To celebrate the 4th, The Scout and I escaped the San Gabriel Valley heat and went to see a friend in Redondo Beach. I called her before we left. “There’s no sun!” she wails over the phone, “I want sun!” “We want overcast!” I tell her. The miracle of southern California is not that you can go skiing in the morning and spend the afternoon at the beach. The real miracle is that you can drive outta sunny 90 degree weather straight into 72 and overcast.
We biked north to The Strand, where gajillion people were gathered in the gloom to show off their tattoos and drink potent potables out of their Solo cups. The patios of the houses were packed (the photo above is not a good example) and the path was packed with cyclists, pedestrians, and skateboarders. “On your left, on your left,” became a constant refrain. As we biked along, I thought to myself, “I can’t believe I live here.” As in, ‘I don’t live at the beach but I can drive to it and it’s all part of the greater LA area, and look at this action.’ The Scout called it zoology.
On the way back, we were diverted off the bike path. One of the revellers had fallen from the patio-roof of a house onto the pavement. The ambulance was gone, and we could see soap residue from the clean up. “He might die,” a young, wide-eyed blonde guy told me.
‘Nothing ever happens to me,’ she reflected, as she entered the Piazza Signoria…It was the hour of unreality — the hour, that is, when unfamiliar things are real… Then something did happen. Two Italians by the Loggia had been bickering about a debt. ‘Cinque lire,’ they had cried, ‘cinque lire!’ They sparred at each other, and one of them was hit lightly upon the chest. He frowned; he bent towards Lucy with a look of interest, as if he had an important message for her. He opened his lips to deliver it, and a stream of red came out between them and trickled down his unshaven chin.
The 4th of July moment that had been about celebrating and wacky personal expression had been replaced by the specter of death…which of course is always with us. Days like the 4th are when we pretend hardest that isn’t so. Then some guy falls off the roof to remind us.
I can’t find anything on the Internet about what might have happened to the guy. I guess we would have heard if he died on the local news.
Then Miss Lavish darted under the archway of the white bullocks, and she stopped, and she cried: ‘A smell! A true Florentine smell! Every city, let me teach you, has its own smell.’
‘Is it a very nice smell?’ said Lucy, who had inherited from her mother a distaste to dirt.
‘One doesn’t come to Italy for niceness,’ was the retort; ‘one comes for life.’