“Brunch?” they ask, incredulous.
“Yes,” I reply, squinting into the sun. “A place to eat brunch?”
“Like, a brunch place?” they clarify.
“No,” I explain, “just somewhere to get some eggs.” It is noon on Sunday. In New York you can’t walk two blocks on a Sunday without tripping over a mimosa.
“There’s a bakery on the corner over there,” a young man with spiky hair and baggy cutoff jeans says, eyeing me suspiciously, “they might have something. Sorry.”
Each of the half dozen conversations I have with passers-by goes something like that. Nobody in Hollywood, Florida seems to have heard of brunch. I am made to feel irredeemably gauche. In the end I pick a small Italian cafe and order an egg sandwich with a side salad and iced coffee. Which is brunch. Maybe there is some Floridian word for brunch that I don’t know? Please leave a comment if you have the answer so I can avoid further embarrassment next time I’m here.
After my brunch that is not brunch, I drive to one of Hollywood’s beaches, which I’ve heard praised since I started researching this project. Not surprisingly, it is gorgeous, and the breeze blowing in across the waves tempers the suffocating humidity. There’s a crowd, and for a moment I struggle to find a space for my blanket. Being a radio documentarian is, like, super hard.
This morning (pardon me for skipping the part of last night where I try to do my laundry at the hotel but accidentally throw all my clothes into the dryer first and fill the lint trap with detergent) (seriously), after dealing with the car situation, I hit Hollywood Boulevard, downtown Hollywood’s main drag.
The streets are empty so I amble up to the home of the Hollywood Historical Society, which is closed for the day. I knock on the door of an inconspicuous convent as I walk past, and after a long wait, as I’ve begun to walk away, a woman in her sixties, wearing a heavy-looking white wimple and brandishing a thick Caribbean accent steps outside.
“What can I do for you – God bless!” she says, throwing in that last part furtively, as if sneaking it out at the last moment.
“God bless!” I enthuse back at her for no particular reason. “I’m making a radio documentary on Hollywood, is there anyone around who I could interview about living here?”
“No,” she says distrustfully over the top of her thin-framed spectacles. I don’t know what she’s so afraid of. What am I going to do? Convert a nun? “No. I do not need it.”
What can I do? She does not need it. I thank her and walk away across the driveway. “God bless!” she calls after me, flatly. I don’t think she means it.
For dinner I go to The Le Tub, a gorgeous, sunny, cozy restaurant on the water along A1A. Friendly birds whine conversationally overhead, hopping along the intertwining branches that formed a roof over my booth. GQ decided that The Le Tub has some of the best burgers in the country, and while I concede that it is a tasty burger, it wasn’t a hamburger in the traditional sense. It was massive. How big was it? So big that I took a picture of it but I’m not including it in this post because I am embarrassed. It was like a cake made of meat, OK? Do you understand? The size of a pillow. It was like they just cut one dripping disk of meat from a cow’s midsection and cooked it.
I ate the whole thing. And a slice of pie. Have you ever been so full that you got angry? I have. I think some people call that the American Dream.
Tomorrow: the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, including a helpful roller derby enthusiast (a roller dervish? Can we make that happen?), ghosts, and BMX bikes! Also a smoking, drinking third-degree black belt Aikido uchideshi (look it up), and a new friend imparts the following observation on life in America:
“American law: if you fuck ass, this good. If you fuck mouth, that’s good. Only if you have one little Heineken – with cover! – that’s not law.”