I had to drop something off in Glendale early this morning, and my drive took me right past Forest Lawn Cemetery, a place I've been meaning to visit for years. It houses the largest religious painting in the world, which was of course closed during the exact hour I visited today, so I'll have to report back on that (my guess is that it will not succeed in converting me to Christianity but beyond that, I can't anticipate its effect).
I drove up, and up, and up, and up. Forest Lawn is positively MASSIVE - long lone stretches of asphalt guide you up into the heavens (these are perhaps housing the laziest dead in Los Angeles, like asking for a lift to the end of the block). Beautiful fountains and white marble sculptures adorn every new mesa. I parked on the side of one road and climbed and climbed and climbed, reading all the placards to all the Loved Ones.
Six Feet Under was shot in Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, but I liked to imagine Nate jogging through here, anyway.
Heading back down from the crushing disappointment of non-access to a massive religious painting, I was playing some weirdo instrumental ambient music when I saw a tiny Asian octogenarian sitting on the side of the road, flanked by tombstones. She waved at me and as I got closer, she got up, walking into the middle of the road.
"Hello! Lady! I can have a ride?"
My gut-instinct, beside her age, diminutive stature, killer patterned top, visor, and general kind demeanor, was an undercurrent of fear. The most relevant lesson I could bring to the surface is not to get into the car with strangers driving. I had no rubric on the safety of being a geriatric's requested ride.
"Lady! Hello! You can give me a ride to the gate?"
"Oh! Of course!" I chirped. "I looked over at my car-seat with worry. I haven't washed my car in several months (THERE'S A DROUGHT!). "I have a lot of dog hair, though! Is that okay?"
"DOGS??" she cried, worried. She looked in the backseat, not seeing any dogs.
"DOGS?!!!!!!!" she yelled again.
I pulled at my hair, pointing at it. "Dog HAIR!"
"Okay!" she said, and waddled around to get in the passenger side. I quickly flipped to the classical station. Resting her feet upon the mound of passenger-area detritus, she smiled at me. "Thank you! I took taxi! I got in a car accident yesterday so I have no car! I can't walk to the gate it's too far!"
Right, right, of course there's a reason! Ha ha. This lady isn't a murderer. She's not a crazed murderer here to visit her dead husband and then kill someone in grief right afterward, just an old lady without a vehicle. Still, I eyed her purse, nervously. She reached into it, and my nerves tensed. Instead of removing a gun, she held out two lemons, triumphantly.
"FOR YOU! My husband study agricultural economics. He plant all the fruit trees in our garden. I love it! You have these lemons. Thank you." She placed them on my dashboard, where they continued to roll around and she would place them back, and they'd roll again, yellow orbs signaling my lack of skilled driving.
"I don't drive that still. You can put them here!" I showed her. We were approaching the gate, now. I asked her name, then I repeated it back to her. She smiled in a way that said how wrong I had pronounced it, but she did not correct me, for she does not have enough time left, lifespan wise, to go around correcting pronunciations. She did not ask me for my name. Also, I presume, because of a lack of time.
"You drive me to Glendale Galleria? I have to do some shopping."
"Oh...uh." I looked at the clock. I knew it wasn't far but I had to meet someone in 10 minutes. I don't know the area that well - "Is it close?" I asked.
"Yes! I show you."
"Sure!" I thought, and said. Yes. How often does an old Korean woman ask me for a ride? I kept asking her questions, but she kept saying "English not good. Sorry!" So we rode along in silence for awhile, Vivaldi stringing our moments together. Every time she needed me to turn, she'd cry it out almost frantically, while rapping me on my wrist gently. I squeezed my eyes shut and imagined myself as her tiny Korean granddaughter, and boy, was I ever good at piano.
We arrived at Target, and I pulled up to let her out. She reached into her purse again, and again, no weapon. This time, a persimmon!
"You pretty. And you a nice lady! Eat this! It's sooooo goooood. It's a persimmon. Just eat it. It's GOOD."
"Okay!" I complied, bewildered and cheerful at my good fruit fortune.
We said goodbye, but not without me miming that I needed to take a picture of her. Here is my new friend: