I Bought the Oki Dogs

11 Mar

Driving through L.A. with Michael on a Sunday morning, both of us hung over after a night of one bar after another, having been dissed by Alexander Witt when he cancels a meeting at the last minute; then drinking beers with an apologetic Danno who seems strangely vulnerable and needy by the end of the evening; and finally ending up at screenwriter Mike Zaidan’s book-filled house which has the same vibe as the house in Cutter & Bone – kind of a tree-shaded, bohemian L.A. dwelling where a writer might be inspired to work on a novel between screenplays.

I’m still new to L.A., so to be driving through town on a Sunday morning, after sleeping in my clothes, with Michael looking demented behind the wheel of my rented Prism, the sunlight bouncing off the concrete – it all adds up to a feeling of beneficence.

We stop at a traffic light and a muscle-bound guy with chiseled features and gentle eyes crosses in front of us. Michael leans out the window and gives him an appreciative wolf whistle. When the muscle man looks over his shoulder we laugh and Michael steps on the gas.

Even though Alexander blew us off last night, he’s agreed to a lunch meeting today.

At this time we still have hope that Alexander’s connections will bring Radio First Termer to the screen. Michael and I are both a little disgusted, but we believe in the script, and as cheap as Danno is, he’s a bulldog – we think Danno can collar the necessary players to get the film made.

Lunch is less than an hour away. Michael and I, hung over as we are, know we need to eat something before the meeting.

Michael tells me, “I’ll take you to the best hot dog stand inL.A.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Oki Dog. Run by a Vietnamese guy.”

We pull up on Oki Dog, a roadside stand in the middle of a metropolis. I’m thinking hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut, and a tall, ice-filled glass of Coca Cola – just the thing for a hangover.

Michael is going with Zaidan’s recommendation: “He told me to get the Oki Dog Special.”

We order and take our food out to a little rickety metal table about six inches from the curb of Pico Boulevard. Michael and I are perched on tiny metal folding chairs that would probably fetch 50 cents at a garage sale.

This is a low-rise area of L.A.with car dealerships and discount furniture warehouses lining the broad thoroughfare. You can see the sky and feel the open space. The air and humidity is perfect – lying against my clothing like a cushion.

Michael takes the foil wrapping off his hotdog and stares. “What the fuck is this?”

The Oki Dog Special is two hot dogs wrapped in a tortilla and smothered with chili.

Michael holds it in his hands and laughs. “It looks like two dead guys in a sleeping bag.”

We both laugh, knowing this is a rare moment, when all the planets line up like tumblers in a safe, when – this day, this moment – you’re right where you’re supposed to be.

(2002)

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