May 03, 2005

Where the cars dress in monogrammed floor mats

Surprised to find such a place exists? I was, and, given where I live, my upbringing, and my place of birth (all geographically within the same coordinates), there is not much that brings me up short.

Welcome to L.A. Where there are people in such need of assurance of ownership that they do, indeed, monogram their cars' floor mats. "Detailing" cars is a full-time occupation here, unlike in New York, where parking one's car can be a full-time occupation, never mind how the car is dressed.

However, the land of the monogrammed floor mat is providential for my friend, Cara, whose business here depends on celebrities and their demographic ilk demanding her work: the most beautifully designed, incredibly well crafted, made-in-the-U.S.A. travel blankets, shoes, and baby gifts ever to emerge on the custom retail market.

These items don't come cheap, but once you've taken Cara's blanket on a plane, you will never be satisfied by an airline germ catcher again, assuming you can even find one. (Since airplane food has disappeared except as a retail purchase, pillows have been phased out, too, and blankets will probably be next.)

I have known Cara since the year we turned 5, our birthdays ten days apart, and we entered kindergarten. We sailed through elementary school, got in a little too much trouble in junior high (apparently I was the Bad Influence, banned from the house by her mother, a fact I didn't know until three days ago), and spent our last school year together at age 15. Until Cara and her boyfriend fetched me from Palm Springs, we hadn't seen each other in close to 30 years.

When I look at Cara, she will always be 5, and we will always be on the swing set in the back of the old house. Never mind that it's almost 40 years later, and we have each grown into women who can see, to whatever effect, how her mother's influence plays out in another generation. I remember that Cara's mom was strict. What I didn't realize was that she ran Cara's life as a fascist. This may be why Cara lives 3,000 miles from her mom, while I can tolerate mine (who crumpled on the discipline front circa 1972) only 8 blocks from my apartment.

Our mommies were friends. They had bouffant '60s hair-dos, smoked cigarettes, and drank cocktails together. Her mother still smokes; mine still drinks; the bouffant hair-dos are long gone (as are our mothers' natural hair colors), but their friendship apparently splintered over my being the Bad Influence. (To this day I can't remember whose idea it was to break into her parents' liquor cabinet, or whether it was even locked.)

Our friendship has been revived. There is no one in the world, save my mother, who has been conscious of me for a longer period of time. It means everything to me that there is now someone in my life, not linked by blood, who also remembers me with my father.


Blogger Robin said...

It does feel important to know a few people who go way back like that. THanks for yet another great post.

11:07 PM  

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