a fight to the death / by laurel

Previously I have spoken out about the grievances of explaining my living situation--("Alone? You? You live Alone?" et al.  I won't get into it here.)--and now I have become aware that this incredulity extends far beyond simply my living arrangements, and into the city where I live. Which, I will remind you, is a sprawling wonderland--fortified by 120,000 yuppies and their SUVs--called Brea.  Brea.  The name alone induces a swankier-than-thou shudder.  

Brea is similar to Brie, and Brie is a type of cheese--however, not the American-shrink-wrapped-throw-it-on-a-burger type of unpretentious cheese, but rather, a mold-is-the-new-gold gourmet type of cheese.  And cheese, you will note, is always good with a glass of wine.  And the Wine Divine has successfully qualified itself as the yuppie snob-culture du jour, because let's face it, nothing quite segregates the sophisticates from the gentiles like, "An earthy, minerally core--with notes of chocolate, tobacco and leather." 

This is Brea.  This is where I live.  And Brea would like you to know that the houses are not overpriced, thank you very much, because people who drive lacquered black H2's need a spacious driveway.  (Thank you very much!)

However, for all the self-importance, Brea is, apparently, not as well known as she would care to believe.  I have realized, as of late, that Angelenos are possibly the most place-centric people on the planet.  As such, I work in a veritable petrie dish for those born and bred in southern California.  They squirm around, comfortable in their LA-ness until the "where do you live?" topic comes up.  

(Now, please note with me that the question "where do you live?" is not referring to a city, but rather a PretendCity.  Let me explain.  Loz Feliz, Silverlake, Echo Park, et al are not actual cities in Los Angeles County.  In fact, they aren't really recognized by any sort of zoning system.  They are neighborhoods.  They have nicknamed themselves so as to differentiate Le Awesome from Le Not So Cool, which is what divides one PretendCity from another.)  

Alright, back to the topic at hand.  "Where do you live?"

"I live in Brea."

Pause.  A furrowed brow.  (And I swear to you--I swear--that the Crazy Californians are momentarily trying to decide if Brea is in Oregon or some other god-forsaken territory north of the border)

What follows are just a few of the responses I have received to that statement.  

"So what's the deal with Brea?"

"You like country, don't you? That's what you listen to over there in Brea, right? Country? A little ho-down?"

"I've never been to Brea.  I've never even heard of Brea.  Where is Brea?"

It's nothing short of, "What language do they speak in Brea?"

(which reminds me, incidentally, of the general place-centricity of not only adults, but children as well.  "You're from Oregon? Where is Oregon?  What language do they speak where you're from? Do they speak English in your country?"

In my country.  In my country.  Apparently Oregon has annexed itself from the contiguous united states.  Or, more appropriately, California has finally emerged as a self-proclaimed world Super Power and the other country we're speaking of, actually, is America.  California is the kid on the back of the bus who decreed that the back of the bus, is in fact, cooler than the front of the bus simply because he said so.  This is the kid who is called Killer, and the reason he is called Killer is because he nicknamed himself.  California is a self-nicknaming back-of-the-bus bully.)  

I digress.  This parenthesis was too long even for me to keep track of.

(And speaking of parenthesis, I have a stunning and inexplicable proclivity for them today.  Gah.)

Where was I?  Oh, yes.  Laurel-is-a-mutant-who-lives-in-Brea-which-we-swear-is-part-of-the-Alaskan-Tundra-Oh!-and-I-hear-she's-a-Republican! 

So day after day I find myself in a veritable war of the snobs between Swanky-self-important-underdog Brea and My-'hood-can-beat-up-your-'hood Los Angeles--often on a Pelopponesian scale.  This war (usually taking place inside my head) escalates similarly every time:

LA:  "Well, we have a Gelson's."

Brea: "Oh yeah? Well I have glittery sidewalks."

LA:  "That's nothing to brag about.  We have every hip store you could ever imagine with single word or symbol names like 'OK' or '!!'."

Brea:  "Well--well--I have Eddie Bauer, and nothing says 'hip' like a cherry-colored parka.  Nothing!"

It is at this point where I realize I am fighting a losing battle.  LA wastes no time in swooping in for the merciless kill.

LA: "Our rent is cheaper."

No contest there.  There's nothing like coughing up 1150 a month to cover the four walls of a studio apartment to put things into perspective.  So I retreat, tail between my legs, hoping that no one witnessed the crushing defeat.  

But then I remember, no body knows where Brea is, anyway.