In L.A., We May Be Plastic, But...

03/09/2011 01:56 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011


We may be plastic but our love is real.


Like many in Los Angeles, I have seen the billboard with that note in simple black cursive script against a white background dotting the landscape with what must be said is a pretty eye-catching and mirthful ad campaign. Word on the street is Mattel is trying to prepare us all for a Ken doll comeback. Whatever. It just made me laugh because it is soooo appropriate for our fair city, or its image anyway. I thought it was so great that I should write about it and set about letting it roll around in my head. And then a few blocks later, I saw something else that made me laugh out loud or shake my head in puzzlement, I can't remember which: it was a woman with a small brown dog that was pooping on the sidewalk. So?

The thing is that just as I pulled up, I saw her retrieve a wad of toilet paper from her purse and wipe the dog's ass with it. I'd never seen that before! And for some reason, I could not imagine any dog owner in New York or Nebraska pulling a move like that. It was an Only in L.A. kind of day, apparently, so I decided to tuck that away too, and let it float around with the Ken and Barbie plasticity issue.

Obscenely pampered pets and superficiality. Hmm. An old entry on my yellow "notes" pad popped into my head and I quickly pulled out my iPhone and found the one called Dog Agility Center and Social Club. This place actually exists! I was so aghast the day I saw it that I'd pulled over to write it down. Can you imagine such a business anywhere else on Earth? Just for laughs, let's take Haiti, where dogs there learn superpower agility by dodging cars on the street, and the only social club they'll ever know is when they get together to raid an NGO warehouse stocked with sealed packets of uncooked rice and beans. Anyway...

The image of Los Angeles as Mecca of pet spas and plastic surgery refused to go away to the point where I thought, maybe I should get out of this city. I know I could go into all of the ways in which L.A. does not fit that stereotype -- what with our hodgepodge of overworked ethnic groups colliding with basin-like potholes, and obese kids waddling out of McDonald's like anywhere else in the world -- but what I decided was much more charming is the second part of that Mattel ad. We may have an edge on the surface stuff, but our love is real.

Does it matter if friends you haven't seen in awhile horrify you with new faces that look pained when they smile if their hearts are still huge and filled with love? Is it important that my former gynecologist's sideline is in "designer vaginas" when she is such a kick-ass expert on women's homones? (The "designer vagina" and constant Botox promos rubbed me the wrong way so I found someone new, but maybe it's my loss.) And I would hazard a guess that people who smother their dogs with love probably don't go around beating people up, as is often the disturbing natural extension with people who abuse their pets. No, Michael Vick, I won't go out with you.

In any case, even though there are too many people spending way too much money on stupid shit in this city; and even though people often cancel plans at the last minute because of "work," and "let's do lunch" really is an empty phrase mostly used by people who don't know how to say, "I never want to see you again," I find that, when it matters most, L.A. does not lack for kind people who care for one another with a generosity of spirit and genuine love-filled hearts. I think I'll stay.