I checked my
pockets for change, my cell, or anything else that I
couldn’t carry on Shabbos. My pockets were totally
empty. All my belongings were in the dressing room.
Little-known acting fact #1: Actors onstage never have
any non-essential items in their pockets because it
looks weird on camera, like your thighs are pregnant.
Of course I already could have guessed that, but now
I knew for sure. Maybe I could have carried my keys,
if I was inside the eruv — there was this
thing called an eruv that surrounded the Jewish
part of town; on Shabbos, you couldn’t carry anything
outside an eruv — but I didn’t know
whether the eruv boundaries surrounded the studio.
I’d never thought to look it up..
"You know it," I said, a gleam in my eye.
And then I was on the street.
I didn't know how to get home, just which way the limo turned and which vague direction home was. I knew my cross-streets. I saw the Hollywood Hills in the distance. If I just walked a few miles one direction, a bunch of miles in another, I'd get to my intersection.
Then I remembered I wasn't supposed to go home. Miles away in the Pico Robertson district, I had strange, foreign West Coast cousins who expected me to show up for dinner and sleep on their couch. Their address was sitting on my kitchen table.
I breathed hard. The Los Angeles air got clearer at night, but not by much. The stars were starting to swell into existence up in the sky.
I needed to act responsibly right now.
I looked left, looked right. I figured my best bet was to get home, if I could find it. Then I could decide where to go from there. I could always pray alone, and, G-d willing, there was enough food in my refrigerator to feed me through Shabbos.
I decided on the direction where I thought home lay. I walked round the studio perimeter, found a street, and started walking.
Los Angeles was huge and amorphous. No one in LA walked; I knew that. The boulevards were long and bright and spread-out. There was nobody else walking on the streets. I'd never felt like such an alien. I knew the trip back home was enormous-it would take me two hours, at least, possibly three or four but the sun was already setting, and I didn't have any other option. Red thatched roofs lined the East Hollywood pueblo houses, lines and lines of them in a rote order that repeated endlessly as I walked.
After a while, I heard music from a few blocks away, the hum of amplifiers and screeching electric guitars. A few broken notes blared, and then a period of silence.
Since I had to cover the entire length of the neighborhood anyway, I followed the sound of punk. I was like Hansel and Gretel on the road, stopping every few minutes when the noise stopped too, trying to judge direction by the stray bursts of staccato. The houses started looking more Hansel and Gretel, too, as I walked further into the Latino area and farther and farther away from the white Melrose district.
The guitars were louder than ever as I turned onto this block where all the houses were flamingo pink and minty green with brown trim. A garage door was wide open, hovering in the air. A semi-circle of kids smoked on the pavement outside. They all wore leather jackets. In the warm, microwavey eighty-degree L.A. evening, it could only mean one thing.
I wanted to ask them for permission to go in. I didn't. They gave me antsy once-overs. I stared back indifferently. They nodded coolly. I turned around and walked into the garage.
From the outside, you couldn't tell how big the garage was. Forty or fifty kids crammed inside. I pushed my way to the front, squeezing my shoulders between lanky boys in plaid and the preppie girls who are always at these shows, looking so out of place. At the New York clubs, I was like the only girl who actually wore fatigues and band shirts. It's like, the sex stereotypes don't apply to punk boys, but people still think punk girls are supposed to look like J. Crew models. In the front there was a row of girls with mohawks. I stood with them. I was still in my Modern Cosmopolitan Wardrobe clothes, but I hoped they could see through to the real me. The staccato guitar had been getting more and more constant as I got closer to the house. The two guitarists faced each other, right in front of the drummer, and every few seconds they played the same riff. The drummer counted time in the air with his drumsticks.
Ready? mouthed one of the guitar boys to the other.
The other nodded.
Their perfect posture swung into three dimensions. They threw their guitars in the air and ran the scales wildly. The drummer crashed into action on his snare drum. He pounded the cymbals until brass shards flew off the ends. The crowd pounded their heads in the air. Tiny fists beat out the rhythm on my back. We all started dancing.
"!Caramba!" somebody yelled out. I gave the rest of the kids another glance. Everyone here was Latino. I wasn't sure whether to be culture-shocked or not. My stomach twisted in a knot with that Am I Allowed To Be Here? dread. Then I realized-it's a punk show. Who the hell can't be at a punk show?