My husband and I are in Los Angeles right now. To be precise, we are in Westlake Village, which is 30 miles west of Hollywood. My husband is here for a conference and I am here to be his arm-candy.
Westlake is the only village I know of that has 8,000-square-foot cottages with 8-figure price tags, and come with pools, armed guards, and indoor tennis courts. The downtrodden masses here endure glorious sunshine most days, and are forced to bundle up when the temperature drops below 75 degrees. A common side effect of being rich is thin blood. That is why Charlie Sheen loads sweet young things into his mansion, er, cottage, right up the street from our hotel.
I’m a born and raised Californian, but Los Angeles is a foreign country to me. They do things differently here. Let me give you a few examples.
We are staying at the ever-so-swanky Four Seasons hotel. I highly recommend this place o’pampering and celebrity treatment. They treat you like a movie star here because for all they know, you are one. Heck, Britney Spears (not a movie star unless you call the Mickey Mouse Club excellence in cinema) got on the elevator with me when I was on the way to the gym to work out. She was on her way to the bar. Or maybe it was the other way around.
Next to the hotel’s fancy-dancy spa is the California Health and Longevity Institute. The beautiful people of Westwood Village, meaning everyone who lives here, goes to the Institute for personal training, cosmetic and restorative dentistry (read veneers), acupuncture, acupressure, and energy healing, and dermatology and cosmetic treatments (read plastic surgery), etc.
My husband and I took a cooking class in the Institute’s wellness kitchen today. Chef in residence, Paulette Lambert, taught the interactive class. She is a registered dietitian and certified diabetic educator. Paulette was personable, cute-as-a-button, and a wealth of information. She also is a TV star as the dietician for Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.
Note to self: Robin, you do not need to sauté everything in four tablespoons of butter. Otherwise, you might be the star on the next season of Extreme Makeover.
The Health and Longevity institute was founded/funded by Dole Food Company’s billionaire owner, David Murdock. Coincidentally, I read in the Los Angeles Times today that Mr. Murdock’s 8-acre estate in Bel Air, California held the record for the highest-price home transaction for over a decade, with a price tag of $94-million. Who knew there is so much money in canned fruit? (A home in Woodside, California recently sold for $117.5-million, breaking Mr. Murdock’s record. I hear he was crushed-pineapple over the fall of his record.)
Los Angeles does cars like Debbie does Dallas. Not exactly, but Los Angelinos have a love affair with their cars. Good thing, because they spend half of their life sitting in their cars while stuck in artery-clogged traffic jams. The freeways here look like used luxury car sales lots. The cars here don’t come with mundane names like Ford or Toyota. If you don’t know how to spell Lamborghini, you can’t afford one.
I ran to the grocery store to buy a bottle of wine. Why? I paid $14 for a single glass of wine at the hotel bar. A bottle of El Cheapo at the grocery store was $9. While loading my jug of hooch into the car, one of the checkout ladies got into her car, which was parked next to mine. Apparently, her workday was at an end. Nothing against Los Angeles grocery clerks, but they can afford to drive Jaguars?
Lastly, I cruised around the charming Old Town Pasadena one afternoon. A store clerk said to me, “Don’t you look nice. Are you from out-of-town?” I said, “Yes, I am. How did you know?”
With a snort, she said, “Women don’t wear anything but jeans and tee shirts in Los Angeles. Ever.”
I guess I shouldn’t have worn my tiara and ermine stole while shopping. It was a dead giveaway that I was a foreigner.