People seem to have this romanticized notion of living in a big city like New York or Chicago or Los Angeles: the bright lights, the big buildings, the chance that you could run into a famous person at any moment. Movies and television do very little to curb this belief. If anything, they seem to perpetuate these thoughts by just showing you what I can only describe as "things poor people like us will never be able to afford."
Now, I've never lived in New York or Chicago, but I think it's pretty safe to assume it's a lot like living in Los Angeles. You're living in an apartment that resembles a large walk-in closet (and that's being liberal). You're working at least two jobs to afford that walk-in closet. You spend barely any time at that walk-in closet because you're working two jobs…. See where I'm going with this?
Steven Tyler once asked me if he could use the bathroom and now every time I hear that Armageddon song, I think of cleaning up his piss. Having lived in LA for a little over a year now, I think I've managed to get a pretty good handle on city life. And city life sucks. Seriously. At least in Los Angeles.
I grew up in a relatively big city. I mean, Cincinnati, Ohio isn't exactly full of hustle and bustle but it's not like I was surrounded by cornfields and farms… at least, not all the time. However, even I can admit that going from a city with a population of 296,223 to a city with a population of 3,792,621 was a bit of a culture shock. (To put it in an easier perspective, I went from the 64th most populous city in the U.S. to the 2nd.. Both, though, are still miniscule compared to NYC, with its 8 million plus people. I still don't know how the fuck that many people fit on that small of an island.)
Anyway, I've learned a lot since I've been out here and I feel it's my duty to those dreamers with stars in their eyes and hope in their hearts, to tell them the truth. To crush those desires and aspirations and wants into a powder so fine, even Lindsay Lohan couldn't snort it.
Let's be real, the one thing most people want to see when they come to Hollywood are celebrities. It doesn't even matter who, A-List or D-List. I think it's really hit or miss, because I know people who have lived here for years and never seen anyone, and then there are people who come out here for a week and see Kel Mitchell (of Kenan & Kel fame) in a Ralph's parking lot. True story.
I've seen a lot of famous people since I've been here. That's not me bragging, since the only reason I've seen most of them was because I was serving them coffee. We're not really allowed to acknowledge them though because most of them don't want to draw attention. Otherwise I would've asked David Beckham if I could sit on his face. Or Mark Wahlberg if I could sit on his face. Or Aaron Eckhart if I could sit on his face. Or Sarah Michelle Gellar if we could be best friends. Or Renee Zellwegger if she wanted a cookie. Or Kris Jenner if she would adopt me into her family so I could be a Kardashian and swim around naked in a tub full of money.
You get my point. Seeing celebrities up close and personal sort of ruins it though. Most of them aren't what you thought they were (Jessica Alba is the exception to every rule, however; she's as flawless in person as she is in movies). Most of them are really short and small—and that's the men. You learn things about them you never wanted to know: Steven Tyler once asked me if he could use the bathroom and now every time I hear that Armageddon song, all I can think about is cleaning up the toilet after Steven Tyler pissed in it. I also got yelled at by some C-List television actress who I won't even bother naming, because she didn't like the way her vegetables looked in her hummus bistro box.
I take it all in stride as I know the day is coming when Taylor Lautner comes into my store, sweeps me off my feet, and, of course, lets me sit on his face.
I always thought I knew what the definition of traffic was: a bunch of cars going the same direction at the same time, usually in the morning and the evening when people are either going to or leaving work. We have traffic in Cincinnati, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Los Angeles introduces a new definition to the word "traffic." There is literally traffic everywhere at every hour of the day. You think I'm exaggerating and that it can't be that bad. No. It is. I live a little over 10 miles from the store I work at down in Beverly Hills. It takes two hours to get there in the morning if I leave anytime after 6 a.m. If I leave before that, it takes about 30-45 minutes, but that's only if they don't randomly decide to close down the 405, which happens a lot. You'll just be driving along at three in the morning and suddenly you're not on the highway anymore, and somehow you've ended up in Compton and have no idea how, and you're stopped at a red light and some young African American male is knocking on your window asking if you've seen his buddy Jerome.
People in LA have also never heard of a left-hand turn. There are no arrows. You sit and wait until the light turns yellow and then you close your eyes, hit the gas, and pray for daylight. Either you make it or you end up on the 6 o'clock news in a black body bag—black, not because it's the standard but because it's slimming and that's important. Los Angelinos don't give a shit where you're trying to go or when you need to be there because they need to go somewhere and they needed to be there five minutes ago.
I went home a few months ago and my stepmother commented that I seemed more aggressive. I told her to go fuck herself. (JK, Reggie!) Living in a city this big, with this many people, does change you—there's no way around that. You either sink or swim…or you go have a good cry alone in your car for five minutes (it can only be for five minutes though, because someone is probably waiting for your parking spot and has begun shouting obscenities at you for not moving).
Don't get me wrong, I've met some really amazing people out here but they're few and far between. These people are douchebags. It might just be because I work in the service industry (in Beverly Hills, mind you) and see the truly ugly side of humanity on a daily basis, but yeah, douchebags. All of them. I have never met such a large group of people in such a condensed space with such a sense of entitlement. I get it, you have money and the sun rises and sets out of your asshole. I understand all of this, but please don't throw your cup of hot coffee at me because you're mad, or yell at me for interrupting your phone conversation by having the nerve to try to take your order. Let me just say this: do you really want to upset the person who is handling your food/drinks?
Los Angeles also has the largest population of homeless people in the country. At around 50,000, LA has almost five times as many homeless people as my hometown of Loveland has total residents. At first, you feel bad for them. You give them your spare change, you buy them a sandwich. And then you realize that you've spent so much money helping the homeless that you are actually about to become homeless yourself. They're everywhere and they are mean. They show you their penis for no good reason, they yell at your for not buying them a house. And if you're really lucky, you open the bathroom door at work to find one completely nude, bathing himself in the sink.
I don't mean to deter those of you who have dreams of moving to La La Land and making it on the big screen, but really, you're going to be a waiter. You'll probably spend some time living in your car. And then eventually, you're going to go totally insane and lose your shit and then you're going to move to the Valley. Just don't do it, trust me. However, if you simply can't heed my advice, at least move to New York City. At least there, there's culture. And the bars are open until 4 a.m.