Hit Me Baby One More Time

The Little Mermaid was being performed live at the Hollywood Bowl, and Sara Bareilles was playing the role of Ariel. I love Sara Bareilles more than anything else, so naturally I bought a ticket. Darren Criss was playing Prince Eric. I want to have sex with Darren Criss, so naturally I bought a ticket for a seat up close. I bought the ticket for Friday, June 3rd at 8 pm. I requested off work for that day, and then set the date aside for several months. Finally, the day came, and I drove over to Staples to print out my ticket. I promptly folded the paper up, stuck it in my pocket, entered my car, and began to exit the parking lot.

There was a long line of cars waiting at a red light going North, but I was trying to make a left to go South out of the parking lot. Soon a gap in the cars opened up, and I saw my chance. The man in the car just before the gap waved me forward, so I inched out to make a left turn. And that’s when it hit me.

A woman was trying to enter the left hand turn lane, which started about 100 feet further down the lane. To do so, she entered the wrong lane of traffic and sped down the road to get to the left turn lane. She did not see me, and I did not see her. We did meet, however, as her car promptly smashed into mine, knocking out one of my headlights and my entire front bumper. My head hit the roof of my car, and I sat there in a daze.

“Dammit,” I thought, “This is probably my fault.” I tried to put my car in drive to get it out of the road, but the gears wouldn’t move. As I sat there, wondering if I should get out of the car when I was blocking two lanes of traffic, the woman in the other car threw open her car door, looked at me, and screamed, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!”

“Shit,” I thought, “I hadn’t even anticipated this.” I got out of the car, but before I could say anything, a man walked up.

“It’s okay man, it wasn’t your fault. I saw the whole thing, she was over the line,” he said.

“WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?” she screamed. “I WAS MAYBE AN INCH OVER THE LINE!”

An old woman ran up to her and shouted, “YOU DROVE RIGHT PAST ME AND YOU WERE IN THE WRONG LANE OF TRAFFIC. YOU’RE A TERRIBLE DRIVER AND IT’S YOUR FAULT!”

The two women began to argue. I stood there, stunned. Should I call the police? Do I move my car? What do I do? The man told me I should move my car, so we pushed it into the parking lot. The woman in the other car screamed, “I HIT MY HEAD. ON THE CEILING. IT HURTS.”

“Do you need an ambulance?” The man asked.

“NO I DON’T NEED AN AMBULANCE!” She screamed. She then proceeded to call her husband, crying hysterically. I dialed 911, and got a busy signal. Thank God I wasn’t being murdered. I called again, and someone answered. I told them what had happened, and they asked if we needed an ambulance. I said no. They transferred me to non-emergency services, which again gave me a busy signal. I hung up and dialed the non-emergency number. 5 times in a row I got the busy signal. I finally called 911 back and asked if they could send an officer. They told me if no one needed an ambulance and we didn’t hit a public fixture that we didn’t need an officer, and to call our insurance companies and exchange info.

I told the woman this, while the two witnesses gave me their information. The woman shot me death glances during this, still on the phone to her husband. I called my parents and asked them what to do. While I was on the phone to them, I heard the woman say, “He doesn’t love me anymore!” I had no idea who she was talking to, or why she chose this moment to have this conversation, but it was all very dramatic.

My parents gave me the info for my insurance, and I called to file a claim after exchanging info with the woman. The whole task was incredibly laborious, having to describe in detail what happened and spell everything over the phone. “N as in Nancy. E as in…” I wanted to say “Eloté bowl”, which was the new salad at Healthy Chipotle, but I realized he probably would not understand. He asked me questions about her car, and I tried to answer based on the pictures I had taken of her info. There was no way in hell I was gonna go ask her, dramatically sobbing on the curb. Finally I finished the claim and hung up. I called AAA to come tow my car and then waited. An older man showed up and hugged the woman who hit me. I hoped he wasn’t her husband, and that he wouldn’t beat me up. I kept to myself.

Finally the woman approached me. “Oh my God,” she said. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t even ask. Are YOU okay?”

“I’m fine,” I replied.

