Posted by Elliot Steingart
Written by my girlfriend, Liv Amend
Elliot and I decided to embark on a romantic getaway for our one year anniversary. I was actually embarrassed when I told people. Friends and family were curious “Why are you going to Long Beach?”
I didn’t want to say it was because the Hyatt in Redondo was triple the price so I justified it with “They have an aquarium there.”
That seemed to appease them, but I still felt judgment. Sadly, I judged myself when we arrived and the classy Hyatt was right next door to a Hooters and arcade/bowling alley. I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I told Elliot he was in charge of negotiating with the front desk for an upgrade. I thought he would ask for a large suite or a beautiful ocean view. My boyfriend asked for a room with a bathtub.
I am a woman obsessed with plans, but my boyfriend is more the fly by the seat of your pants type. Even a year later, we “play it by ear.” I really wanted to visit the aquarium. Elliot was staunchly against the aquarium—because he said kids and strollers and crowds would be too much for him to handle. He said he wanted to go bowling or play at an arcade as if there wouldn’t be any kids or strollers there. Elliot also kept talking about ice skating which caused many pouty looks from my direction. We ended up wandering around with me in a huff for 40 minutes until we decided on beers at a nice bar with outdoor seating at Belmont Shores. The alcohol appeased my need to see sting rays and fish.
We needed to find a place to have a romantic dinner so we decided on a upscale pizza place with trays of meats and cheeses. It was a delicious meal we enjoyed as the sun set over the pier. Elliot normally doesn't like waiters, but he got along with this one, a young man who looked like a chill hipster with Ray Ban like glasses and a beard. The waiter really scored points when he suggested a margheretta pizza we both enjoyed, though he suggested we get it without cutting it to preserve the flavor. I asked him to cut the pizza. We ordered desert and toasted to one year on what seemed like a romantic evening. Little did I know what Long Beach locals had in store for me later. On the walk home I realized that I was not in Kansas anymore. Downtown Long Beach had a lot of very interesting people.
One woman started talking to me very close. “Excuse me, excuse me,” she said in a high pitched voice.
I usually smile at the homeless and nod my head, but in this moment I was so confused, I ignored her. What happened next troubled me for the rest of the night, the woman started yelling expletives in my direction.
I am used to characters, in fact the week before I had been chased by a man dressed as a pirate in Downtown LA but this woman was so aggressive. I clutched Elliot closer hoping he would protect me but he seemed unscathed. I also was wearing 4 inch heels making me approximately 5 inches taller than my boyfriend, which didn’t make me feel safe at all. Not five minutes later a young woman on a bike asked me “Miss do you have any change?”
I made sure to respond, nodding my head no with a huge smile. All of a sudden, a man on a bike swooped by and screamed “Liar.”
That was it, I had had it. Our one year celebration had to come to an end. I made my boyfriend escort me back to the hotel bar and finally to our room. The 10 o clock hour found us drifting off to Dateline NBC in the hotel room.
I had expected our one year to be candlelit, sexy and romantic. I got my rude awakening the next day when I was shuttled home early so I could help Elliot move all his stuff into a new apartment. By Sunday evening I felt like I deserved an award for being the best girlfriend in the world. The award was a frozen dinner and a toast "To our one year." It’s nice to know we will always have Long Beach.
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April 12, 2013 | 11:23 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
I made a new friend. His name is Jose Luis. I knew he was my friend as soon as he said "Hello, my friend."
Jose Luis helped me move my bed, kitchen table and love seat into my new apartment down the hall from where I used to live. He also mounted my TV. My girlfriend led the moving process by performing laundry, cleaning, organizing closets, and putting away my seasoning salts. She was jealous that I gave Jose Luis all the credit on Twitter. It's no slight on her part, but he is my friend.
Jose Luis is a contractor and handy man for my building. He is 61 years old and has two boys. "I've worked here many years. Everyone I work with is for a long time. They trust me. I don't steal. I work hard." He told me.
Before moving in pink wall paper lined the walls, brown carpet touched the floors, and "Mad Men" era appliances occupied the kitchen.Then in came Jose Luis ripping the carpet, laying down hardwood floors, sanding cabinets, installing new tiles. The old apartment died along with the tenant who once called it home. Jose Luis was the executioner.
"I respect your talent," I told Jose Luis. "I don't have the skills you have."
"It comes easy," he said drilling his power tool into the wall. "I love what I do. I put my heart into it."
I visited my old apartment where I still needed to remove the mirrors that became stuck on my wall. I walked in and the mirrors sat on the floor.
"Jose Luis, how'd you do it?"
"I used a spatula." he said.
"That's amazing. I didn't think I would be able to get them down."
I told Jose Luis the story about when I first moved in and my mom stayed the night. The mirrors were not sticking and in the middle of the night one of the mirrors above the bed fell straight down and nearly sliced my mom's head open. Jose Luis recalled the time he almost fell into a fireplace during the Northridge earthquake.
Settling into the new apartment I made a list of small repairs for Jose Luis. I needed a deadbolt and new drain in the bathtub. Jose Luis installed a new ceiling fan and patched one of the tiles. He fixed things I didn't even think needed a fix. He's a fixer.
His wife, Ruth who is also a carpenter and did most of the work with him, does not speak as good of English. She came into my apartment when I was in the bathtub. My girlfriend told her to come back another time. When she came back I told her how impressed I was with the work of Jose Luis.
"How long have you been married?" I asked.
"We're not married." she said.
I wanted to see who makes the repairs in their house. Now I didn't know what to say. I didn't want to break the news to my friend that he is not married to his wife.
"He's my boyfriend," she said.
"Okay, good." I replied. I was glad because I saw him touch her butt.
I asked my girlfriend if I should write Jose Luis a thank you note for all his help. "It's his job," she explained.
It wasn't his job to be my amigo.