Anthropologist in Beverly Hills

IMG_0989Kate Flora here, reporting on my adventures on the other coast. It was primarily a trip to visit son, daughter-in-law, and the three little grand dogs. But it began, because I’ve never been there, in Beverly Hills, on and around Rodeo Drive.

Yup. Rodeo Drive. Where the diamonds in the Harry Winston window undoubtedly cost more than I’ll ever make in three lifetimes. Where giant, bejeweled and tasseled handbags in garish colors vie for ugliness awards. Where gaggles of Japanese tourists, huddled under umbrellas to protect them from the sun, press their curious noses against store windows, and every third window has a window washer busily removing the evidence of those noses.

Now, those of you who follow MCW know that I often find myself feeling a bit out of place when I leave IMG_0954my desk, especially in urban landscapes populated by the high-maintenance and glamorous, where the Rolls Royce is a commonplace and even the help drive BMWs. Where everyone has a team of gardeners manicuring every bush (did you know they use leaf-blowers to remove dead leaves from the shrubs so they’ll look pristine? Well, neither did I.)

And you may also know that I have a passion for shoes that I control by purchasing them only at second-hand stores and hate to spend more than $5.49 for a pair. (I’ve occasionally been heard to say that I can tell how badly the writing is going by how many pairs of shoes I’ve recently bought.) So, being a bit of a shoe junkie, I was naturally drawn to store windows full of shoes.

IMG_0955Drawn, mind you, but NOT enticed. And here is why: Never mind the prices, which I didn’t attempt to explore, these were not shoes that a human person could walk in. These were not shoes that a human foot could find any comfort in. These were the kind of shoes that a person might, rather, line up on a set of designer closet shelves and dust from time to time, I’m thinking about Goldie Hawn in Overboard. Possibly even keeping them under a spotlight to illuminate the dazzle and glitz. These shoes aren’t made for walking.

Something else I can tell you about people in LA and their shoes–they don’t know anything about seasons, so they’re wearing clunky knee-high boots under their black maxi dresses and orthopedic-looking wedge-heeled boots with their tank tops and Daisy Dukes.

Yeah. I’m thinking these are folks who probably wouldn’t survive well in Maine. None of this footwear IMG_0950was adapted to walking anywhere, never mind how they’d navigate rocks or trails or even less than perfectly even sidewalks. I imagine the six inch stiletto on cobblestones or bricks. The maxi dress hem getting caught under the heels of those big black boots. I wonder what it would be like to live a life where clothing and footwear is decorative instead of functional. I imagine them being chased by a bear or suddenly meeting an irritable moose. Jumping from the boat or kayak to the dock. Out weeding the garden.

And yes, since it was LA, and I’m a huge Pretty Woman fan, my husband and I did have one of those
Julia Roberts moments. We’d spotted a tee shirt in a store window that my husband liked (he generally hates to shop) and popped in to see if it came in a different color. One of the clerks was fussily arranging something in a display. One was gazing absently about. The third, a small, oddly-dressed man in his sixties (oversized white t-shirt and baggy wheat-colored pants hanging low and cinched by an oversized belt) was engaged in oleaginous praise of another older man, taller, handsome, and wearing shorts, t-shirt, baggy sports jacket and some kind of light straw summer hat. He was calling to the two women to join him in affirming how wonderful the customer looked. The other potential customers, us, (we were the only other people in the store) were ignored. Finally, he took a break from the praise to ask what we wanted. We inquired. He shook his head and turned away, as though rubes like us simply weren’t allowed to shop in his store, or my husband should have known better than to inquire about THAT t-shirt.

IMG_0952Travel broadens one’s horizons. Still, I am very happy, despite the fabulous vegan food at Shojin, a lovely weekend at the Ojai Resort and Spa, and a trip to the always spectacular Getty, to be back at my desk, imagining worlds I can control, and where my characters choose sensible footwear. But I can imagine Thea, already 5′ 11″, donning a pair of those stilettos, or the biker-chick gladiator sandals, and becoming even more intimidating. We shall see what happens in the IMG_0960next scene.

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5 Responses to Anthropologist in Beverly Hills

  1. Gram says:

    A very interesting trip. Thanks for taking us along.

  2. John Clark says:

    Well ya know a real Mainer in summer because he’s wearing a couple hunks of Uncle Dub’s snow tires, that set he got twelve years outta before they blew when he hit the same pot hole the county mountie buried his cruiser in last March. That same fella cut up and sold the remainder of the set to one of them tourist trap apparel stores in Freeport. Made thirteen pears of nuclear-proof flip flops, and netted enough on the deal to pay his taxes..

  3. My mother lived a few blocks from Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. I always felt like I was in the midst of an enormous performance art exhibit. Nothing felt real. And, despite how crazy it all seemed from my POV, it was serious business. Kate’s blog reminds me why I ran away from home. I love the photos of shoes, Kate. I’m glad you came back with “material”!

  4. Nancy Miller says:

    Thanks. I needed a dose of laughter this evening. Enjoyed John Clark’s reply too.

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