There was this time…(pt. 16)

He’s wondering if Town Car = Recreational Vehicle

As I opened the throttle of my scooter to the fullest, purple fluffy cup-holder flowers fluttering in the wind, I tried to catch the 1980’s brown and tan Town Car that came drifting through the entrance gate. The gate guard said the car had “Neil Diamond” stenciled on the window. That was enough for me and I jumped on my ride and took off. 

Actually, I fumbled with the massive combination lock, yanked it away from the bike rack, hit a couple bikes on the way out, picked my scooter up and angled it towards the handicap ramp, finally remembered to turn it on… 

Then I took off. 

You’re wondering, “why the 80-year-old American icon Neil Diamond would be driving himself around in a 1980s Town Car on a Monday in an RV resort with his name stenciled on the side?” It’s because there was no way he would be. I thought that, too. I was chasing the car because there is a very talented Neil Diamond impersonator who has performed at our resort and I was hoping to make the photo of him, myself and the car a potential gift to my sister. The Campland impersonator is no Super Diamond but judging from his extensive plastic surgery, he is definitely dedicated. Good enough for me. So off I chased.

It takes 5 Super Diamonds to make one Neil

I zipped along the rows of RV sites, the place was nearly empty, but I couldn’t find the obnoxious baby-shit-brown Town Car. I checked my phone and got word that he was gone as mysteriously as he had come. 

Seconds later, I was told that it wasn’t the impersonator’s car I was looking for. It was truly the original Neil Diamond’s car. Or rather, it was his 27-year veteran chauffeur all by himself in the real Neil Diamond’s car. How the ranger at the front gate got that information out of the dude in less than 30 seconds is beyond me. 

Because there’s no way any of it is true, logically. 

However, there is no logic where I work and stranger things have happened there. Things that I’m witness to and I’ve only worked there 5 1/2 years.

Imagine the stories I’d have if I weren’t a newbie. Answer: a much more popular blog. —

So I searched for someone else to legitimize this outrageously ridiculous Diamond story.

Lo and behold, the story was backed up by other long-timey employees that Mr. Diamond would have his driver drive him through the RV resort every once in a while when he lived in La Jolla. I don’t know why. Probably because no one cares at Campland who the hell you are. -Just ask Eric Clapton.-

Ever since my exciting lunch break, I’ve tried to find Internet-proof of the car, driver, Neil Diamond being anywhere near there, Neil Diamond being able to drive, or if he ever has had possession of a baby-shit-brown Town Car…and nothing. Yet, I can’t rule the story out. I would be less surprised to find out it were true than if it weren’t. It’s an odd place full of mystery and people confident with self-deluded detachment from their amazing stories.

And it’s not the story I came to tell. It’s about my trusty electric scooter. 

I know what you’re thinking, “Wait, what?”

Exactly. Stay with me. 

Riding my ridiculous, stick-straight, white with purple-flowered cup holder that flutters in the breeze, is the most fun you can have in public. It’s so silly and so stupidly, hilariously, innocently NOT badass that you just have to give up any pretense of cool and embrace that dork label that will now follow you around for the rest of your life. And you’ll do it with a smile. A huge, dopey, goofy smile. And it’s totally worth it.  

Okay, it’s not just my goofy scooter. It is all electric, sit-down scooters that are fun. And there are a lot of electric scooters that are actually badass. Mine just happens to not be one of them. 

I actually purchased the scooter because of a strange daily ritual the Winter residents of the RV park enjoy every evening. It’s also silly and ridiculously innocently fun. And I wanted in.

Every sunset, they gather their golf carts together and convoy with each other along the beach, through the park, at around 3mph, to drink cocktails and wave at people. That’s it.

It sounds really stupid because it totally is. It’s stupid and hugely fun. It’s refreshing to laugh that hard when doing absolutely nothing.

End of one of the more epic Christmas golf cart cruises

I was allowed to join on a few cruises but I wasn’t an official member. That really burned me up.

To join the gang, I was lacking the one thing that would enable me to be considered into this elite club; a golf cart. So, as someone who frequently disregards rules, it came to me… poof, scooter!

First, this:

There are people in this world that mere mortals such as ourselves can never compare. You know what I mean. They are tougher, braver, more pioneering, simply badder than we’ll ever be. We can only be blessed to know them. No offense to those who think they’re the most awesome in the room. Compared to people like these, you pale and you know it. Accept it. There are people who are better than you. 

Three of these more awesome people I have been blessed with knowing are firefighters. They aren’t just firefighters, they are smoke jumpers, hot shots, and whatever the hell we call the scary-ass thing Mikey did. 

The first is Diane Pryce, the sweet, very feminine sister of my ex in Santa Barbara who was the first female smoke jumper in California and the second in the country. She trained in Alaska as the only woman in a cluster of angry men resentful of her biological ability for attracting grizzlies to their camp. She spent the rest of her life pioneering how women were portrayed and respected in that hugely male-dominated role. She retired into a job doing air-traffic control from a plane over forest fires. Because, of course she did.

The second is a gentle, former-neighbor of mine, Tommy, who taught trainee smoke jumpers how to parachute into wild fires. Think about that. He TAUGHT people how to parachute…INTO…forest fires. One of the people he trained to do so was Diane Pryce, though I met them separately and in different parts of the state. 

