UNITED STATES—Oh yes, Beverly Hills at night. To my delight, based on an exhaustive sampling of three people encountered walking an a recent Friday night, there predominates a single category of walker: the tipsy kind.
In contrast, the people I have encountered during my morning walks break down into three main categories, and they reinforce a harsher vision of humanity:
–The careerists, young actresses or models, arrayed in athletic clothes, really perfect with sunglasses and wires stuffed in their ears. And when addressed about some mundane matter such as: If you got to the crosswalk first why didn’t you press the pedestrian button on the stoplight? But there’s no upbraiding them, or saying hello for that matter, so shielded are they behind the sunglasses and the music in their ears.
–The apartment dwellers walking dogs—they are often female and mortified when one says ‘Good Morning.’ Not quite sure to do with it, they can glare and smile slightly, and tug of the leash of the Pekinese and resume their walk around the block.
–Old Country people: the country could be Tehran or Buda Pest, who knows where. But they can be counted on for a nod and even banter about the state of the sky and the clouds. They can walk a dog and smoke at the same time. I am sure, if I were to pursue it, we would have a vigorous grouse fest about how unresponsive the other walkers are.
To get back to my story, two ladies were walking on the street just around the corner from the Doheny Ralfs. I made a concerted effort not to walk up behind them lest they be terrorized by my presence. It can be quite comical to watch them leap out of their skins. They think thief, or rapist. But the one that gets them most is when they mistake my footsteps for those of a friend—then blammo. They leap backwards into the strong sheltering arms of the nearest tree.
In short, I walked across to the other side of the dark street, and briskly continued my course for the next quarter mile. Where Lapeer crosses Burton Way, I was waiting for the light to change and two ladies came from the crosswalk, the two same ladies from before. In the darkness they had gold accessories that glittered, and nice colored, expensive clothes.
“Is this you neighborhood?” one asked in an accusing tone.
I was ready for anything—to be accused of stalking in reverse, to be holding up traffic. After a moment’s hesitation, I admitted that this was my neighborhood.
“Where is Beverly Drive?” asked the one with the dark red hair. Her eyes glistened with the street light. Both their eyes did. I gradually became away that they seemed to be helping each other at the elbow as they steadied themselves. Maybe it was a trick question even if they were not the soberest.
I asked, “Beverly Drive as in Cedars Sinai or downtown Beverly Hills?”
“The first one,” they replied. “Where did it go? We walked out of the Four Seasons and were on Beverly Drive. Then it disappeared.”
I pointed north. “Beverly Drive is four or five blocks away. Straight that way.”
“Are you sure?” said the one with blond hair nicely groomed. They were both of an age when nature might have not left either with color, but here a hairdresser in Chicago or Cleveland had left made up for this.
“I saw you both on the street after Ralfs. I crossed to the other side of the street not to scare you.”
“That was nice of you.”
I detected a pleasant slur as her tongue and lips formed the words. Yes, they had had a few. Just enough to be charmingly human.
“We walked out of the Four Seasons,” repeated the blond.
“How did we get here from the Four Seasons?” ask the redhead.
“Just go that way,” I said with confidence. “You can’t miss it.”
Seeing their state, maybe they could.
“We’re going to Beverly and Robertson for a drink at Mateos.
Off they went into the shadows. A nightcap sounded infinitely pleasant. One more gent I passed on my walk wearing a tan-’o-shanter and a jacket with necktie. From afar he looked intimidating, then up closer he looked ruddy and slobbered out a ‘Good evening’ in reply to mine.
Beverly Hills after the dark it would seem everyone is drinking. Did I say my sample numbered three?—make it four. I must include myself.
Grady Miller is a humorist. His latest comedy cavalcade is “Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood.”