California Girls Making T-shirts

On her third day in LA Lois decided to ditch the “Being a better you” workshop to spend the day in Silverlake, to take photos of the murals she’d read were everywhere. She woke early that morning, and had room service for breakfast, eggs Florentine on sour dough toast, orange juice and black coffee, took a long bath instead of her usual quick shower, and ironed her favourite Paul Smith shirt dress as she watched the morning news. At 10:45 she closed the door to her room, turning the “Do not disturb sign” around for housekeeping, and made her way downstairs.

Outside it was a nice day for sight-seeing, a perfect 28 degrees Celsius or 82 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on where you came from. Lois watched the comings and goings of the hotel guests from her spot in front of the valet stand. To her right an elderly man holding a silver cane, and a black fedora sitting slightly askew on top of his head, stepped into a stretch limousine with three women wearing matching silver jumpsuits, each carrying an electric blue motorcycle helmet under their right arm. To her left a women’s hockey team and their entourage boarded a bus with: “Hollywood Coaches – getting you somewhere” painted on the side. At the entrance to the hotel a handsome man in a linen suit, with his long blonde hair tied back into a neat ponytail, held the door open for a woman dressed head-to-toe in leopard print. Leopard print scarf, leopard print dress, leopard print bag, and leopard print shoes. She took off her oversized sunglasses to reveal a face nipped, tucked and stretched into an expression of permanent surprise, looked down at the gold name-tag pinned to the handsome man’s jacket, and said “why thank you Braun”. “Braun” flashed the woman a toothy grin, took her arm in his, and walked her to her car. It was an orange BMW, the boxy kind they used to make in the 1980’s, and the same car Lois found herself in on a blind date, all those years ago. His name was Austin, an accountant who still lived at home with his parents, who sold acid to clubbers on weekends to fund his collection of vintage cars. He took her out for pasta, and a cheap bottle of Chianti, and told her he liked to listen to Cat Stevens when he was sad.

Angela, her Uber driver arrived at the Hotel at 11:15 in a shiny yellow jeep. Lois jumped in and made polite conversation, asking all the right questions in an effort to maintain her 5-star passenger rating. Angela, and her sister Jasmine, moved to Los Angeles from nowhere California almost six years ago. Driving Uber during the day paid their rent, and working front of house at a Michelin star restaurant at night funded their side hustle, what they liked to call a “high-low fashion line of mix and match staples, for people with no time to shop”. Angela handed Lois a glossy yellow business card with “Californian Girls Making T-Shirts” printed in large, cherry-red Garamond type in the centre. “You should come to our launch party, it’s tonight, at your hotel” she offered. “Why not” thought Lois.

It was hot in Silverlake, too hot for sight-seeing and taking photographs of murals. Lois followed a group of women into a restaurant, sat down at the bar, and ordered herself a cold beer. A DJ was playing Aretha Franklin, a large sunny mural painted on the wall behind him. People with beautiful skin and glossy hair were sharing pizzas with bowls of multi-coloured swiss chard, crispy lettuces, and the most ruby-red tomatoes she had ever seen. Lois ordered another beer, and a tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad. “You should try the strawberries” said the DJ “they grow them right here, where the sun shines the most”. “You should print that on a t-shirt” thought Lois, as she took the glossy yellow business card out of her pocket, and smiled.

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