AK and I sort of wanted to go out of town for the holiday weekend, but since gas is now roughly the price of gold, we settled for visiting The Deep Sea Via Long Beach. As we waited in the very long, very stroller-packed line for tickets--because apparently everyone else in Southern California had the same idea we did--I noticed one of those boards where you can stick your head through and take a photo that makes you look like, in this case, an otter.
"Hey, someone should go stick their head through and take a--" I began.
"No thanks," said Nicole quickly.
AK, however, was already there, ottering. I like how much I can count on her to come through at important moments.
Here's Nicole and I pretending that it's not 95 degrees out, and that parking didn't cost $7.
It only seemed fair that we get to pet some sea creatures for our troubles. Luckily there was Shark Lagoon. You would think that "touching" and "sharks" would go hand in hand only if the word that followed was "lawsuit," but these were small, exhausted sharks, and an employee kept getting on the loudspeaker to say, "Please do not touch the new hammerhead. He is a No-Touch Shark. We're trying to get him used to the Shark Lagoon. You may gently touch the other sharks, but I see a lot of grabbing out there. There is no grabbing. Please observe the Two-Finger Rule, and touch the animals with two fingers only."
It's true that at the ray tank upstairs, I may have gotten a little overzealous and tried to shake someone's big flappy hand-type thing. Shaking hands might be kind of like grabbing. But if you saw something that looked like a giant sea pancake swim by, wouldn't you want to shake its hand?
I'm not sure where lorikeets fit in at an aquarium, but there was a whole aviary of them, and they were beautiful--friendly, flying gay pride parades. (There was also a lone wallaby sitting in a shady pen looking sort of pouty. AK imagined him sighing, "I did not put in for the Aquarium of the Pacific. But I guess everyone puts in for the San Diego Zoo.")
During the long ride home on the Blue Line, AK reached into her purse and said, "Hey, look who stowed away!" It was a small blue spotted ray (not to be confused with Blu-Ray, as this guy doesn't have an opinion one way or another about HD-DVDs), whom we quickly named Raymundo. It had been a long day.
But we still rallied in time to catch Easy Rider at Hollywood Forever Cemetery with Meehan, her friend Maureen, Christine and Jody. I'd never seen the movie before--it was strange and arty and made for a time (or an altered state) in which watching scenes of craggy red rocks roll by was a sufficient substitute for plot. And when there's also veggie spaghetti and spicy green beans and pluots and wine, and a great purple sunset silhouetting the palm trees and headstones, it pretty much is.
But I think our friend Alberto summed up my feelings about the Fourth of July best in a (perhaps wine-aided?) text message Friday night: "Happy 4th of July! Be safe and be thankful for our constitution - it alone separates us from all others and truly free!"