So, New Yorkers often ask about the people in Southern California. I could think of no to better way to illustrate the tenor of the place than through the following vignettes. Please note that in each and every one of them, I’m speaking to a very young man … say, 20-to-24 years old. That, in and of itself, is extraordinary, as young people in New York do not acknowledge that people over 39 even exist. That prejudice seems nonexistent here in Huntington Beach, and there are no barriers in striking up conversations with strangers.
The Scene: A barbershop in Huntington Beach, where Your Correspondent is getting a much-needed haircut.
Young Man: So dude, where you from?
Me: New York.
Young Man: Dude, move to Cali. You’ll live longer.
Me: Are you from around here?
Young Man: No. Chicago.
Me: What brought you here?
Young Man: Dude – I’m in Southern California. I’m living the dream. You oughtta come.
The Scene: A Trader Joe’s in Huntington Beach. We are on line, with one customer ahead of us. The store is otherwise empty. A Young Man leaps to another cash register to accommodate us.
Young Man: Sorry for the crowds, dude.
Me: Crowds? You couldn’t get a game of solitaire going here.
Young Man: This place. It’s too crazy. The pace is too fast. I’m going to move.
Me: To a cemetery? Seriously, where is the pace slower?
Young Man: New Mexico. They’re really happy over there.
Me: Well, we’re from New York, and think Huntington Beach is paradise.
Young Man: New York? Dude, I got to get there.
Me: (Looking around) Not if you think this place is crowded….
Scene: Huntington Beach, on the beach itself. We are walking along the beach and come across a young man fiddling with an enormous drone. This thing is roughly the size of a human torso, equipped with a camera on a gyroscope in the lower body. We stand apart, watching as he prepares it.
Young Man: Dude, come over.
Me: OK. That’s quite a drone. Can you tell me about it?
Young Man: (Provides considerable detail on how it works.) Using it to shoot some B-roll.
Me: Thanks. Well, I’ll be off; don’t want to be in your way.
Young Man: Dude. Hang out.
Scene: Once again, on the beach itself. I am alone, and walking along the famous pier. There are three young men with palm fronds, twisting them into the shape of roses. Before them is a sign: FREE OR LEAVE ONE DOLLAR.
Me: [Taking one and leaving one dollar.] Many thanks. I’m getting this for my husband.
Young Man: Your husband? Dude – that’s so cool!
After just a few short weeks, what I find amazing is not that people live in Southern California, but that anyone would dream of living anywhere else.
Next week: We return to our regular reviews and overviews.