She went to call her insurance and I texted my boss, Katrina. She immediately offered to come pick me up and buy me ice cream. “Sure!” I said. It was nice to have someone take me away from this hostile woman. I overheard her say to her insurance, “But there were these two witnesses who immediately came up and blamed me! Like, how am I supposed to defend myself when they’re against me from the start?” I waited for the tow truck in uncomfortable silence, avoiding eye contact with the woman and her friend. Finally it came. The man offered to take my car to a AAA storage facility, and said maybe her insurance would pay for storage. I hoped so. As he drove off with my car, the woman came up to me.

“Oh my God,” she said again. “Do you need a ride? Can I call you a taxi?”

“I’m fine, my friend is picking me up,” I said.

“Do you need anything? A protein bar? A water? I have a tote bag in my car. I’m just trying to make up for lashing out at you. I don’t want to be a shitty human being,” she said.

“I’m fine, thank you. It’s okay, we’re both in shock, it’s fine!” I said. I was just afraid of interacting with her period.

“Do you understand what I’m saying though?” She continued. “I wasn’t over the line- I was just trying to turn left. It wasn’t my fault.”

“I think we should just let the insurance companies deal with it,” I said. Thankfully my friend arrived at that moment. We shook hands and I got in my friend’s car. We drove off, and I was never so relieved as I was in that moment.


My friend Katrina took me to Mashti Malone’s where we got ice cream cones and took post-car-crash pictures. It was only 7 pm, and I realized I could still make The Little Mermaid.

“Is that a good idea?” I said. “Should I still go?”

“Absolutely,” my friend said, and she drove me to the Hollywood Bowl. I walked in, found my seat, and just as I was sitting down, Darren Criss comes out onto the stage. I flipped my shit. The first time seeing my one true love. Everything had been worth it. He brought Alan Menkin out on the stage, who sang a medley of Disney songs that he had originally written. When the show started, you could feel the excitement in the air. The audience was full of adults who had grown up watching The Little Mermaid, some with their own children who were just as (or maybe not quite so much as) excited to see the movie.

They played the movie while a full orchestra played the music. Every time a song came on, an actor would come out and perform it. The minute I saw Sara Bareilles, I knew all was right in the world. Here I was, in Hollywood, watching my favorite artist singing along to a Disney movie I had watched over and over again as a kid. It was magic.

My friend Katrina ended up picking me up as well, and drove me back to my house. I collapsed into bed, and cried. It had been an incredibly emotional day.


The next morning I ubered to work, where everyone asked me what happened. I told the story of the accident many times, to many people, with hand motions, diagrams, and emphasis on the words “He doesn’t love me anymore”. Finally my insurance agent called.

“So, unfortunately, you didn’t have a legal right to make a left turn out of the parking lot, so even though she was driving on the wrong side of the road, you’re both in the wrong. So there’s a chance her insurance won’t pay for anything. Also, since you don’t have collision coverage, we’re not gonna pay for anything either, so any compensation you’ll get will come from them. I would suggest moving your car to a secure location, and waiting for her insurance to call you. But since it’s the weekend, they probably won’t call until Monday.”

Strange to say, a part of me knew this would happen. Even though I knew the accident wasn’t my fault, I knew that it would be way too good to be true for everything to work out. I was pretty sure that somehow I would end up fucked. And here it was. I called my parents and freaked out.

“What do I do? Where do I put my car? How will I pay for a new one? What will I say to her insurance company?” I didn’t want to deal with this. I wanted to crawl into bed and sleep forever. I wanted to let my parents handle this. I wanted to quit my job and move back to Virginia Beach and uber everywhere and never have to deal with insurance again.

My parents calmed me down, and told me we would figure this out. After I got off work, I ubered back to the scene of the crime to take detailed pictures of the road for when her insurance called me. That way I could clearly show what the lanes looked like and that I wasn’t at fault. After I finished that, I ubered home to change and go to the gym with my friend Katrina. She again offered to pick me up, and while I waited for her I looked up bikes on Craigslist. I found one for $70. I texted the guy, and he told me I could come over now to look at it.

