Yesterday, Cadillac had his third interview at a company in L.A., so I came with to get car pool lane usage and hang out with my friend, SmurfyGirl.

First, we went to the Burger Counter (or was it Counter Burger?) in Santa Monica, where you can build your own burger by checking a list of things. I chose 1/3 pound of turkey, bleu cheese, carrot curls, and red onions. The bleu cheese overpowered it all. SmurfyGirl (who doesn’t like to be ID’d on the net) had a turkey burger with gruyere.

We also saw this square tree outside:

square tree root
square tree root

We had no fries because we were going to have DESSERT.

We had been to Yummy Cupcakes before in Santa Monica, and this time I was all set to try out Sprinkles. Actually, I had gotten the two confused and thought I had already been to Sprinkles. Not so.

The call of Sprinkles is that the sprinkles are from France, and everyone knows that French crap is better than ours, eh? I didn’t care. I just like cupcakes.

These cupcakes are supposed to be otherworldly, as though Zeus touched them with a hand and gave them magical powers. They’re not that different than what you could make at home. Except if I made them at home, I would eat them all, so I like to get them on my quarterly trips to visit my friend only.

We drove to Beverly Hills, where tiny parking garages border the streets perpendicular to Rodeo Drive. Plus: Parking is only $1 an hour. Minus: Hard to find parking, and once you exit the one-way one-strip garage, you must go ’round the block.

We drove past a different cupcake store, Crumbs on the way to Sprinkles. “That’s weird,” my friend remarked. It was close to Sprinkles; Crumbs is at 9465 Little Santa Monica while Sprinkles is at 9635. Cupcake stores are like Starbucks in L.A., apparently.

Sprinkles
Sprinkles

We passed the brown (chocolate brown?) storefront of Sprinkles and noted no line, not a soul in sight. By the time we parked, of course, there was a vast line 10 people deep. How could this be?

“I think it’s planned,” SmurfyGirl said. She pointed out that FOUR people work in the store with planned incompetence. One person takes the order and carefully writes your name down. She tells you to wait. Then eventually the cashier calls your name, you return and pay. Then someone else gives you the bag that a fourth person in the back has packed. It must be purposeful, to create the line and panick-like atmosphere that THEY WILL RUN OUT before your turn comes. Of course, it’s probably not purposeful, because this is American and there is plenty of incompetence to go around, I’ve noticed.

We waited and the line got longer. A little girl about 3 years old sat in one of the flimsy brown wire chairs, tipping it backwards. Everyone in the line shouted, “Ooooh!” and we all reached out. Her mommy got there first, and the girl was soon soothed.

Then a woman with large, squished down breasts in a bright pink tanktop muscled her way through. “I just want to ask them a question,” she piped up. I watched her suspiciously. “She better not be line jumping,” I said.

SmurfyGirl, ever the optimist, said, “I’m sure she’s just asking a question.”

I planned what to do: leap into the store, yell, “Stop that line-jumper! What do you think you’re doing?” but the woman returned with only a postcard and a fuschia-lipsticked smile.

Finally it was our turn. Peanut butter chocolate, chocolate with marshmallow and chocolate ganache for me; lemon ginger for Cadillac as his post-interview treat; cinnamon for SmurfyGirl’s hubby later; and a black and white for SmurfyGirl. She snagged a spot at the bar while I went through the rigmarole of paying and getting my treats.

“That’s a really pretty necklace,” the girl at the register remarked. “Really pretty. Wherever did you buy it?”

I laughed to myself at the answer I was about to give, here, across the street from fancy-pants Rodeo Drive. Briefly I thought of what I could say. “Paloma Picasso.” “I designed it myself.” But I told the truth. “Target.”

She looked utterly disappointed and embarrassed. I grinned.

The cupcakes came in a lovely cardboard box, looking lovely and with equally lovely bag. They were pretty good, though frosting-heavy. My peanut-butter fudge was great, like a Reese’s cup. The marshmallow-ganache thing was dry, and the ganache not terribly chocolatey; the marshmallow not terribly marshmallow-y. Final verdict: we preferred Yummy Cupcakes. Sorry, Sprinkles.

Our cupcakes. Dots were edible but not good. At least, I ate them.
Our cupcakes. Dots were edible but not good. At least, I ate them.

Afterward, we walked over to Rodeo Drive. One building had statues out front, including a bronze of a decidedly crotchety-looking old couple.

Crochety Old Couple Bronze
Crochety Old Couple Bronze

On Rodeo, I saw my very first, in the flesh, duck-lipped woman. She appeared to be in her 60s, pursing her lips disapprovingly at a Tiffany’s window. Except that her lips were JUST PURSED, a la OctoMom. It was very disconcerting and I sooo badly wanted to take a pic, but I didn’t.

Dragonfly necklace at Tiffany's
Dragonfly necklace at Tiffany's

We passed a designer store in which a very thin woman leaned on a railing just inside the door, wearing gigantic sunglasses and a wistful look. I imagined her to be a poor anorexic rich woman and waved my Sprinkles bag at her.

Then a Nigerian man (cousin to Engineer Robson?) asked if we wouldn’t like to buy us a big box of gummy bears, and we politely declined. He walked along after us, peddling gummy bears, and I wondered if he ever sold any.

“You gotta see this street,” SmurfyGirl said, and pointed. Up on a hill, the Rodeo Drive-ans had attempted to make an Italian-like cobblestone street set into a hill, tony shops on either end. The overall effect was not so much ancient Italian, but Las Vegas-an. Really. If I were rich enough to shop these damn stores, why would I want to schlep my ass up the steep hill to them? I would have to send my lackeys.

Italian-wannabe street
Italian-wannabe street

We looked at the Four Seasons, as seen in Pretty Woman; and a fountain;
Fountain
Fountain

and saw countless tourists also walking around, cameras in hand, ready to photograph any unwary star. Alas, no stars wanted pics that day. Besides tourists, there were just business-y looking men having lunch solo or in pairs.

Pretty Woman Hotel for Wayward Hookers with Hearts of Gold, I mean, the Four Seasons
Pretty Woman Hotel for Wayward Hookers with Hearts of Gold, I mean, the Four Seasons

And then, as if the day couldn’t get any better, SmurfyGirl gave us countless gifts she had obtained on one of her many wonderfully odd odd jobs: a wooden dollhouse with three or four doll families; dollhouse stackable rooms; a wooden jewelry box; jewelry; an Alien Autopsy kit; a Star Wars Lego Darth Maul fighter thing; mini tea sets; and Ariel the mermaid notepads. It was like Christmas today. My oldest daughter thought at first we had bought all this stuff because stuff was “cheaper in L.A.” as though L.A. were like Tijuana or Hong Kong or something.

My favorite item is still telling the girl where I got the necklace, though.