Los Angelenos Cannot Handle the Cold. Period.
I will never understand how my friend Vivian Wong can justify wearing a “parka” in 70-ish degree weather.
Last March, fresh from a wonderful experience with graduate examinations over in Connecticut, I decided to take a mini-vacation to warm-as-holy-fucking-hell California. The weather in New York was far less than accommodating: freezing-holy-shit-rain and wtf-god-why-do-you-hate-us-all-wind.
Upon landing in Los Angeles, I am greeted by the most fantastically amazing weather in the world. We’re talking wow-I-can-run-around-naked weather. I felt an urge to jump into the ocean and start high-fiving dolphins and other creatures that I erroneously attribute to warm, tropical-esque climates.
Lo and behold, I am greeted by Vivian and her fur-lined coat. The first thing she says to me after our traditional greeting (something along the lines of “HOLYOMGWTFHELLO”) is “why aren’t you wearing a jacket?”.
This is the most striking thing that I noticed about Southern Californians: They are (mostly) wussies when it comes down to experiencing minor bouts of climate-related discomfort. Most days I was in Los Angeles, it was warm, bright, and sunny. You could die from monotony seeing that weather every single day. As a result, stories about weather for Los Angelenos can achieve almost legendary status.
This is especially true among my Californian friends living on the east coast. Let me present, for example, how east-coasters and west-coasters both interpret a simple tale: driving out in the snow to buy food.
EAST COASTER TALKING TO FELLOW EAST COASTER: I was about to go to the supermarket when I saw snow through my window. Only a tiny bit was sticking to the road (it was maybe only a quarter of an inch), so that was a relief. I had my ice scraper in the trunk, so I cleaned the snow off the car pretty quickly. Then I went out and bought milk. Overall, not too bad.
LOS ANGELENO LIVING ON THE EAST COAST WRITING TO FRIENDS AT HOME: I was about to leave the house today when I saw SNOW outside my window. The first thing I’m thinking is “am I going to die”. I look outside: there’s a quarter inch of this slippery-icy-cold-death shit on the ground. Cleaning snow off your car is one of the worst things ever: It’s cold, wet, and it’s just terrible. I tried to brush it off with my hand, but I went numb after only a minute or so!
I was shivering during the whole drive because we LA-ers only buy light parkas and see no need for heavy coats in a region where it snows.
I kept feeling my car slip and slide in the snow. I was terrified. The snow kept falling - I felt like I would be buried in this cold shit. When I got to the supermarket, I ran in and bought my milk. It was cold. I was really unhappy.
Lo and behold, upon seeing Vivian’s parka in the parking lot of LAX, I could not stop making fun of her. During the 40 minute drive back to her house in Pasadena, I kept making obscure references to Christmas carols and winter sports in an attempt to make her feel increasingly uncomfortable about how “chilly” it was outside. That night, I slept like a rock star.
A few days later, while visiting a friend out in the desert, an earthquake struck Pasadena. Upon hearing Vivian’s account upon my return, I suffered from a several-days-long fit of paranoia about the ground shaking uncontrollably underneath me. I would stay awake at night so as to be completely ready to bolt out the door during a quake. Vivian had a field day.
For all their fuss about minor changes in the weather, LA-ers are amazingly resilient when faced with the prospect that their city will be leveled by a gigantic earthquake one day. I remember my friend Nicole shrugging off a question about the “big one”, simply responding with “Yeah, it’ll probably happen”. When a big quake hits, Californians seem to go about their business as if nothing happened. An East-Coaster, on the other hand, will be traumatized for life.
Despite my fear of earthquakes, I will keep pointing and laughing at Los Angelenos and their inadequacy to handle cold weather. I’ll just pray that those same people don’t see how big a pussy I am when the tables have turned.
Confessions of a Cheesy Snack Addict
I remember that as a young thirteen-or-so-year-old, I dreamt that a box full of Cheez Doodles had fallen from the sky. It had landed, very conveniently, near a comfortable chair and a television (I don’t remember what was on, but I’ll just pretend like there was a Star Trek marathon on and be done with it.).
"Wow" I thought to myself. "This is the greatest day of my life."
Then, like all dreams, it ended just as I was about to dig in. I sat there in bed contemplating what I had seen. Then I thought to myself: How amazing would it be if I could have an unlimited supply of Cheez Doodles that would appear at my command? Of course, it would be impossible under the current circumstances: Mom would say no. Boo.
In high school, my economics teacher, the great John Masiello, once told us that college killed macaroni and cheese for him. Apparently, his lack of culinary prowess resulted in a gooey, cheesy dinner every single day. After eating this for a year or so, he promised he would never eat macaroni and cheese again. Of course, none of us believed him at the time. We were foolish. We were so young and foolish.
My freshman year, I remembered my age-old dream - the lifetime supply of Cheez Doodles. It was there at my fingertips; realizing that underclassmen were fools, my college granted us 400 dollars worth of credit to waste on junk food in the nearby convenience store. My roommate, Craig, and I promptly ran down and purchased 20 dollars worth of Cheez Doodles.
The following morning, I woke up with my fingers crusted in cheese dust while surrounded by five or so bags of the cheesy ambrosia. I had survived a dinner of the gods: I ate five bags of Cheez Doodles and mom couldn’t say no. It was a dream come true. The next day, I decided to eat only Cheez Doodles all day. Orange fingerprints dotted my keyboard and cheese dust covered the ground like snowfall. Life was so good. It was then that I realized that I had become a Cheez Doodle junkie.
Eventually, Cheez Doodles weren’t enough to satiate my daily fix. My body craved more; by 11PM, my body would shake uncontrollably from withdrawal. With Craig by my side, I began to clear out the convenience store’s supply of Hot Fries and Munchos. Our “24” marathons became lost in a cheesy yellow haze. Soon enough, my life turned upside down. My girlfriend couldn’t stand my cheesy breath anymore. My friends started to drift away from me. It was me (and maybe Craig) and my snack foods.
Of course, the events in the last two paragraphs are wildly exaggerated.
Still, I remember one day, I started to snack on a bag of Cheez Doodles and then stopped suddenly. Something was different. I had overdone it. Because of my first couple months of college, I could never eat another Cheez Doodle ever again.
Over the course of my undergraduate career, various foods and drinks followed the path of the Cheez Doodle. Among them were chicken tenders, canned soup, beef ravioli, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, Nestea, hamburgers, General Tso’s chicken and even microwave popcorn. By my senior year, I had effectively stopped eating most everything I had loved as a high schooler. A sad state of affairs indeed.
The same has happened to some of my fellow graduate students. At almost every event, the university throws a wealth of beer and wine in our direction; they even gave us our own bar. Our dining hall also serves us alcohol on a fairly regular basis; it’s every underage drinker’s dream. Still, most of the graduate students remained ambivalent to the presence of booze. The university had effectively killed alcohol for them. I was shocked.
Reeling from this discovery, I ran over to a convenience store and purchased a bag of Cheez Doodles. After returning to my room, I put it on a chair opposite my desk and stared for awhile. It was a showdown, much like you’d find in a traditional spaghetti western. I had to prove something. I had to give my fellow graduate students hope that they would find love in alcohol again.
And so I opened that bag and I scarfed that shit down. Ten minutes later, I had finished the entire bag. I sat there bathing in nirvana; the love for Cheez Doodles had returned. It had taken four years, but it had finally come back.
Then something popped into my mind that had never occurred to me as an undergrad.
"James, if you keep eating this shit, you’re going to get fat."
And I swore off Cheez Doodles once again.