FORTY-NINE

PUMPKIN SEASON IS IN FULL SWING, and you know how I feel about that.  I find it all fairly ridiculous because I live in California.  Fall means that the temperature drops to 72 degrees.  Grab your sweater and your boot liners, and wrap up in your shawl!  Of course, I should clarify, I live in Northern California, which is an important distinction.  In the winter it can get down to the high 40s.  That doesn't happen in LA.  And by the way, NO ONE who was born in California calls San Fransisco, "Frisco".  That's something that will get your backside handed to you.  Actually, we call it The City.  As in, "We went into The City, last weekend and the traffic was horrible."  By the way, the traffic is always horrible.

Another important factor, people from Northern California don't call it Nor Cal -- at least not the ones over 30.  That is the lingo of an outsider.  If you are from Northern California, and someone assumes you are from Southern California -- you will be angry.  We are NOT the same.  We are not hot, sunny beaches and movie stars.  We are cold foggy beaches with campfires, and hippies.  Although, we seem to be getting more and more movie/tv stars who "want to escape the LA madness".

I remember when my cousins from Indiana came to visit.  They flipped out when they saw an actual limousine in traffic.  They started squealing, and peering out the window. It took me forever to figure out what they were screaming about.  They took about a million pictures of the blackened windows.  We thought they were crazy.  Of course, back then seeing a limo wasn't an every day thing, even here. 

Growing up, I remember when they used to film an episode of "Falcon Crest" at the fair each year.  There would be this huge sign by the front gate that basically said, "Look, people if you go to the fair today, you might be in the background for 10 seconds.  Don't expect money, and don't sue us."  I have a fairly strong memory of being irritated that I couldn't ride the Ferris wheel because Lorenzo Llamas was hogging it.  Actually he was shooting a scene and they shut it down for a while.  Most people in town weren't big fans of him anyway because he had a habit of smashing his fancy cars into buildings and/or other cars when he had too much to drink.

That's another Northern California trait, by the way, being jaded about EVERYTHING.  Limo - no big deal.  Camera crew messing up traffic -- how annoying.  Then you secretly pull out your camera and take a picture.

Growing up my next door neighbor, who was in his 70s, knew tons of Hollywood folk.  He was a cool old guy, and my sister and I the ONLY kids on the street.  We lived out in the country and our house was surrounded by vineyards so next door neighbor was more like that guy WAAAAY down the street.  He had this big room filled with pictures of him and all these famous people.  After he died, his family let us come by and pick out something we liked.  I took this stack of black and white pictures.  They are all behind the scenes of the filming of the old Disney movie, "Pollyanna".  Apparently, our neighbor hosted a big dinner party out in his vineyard for the cast and crew.  The pictures are pretty awesome, and when I was a kid I loved to look at them.  Everyone looks so ordinary - like actual humans -- and not plastic blips on a big screen.

The Girl and I were talking about how difficult it would be to be famous, and not be able to just go to the store or whatever.  We've recently experienced our own kind of hometown fame, as I was in the paper a couple of days ago.  I got stopped a couple of times when she and I were out shopping.  The Girl was a little put out.  First of all, she doesn't appreciate it when I steal her thunder, and second, we were kind of in a hurry.  I pointed out to her that today is probably the only day that will happen, and to lighten up.  Then we talked about how hard it would be because people would be so crushed if you weren't friendly and cheerful every single second.

It sort of reminded me of what the world used to teach little girls. Smile.  Be pretty.  Be nice.  That's how tons of girls ended up in bad situations.  Their gut was telling them to scream and run, but their inner Miss Manners, was telling them to smile and be nice.  I'm all for being nice, but if the hair on the back of your neck is standing on end -- run like hell.  I always tell my students, especially the girls that if they are in a situation that doesn't feel right, to get out of it.  Be rude.  Kick someone.  Run.  If it turns out you were wrong, and you just karate chopped some innocent guy -- he will understand because he has a mother, or a wife, or a daughter or a sister.  If he's a creeper -- then you just dodged a bullet.  I've told my daughter and my son the same.  If you get a creepy feeling, don't ignore it.  The Boy pointed out, "Mom, you are always with us, so  . . ."  Which is a fair point, but they are starting to get pretty old.  The Girl just turned 11 and The Boy is about to be 10.  When I was 11 I rode my bike all over town.  We lived in the boonies and if I wanted to see my friends I had to ride a good 20 or 30 minutes.  The idea of an 11 year old girl loose on the town alone gives me the shivers now.  What were we thinking?

I better sign off for now.  The temp in our place has dropped to 73 degrees, so everyone is probably freezing -- better go put another blanket on them all.

--Jen