Tonight after work, we decided to go for a spontaneous evening out. We deserved it, right? It’d been a long couple of weeks – my head so full of details/questions/lists/ it makes me a little tired. March 9th was National Napping Day, too; could that explain why I wanted just lay my head down on my desk for a quick power nap?
We are creatures of habit, my husband and I, but I decided tonight we’d go find another restaurant beside CPK, so we jumped in the car and drove up into the heart of the banking district of downtown LA. We were gravitating towards Pete’s but arrived at the corner of 4th and Main to discover it was gone. In it’s place, was a new, relatively empty (at 7pm) restaurant called Ledlow’s.
We sat at an outside patio table, in the still stultifying heat, and ordered our dinner. We watched as dozens of downtown denizens walked past the restaurant. They were walking their dogs, or just taking a walk.
Did you ever think we’d be hipsters again? I asked my husband.
I remembered the lovely Italian custom of La Passeggiata, where families go out together to take a stroll between work and dinner, usually in the town’s square. When I went to Sicily, in the quaint town of Gibbelina, it was a nightly occurrence. At 7:00PM or so, the streets and main square filled with hundreds of people walking and talking and laughing with their neighbors. There is really nothing quite like it here in the ol’ US of A. Maybe I’ll wander out in the street on Sunday and see what the tail end of the LA Marathon looks like. Even so, Americans are so busy – so destination conscious. We rarely stroll anywhere.
Earlier today, on campus, I was power walking toward my committee meeting, at about 9:45; as I walked past Bovard Auditorium, the Norris Theatre off to my left, I watched a mid-sized black dog tearing around the grass chasing a squirrel. At first I thought the dog was a stray, but then I saw his owner, a student, or young faculty member, carrying the leash in his hand and watching as his dog chased the squirrel. The dog was a consistent 18″ away from the squirrel, as it darted desperately around the base of the campus trees, looping around the little grove of trees. For some reason, the squirrel never ran up the tree, but continued to just barely elude the dog about a foot above the ground. Suddenly, the dog overtook the squirrel, chomping it’s mouth around its body. I was more than 75 yards away but still heard the squirrel scream. It was horrible. As I turned the corner out of view, my last image was the dog’s nose tucked between the roots of a tree, the dog’s owner looking chagrined. I bet he’ll use the leash next time.
Anyway, the tragedies of squirrel deaths behind me, I embraced the spirit of the Passeggiata all through dinner, as we watched people go by — now an affectionate couple, his arm wrapped protectively in a chokehold around her neck; now a couple with their Irish Wolfhound loping across the street without a leash; here’s a woman with a tiny top hat attached to the side of her head at a rakish angle. It was really good people watching. We had a blast.
By the time we went outside to get the car, Ledlow’s was really hopping, the bar about 3 people deep. The food was great – the Branzino prepared perfectly, crispy skin over perfectly cooked fish, resting on a bed of spinach and roasted baby tomatoes. Jimmie’s hamburger and fries looked delish, too, if you like that sort of thing. We ordered the Devilish Chocolate Cake, but unfortunately, it was from a menu of a previous night, so we skipped dessert. The manager, feeling badly that we had ordered something not available, brought us a cup of vanilla ice cream to make us feel better. It worked.
Over this weekend as it heats up, maybe the early evening hours will bring folks out to the streets and we can all take a Passeggiata in downtown LA. Won’t you join us?
Just bring your leash.