When Katrina arrived, she offered to drive me to the guy’s place to get the bike. I stopped at Ralph’s to withdraw money, and also to buy gummi bears to eat in sadness. We drove to the guys house, and he brought the bike down. It was dusty, and the tires were kind of flat, but it worked. I gave him the money and put the bike in Katrina’s car. She drove us to the gym for our workout where a buff guy watched us condescendingly on the seated rowing machine and then corrected our form. I was feeling hypersensitive about it, although it was probably for the best since we were in fact doing the exercise wrong. After the gym Katrina drove me home and I thanked her for the ride.


The next day I got a ride to work with my coworker and at work I desperately messaged everyone I knew, looking for a place to store my car. I didn’t even know where my car was, since I didn’t ask the AAA guy which place he was taking it to. I called his number but only got the busy signal, so I sent a text asking about my car as a Hail Mary. Nobody had a place available for me to put my car, and it all became very overwhelming. I locked myself in the bathroom at work, sat down on the toilet, and cried. I had never cried at work before. I was feeling very dramatic. I felt like everyone was letting me down, and that nobody was helping me. I knew this wasn’t true though. My boss had given me three rides, bought me ice cream, and been nothing but loving and kind to me. My coworker drove me to and from work. My parents were telling me that they would help me no matter what happened. Still, I couldn’t help but feel negative. I wanted to isolate. I knew this was probably from the trauma of the accident.

But like for real though. I mean, how much fucking PTSD can one person endure? I had already been in an accident back in October (that was my fault), been robbed at gunpoint, and now this. Los Angeles did not seem to be very kind to me.

As I got back to work, I got a text from my roommate saying I could store my car in his spot for a week. I was so relieved. I still had a billion and one concerns, but at least things felt manageable. This was one less thing I had to worry about.


There’s a customer named Jake who comes into my café every day and always gets the same cup of tea. He’s my fitness guru, and is always giving me tips on protein (or as my boss calls it, brotein), lifting, diet, and exercise. I was relaying my car crash woes to him when he gave me some advice. He told me that I had a choice, that what made people like me different from other people was my ability to take the negativity in my life, accept it, and move on. That I could spend my time focusing on everything wrong or I could focus on the good. And that I was lucky to have an outlet, to be able to write about the experience and not keep it all inside, wearing it on me like a death shroud to show everyone around me what I had been through.

And he’s right. There is a lot of good in my life. For everything Los Angeles has put me through, it has given me so much more. A home. A place to be an adult, to grow. A place to be sober. To work, to write, to make incredible friends and mentors in the most unlikely of places. And it’s the same with this accident. I could focus on the bad, on not having a car, on insurance, on people not being there for me when I need help.

Or I could focus on my friends, who were there for me when I was in need. Who gave me rides, bought me ice cream, drove me to work, and offered to help in any way they could. Like it or not, situations like these always show me who my true friends are, and just how much I mean to them.

Jake told me how he spoke to Katrina about her coming to get me after my accident, and how impressed he was with her. Her response was, “but I love him.” It’s things like that that make me realize how blessed that I am. The love of my friends and family is what keeps me going through stuff like this. And while it’s easy to think I might be unlucky, or that life is never on my side, I know that this is just life on life’s terms. And if I can make it through this, I can make it through anything. Everything passes. Friends make it pass a little easier.

-Theodore Dandy

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Coming Home to San Francisco

I have never been to San Francisco before, but as a Friend of Dorothy I have always revered it in my mind as a Gay Mecca; A place I would one day make my pilgrimage to, finally returning to the Mother (which I envisioned sort of like the giant mother alien from the movie Aliens). So when I was invited to go up to visit for a few days last week, I jumped at the opportunity to make my way to the Gay Land of Milk and Honey.

My friend Jolene, with whom I worked at Healthy Chipotle, was staying in Palo Alto just outside of San Francisco for two weeks while she helped open up a new store. My former coworkers, Martin and Corinne, were planning on making a trip up to see her and spend a day in San Francisco. We departed at 7 am, stopping at the Fancy Starbucks I work at for coffee before heading to San Fran, which was six hours away. I have been told, by the way, never to call it San Fran, but it seems to have found its way into my vocabulary nonetheless.

Martin wanted to stop at the Halfway House Diner in Santa Clarita on our way to Palo Alto, because it was featured in a Pepsi commercial in the 90’s starring Cindy Crawford.

