L.A. Follies — Day 1

James McAllen
4 min readJun 26, 2023


I missed a plane once. On our first trip to LA, as we were packing up at 5am, she asked if we could walk down to the beach to take some sand home.
“Sure”, says I.
We get the sand. Pack the car. Drive to LAX. Drop off the rental. Get on the shuttle.
The shuttle goes nowhere.
We sit in traffic INSIDE LAX for an hour.
We miss our flight.
Never Again, says I.

I book a trip to LA.
8am Flight.
Gotta be there by 6am.
Gotta leave by 5am.
Gotta be up at 3:30 for showers.

I deputize the two offspring for driving duties.
The younger one takes us to the airport; the senior one picks us up on Monday night.
They agree.

Val and I lay down shortly after 10pm. Neither one of us can sleep. We’re like two kids on Christmas eve. I start to nod a little bit, but I can’t fall into a deep sleep. At midnight, I get up and go downstairs and make a PB&J sandwich. If I can’t sleep, I might as well eat.
I fall asleep on the couch. 3:30 comes quickly. I’m tired and groggy, but I’m like a kid on his way to Disney. The wife showers first. Both of us are dressed and packed and ready to go by 4:30.
“What time should we wake him up?”, she asks.
“10 to 5”, he replies.

We wake him up at 5am. He is NOT happy. He mumbles a little before he barks. “Who the hell leaves at 4am?”
We don’t bother trying to explain. We’ve learned it’s better to let him bark.

We jump into his car and take off. I sit in the back. I’m a terrible passenger. I try and stare out the window, but my OCD and control issues are overwhelming. I feel my resolve starting to crack.
The young man turns on his favorite music; some horrible mumble rap at 5:20 am. I start to protest, but it’s his car and he’s doing us a favor.
I bite my tongue and look out the window.
He weaves in and out of the sparse Sunday morning traffic. His speedometer hits 75. I start to say something, but once again, I bite my tongue. It’s his car and he’s doing us a favor.

We get to JFK in about 11 mins. It takes us about 30 mins to check in. We’re good. Plenty of time to get something to eat. We head to the food court.
It’s a mess. One line splits into three, depending on whether you want Dunkin or Starbucks or some other crap. It takes about 40 mins to get coffee and an egg sandwich. The sandwich is poison, but I’m starving. I eat in silence.

Val and I board the flight and find our seats. The flight takes off at 8am sharp. Other than the tiny seats, we’re good to go.
15 minutes into the flight, my legs start to cramp.
10 minutes later, her back tightens up.
15 minutes later, we both have to pee.
We’re not cut out for this coach travel.
Someday, we’re flying first class baby!
Just not today.
Six hours goes by in… six hours.
I watch a re-run of the Giants-Broncos Super Bowl in between naps.
What a great team that was.

We land in LA. We pee for the 7th time. We get our bags without issue.

Then we go to the car rental.

I don’t travel a lot, so I don’t use the same airlines, or car rental. I go for whatever is the cheapest that day.
I pick Dollar.
We get there and there are only about 10 people on line.
And only two people behind the counter. Two really slow people.
They are gonna be there for eight hours, why should they rush?
Forty minutes later, I’m still in line.
Twenty minutes later, I’m next.
Then, one of the people goes on break.
My back is screaming now.
I want to scream, but I’m Vacation Jim and I won’t break!
A new guy comes out of the bullpen and gets me a car in 20 minutes.
We drive to Hollywood in typical 405 traffic. It’s cool. I’m zen.
I’m Vacation Jim.
We cruise over to the Chateau Marmont. It’s one of the legendary Hollywood Hotels. Humphrey Bogart lived there. Jim Morrison fell off a balcony there. John Belushi took his last trip there.
Benecio and Scarjo had sex in the elevator there.
Jim and Val had lunch.
A really nice lunch. It’s a beauty of a day in LA. We eat, relax, make fun of the plastic surgery victims that are scattered at the tables. We take pictures in the bar.
Jim and Val are very happy.

We make our way up into the hills; to the guest house we have rented for the first portion of our trip. It’s dynamite. Jim and Val are very happy.
Two floors. Two beds. A full kitchen. Jim and Val are in love.

We go to get the bags from the car. As we walk down the stairs, Jim hears Val yells, “FUCK”!
Val has turned her ankle on one of those crazy triangle steps.
Val in not happy. Jim is worried.
Val is limping but she insists that she’s fine.
Val is a tough broad.
Jim is worried.
Jim goes out and buys a bag of ice.
He makes Val ice the ankle.
Val is tough.
Jim is worried.

Stay tuned.