My Trip to San Diego with Larry David
I was in LA when I received an email from Larry David asking if I wanted to visit his brother Ken, who had just moved to San Diego. After a few phone calls where we debated times, appropriate L.A. to San Diego outfits, whether to eat or not before the trip (vegetarian as opposed to vegan), and of course insulted each other in a loving/ hateful way, we finally arranged an exact tentative day and time. With LD and me, indecisiveness was chiseled in stone.
I had asked Larry what to wear because even though he seems like he’s being sucked into a whirlpool of obsessive thought, he is, of course, simultaneously on the lookout for any fault he can find in a friend, so he can shine a spot light on it, and point it out in the most embarrassing manner. The first time Larry saw me wearing an earring he loudly announced to patrons of a restaurant that I was a hermaphrodite and starting the first phase of a deciding on a permanent sex, and he then insisted on opinions. I nearly tore off my ear and tossed it in his soup.
We were to meet at Larry’s house and from there LD would drive to San Diego. LD does not drive a fancy car. He’s far too neurotic and too self-conscious to be pretentious. Years ago, after debating with himself for six months on whether he deserved to own a Porsche, he finally purchased one. His ownership of the sports car didn’t even last long enough to go through a tank of gas. He said, “I kept imagining people pointing at me and saying, look at that stuck up, rich, bald guy with glasses, showing off. Who does he think he is… some big shot?” A hundred and four hours later, and at the cost of 16 thousand bucks he returned the Porsche..
So when I got to LD’s house I was not surprised to see that compared to his income, which could afford him enough to buy a gated a planet in gated galaxy, his beautiful house was modest and tasteful—a house that says, here’s a rich, bald guy who wears glasses and is way too neurotic and too self conscious to flaunt his wealth. In truth Larry is not so much self-conscious as he is self-image conscious— fearing that the world would see through his success to his undeserving bald soul—that wears glasses.
I remember when LD first told me about his house. I was doing an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Between takes I tentatively asked what his new house was like. After pausing, then hesitating, he replied apologetically, like he was caught rummaging through the pockets of a dead body and was about to be karmicly judged by every homeless person in the universe. “Uh, uh I didn’t get anything too big, uh…just stuff that I always wanted, a few bedrooms, a TV room, an exercise room and a screening room. Uh…that’s not too much, right? Maybe I could have a few less closets?”
On the way to San Diego, LD manned the radio, changing stations as often as he changed his food orders, his hand sliding side to side, pressing buttons like he was searching his body for tumors, listening for the most left wing sound bite. We talked about the usual: baseball, politics, phobias, especially the fear of impotency, eventually moving onto the odds of getting Ebola virus from taking our kids to a petting zoo. We eventually covered all things neurotic. A subject we both could write an entire doctoral thesis on without pausing once.
Larry is only slightly less volatile than his character on Curb—his temper like a land mine that has been stepped on and is waiting for the shoe to rise. On a previous visit to LA, LD arranged for me to meet him at a restaurant. He even gave me directions and told me where to park. Of course, he was late because he got lost. I found him outside driving around in circles, the windows rolled down, glasses steamed, his face about to burst into flames, screaming at himself because he was a stupid (bald) asshole who couldn’t even find the lot to park in. I showed him where the lot was and then after lunch, as he drove up to the gate, he had a panic attack trying to find his wallet to pay the women, tossing around everything in car like a meth head looking for dope. I found a few bucks and raced from my car and paid the frightened women.
We arrived at Ken’s place in less than two hours. The whole drive, LD kept asking if I thought we were making good time, as if my approval meant he was driver-worthy. Did I tell you Larry was very much like his character in Curb? Of course I did. I just wanted to pound that image into your mind again.
Ken greeted us at the door, and we said our heart felt hello’s. Ken and I expertly hugged, which mean we did it without ever touching. Then we entered Ken’s home. Larry, now relieved that he had made it there (in a time span that met with my approval), casually walked into the room. He hadn’t made it six feet into the entrance when Ken’s sofa-sized dog, for no reason, other than Larry is Larry, flew past us, growling, and dove onto LD teeth first. Bit him on the side near his ribs, tearing a whole in LD’s shirt and drawing blood. The weight of the dog knocked Larry, screaming–not in pain,but in astonishment –into the safe haven of the bathroom. Ken quickly pulled the snapping dog away, as it chewed the bottom panel of the door off, to save LD from being eaten alive. Ok, I’m exaggerating, but I’m sure Larry believed the dog was infected with a rare, incurable form of Ebola Rabies. When Larry was finally patched up and had stopped yelling at Ken, a form of David brotherly love, he shook his head in disgust, not because he was bitten, but because the monster dog, had torn a whole in his favorite shirt. Here’s one of the things I love about LD. He’s worth millions, yet he was still concerned about a shirt–not an expensive silk or satin garment, but a cotton black t-shirt with a white rim around the neck, like it was the only one that didn’t hate touching his skin. No one witnessing LD bounce in and out of temper tantrums, relentlessly mourning the loss of his favorite t-shirt could ever accuse Larry David of acting like a big shot. They could justifiably call him an immature, neurosis breeding, self-loathing, obsessive, hypochondriac, which he’d quickly agree to and had used brilliantly to turn himself into a real life Hollywood big shot—a comedy mogul—a mammoth success—a near billionaire—which he will spend the rest of his life trying to live down to fans, friends, and especially his deceased relatives who LD (erroneously) thinks see what a bald loser with glasses he really is.