The boots were made of a deliciously soft, worn leather with a bluish tint and boasted colored rhinestones on the pointed toe in a sweet diamond shape. The heel, a classic cowboy cut. They stood out among other boots and shoes – the shelves lit up in a bastion of modern style. Touching the boots, picking them up in my hands and caressing the uppers, I realized I couldn’t find the sticker. You know, the stickers all things for purchase have. Where was the sticker, for God's sake?
“How much are the boots?” I asked, giving up.
The salesgirl looked at me, confused, saying nothing. A security guard standing at the entrance’s metal detector glanced my way.
After an awkwardly long time, I repeated, “Excuse me, you, how much do these boots cost?”
She looked around, fixed her black hair (straight hair pulled up into a spiky bun) and smoothed her mismatched clothes. Sighed. Smiled, showing gums and teeth. Silver piercings glinted in the store’s canned lights. She spoke slowly. “The…boots…are…two thousand four hundred sixty-three dollars plus tax. They are original Floops.”
“Floops.” She chuckled, “From Floopsters on Robertson. The one and only.”
“Do you take Discover?”
“DISCOVER! DO YOU TAKE THE DISCOVER CREDIT CARD?!”
The salesgirl straightened her slouch and cleared her throat, the security guard now right next to me. He looked like the guy from the Transporter. Cannily so. His face just as unreadable as the Transporter himself. He breathed heavily, and I could feel hot air on my neck.
“We only take Platinum American Express and the Fort Knox edition of Beverly Hills Bank.”
A wave of chuckles spread across the floor, other customers having tuned into our discussion.
“What about a check debit card?”
“Look,” the girl conceded, “we have some sale items in the back room if you’d like to have a look. Please leave your knocked-off, very-big purse at the front desk, with Blaine, our security guard.” She eyed my clothes from Target and smiled a sad smile. “On the other hand, if you get back on the…” She cleared her throat, clearly disbelieving the words she was about to speak aloud. “If you get back on the San Bern-ar-dino freeway and get off at Figueroa and turn right, you’ll eventually find the garment district of Los Angeles. There, among your people, you might find some bargains. The people will even...haggle. Maybe they’ll take this…Dees-koo-ber card of which you speak. They take all sorts of foreign currency, actually. You know, like pesos and rupees.”
There was nothing more I could do – D and I had crossed the border inadvertently. We’d left our San Gabriel Valley and had become aliens in a foreign land: Beverly Hills.
See, D surprised me with a weekend out of town. The babysitter came and spent the night while we got a top floor room with a view of Century City at Le Meridien hotel on La Cienega and went to the Hollywood Improv comedy club. We had dinner at the Stinking Rose. And shopped a little. Very little. We really did laugh at how fish-out-of-water we were, little hillbillies just off Walton’s mountain, just emerged from our double-wide on our lot by the pond where we swim naked and fish for dinner. My cute Kohl and Target special clothes, alien to the residents, drew pitiful stares. My Off Fifth sandals, strange brown leather straps wrapped around my sun-tanned feet…clearly from another planet. And my purse! Say no more. Is that from a swap meet?
The most spoken phrase, “We don’t take Discover, among a slew of other cards. What is that anyway? Can I see it? I don’t think I’ve ever actually SEEN a Discover card. I did learn about it in my social studies class though, right after learning of the Crustacean period.”
“But they take Discover in Upland!!”
“Up-Land? What about Down-Land? Or To-the-Side-Land? Hahahahaha! How funny the little girl in the funny green top speaks! Oh isn’t she cute in a chubby sort of way? Do you hear her accent? Come on, say Louis Vuitton again. Hahahaha!”
The comedy show was good, but not as good as the one in the stores we glanced through, not as funny as we felt, walking the streets and Beverly Center walkways where the rate of exchange is extreme to our single dollar – their two thousand bucks was like twenty dollars to them.
In the end, though, we had a good time. Definitely a very interesting, restful, over-night-stay. We'd do it again. If not for the homecoming alone. How glad we were to see our barefoot ragamuffins on our asphalt driveway, standing next to our 2001 Suburban with the dents and A's name scratched on the side, and our beloved dog rushing past us towards the street and into the creek without even a sniff. How happy we were when the kids clutched to their little chests the free hotel soaps and shower caps.
We love the San Gabriel Valley. There really is nothing like home.