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True Conversations From a Strip


These are actual conversations overheard in the strip mall on the corner of Van Nuys and Ventura in Sherman Oaks, California. And other places.


1.(23 June 2007)

Young couple in front of a health food store--discount variety. They're embracing. Or at least he is attempting to embrace her. He is much taller but thin.


She: It's not funny.

He: What? (Pronounced "Whaaaat?" As in, "Don't be that way," "You know I love you." And, "Baby, baby, baby.")

She: You took up the whole bed.

He: What?

She: Like, I said, "Move over."

He: What?

She: It's not funny.

He: What?

(They're embracing now. She's no longer fighting him.)


2. (25 June 2007)

Large round young man sitting at a plastic table outside a mini-deli, eating with a plastic fork from a paper plate, to another young man standing at the table:

Yeah, I'm developing a pilot. It's sort of a combintion of "Reno 911" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm."


EXTRA! Collected just as this issue was going to pixel. Non-Strip Mall story. Writer as participant. Collected at the court house on South Hill Street in Los Angeles.


I'm on the eighth floor, waiting for an elevator to the lobby, one that seems to be approaching this floor, after a day—5 July 2007—spent waiting for jury duty; I was never called.

A young couple, Latino, is waiting for the same elevator. He has energy, bobbing and weaving, laughing, loud. I think about moving away and waiting for a different elevator; but these court house elevators are so damned busy and slow, and I want to go home, get on the freeway, find the freeway, and go home, back to the Valley. I'm not familiar with downtown L.A. even though I've lived in this part of the world for over forty years.

The elevator arrives. We all get on and I select my floor.

The Young Man: (He's looking at me, looking at my arm.) How ya doin', sir? What's your tattoo? What's that tattoo?

Me: Oh, it's my Medicare Card. (When asked about it, I never offer a simple answer.) When you get old you're always being asked for your damned Medicare Card...and

The Young Man: (Puzzled look.) Oh.

Me: Do you have a tattoo?

The Young Man: Yeah. Yeah. (He pulls up the sleeve of his clean white T-shirt. I see a large tattoo in black ink of a young man's face.) That's my brother. He's dead; he passed. Yeah.

Me: Oh, I'm sorry.

(We arrive at the lobby; they step out.)

The Young Man: You take care, sir.###


—Britt Leach

6 July 2007

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