The Loh Life

Roses: Part One, Parade Fever

Sandra Tsing Loh ends up seeing the Rose Parade in-person... again.

As if in a dream, I found myself at 6:30 in the morning on New Year’s Day sitting on a bleacher waiting for the Rose Parade.  Again.  It’s like Groundhog Day.  Year after year, I never intend to go to the Rose Parade, but somehow I always end up there.  It’s like the Rose Parade is a virus, and I am its human host.  Why?

For one thing, my house, in Pasadena, is exactly 1.5 miles from the parade route.  If I were smart, I would run a parking concession—charge people fifty bucks a car for the privilege, RV’s a bit more—but I’m... not that smart.  No.  Last year, I found myself standing on Colorado Boulevard at dawn with five children—most of them not my own—clutching bright yellow IKEA buckets I had pulled out of my garage—

Why?  My bright idea was to invert them and use them as stools.  Now, as harebrained as that sounds, I have to tell you, as a Rose Parade strategy, my plan qualified as brilliant.  Understand that usually normal adults go into a glaze around Rose Parade time— We become confused— Our IQ drops— Rose Parade fever overtakes us like some mass hypnosis— for example, it suddenly seems like a fun idea to go camping on a city sidewalk!  We don’t quite know why, and we don’t quite know how.  But we DO it… in the most costly, cumbersome and illogical way possible.

I have seen not just street hibachis, but outdoor heaters like the ones they use in restaurants—10 feet tall—that half a dozen people in matching Cheesehead hats are rolling laboriously along the sidewalk.  I have seen a suburban mom clearly more comfortable in the Nordstrom shoe department struggling, down the middle of the street, with two toddlers and a giant stepladder.  I could tell by her manic, pinwheel-eyed expression that she had no idea why she was carrying it, or what she was going to do with it should she ever find a spot to set it down… but there she went.  I have seen people walking hunched over, carrying all of their bedding from home—blankets, sheets and pillows—bunched in a massive ball, with towels and mittens and socks falling out of it— People, have we brought our laundry to sort here, on the parade route?

And why sleep on the sidewalk when you can just show up at a quarter to eight and stand right NEXT to the people who slept on the sidewalk?  Who are sleeping through the parade—literally nodding off—because they are just so tired?  Why?  Because it’s “fun”—in big air quotes!

Next week: The Poop Hits the Fan.


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