I had forgotten about Brentwood. Although I drive through it every day on my way to and from work, my life hardly revolves around this beautiful neighbourhood, whose main thoroughfare, San Vicente Boulevard, is dotted by ancient and dramatic Jacaranda trees that turn every shade of purple in Spring and Summer. For those of you who have never been to Los Angeles, Brentwood is a posh and unaffordable enclave that stretches between Santa Monica and West Los Angeles and it’s the place our esteemed Governator calls home. That pretty much sums it up
On my way home today, I decided to stop for groceries at the Brentwood Whole Foods Market – it’s not my favorite as it’s one of the first Whole Foods (now ubiquitous) that popped up in LA about 12 years ago and it feels cramped, with a smaller selection than its more modern cousins and parking is limited, especially at rush hour. But as every Los Angeleno knows, one will do anything it takes to avoid detours during peak traffic time. So, Brentwood Whole Foods it is (by the way, Whole Foods, for those who have never seen this miracle of marketing, is a chain of beautiful supermarkets that specializes in organic produce, natural meats and overall healthier offerings with price tags to match – just don’t judge me here).
As soon as I walked in, I remembered I had forgotten all about Brentwood and its natural species. After dutifully wiping the handle of my cart with an anti bacterial towelette, offered at the entrance – I am not a doctor but I am pretty sure that such measures do not stave off swine flu, they just make us feel conscientious – I looked up to see a tall, middle-aged gentleman zeroing in on little me, trying to make eye contact between the pineapples and the mangoes. Coming from lunch with a girlfriend, I had actually made the effort of dressing up and applying make up and I guess I looked somewhat cute. Still, I had no plans to be picked up in a market, posh or otherwise, even if this particular store is notorious for the males lurking in the aisles for hours, waiting for desperate or bored rich housewives. I concentrated on my potatoes and stared at the ground.
Further along the produce section, I come across such a housewife, her skin so perfect porcelain white that it glows and so stretched and pulled behind the ears that every facial bones is visible, sort of like Madonna without the glamour – between the Botox and the surgery, I am staring at a face strangely devoid of expression. Maybe tall guy will take an interest. And I am not too sure whether the customer next to her is trying to achieve porcelain white skin by keeping the sun rays at bay or simply trying to avoid the flu – actually, I can barely be sure she is a woman at all as her entire head is nested inside a sort of gigantic bee-keeper hat with a mouth guard wrapped around her entire face. This is turning into an unexpectedly interesting shopping expedition and I am grateful for small mercies.
While hunting for saffron, I try to maneuver my cart down aisle 4, currently blocked by an older man, the academic looking type, huddled inside a long coat despite the sweltering 77 degrees outside. He is asking the puzzled 12-year-old employee for some single origin Costa Rican Coffee that he can’t find and, while three of us listen to his monologue, patiently waiting for him to move, he is completely oblivious to the traffic jam he is causing. When I finally mumble “Excuse me” and gently ram my cart into his basket he looks up with a mild expression of annoyance, as if having to move 5 inches will destroy any chance he has of finding his stupid Costa Rican Coffee.
I finally check out and while I am having a pleasant exchange with the cashier and still waiting for my change, another entitled specimen butts in, asking for 2 cases of Berry Water without the lemon flavor (people really drink that??).The cashier, a pretty brunette with bangs and a sweet smile, looks at me and says “Welcome to my life” – I do pity her.
And the cherry on the cake is the SUV that nearly runs me over while I am loading my groceries in the trunk, forcing me to jump to the side like a rabbit and leaving me to wonder how all these lunatics manage to live together in this, I promise, very unrepresentative section of LA.