Los Angeles is a city with a reputation. Thanks in no small part to the manner in which L.A. is depicted in movies and TV shows, when we think of Los Angeles we tend to think of a place filled with weird and wonderful people; a place where anyone and everyone is invited to join the carnival; a town in which absolutely anything and everything goes.
Although in reality Los Angeles is mainly just like any other big city – a sprawling mass of concrete and freeways filled with millions of people going about ordinary, everyday lives. Apart from the odd celebrity sighting here and there, for the most part it feels just as normal as anywhere else.
But here’s the thing: if you hang out in L.A. long enough, you will almost certainly wind up having an “L.A .Moment”. An out of the blue experience so unexpectedly bizarre it could only ever happen in this fantastical City of Angels.
So here’s my very own L.A. Moment, from last week…..
I got a text message from a friend who lives in a swanky apartment building in Santa Monica, a smart suburb in the west of L.A., by the beach. It read: “Do you remember the gay couple who live in the apartment upstairs – you met them when you were here a few weeks ago? They are having a birthday gathering on Sunday. They remembered you and said you should drop in if you are around. It’s a casual thing and starts at noon if you can make it”.
So with nothing else to do that day, I decided to take my friend up on the invitation, and drop in unannounced on the aforementioned birthday gathering.
Although what I was unaware of was that this particular birthday gathering was for a dog.
Yes, for a dog.
And a tiny little dog at that.
You see, it turns out that my friend’s neighbors were throwing an over-the-top 2nd birthday bash for their teeny-weeny Chihuahua, whose name is Coco (of course). So the scene that greeted me as I entered the courtyard of the building was one of about fifteen dogs, and their respective owners, milling around in full festive mode.
Strung across the back wall of the courtyard was a huge banner: “Happy Birthday Coco”. There were also balloons and streamers and party favors. In the background seriously cool lounge music was playing. One of the hosts said he had spent quite some time creating a playlist of all of Coco’s favorite tunes. Meaning, if the playlist was anything to go by, that a two-year old Chihuahua has a more refined taste in music than me…
Underneath the banner was a large table, laid out with everything that “grown-ups” could possibly want at a party – beer and wine and soft drinks; sandwiches and crudités; cookies and pastries and even fresh home-made pizza (one of Coco’s “dads” is of Italian descent, and he proudly told me that he had spent the morning baking pizza for the occasion – “fresh mozzarella and sausage – Coco loves that!”).
Not to be outdone, alongside the adult table was another fully catered table, only this one laid out for the “kids”. In other words, a whole table loaded with doggie treats: liver snacks, dog biscuits, chew bones, and bowls of water. “It’s all organic”, Coco’s dad said.
Of course, every dog was dressed for the occasion. And by dressed, I mean dressed impeccably, in high fashion, puppy style. There were dogs in cool t-shirts, and on color coordinated leads, and with bow-ties around their neck and flouncy ribbons in their hair. One particularly rambunctious pooch was wearing an outfit with a big polo insignia on the back: “it’s from Ralph Lauren” his owner confided to me, whilst I did everything I could not to burst out laughing. And the birthday girl, as you’d expect, was the star of the day, wearing a fetching red designer number, decorated with sequins and sparkles that perfectly matched her red collar and the little red bow on her head.
Like at all 2nd birthday parties (and I have been to quite a few of these in my day) the adults stood around eating and drinking and talking about their “kids”. Hence I was dragged into various conversations about everything dog. From where L.A.’s best dog friendly beaches and cafes and play-centers are to be found, to how to diagnose common doggie ailments from the consistency of their poop.
And just like at other 2nd birthday parties I have been to, the “kids” were largely oblivious to the party itself. Instead they ran around like mad, playing and creating mayhem; a circus of dogs, mostly of the small and yappy variety, chasing after their own tails, jumping and barking incessantly, for two long, long hours.
Then, to cap it all off, towards the end as the party began to wind down and the guests began to depart, Coco’s parents handed out take-home party bags. So every dog, as they left the party, was presented with a plastic bucket that had their name printed on it. Inside of which was an assortment of pet snacks, and a fluffy chew toy. A blue one for the boy doggies, and a pink one for the girl doggies.
Could things have possibly got any more L.A. than a full-blown birthday party for a group of toddler dogs?
As it turns out, the answer is yes.
Just before I left the party, I found myself talking to a group of dog owners – three couples whose pets were running wild somewhere in the courtyard. One of the couples was recounting the story of how their dog had been poorly behaved – peeing on the floors, chewing the couch, normal puppy sort of stuff.
“Obviously, something was really bugging Hugo,” the man said. “We tried everything, but nothing seemed to be working, and the anti-social behavior just continued.”
“We even took Hugo to a pet psychologist…” the woman chimed in, filling in her partner’s sentence before he was able to finish. “… but the pet psychologist wasn’t able to figure Hugo’s issues out”.
I was about to say something, along the lines of “anti-social puppy behavior and a pet psychologist – are you fucking kidding me?” But before I could, the man continued: “And then, we were lucky enough to get a referral to this lady who lives in Boston. She is a pet psychic. So we arranged an appointment for Hugo with her, which he had to have via Skype, because she is on the other side of the country.”
And the woman finished the story off for him: “Oh my God, it was amazing. She was able to tune in to Hugo, and feel his energy, and afterwards she told us that the issue is that Hugo didn’t like the food we were feeding him. So we changed his diet. And I swear, he has been an angel ever since. We owe that pet psychic so much.”
Seriously, I am not making it up: this is a real conversation with real people that actually happened.Which did something that doesn’t happen all that often: render me utterly, completely speechless. I mean come on, how is one supposed to respond to a story of two otherwise completely sane adults taking their dog to see a pet psychic? And then doing it on Skype, no less.
Like I said at the start, if you hang out in Los Angeles long enough, you will almost certainly get to enjoy your own “L.A .Moment” – a crazy incident that could only possibly ever happen in L.A., and that will immediately serve to remind you it is a city like nowhere else on the planet. Enjoy.