Sunday, January 22, 2012

Where's the Rodeo – Drive?

When I was younger, I felt a pull toward California. I wanted to live there. And I wanted to be discovered. (How I thought I could be "discovered" as a writer merely by standing on the corner of Hollywood and Vine, I'll never know {ah, the mysteries of my mind}, but that is what I wanted to happen.)

 So a friend of mine and I, along with my oldest daughter, flew to Los Angeles, visited Knott's Berry Farm and Disneyland, and tried to locate Rodeo Drive, where all the famous people hung out. Maybe one of THEM would notice me.

 Oh, Rodeo Drive, you bring back such fun memories. We soon discovered that Rodeo Drive was a mystery street intended for the Hollywood elite only. We never made it there, because the heavily accented Mexican cab driver didn't understand us when we pronounced the street as if it were a cowboy rodeo. We had never heard the pronunciation of the word. We only read about it in magazines.

The conversation went something like this:

Us – Please take us to Rodeo Drive.
Him – I don't know no Rodeo Drive.
Us – Of course you do. It's the most famous street in all of Los Angeles!
Him – No, I never heard of it.
Us – Are you new?
Him – No, it doesn't exist.

 Several years later, when we discovered the proper pronunciation, I wanted to locate a California criminal lawyer. I knew that driver was just messing with us. Good luck, taxi cab driver, I thought, in locating a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer who would believe your whine about how we didn't make ourselves perfectly clear. Would s/he believe that you had "no idea" where Rodeo Drive was located? Not likely!

 To be honest, I don't know what crime I would have accused him of committing – misunderstanding a passenger? Misleading a passenger? Being intentionally evil to a passenger? I KNOW he knew what we were talking about. But I wouldn't have been able to prove it in a court of law.

 Perhaps he truly didn't understand what we were talking about, though. I learned recently from a British writer friend of mine (John), who is also a teacher in China, that some Mandarin words, when speakers employ a different tone, mean different things. Ma, for instance, can mean mother, hemp, or horse. Ma can also be used to scold someone. So I have learned to forgive the taxi cab driver for not understanding us.

 Still, I've never visited Rodeo Drive, but at least I now know how to pronounce it.

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