Gemma and Alex in L.A.

Gemma’s a waitress, Alex is an intern, and L.A. is terrible.

Originally published in our May 2015 newsletter

Over many emails and Skype calls Gemma gathered the impression that Alex is athletic, far too brilliant for his tiny hometown, and relentlessly determined to get out of said hometown. It turns out that in person Alex is tiny, disarmingly sly, and completely useless.  To the extent that it doesn’t make Gemma want to beat her head into the uneven door jam of their terrible new apartment they pay for in cash, she finds it kind of endearing.  But mostly Alex is a disaster.

It’s not just that he doesn’t have a bank account or understand why she’s so insistent that he open one.  It’s that he doesn’t know how to do anything.  Gemma has to show him how to use public transit because she’d like to go out and get a drink with him somewhere that isn’t their sketchtastic neighborhood, and it’s not like either of them can afford to take a cab.

Unfortunately, it takes them very little time to discover that nowhere will serve them that isn’t in their sketchtastic neighborhood.

“At least there are taco trucks,” Gemma says glumly as they walk home from another grimly L.A. excursion to a bar filled with other people’s broken dreams.

“I still don’t get why you’re so obsessed with the taco trucks.”  Alex is sullen and hunches down even further into his sweatshirt when a guy pedals past and catcalls.

Gemma can’t tell which of them it’s directed at and doesn’t really care.  “I am obsessed with the taco trucks, because the taco trucks are what make it safe to walk home,” she points out.  “Now what do you want?”

She orders them a chicken enchilada platter to share and chatters with the guys in the truck while Alex sits down at one of the plastic tables set up on the edge of the broken concrete drugstore parking lot on the corner.

“Some of the food trucks have like lines for hours,” Gemma tells him excitedly as they pick at their food. She got the red sauce, because Alex is still dubious about the green which is more wrong than she knows how to convey even if she doesn’t really care about hip L.A. food trucks. But Gemma is scared that Alex is going to freak out at everything about the city and run back to Indiana, so she’ll humor him on the enchiladas.  She doesn’t mind her awful apartment with him, but without him, she suspects she might descend into despair.

“That’s stupid,” Alex says.

“It’s L.A.  Everything’s stupid.”

Alex smiles then.  “Not us.”

“Nope,” Gemma says.  “Not us.”  She’s pretty sure she’s lying.