Just got back from a trip to LA. Lived there for over a decade and loved living there in the fab-fun sixties, but now that I’ve long since put away my love beads, bell bottoms and fringe, it’s good to come home to the Midwest. There are only a few things I miss about living out there, the foothills, the ocean and the drivers. Yeah, the drivers. I admit to a love affair with LA drivers.
Traffic is an issue in Southern California, has been for decades. In order to survive, the great hive of commuters must move as one. Keeping the flow moving is uppermost on the mind of every person behind the wheel. Cars move in a graceful dance, weaving in and out, with a pervasive understanding that everyone on the road must do their part. Flip on the turn signal, check your mirror, move into the next lane. The unwritten rule is make a space for the signaling driver, take turns merging into backed-up lanes, keep creeping forward. Making space isn’t courtesy; it’s hive necessity and fascinating. They use mental maps of the freeways like geeks navigate cyberspace.
In the short time I was there, I recalled how to get on the 10, zip over to the 405 and slide onto the 118. LA drivers talk about using the freeway systems the same way Midwesterners talk about food and meals. (Some of you out there know what I mean, how we Plainsfolk talk about what we’re having for dinner, then about what we ate last time and go on to what we’re having at the next meal. It’s weird but so true.)
Now the ugly part. If you’re a lousy driver and planning to visit La-La-Land, let someone else drive. Bad driving of any kind brings out the beast/s. In the Midwest, car horn usage is rarely heard in comparison to what happens out there. LA drivers have an aggressive car horn language easily understood—insistent taps means get moving, rapid pounding bleats says you’re making a mistake or pay attention. Then there’s the ever terrifying full-on-hold-it-down-and-make-it-a-screaming blast. If you don’t respond to what they’re honking, you may see them bang their car roof with a fist, even get out to shout in your face—stalled traffic permitting, of course. And heaven help you if you’re the one causing the hold up. Imagine dead wildlife on the asphalt. A furious So-Cal driver may have originated the term road kill. But when it all works, traffic on the LA freeways is a thing of awe-inspiring beauty, an eerie example of how humans can become one in order to preserve the whole.
Speaking of preservation, and as a Monty Python devotee would say, “and now for something completely different.”
Friend and critique partner, Judith Post has recently put up a new bundle of the Babet and Prosper series, Collection III, that introduces Prowl, a new shifter. (Warning, do not touch the illustration of Prowl. Contact with your fingertip may cause a temporary burn.) In the Voodoo & Panthers installment, we get the double-whammy of Prowl and return of the mouth-watering warlock, Slate, both guys serious contenders to my personal heartthrob, Prosper. Check it out:
And lest I forget to toot my own horn—for non-traffic reasons—last month I had a new release as Julia Donner, The Dandy and the Flirt:
The stress-filled last five months will be over soon, which will leave me more time for attending to this neglected blog. Apologies.
M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)
Follow on Twitter @RigdonML
Judith Post said:
I loved this!! And thanks for the shout out. So glad you’re back to blogging!
I loved your description of LA traffic/drivers. My husband still has a hard time getting used to Midwestern drivers– even though he’s lived here now for more than 40 I’m years! Just last week he asked. “Didn’t drivers here ever learn how to blend?”
(I’m going to share this blog with him.)
Sue, the YA Author said:
Ha! I flew into La, rented a car and drove the 405 last spring. I’m sure I got some LA hate! I was on a mission to help my daughter get home.
So glad to see the shout out on Judy and your new book. Can’t wait to check it out!