UNITED STATES—There they are again with that rustling, crackling energy on the streets. They travel in packs, little islands of smugness among us old timers; there they are shielded by a sense goofy camaraderie in the implacable gulf that springs between them and us who were here first. It would be breaking an unwritten law to hail them in a neighborly way, and break through the sheltering shield.
Unthinkable: a grave faux pas to intrude as they share their private jokes and snickers. A tribe of smug jerks they are, newly arrived, many have no visible means of support, they must be coddled and spoiled, as they arrived here on the latest technical wave, some already driving baronial cars, in this narcissist ordained clique protected in their naive obliviousness and they pursue their cryptic enterprise, meanwhile the known, loved and familiar landscape, the magical hills and low spaces where the sky is etched, the lands are smothered by concrete.
These interlopers dwell in the ugly high brick concrete and glass rectilinear boxes that rise implacably. They eat together and work together, gourmandizing as if there’s no tomorrow and drinking exotic drinks that put to shame our own simpler brews. The space grows scarce, it sucks the time and biological joy out of the marrow, and speeds everything up until we are walking and talking and thinking faster and sillier then we ever believed possible and the city we knew with its colorful nooks and Bohemian stores and quaint cross streets is no more.
The newcomers repel as a motorcycle charging down a crowded street spreads panic among the dogs and people. Their eyes are always averted as they travel in their bubble, eat at the newest places and ritzy palm courts exhibiting their infantilism and share a collective infatuation, based on ignorance of that which infatuates them, as they set up their finely ground glass eyes around spots to commemorate the counterfeit scenes and secretly mock us who were here before and make us feel invaded and sickened at the precariousness of our threatened authenticity.
Now and then one or two of them may separate from the pack, they will talk to one another conspiratorially, show fresh curiosity to the outer world that is suspect, a mere Trojan horse, being used to insinuate and let loose ridicule lurking beneath the surface, I would not dream of saying hi and crossing into their bubble, nor dream of disturbing their separation from those who came here before because they saw what they liked and decided to stay; while these invaders come and usurp those things that we liked: our modest rents and open spaces, affordable eats.
No, I couldn’t dare utter the irreversible syllable of hello, not for many months, but then, finally, it became a compulsion. I just can’t take it any more, I guesss, and let the smart alecky and irate gates open up, and spat out with the placidity of righteous rage: “Hey boy and girls, don’t you ever break away from your little tribe and gaze on the true people in front of your nose, which seem to be the source of such snide entertainment.”
One of them batted her eyes in shock and then opened her lips in a clown-pale face, suppressing a tubercular giggle.
“Nobody talks to us,” spoken in disbelief. “They stare at us, but nobody talks to us. They think we’re so above them because of what we do. They don’t quite understand it, but it is what we love and breathe.”
“What is it you do do?”
“What it is I can’t honestly describe. We’re still finding out. It’s called motion pictures. They get shown in dark dens in other cities. Come and join us if you like. We’re about to go to Griffith Park. You kind of have a funny face and we might be able to use you.”
“Gee, I don’t reckon. Gosh, shucks—-well hell. Why not?”
Humorist Grady Miller is the author of “Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood” (available on Amazon)