“The nine people I know in Los Angeles—and by know, I don’t mean people I lunch with, I mean the nine people who have seen me naked—those nine people would never believe it, but sometimes in the San Joaquin Valley it gets so hot the fields spontaneously catch fire. Just lick and burn and an entire crop of asparagus, Tokay seedless, rutabaga, hothouse or what have you are quite literally up in smoke. They didn’t believe it the first time and they won’t believe it the second, when I tell them about the ash that folds like walnuts into the swimming pool and the radio warnings to keep the dog off the asphalt. People from Los Angeles aren’t too good at willing suspension of disbelief, unless of course it involves Hollywood-celebrity-cellulite-secrets and million-dollar-mascara-wars, so I don’t much expect them to empathize with the Lodi fireman, dressed in yellow gear and aiming a single hose, not at the blaze, but at the sky. Firing water upwards into the clouds and watching it waterfall against the air and onto the charred umber.
But, before I go too far, I suppose you could say the reverse is also true. That, with help, I could find nine people from the San Joaquin who would never believe that in Los Angeles you can take a class called Striptease Aerobics, get a boob job through your belly-button or when pregnant actually schedule the premature delivery of your infant so as not to interfere with your bridge game or your husband’s billion-dollar business deals.
Who am I kidding?
No one plays bridge in Beverly Hills. Not anymore. But that’s beside the point. The point is: you can schedule the birth of your babe three weeks in advance of its actual due date, because the last three weeks is the point of no return as far as your abs are concerned. So you can schedule a cesarean and in optimal situations—read: all situations except the occasional indie actress turned earth mother who, in a fit of Sundance/Cannes/Taos nostalgia decides to have her son in the saline-filtered spa of her beach house—the OB/GYN, who is also a certified plastic surgeon, makes the incision and throws in a tummy tuck for a nominal fee.
I suppose if forced, I could find nine nice folk from the San Joaquin who wouldn’t believe a bit of it. Not the scheduling, not the cesarean and certainly not the part about fishing out the placenta before finishing off the lift and tuck, but—and this is something I feel confident about having lived in both L.A. and the San Joaquin—it would be much, much harder to find them. Not only because spontaneous weather-related fire is inherently easier to believe in than is neonatal manipulation, but also because, when pressed, people will believe almost anything about Los Angeles.
What if I told you that right now I’m bobbing about in the Pacific Ocean without a life vest while Kelley, the yacht I fell from, continues on her course? You’d believe me, right? You’d believe that sometimes in Los Angeles it’s easier to float between the legs of a man you hardly know than it is to reach an arm towards your husband—on deck—as he casts a buoy overboard?”
-from So L.A. by Bridget Hoida