I worry all night that I’m being disrespectful to Jane and Rose by keeping my appointment.
I’m gonna say that Jane can drive off on her own for an hour or she can walk around Culver City and get a Starbucks.
But I don’t want Jane to say, "Levi, you said you’d take my sister around. You didn’t say anything about previous appointments."
Our friend Jessica* decides to come along.
I don’t sleep well because I fear I’m going to sleep in and miss Jane’s 8 a.m. call to drive her to work.
My feet splints annoy me.
I toss and turn.
I rinse my mouth with water.
I listen to Dennis Prager.
I try to sleep.
I listen to Mozart’s Mass in C minor.
I fall asleep after 3 a.m.
I’m awake at 6:30 a.m.
8:06 a.m. Jane finally calls.
She’s always late.
"I want to see you drive," she says.
It’s been more than a decade since I’ve driven a shift.
I turn the key in the ignition.
The car won’t start.
I depress the clutch and the new model starts.
"I introduced you last night to Rose by showing her the Jewish Journal story," says Jane.
I jerk us over to Jessica’s place. She comes out wearing five-inch heels.
After I drop off Jane at her work, I try reverse for the first time.
I bang into Jane.
I didn’t see her crossing behind me.
This is not the way God wants me to start this journey.
Oy, what must Jane be thinking?
That I’m not responsible enough to drive her car? To look after her little sister? To be in her life?
Jane’s not hurt.
Rose is chill.
Jessica is chill.
After a couple of minutes of bewailing my mistake, I chill out.
I drive south of Wilshire Blvd looking for black people.
Jane asked me last night where I was taking her little sister.
I said to Martin Luther King Blvd.
Then to the second floor of UCLA’s Rieber Hall dormitory where I lost my innocence the week of Valentine’s Day 1989.
"She likes history," said Jane.
Then to a couple of —- shoots.
I bring Rose and Jessica into the hovel. I show them my LA Weekly cover. They act impressed. I show them my Jewish Journal cover. They’ve already seen it.
I show them my Jerusalem Report profile but keep it short so they don’t have the opportunity to read any of the article.
I think about showing them my 60 Minutes appearance but figure that would be egocentric.
I can’t remember the last time I had two women in my hovel.
Gosh, I hope the whole ‘hood is looking when we come out.
That would rock.
Maybe I’d get maftir.
We have 50 minutes to kill before my acupuncture appointment.
Thank G-d Jessica knows how to drive a stick.
I drive slowly through Culver City.
I point out Sony Studios.
Culver City is boring.
All too quickly, I’m at the acupuncture clinic.
I can think of no way to delay our parting.
"Be back at 11:15 a.m." I instruct. "Go straight down Washington Blvd and you should hit the Venice boardwalk."
Fifty minutes into my session, I press the help button (for my first time ever). I’m dying to use the restroom. I’ve been so nervous all morning I’ve been drinking buckets of water.
"I thought you overheard us," says my acupuncturist. "We were all sitting in the room directly outside recounting the various times in our lives when we had involuntarily s— ourselves."
I wonder if this remark is an example of inappropriate boundaries?
I want to be free. I want to drive by the beach. I want to drive and drive but with somebody else’s car and with somebody else’s gas.
I take us on to Highway 1 and north up through Malibu.
I pull over to the side of the road, park, and lead us across four lanes to the beach.
Jessica can’t make it down the cliffs in her high heels.
I take her hand and ease her down.
We sit on the rocks and remark on how swell it all is.
I have a peaceful easy feeling.
"What’s that bird?" I ask.
"A seagull," says Rose.
"Did you know that Jane and I got matching tattoos?" I ask.
"NO?" says Jessica.
I point to some massive equipment by the road.
"Do you have a thing for men who can operate heavy machinery?" I ask Rose.
"No," she says.
I drive us north of Pepperdine University. Our windows are down and so are our inhibitions.
"I’m gonna call Jane and tell her to get a taxi home, we’re going all the way to San Francisco," I say.
I can’t remember the last time I got out of town.
I think it was last May.
I want to get out of town. I want to be free. I want to take a long roadtrip with someone I love.
I want to fly like a kite. I want to drift in the breeze. I want no responsibilities, no deadlines, and no appointments.
I want to hit the open road and discover new things.
Oh well, I better be responsible.
I turn us around.
Jessica has offered to pay for lunch at a nice restaurant.
Cheese blintzes for me.
I reverse park.
"Have you ever been parked so well in your life girls?" I ask.
After lunch, we hit Beverly Hills. I used to always park on Rexford north of Wilshire but now it is permit-parking only.
I let the girls out and drive up the library.
When I reappear 10 minutes later, they say they’d feared I’d ditched them.
We walk the streets. We go into Anthropologie, a clothing store.
But this is a cool clothing store because it has lots of books.
I engross myself in "1001 Books To Read Before You Die" until the girls tire of shopping.
Jessica says her feet are covered with blisters.
I take them into the cool of the Beverly Hills Public Library and offer to check out a book for each of them.
They turn me down.
("Nothing turns Levi on more than a woman who reads books," says Jane later. "That’s why we’re just friends," I respond.)
We’ve got more than two hours to kill before picking up Jane from work and Jessica seems to be out of commission from any further walking.
I burn Jane’s gas down Hollywood Blvd then take the 101 south to the downturn.
"Everybody seems so chill today," says Jessica from the back seat. "Is it because it is a Tuesday?"
"It’s because we’ve taken the day off," I say.
"That’s right," Jess says. "Normally I’m fighting my way through traffic to my next appointment."
I drive by the Los Angeles Times building and head south. I see signs for the fashion district and turn left. I park. The meter gives only ten minutes for a quarter. I put in 50c and we walk down the street.
It feels like we are in Tijuana. There are bargains galore. This is the place I’m going to buy my next suit. Maybe I’ll get a pimp suit and white shoes and a white hat and walk into shul with my tzitzit out and say, "Hey mofos, this is the way I roll."
The shopping bargains make Jessica forget her sore feet.
I bring us back to Jane’s workplace with 20 minutes to spare. I read to the girls excerpts from the Neil Strauss book "The Rules of the Game."
"Don’t say anything to Jane," I warn. "I’m going to try some of these techniques on her on the way home."
Jane gets in. I make a feeble attempt to game her and then give up all resistance to being human for a few minutes.
I get home feeling full of energy.
* = not a real name.