Beverly Hills is definitely not a walking city. But with 450+ miles of driving ("after 276 miles, bear left...." intoned the GPS lady) and sitting still, we were looking for fresh air and exercise. So, Yes, we wanted to walk to Century City to see our movie. Skeptically, the concierge gave us directions and we set out on our adventure.
The air in California smells better than air anywhere else I've lived. There's a fecundity to it, a heft, a whisper of an aroma you just can't catch. Even as we walked down Wilshire Boulevard and crossed to Little Santa Monica, it rose above the passing cars and buses and felt like a gentle hug. I was reveling in the feeling when I felt the Big Cuter picking up the pace and suddenly the green hand welcoming me to the other side with the perfume of adventures to come was replaced by a countdown starting at 10. I'm in reasonably good shape, and we were striding instead of strolling, but I barely got across the intersection in the time allotted. Definitely not a walking city.
As if to make the point, the Budget Rent A Car lot taunted us with a 911, a Ferrari next to a Prius, an orange Challenger, a red 'vette, a blue Cobra..... what were we doing on our feet? There were no dirty cars on the roads; beater or Bentley, everything gleamed. And, it turned out, we were walking in the opposite direction of where we needed to be. We flagged a cab and joined the party.
The next day, while the Big Cuter entertained himself, I walked back toward Rodeo Drive. I passed rock roses on the median strips; no simple oleander for Beverly Hills. A bright yellow Rolls Royce convertible was parked, top down and doors unlocked, in front of a store with only a name stenciled on its door. There was no way to tell if it sold luggage or lingerie; it might even be a law firm. There was a doorbell but no speaker that I could see. Would they judge my potential as a client if I dared to press it? After a brief Julia Roberts/Pretty Woman moment, I moved on.
There were cacti and succulents in well-tended public gardens. Opuntia in Beverly Hills - my prickly pear cactus had vacationed with me, it seemed. Every hedge on every front yard down every side street was perfectly manicured and trimmed to exactitude. Even the dandelions were corralled into neat beds; if they had to exist, they would be tamed. The man sleeping on the bench with all his belongings in 2 bags beneath him had the the cleanest bare feet and a well-worn but serviceable Tommy Bahama shirt almost covering all of his belly. He was down and out but appropriate for the neighborhood. Not quite Nick Nolte, but not the most threatening street person I'd ever seen, either. There are rules in Beverly Hills, after all.
That was made quite clear to me by the volunteer at the Paley Center for Media. Before entering, I thought I'd drop off a prescription and use the waiting time to browse. "Is there a Walgreen's nearby?" I queried, innocently, naively, hopefully. "Sweet-haht," he replied in pure Brooklyn-ese, "there are no Walgreen's in Beverly Hills."
Lesson learned. No walking. No Walgreen's. And clean cars and feet.