ThreefourtyfiveAM. I just got out of the movies, I have spend all day in the cinema again. It starts in the morning when I look up all the movies playing in a specific theater and I arrange them to fit a tight schedule, then I work out the master plan on how to get from one movie to the next without paying more than one ticket, at first it seems hard but when you have done it for as long as I have, there is absolutely no problem. The trick comes in becoming invisible...you want to blend in and become nobody in a movie theater, dress casually with the most usual clothes you can find, if you can layer even better, that way you can go into the restroom stall and just trade layers for a whole new look. This has worked for me to the point of being able to spend all day in the theater and watch four to six movies with one ticket, sometimes I feel like the kids who work there can recognize me, when that happens all I do is lower my self-esteem, if I think lesser of myself then I become lesser, maybe even invisible, if I can do this right, I can blend into any group of friends and pass unseen.
This saturday was no different, I watched only three movies and by the time I was done it was already 3am, my favorite time in the life of this city, I can go wherever I please and I can see every single thing I couldnt with all the commotion of daytime, and the fact that I dont sleep much truly helps. So I find myself driving up Sepulveda to my favorite after-hours spot, the Cinco De Mayo on Sepulveda and...Washington I think, open 24 hours a day, breakfast always, the ladies who work there already know me by my first name and they know of the fresh-squeezed orange juice I always buy. This time around I get two eggs with hashbrowns, while I wait for my food I slouch into one of the corner tables, I find a comfortable position that I wouldnt be able to take if this was daytime, but since the city sleeps nobody minds and nobody cares. I pull a book from the large pockets of my oversized parka, pull the furry hood over my head and pretend to read "The Best American Nonrequired Reading" a rather incredible book compiling articles, blogs, short stories, comic strips and other curiosities that you are probably missing out on throughout the year. But this time around I'm not reading, I just hold the book before my face while I carefully examine my surroundings, asses the situation while my food arrives. Since it's 3am, the bars have all closed down, and places like this become a refuge for all the drunken people who need some nurturing before turning into bed to dream about money and better times, or at least that's what I imagine in my mind as I stare at the couple in front of me, she is wearing a rather short cammo-skirt and a constricting black top that is meant to emphasize her figure but only seems to help her keep a straight back position as she shifts uncomfortably on her seat. The guy seating in front of her wears a button up work shirt and has the face, hair and attitude of the stereotypical "Player" that picks a different chick every other day and probably has his own usual seat at the pub and has his usual drink always waiting for him and maybe even a warrant for his arrest out in Oklahoma for not paying some parking tickets back in 1994. His position is a mix of 30% confidence, 70% arrogance, with an elbow on the table and his other arm on the backrest of the seat, one leg sticking out to the side of the table as if he were ready to bolt out running the second she figured out his game.
On the only table touching the wall to my right, five people are crammed into a tiny four person booth meant for people smaller than their big over-musculatures, there are four guys and one girl, all of them still riding on that drunken high of last call. They are rather loud and obnoxious, and as I try my best not to over-hear their blaring talk, I cant help but flinch at their pejorative comments about pretty much everything, I picture them being from another state, or at least another city, but the one guy sitting within my range of view is wearing a black long sleeve shirt with "Los Angeles" printed on it.
The lady at the counter yells my order number and I walk over to pick my food, as I come back to my table I turn to take a better look at the table just to realize that they are all wearing the same outfit with small differences, black tops, some short some long sleeve, black caps, all backwards with many different logos including tapout, von dutch, LA Dodgers, it makes me ask myself if I dress alike my friends.
I seat back at my table as the obnoxious table bursts in laughter, the door opens and a tall, old gentleman walks in, I know this man, he is always around cinco de mayo at the same times that I come, another of the real "locals." He looks my way and recognizes me, we both give a small nod to recognize each-others presence and he walks over to the counter, turns off his cassette tape player, he orders his food and walks out the back gate to use the restroom, the guys as the small booth stare at him as he walks past them and quickly begin to comment in low voices just to begin laughing again, the woman seems offended but there is nothing she can do other than sit pressed between two of these large aryans and stare at her lap, they have all finished their meals and have nothing better to do than to spend the time waiting for just one more person to denigrate before heading home.
I finish my meal and clean after myself, as I walk to the trash can, I can hear them comment on my attire, tonight I don't feel like taking it, I have been invisible all day and it's time for me to come back, so I walk over to their table, take my hood off and look down to make contact with each and every one of them except for the girl who seems to have fallen asleep in her uncomfortable situation, none of them has any words for me as I look around the table, there is no anger in my face, there is no pretension or agenda in my stare, all I do is try to find a better understanding for this behavior. The first guy to react puts his hands on the table, he is wearing large silver chains that rattle as they hit the tray in front of him, he turns from my stare into the guy in front of him just to tell them that they should leave. They all rise unceremoniously, the girl notices this shift on the tectonic plates of her current geography and awakes, she looks at me and confused, she rises to follow the guys as they walk out the back door, I dont move one inch and just look as they fail to notice the old gentleman walking back into the door with his headphones and his white tape player, he is smiling and I can't help but feel curious about the song in his ears that provokes this feeling in him.
As I walk out towards my car, there is a man sweeping the back lot, he looks at me and nods in agreement and says "see you later" in a thick Mexican accent, I nod back and keep walking, the night is now getting misty and I'm going through the music in my CDs trying to pick the perfect mix to keep me company as I take one more tour of the city after hours.