Max wanted to stay downtown that night. It smelled like piss outside. I expected the smell in New York, but no odor I came across in the city last week compared to the strength of urine in the air in Los Angeles. Google Maps at the ready, I pointed left even though the route called for continuing straight, remembering the man from through the upstairs window. The way he gyrated behind that dumpster in the back alley. I re-routed accordingly.

The line for Perch greeted us and Max’s inner pessimist reared its ugly head. “This is the line?” She crossed her arms and her feet pivoted sideways, prepared to march right back around the way we came.

“I’m sure it’s more intimidating than it looks,” I said.

I stepped in line, as if that settled it, and she didn’t fight me for once. I talked about anything and everything to distract her while the line inched forward. Twenty minutes later, the bouncer checked our ID’s and directed us toward the elevator, which led to another elevator, then a dining room. And another line. Max groaned.

“At least there’s a bar.” Bouncers cleared the small walkway that separated the bar area and the reserved seating, directing those waiting in line to get upstairs to stand against the wall. We slipped past them to an empty area at the corner of the bar. “We can have a drink while we wait.” I picked up the menu and waved it.

“A drink. While waiting in line. Again.” Her eyes popped at the prices. “An expensive drink, at that.”

“What can I get you, ladies?” the bartender asked. I ordered Rosé. Max ordered a Writer’s Block. Vodka and white wine.

“That’s a $30.00 glass of Rosé, Ev,” she whispered, eyeing the bartender from behind who, apparently, was the perfect blend of hipster and Asian. I shrugged, sipping. We admired the dining room from against the wall, ropes separating us from all the people inside who possessed enough sense to book a reservation months in advance. My feet ached watching them, but the bubbles would take care of that soon enough. And the view wasn’t in the dining room, anyway.

The doorman waved us forward. Drinks half-full, we climbed the steps out into an altogether different kind of air than that of fifteen stories below. Buildings towered and windows twinkled in place of stars along the cityscape. Downtown LA, a 360 degree view. Max squeezed herself forward into a spot near the clear glass lining the edge of the building. Stepping up on the cement ledge, she took out her cell phone and snapped a few photos before receiving a tap on the shoulder from a bouncer asking her to step down. She obliged, but I sensed her patience waning.

“So many rules here.” She wasn’t wrong. Deeming the few photos she managed to take Instagram-worthy, she set her half-full drink down on the ledge. “So, this is it, then?” she asked.

“I guess,” I said. People covered every inch of the small rooftop, except for an area around the corner from the bathrooms where another bouncer stationed himself to redirect the lost and confused girls in mini-dresses separated from their pack on the way to the loo. I set my empty glass down beside hers. “Want to GrubHub back at the hotel?”

“God, yes,” she said.

Midnight Chinese food. Highlight of the evening.

(part two coming soon)


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