“Did you ever see it?” Martin asked, while Corinne shouted “NO ONE HAS SEEN IT, NONE OF US ARE OLD LIKE YOU.”

I found this a bit unfair since Martin is only a few years older than Corinne and I, but I couldn’t argue with that since I had not, in fact, seen the commercial. Nevertheless, we drove to the diner and got out of the car while Martin proceeded to take pictures. I decided there was no time like the present, so I posed with my Ralph’s brand seltzer water and pretended to be Cindy Crawford.

We ate a relatively average breakfast, and then got back on the road. As we headed back to the interstate, we came to a road closed sign. Corinne used the GPS to find a detour, which took us to a dirt road in the mountains that did not seem to be meant for anything besides an ATV. “This is getting pretty dangerous,” I thought, but I assured myself that if what I was doing was stupid, one of the other two people in the car would speak up. Finally we arrived at a part in the road where there were two rivets for tires and a raised bit of grass in between. I pushed on the gas, hoping to rush through it, but of course ended up getting the car stuck.

“This is it,” I thought. “This is how it ends. What will my mother think? I didn’t even make it to San Francisco before I died. Will I go to heaven?”

We managed to get unstuck using the floor mats from my car under the wheels, and I managed to turn the car around without falling off the very precarious cliff nearby me.I wasn’t convinced that we were out of the woods, however, so I took the prayer cards out of my wallet and threw them at Corinne.

“READ IT!” I said. “READ THE SAINT FRANCIS PRAYER!”

“Lord make me an instrument-”

“LOUDER!”

“LORD MAKE ME AN INSTRUMENT OF THY PEACE!”

Corinne kept reading through the prayer card until we finally hit solid ground again. We ended up taking a longer route to get around, but this time felt much safer as we finally got back on the highway.

We got to Palo Alto after about 11 hours, delayed by driving in the wrong direction for 8 miles, being stuck behind a truck going half the speed limit for 10 miles, stopping for Corinne to squat and pee in front of some office buildings off the highway in the middle of nowhere, and a detour to Santa Cruz to visit where the first Fancy Starbucks was founded.

We got there around 4, and stopped in for coffee. I told the barista that I too was a barista and he gave me his shift drink, which I knew he would. There’s nothing a barista loves more than another barista. We got sandwiches and candy next door, and I again entered everything into my food app. I was feeling a bit apprehensive about the amount of calories I was having, so I took the vegetables off of my sandwich.

“Yeah, that’ll help,” said Martin. “Don’t eat the vegetables, but keep eating the candy.”

He had a point, but the candy was licorice wheels, and there’s no way I was passing that up.

We continued on to Palo Alto, until we finally arrived around 6. It had taken us a full 11 hours to get there, even though the trip was supposed to take about 5 and a half. We arrived at Healthy Chipotle, and saw Jolene working behind the counter. Her eyes lit up, but I motioned for her to say nothing because we wanted to pretend to be customers. Corinne wanted a salad, so we waited in line while the people who had been newly hired made her salad.

“Would you like light, medium or heavy dressing?” the girl behind the sneeze guard asked.

“What’s light look like?” Corinne asked, feigning ignorance.

“Light is one swirl around,” the girl showed Corinne.

“So medium is two?” asked Corinne.

“Yep!” the girl said, adding a second swirl of dressing to her salad.

“Oh, well I only wanted one and a half, so…” Corinne said.

“Oh, uh…” said the girl.

“She’s kidding. We work here, we’re just visiting our friend. We wanted to give you guys a hard time!” I said, sparing this poor girl more awkward silence.

“I actually did only want one and a half,” said Corinne.

“Well that’s your own damn fault,” I said.

Jolene came from behind the counter, hugged me, and whispered in my ear, “I hate it here. Get me out of here.”

I felt like an undercover cop talking to a hostage.

It turns out there’s nothing to do in Palo Alto, and poor Jolene was bored to tears. I was thrilled, however, because it was at the candy store next door that I rediscovered licorice whips.

