California, here I come!
Wife Lynn and I spent last week hanging out in southern California. We
had a great time. I did a good bit of homework before we left home, like
what we could expect to see and do in that part of the world. I also checked
on any legal restraints we might encounter—you know California has
some weird laws and does some weird things, like electing a governor and
then unelecting him before his term is up.
Here’s what I found out we would be facing from a legal standpoint.
1. Traffic laws—“No vehicle without a driver may exceed 60
miles per hour” and “women may not drive in a housecoat.”
At first glance you might think these 2 laws are unrelated, but no. Suppose
you were a woman living in California and wanted to go to the AM/PM (like
our Diamond Shamrock) for some tofu and alfalfa sprouts and didn’t
want to change out of your housecoat. Not a problem. Simply get into the
passenger side of the car and proceed to the store without a driver. Be
sure not to exceed 60 miles per hour. I was glad I found out about these
laws because Lynn and I planned to rent a car and drive on the highways
2. Personal habits and dress—In Los Angeles, “toads may not
be licked.” Also, “You may not hunt moths under a street light.”
Lynn and I had been looking forward to engaging in both of these activities—now
we were forced to scratch them from our itinerary. “It is illegal
for a man to beat his wife with a strap wider than 2 inches without her
consent.” There went another itinerary item. In Baldwin Park, “Nobody
is allowed to ride a bicycle in a swimming pool.” By now I’m
wondering if we should bother to go at all. There is even a law that might
impact most Texans planning a California trip: “You are not permitted
to wear cowboy boots unless you already own at least two cows.”
Now we either had to repack the suitcase or buy some cows. We opted for
the former. In Chico, “Detonating a nuclear device within the city
limits results in a $500 fine.” For a state that thrives on tourism,
California is mighty restrictive.
3. Animals and sex—Again, these two things are not unrelated. (Don’t
start thinking kinky thoughts just yet.) Lynn and I sometimes travel with
one or more pets—usually Ralph, our parrot, or one or more dogs,
so it’s good to know what to expect. In Ventura County, “Cats
and dogs are not allowed to have sex without a permit.” I was not
able to find out where cats or dogs go to get a permit. I wonder if there
is a waiting period. If so, it would certainly take away from the spontaneity
of the moment. Even if there is no waiting period, just standing in line
for a permit could prove problematic. What if a particularly passionate
dog was standing in the permit line and a human with a particularly attractive
leg walked by—I don’t want to contemplate the possibility.
Even after getting a permit California animals are further restricted
by another law. “Animals are banned from mating publicly within
1500 feet of a tavern, school, or place of worship.” By now many
dogs and cats would just give up and go back to chasing cars or small
mammals. Although we had considered buying another pet in California,
we discovered that it is illegal to own snails, sloths, or elephants as
pets. So scratch pet buying.
4. Interesting miscellaneous laws—“It illegal to spit, except
on baseball diamonds.” I wonder if there is a similar law about
scratching your personal parts except on a baseball diamond on national
television? In Long Beach, “Cars are the only item allowed in a
garage.” I would never make it in Long Beach. In San Diego, “It
is illegal to shoot jackrabbits from the back of a streetcar.” That
law could never be enforced in Texas. We’re all out of streetcars.
Finally, in San Francisco, “It is illegal to wipe one’s car
with used underwear.” No mention is made of what the underwear might
have been previously used for.
Why would one even think about going to California since so many fun
things are prohibited by law? Well, we did find some things to do that
made the trip worthwhile. We dined on the Queen Mary, a big boat tied
up at Long Beach. (The Queen Mary, being a boat, is not affected by the
garage restriction cited above.) We watched a bunch of surfers warm up
for the U.S. Open Surfing Championship that started last Saturday. We
had breakfast at the Sugar Shack, a famous restaurant where surfer dudes
hang out. The restaurant is named for one of my wife’s favorite
songs. We went to Disneyland with our friends Ray and Chris. Chris is
a cast member at Disney and she took a busman’s holiday and went
with us to Disneyland and the new California Adventure. She was a terrific
guide and knew all the back-stories about the place. Ray and Chris also
took us to Wild Bill’s, a restaurant with some food and some entertainment.
The pretty woman that did rope tricks was amusing. The male singer wore
knee high boots (apparently he owns two or more cows) and was selected
for his role solely because he was the only one that the boots fit.
We got to spend a couple of days with my cousin Ted, his wife Ardith,
their daughter Julie, who is writing a book about professional women fisherpersons
(these are women who fish professionally not professional women who fish),
and my aunt Frances.
All in all it was a great trip and we did not really miss being able
to legally lick toads or hunt moths under the streetlight. Maybe under
the new governor things will lighten up a bit in California.