During the first few weeks after moving to L.A. for my mid-life crisis, I drove around having no idea where I was. Ever. Some days I ended up in Santa Monica where the Pacific was pounding the shore and people were surfing in wet suits in February’s miraculous 75-degree weather. Other days found me turning the curves on Mulholland Drive, the circuitous route that moves from grand wealth at one end to dark stealth at the other. One afternoon I passed the corner of La Brea and First–though I didn’t know the street names at the time—and saw what appeared to be a Fellini set with demons and angels spilling out onto the street. I parked and took a picture but did not go in. I didn’t know where I was.
A year later I drove again past this dream sequence of a place and decided to enter Nick Metropolis’ Collectibles. It was a Hollywood bombardment: headless mannequins, leopard couches, pinball machines, glass chandeliers, dinosaur cigarette lighters, Marilyn Monroe throw pillows, mirrors with rhinestones frames. There was one mirror encircled with medium-size animal bones. And there were letters, hundreds of letters–all colors and sizes, having come presumably from signs and billboards that once announced appearances of the famous or hoping to; the alphabet was strewn about as if sentences in the sky had fallen and landed here in haphazard piles.
Nick M, the man himself, had made BIG SALE out of some of the letters for the front of his store, an open air house of mirrors and dreams he’s owned for twenty years. I wandered about and watched Nick, a short handsome Greek with olive skin, dyed hair, and beautiful lime green and blood red tie, negotiate with customers. I’d fallen in love with the mirror with the decorative bones and asked the price.
“One hundred and fifty. But for you, one twenty. Are you a witch?”
“Yes,” I replied for what reason I knew not.
“Well this mirror was made for the set of a show called Witches. Ever see it?”
“No. I’ll take it.”
That’s what is great about mid-life in L.A. You can pretend to be a witch or anything else in the mid-day with the sun shining, Elvis close by, surrounded by artifacts bespeaking glamour, leisure, dismemberment, domesticity, debauchery, and magic.
In a previous incarnation, Kirsten Wasson was a professor of American Literature at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. Currently she makes a home of sorts in Beverly Hills where she works as a tutor, event planner, and copywriter. She has work forthcoming in LA Review of Books, and is a storyteller at many venues around L.A.