I just got back from a long road trip up the central coast.  On the way back I encountered an immobile field of cars lined along PCH from Zuma Beach to Los Flores Canyon.  It was due to Cal Trans’s constant fixation with road repair on the wealthiest highway imaginable.  It is a hiway rot with blemishes, pot holes and the terminal texture of a cheese grater.  It’s as if the bad karma emitted from resident Beverly Hills Dermatologists and plastic surgeons has settled itself on the landscape of Malibu.  Either that or the traffic was caused by another Barneys sale in Malibu Plaza.   I felt extraordinarily proud of myself because I avoided the whole mess by heading east on Kanan Dume, cutting south along Mullholland Hiway, then following Las Virginas back to PCH.  I didn’t know this could be done and it was by no means a short cut.  But it brings me joy to be able to maneuver my way through a city without getting lost.  I arrived home in a blissful state at having discovered a new canyon and not receiving one speeding ticket on my trip.  That’s when the phone rang.  Brrrrrrring.


Okay wait, that’s not what happened at all.  I called my Dad to see if I could bring anything to the brunch I had asked him to prepare for my aloof traveling companions I met in France.  He said I could bring some turkey sausage and then he got this non-turkey sausage tone in his voice. “Lauran,”  He said, and he never uses my name unless he means it, “Maybe this is none of my business, but I mistakenly opened a piece of your mail and you got another speeding ticket for two hundred and fifty dollars.”

My mail continues to be delivered to his house even though I moved from there, well, when it was still embarrassing to be living at home.

My maturity and my peacefulness all fell away.  I was suddenly twelve years old and defensive.  I first told him I wasn’t speeding and I was gonna fight it.  Which was pretty true.  At the time, I was driving over San Marcos Pass with Reet Tucci in my convertible, an 83 Jeep CJ7 with my two golden retrievers in the back.  That car won’t do sixty-five on a downhill with the wind at your back.  If you did manage to get the car up to seventy, blood would run from your nostrils and your hair would carve lacerations in your skin.  It’s not a comfortable car at any speed, but it’s a convertible and able to haul pups so I drive it gratefully.   I was pulled over for speeding and did get a ticket, which when signed by the driver, by the way, is not an admission of guilt.


My dad said he was concerned that all the speeding tickets I amassed in the past year were a cry for help.  I told him he was being a reactionary and that if he wants to get all Freudian about the whole thing he might wanna ask himself why he keeps mistakenly opening all my traffic violations.  I finally calmed down enough to realize he was worried because he loves and cares about me.  I thanked him for his concern, told him I loved myself more than he could ever possibly love me, and that I was not crying out for help.

After we hung up I called my mother.  My Father always said,  ”No one will ever love you like your mother,” and that always struck me as part of the problem.  Anyway, when you want to stack the deck in your favor and need a yes man, call Mom.  I told her about my conversation anticipating she would pat me on the back and say, “You’re alright kiddo, I’m not worried about you.”

Instead she said, “Four speeding tickets a one year, what’s going on!?”  In fact, everyone I told the story to couldn’t seem to fathom the actual number of tickets I’ve received.  It made it difficult for them to get to the finer nuance of the story.  I will take you there now.

I was a very tame child.  Even in pre-school I was afraid to nap.  In high school I was average, top of the bell.  When all my friends were cutting class and spinning three-sixties in their Ford Bronco in the school parking lot, I was reading Flaubert’s Madame Bovery and thinking what a slut she was.  I was the one at home watching Lavern and Shirley in my footsie pajamas while my friends were losing their virginity to a Carney when the local fair was in town.

I did manage to loosen up and get into trouble when I got older, but because I was so nerdy and repressed it was almost a necessary personality make-over.

I’d now like to point out a few things have contributed to the average Highway patrolmen’s attraction to me.  I speed.  Not all the time.  Not more than anyone else.  But unlike most people I have an outdated sense of style and have been driving the same two convertibles for ten years, one of which is a supped up race-car with nitrous oxide injection.  But that doesn’t matter either, because I drive a lot of different cars and still get tickets.  I am tempted to blame it on the company I keep.  The last girlfriend I had was introduced to me as being “Dangerously beautiful.”  I thought this just meant she was complex, but as it turned out she was notorious for luring girls into committing moving violations.  It didn’t matter if a cop was male or female, if they spotted her sitting Bitch, they were pulling me over.  Then she would cross-examine the cop when all they wanted was a little companionship.

“Don’t you have anything better to do?”  My ex-girlfriend would grill the cop.  ”Aren’t speeding traps Entrapment?  Do you have proof we were going that fast?”  It was a game with her.  But what could I do, I was whipped.  I had to wait for her to dump me.  You can never leave a sexy woman while the sex is still hot.  If you try to break-up, she will always have the upper hand while using the lower one where you need it most.

I’ve gotten tickets alone too, though.  It gets mighty lonely out there on a long stretch of road with nothing but chunks of gravel and bugs saying ‘howdy’ to your windscreen.  Maybe unconsciously I yearn for the kind attention only a CHP can provide to take the heat off the loneliness.  But I finally had to ask myself, because I did six years of therapy and I love talking with myself more than anyone, “Are my speeding tickets a cry for help?”

1) Before these tickets, I haven’t gotten a speeding ticket in Los Angeles in ten years.  Perhaps being ticketed repeatedly while doing seventy by a grammar school would be a cry, if not for help, for furthering my education.

2) It’s not as if I had my passport and plane tickets stolen on the Cote Azure or anything, now that’s a cry for help.

3) I know how to ask for help when I need it.  I may need help finishing this story.

My conclusion.

I’m unlucky in love, and on highway 101.

I don’t break bones, although I once threw out my lower back rollerblading.  I don’t disappear and usually return calls within a day.  I’m not usually late, and if I am I have a funny story about why.  I don’t get in car wrecks, and try not to create them inadvertently for others.

I get speeding tickets.  Four in a year.  Hi, my name is Lauran and I have to slow down.

I know parents worry about their kids.  I worry about my dogs.  And I’m the edgie kid now.  My brother was edgie once because boys always have physical injuries.  Now that he’s a father, he just stubs his toes.

My sister was once edgy but she made it look conservative so we all had to stretch the edge.  Now the focus is on me.  I am the gay one, the creative one, the rebellious one.  In short, the one who speeds occasionally and gets caught.

My Dad once made me promise that I would outlive him and I had to pull some major strings to secure the deal.  But he still worries about me.  It makes me worry.  He wants me to be interesting, but not too interesting.  He wants me to have material to write about, but not too much.  He wants me to be safe.

I asked my best friend if I am crying out for help.  She laughed, saying I shouldn’t speed when I go out of town.  ”Take your time.  Look around,” she said.

I didn’t even speed on the way over here.  But then, why speed in L.A.  Everything is forty-minutes away, an hour and a half with traffic.