Los Angeles can be an asinine place. I was born and raised and continue to reside here so I can say that without punching myself in the face, the way I would an outsider who came in and said that about my city. But I get it, all clichés have an origin: L.A. does have a restaurant with a 45-page water menu (which just might be your next book club selection) as well as an inordinate amount of pretentious dicks who wear scarves in summer and cut you off in a Prius (yes, a Prius). But L.A. is also a genuinely unique gem. And once you strip the city down to its most simple characteristics, say, the way my dog does, you can’t miss its sparkle.
My little terrier mutt is quintessentially L.A. This is not to say that she’s an item I throw in a $1,500 handbag when she matches my ensemble, but she was born here and by the end of her first year she had already left home and walked more L.A. streets than Charlie Sheen’s last “girlfriend.” Sometime later, a Good Samaritan scooped her up and brought her to a rescue where a mix of fate, timing and a ridiculously adorable picture that could melt a terrorist’s heart brought her to me. Her connections to the home of the Los Angeles Kings, and her black/white coloring, led me to name her after one of hockey’s greats: Anze Kopitar. She’s “Kopi.”
By the time Kopi wakes up, so has the sun, welcoming us Angelenos to the day. I can sit at brunch on the patio in mid-January without the crippling cold of a snowstorm or, in mid-August, without the sweat-inducing thickness of humidity. But instead of feeling lucky, I become irritated by the congested restaurant or the table-neighbor who’s loudly discussing the “totes cray-cray eve” she had with a “dude who’s on fleek.” But Kopi gets it. She lies on the ground, savoring the sunshine and relishing the comforting scent of freshly brewed coffee, the mouthwatering fragrance of a passing Benedict dish and the lively atmosphere with delicious food that inevitably finds its way from my fork to the ground beside her.
When it’s time for “walkies” (there is no dog person that doesn’t say this), my front door opens and, B.K. (Before Kopi), I walked lackadaisically past some stunning feats of nature. But Kopi hits the ground running, her nose planted firmly on the cement where she then pauses every seven seconds to inhale, well, everything, but particularly, the freshly cut grass, the heat emanating from the concrete, the water droplets from a sprinkler head, the rose petals strewn across the path (and, likely, the rancid urine scent she seems to adore) — each scent an exciting, shiny object piquing her interest.
As we walk down Chandler, we pass a fascinating variety of people. Again, B.K., I never paid attention to these folks (or I did, and picked up my pace to move past). But Kopi wants to greet each person as though they’re as awesome as the last. And let’s face it, there’s really no chance that’s true. But Kopi doesn’t think that way. Whether it’s the rabbi walking to temple, the teenager whose hygiene is questionable on a good day or the socialite texting her way to lunch, as far as Kopi’s concerned, each presents an opportunity for treats or a rub on her belly.
And don’t get her started on the L.A. parks. You know, the little patches of green amid the freeways and skyscrapers that I had no idea existed B.K. In Kopi’s world, NoHo park is where squirrels scurry from tree to tree dodging her while she gets just close enough to make every day feel like that squirrel’s last. Fryman Canyon is where birds chirp a taunting tune, who Kopi’s sure she’d catch if those darned wings hadn’t put them at such an advantage. Woodley Park is where ducks glide along the lake, paddling away before Kopi can bark hello. And Valley Village Park is where soft blades of grass offer comfort to her tush, fellow dogs frolic offering her many minutes of butt exploration and children laugh, focused solely on the joy they get from the fact that they live in a place where the opportunity to play in a sandbox outdoors comes so very often.
See, Kopi doesn’t care if we’re honked at several times, nearly hit by three douchebags in Audis or traffic leaves us at a dead stop on Colfax for 10 minutes for no apparent reason on the way to the park. She curiously looks out the window with perked ears and a wagging tail, eager for what’s to come because she has figured out that her key to happiness has two simple components: racking up as many treats as the Kardashians have selfies and playing outside!
Kopi loves Los Angeles; I believe this to be true. And the explanation is found in Kopi’s-eye view, which isn’t blurred by overpriced meals, plastic smiles or 5-year-olds texting on the iPhone 6SCXV Plus Deluxe. Kopi sees L.A. as a balmy, tree-lined playground with endless opportunity. And, now, so do I.
Megan Karasch is an author, screenwriter, lawyer and drummer. She is fiercely loyal to her family, friends, the L.A. Kings and her flatiron. She can solve any problem as long as she’s had a cup of coffee and a piece of cake. You can learn more about her at megankarasch.com.