The third is Mikey. THE toughest man I’ve ever known who isn’t my father. Mikey earned his pension by –ahem, get this– extinguishing oil rig fires in the Saudi Arabian desert…in the ’80s.

What the holy fuck!?! There’s badass and then there’s that.

Well past retirement age, he can still drink us all under the table, throw a blanket over us, then go off to kill Sasquatch with his bare hands. I can barely eat rum cake without falling asleep and he’s complaining that Las Vegas goes to bed too early anymore. 

Even wearing a Santa hat and flashing made up signs, Mikey is still tougher than you.

It’s his golf cart with the Santa stuck to the dash in the other photo. And cracking me up as we circled the RV park.

So, as is fitting of someone that fucking tough, he has one of the more badass scooters ever made.

It looks mean, like a chopper of the Harley Davidson variety.

Mine does not.

Let’s just say that George Christie isn’t begging for my recruitment. Because my little stick of a scooter is as dorky as they get. Yet still as much fun and with more giggles. Because you can’t help it.

One instance that sticks so clearly in my mind is hearing my friend giggle with her husband like a couple of 6-year olds when riding my and Mikey’s scooters, trailing behind our golf cart convoy. These two have lived lives, they’ve seen things, he’s even a real life rock star, yet that happy, innocent laughter they shared when scooter-riding is still contagious when I think of them. 

One badass scooter and one badass drummer from P.O.D

Yes, Mikey’s chopper is as cool as the dude who owns it. As is the dude riding it in the photo. My little white dork scooter pictured in the upper right (being ridden by my friend) of the photo, however, does not make me, or anyone riding it, cool. It’s totally worth it, though.

And it did allow me entry into the golf cart club, too. That’s all I wanted.

So, as I sped through the empty lots of Campland searching for the babyshit-burrito-colored Town Car, determined to get a selfie with any “Neil Diamond”, I realized I had one of the biggest smiles on my face. Usually contemplative and grouchy, I was giggling and felt like I spent some time in the most valuable way. It’s curious what can make someone like me appreciate life.

Who knew it would be a white, stick straight scooter with a fluffy purple-flowered cup holder? I sure didn’t. Had I known, we’d all have a fleet by now.

-NTZ

There was this time…(pt. 11)

That stage to the right has Clapton all over it.

I know what you’re thinking.

Come on, you can’t possibly have another story from your past as ridiculous as the rest.

-You

Yes, I can. AND it’s not even from a long ago past.

How, for the love of all things holy, could I not be the paragon of dignity at this advanced age?

Stupid question. If I learned things, I wouldn’t need a blog to write it all down to entertain you, otherwise. Dur.

I began this with a particular story in mind. I can’t tell that one without telling this first. You’ve been warned.

At this place where I’m still working and, if I play my cards right, I hope to for the rest of my life. Like one day a week, tops. Because I have to. I can’t let this continue without being a part of it. How is it possible that I didn’t know it has existed for my entire life without hearing about it is beyond me. Had I known, I probably would have started working there at 15 instead of the crappy Korean deli/liquor store/deliquency-contributorship that I did work in.

Actually, I take that back. Songs, or Del Mar Fine Wines as I’m sure most of us didn’t know it was actually named, was probably safer for me since it eventually closed.

Campland-on-the-Bay, however, is still running, 60 years later, and where I, with almost 4 years under my belt, am still considered the newbie. I can’t imagine what would’ve happened to me had I found its fountain of perpetual fantasyland at 15. Well, all I have to do to find out is ask the many employees of 15/20/30+ years what year they think it is now.

Hint: 19something.

The bizarre thing about Campland…hahahaha. Sorry. I’ll start over.

One of the many bizarre things about Campland is how many celebrities visit there.

Seriously.

Almost more than the world-famously-poorly-run-yet-hilarious Miramar Hotel in Santa Barbara. Campland is the spiritual twin of the Miramar and, someday, if I have more time or the energy you’ll hear about that, too.

But regarding Campland’s especially rich celebrity influence, one day in 2017, as I’m checking-in mostly grumpy Karens and Chad-like individuals, I start talking to a nice man who was a bandmate of Tom Petty. I can’t remember which bandmate, which makes my story sound suspicious, but it’s legit, I promise. We talked because we had people in common when I worked for Kenny Loggins. I just don’t remember if he was the bassist, drummer, Cheshire Cat-wrangler or whatever. We chatted. It was nice. He was nice.

The guy who isn’t Tom Petty

He invited me to come to his campsite to continue our conversation about the people we knew in common later that evening. Before he left the office, though, he told us how he brought Eric Clapton to Campland and the two of them played guitar on the stage, impromptu, just because. -see first photo-

And how no one listened. Well, no one paid attention anyway. In total Campland fashion.

Sadly, Tom Petty died that night and this bandmate left without giving me that drink. The nerve, right?

That story is only prefacing this one.

No, not the adorable story behind the picture of me and Jason Day minutes after he won the Torrey Pines Open in sudden death.

Still sweaty and full of adorbs. Jason. I wasn’t sweaty.

Not that story. That story is just full of me always having food shoved into my mouth when sexy Jason came into my hemisphere. Like a lot of food. The first time was an entire half of a Snickers bar. The second time was me shooting cookie pieces out of my mouth trying to apologize for the Snickers incident.

No, it’s another story. Hmmm. Now, I can’t remember. It’ll come to me.

It may need another post.

-insert infuriating wink-

More to come…