Let me tell you something about licorice whips. I used to have Twizzlers licorice whips all the time when I was a kid until they discontinued them. I have been searching for them ever since. I have only found soft cherry licorice whips, not the stale strawberry kind I loved as a kid. So I bought these hoping they would be what I was looking for. I ripped open the package after paying, and took one bite. It was in that moment that God revealed Himself to me. Images of post piano lesson trips to 7-11 flashed through my head, and all of a sudden I was a child again. I immediately walked back to the rack of licorice whips, grabbed all of the bags that were hanging there, and dumped them on the register. I spent $25 on licorice whips, and regretted nothing. I threw in one of those little fake hands that you can put on your finger as well.

When we arrived at the airbnb that night, I immediately headed for bed, exhausted from the drive. I finished typing in everything I had eaten that day into my fitness app, and then hit the “complete my food diary” button.

“Congratulations!” It said. “If every day were like today, you’d gain 20 pounds in five weeks!”

That app can go fuck itself.

The next day I woke up around 9 am and decided to wake Jolene up with my little hand, a move she did not appreciate. We left the airbnb for San Fran at around 10 am, and managed to drive into the city without passing any tolls. Blasting The Village People as loud as my car speakers would go, we drove around the city until we found unpaid street parking, an apparent miracle in San Francisco, and stopped at The Mill for coffee. I told the barista that I too was a barista and he gave me my cappuccino for free, which I knew he would. We sat to drink it but not until Martin posed each of our drinks for an instagram photo. Apparently, Martin is instagram famous, and likes to take pictures of fancy food for his instagram. I sat there for several minutes while Martin arranged and rearranged our drinks, lamenting the situation I now found myself in.

We drove past the beach, and I recognized it from an episode of the HBO show Looking, where Patrick and Richie had their first real date. I took pictures while driving, a move I’m sure everyone else in the car did not appreciate.

We stopped for pastries and sandwiches at Tartine, while Martin again photographed everything while I sat there hungry. I couldn’t complain, though, since he had bought them all. We decided to walk to David’s Tea, where I bought four ounces of something called “Forever Nuts”. After leaving the store, we walked past a park which I recognized as being the place in Looking where Augustin tells Patrick that he’s slumming it with Richie. I again took pictures, feeling like a part of the show.

My friends then asked me what I wanted to do, so we drove over to The Castro while blasting “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross. Getting out of the car, I felt like I was immediately transported into the past. This was the same street that Harvey Milk walked, the place that so many gay men and women had lived and loved and fought to protect. It was a powerful feeling being there. I was delighted by the rainbow flags, and that every sign seemed to include a double entendre about penises.

We stopped in a place called Castro Coffee, and I ordered a cappuccino.

“Would you like 12 oz, 16 oz, or 20 oz?” The barista asked me.

I was taken aback. In what world is a cappuccino 20 ounces? Good God.

“12 oz,” I said.

I told the woman behind the counter that I was a barista, expecting my free cappuccino.

“That’s cool. It’ll be $3,” she said.

Dammit.

I paid for the cappuccino, and took a sip, but nothing came out. I realized that half of the cup was foam. I tilted it until finally some liquid managed to come out, and I was shocked when it scalded my mouth. It tasted terrible, so we went across the street to another coffee shop where I ordered another cappuccino.

“Can I have a cappuccino?” I asked the barista.

“For here or to go?” he said, hurriedly.

“To go. You know-”

“That’ll be $4,” he said.

“Okay,” I said, pulling out my card. “It’s funny, I’m also-”

He grabbed the card out of my hand and swiped it. Dammit. Looks like my attempts at getting free cappuccinos in San Fran were running thin. At least the cappuccino here was amazing.

At the end of the trip, it was nice to sit and drink my cappuccino in the Castro District of San Francisco, soaking up the history and the queerness of the city. It was everything I had dreamed it would be. The architecture, the people, the two dads walking along the sidewalk holding hands with their little girl. I really did feel like I was a part of something much bigger. I only wished I could have been there longer.

If I could live in San Francisco, I would. It’s the most interesting and beautiful city I’ve ever been in. And the abundance of queer history and people make it incredibly appealing to me. But I know that if I want to be a writer, I have to live in Los Angeles. And it’s not like LA doesn’t have it’s own queer history. I mean, I live in West Hollywood for Christ’s sake. Still, a part of me will always feel drawn to San Francisco. Until we meet again, San Fran.

-Theodore Dandy