My entire motel room smells like kiwifruit vodka. I suspect it’s probably masking worse odours. This is the kind of motel a hooker would be ashamed of. The shower is just a pipe with no head that leaks an erratic spray roughly equivalent to a scalding hot sneeze. On days like today, I’d usually sit on the floor in the shower, but I think the water would evaporate before it hit me, and besides, the floor is greasy with who knows what.
When I first caught that whiff of kiwifruit, I panicked. It could only be the bottle of Kiwifruit 42 Below I’d bought to surprise my friend in San Diego. Being able to sniff it meant bad things. I ripped open my suitcase. It was worse than I thought. The bottle had exploded into about 30 pieces. The glass was contained, but the full litre of pungent liquid had soaked into everything.
This was my fragile suitcase. It was where I had put my letters and books from well-wishing friends, most now waterlogged. And my external hard drive, now damp. And it was also home to my single most precious possession. The one non-essential item in my luggage: the painting my sister Hannah had done for me when I got home from London.
I began to get somewhat hysterical as I tore it out of its bag and then pulled away all the clothes I had carefully packed around it like bubble wrap. Every T-Shirt was drenched with vodka. The canvas was upside down when I reached it and ugly tears rolled down my face as I flipped it over to see the damage.
It was fine.
A little damp, perhaps. But not damaged.
I was able to launder the clothes, and get the hard drive working, but the rest of my time in Hollywood continued as it started. The friend I planned to catch up with was too busy. Then the friend I was meant to stay with next in San Diego got in touch to say she’s been in hospital all week and I would need to stay somewhere else. The kiwifruit vodka had been for her, so perhaps it was a sign.
The zipper on my pack broke. My bus ticket to San Diego was inexplicably cancelled. I had to purchase another one for a later bus and wait in the bus station, which is literally in Skid Row. The only food available was a burrito that looked like a malnourished scrotum. I had to eat it anyway to get food in my stomach, because it was aching after I had only a handful of junior mints with my Codral Cold, which I took to decongest after waking up with blood on my face from a blood nose I apparently had in my sleep.
But, on the bright side, my rental car was upgraded to a kickass SUV because they were out of tiny compact cars. And I was able to get close to the Hollywood Sign this morning by driving up Canyon Lake Drive. The sun warmed my back and I started to be able to put everything back into perspective. This is just the beginning and it’s onwards and upwards from here.
At precisely that moment, a platinum blonde Hollywood soccer mom in a champagne minivan with tan leather seats honked her horn and yelled at me to “get a move on, jackass”.
God bless America.