“Just drop me off anywhere in LA,” I tell my friends. “I’ll get by on my own.”
It’s Sunday, our last full day in Los Angeles, which has been designated as “Hang Out With Your Other Friends in LA” day. One has plans with her family, and the other has plans with her old college friends. I, as usual, have made no plans.
“NO,” N scolds me. “We are NOT just dropping you off in LA. It’s not safe.” She pauses and tells K: “Actually, drop her off on Hollywood Boulevard.”
My eyes grow wide. “Hollywood?”
“You’ll love it!” N assures me.
I hate it.
K drops me off in front of TCL Chinese Theater (formerly Grauman’s Chinese Theater). My heart is thudding as I pick my way through the crowded streets. I can’t seem to get enough space to breathe–everywhere I step, I inadvertently photobomb some tourist’s photo.
People dressed up in costumes vie for my attention in an effort to make money. Sonic the Hedgehog is demanding I take a picture with him, Darth Vader is towering over me, and rapper wannabes try to shove their CDs into my hands. Even the heat from the summer afternoon sun won’t leave me alone.
It reminds me of Las Vegas–flashy, tacky, way too IN YOUR FACE.
I duck into an empty stairwell to catch my breath. I see a sign for a candy store, and head upstairs to seek shelter. Thankfully, I’ve managed to make last-minute plans with two new friends I met at an event in February: J and R. I wait in the cool and relatively empty candy store.
I see J and am filled with relief. I give her a big hug and we begin catching up on each others’ lives. As we carry on like old friends, it strikes me that we never actually spoke at the NASA Social itself. We saw each other there and talked to the same people, yet we never really communicated directly with each other except via Twitter. I am amazed she took time out of her busy schedule to come to a tourist trap just to see me.
J starts giving me the tour of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. When we get to the Chinese Theater, she points out the various hand prints and footprints and encourages me to stick my hands in them and take pictures. I decline. Something about the place makes me want to have nothing to do with it.
I should’ve known this would happen. I know nothing about Hollywood, celebrities, or pop culture. I can’t name the hottest movies in the box office, hardly know the names of the latest rising stars. The significance of Hollywood Boulevard is completely lost on me.
“Excuse me,” a tourist says angrily as she aims a camera at the ground beneath us. I mumble an apology and wonder what I’ve done to be on the receiving end of her fury. I look down–we are standing on Marilyn Monroe’s hand prints.
R joins us later, and we make our way to the top of the stairs in a building nearby to get a shot of the Hollywood sign in the distance.
After this, I’ve had enough of Hollywood Boulevard. J, R, and I grab a bite to eat in the swanky Roosevelt Hotel at a little burger joint called 25 degrees.
Afterwards, R introduces me to the joy of a cream puff from Beard Papa’s. I eat it so fast I neglect to take a picture of it.
For me, the best parts of Hollywood were not the markings left behind by celebrities on sidewalks, not the references to movies and fame, and most certainly not those pushy impersonators (does anyone LIKE them?). For me, it really came down to my friends and food. Go figure.
So would I recommend you go to Hollywood Boulevard? If it’s your first time in LA, you pretty much HAVE to. But once is enough.