Bob’s Big Boy, Toluca Lake
I tried to go to Forest Lawn but it closed before we finished chatting at my Aunt’s kitchen table… For as long as I can remember I yearned to get past the hills my grandparents are buried on, to get to the bright lights & busyness of Hollywood. It wasn’t that I was attracted to Hollywood itself, unless we had tickets to The Pantages or a Mommy-&-me shopping date on Melrose, because Hollywood has always been pretty trashy in my lifetime, sadly dirty & desperate… It was more that Hollywood was the gateway to the rest of LA, at least the ways I grew up getting there. Be it from Barham Blvd. or the 101 S, it was Cahuenga Pass that ushered the illustrious and sparkling opportunities into my scope.
I have spent most of my life trying to exist south-west of these hills - The Hollywood Hills, or at least on the other side of them, & I have. I mean for the past 14 years (this July 5th - not that I’m a stickler for dates or anything) I have lived, worked, played, fallen in love, made bad decisions, left, come home to, laughed, cried, apologized, succeeded, screamed, fallen into financial ruin, had my heart broken, been embarrassed, waited tables, shared apartments, started my company, worn engagement rings, & still so much more on the other side of these hills… but tonight I don’t want to leave Burbank. The only place I want to be right now is exactly where I am: at the counter of Bob’s Big Boy on Riverside Drive.
This comforting place that looked dated when I was a kid doesn’t just feel contemporary tonight, but even young. I’ve been looking around genuinely hoping that it remains the same for the rest of my life. The sliced pies in the glass case in front of me, the weighty chandeliers, the tiled floor & Formica countertops, the checkered glass & the signature B’s… God, please grant me this wish for stable sameness.
Five generations of my families’ bodies have occupied these seats, echoed laugher off these ceilings, kissed in this parking lot, ordered sides of their famous bleu cheese dressing & stolen french fries from one another’s plates… The demographic has changed that’s for sure, & the fact that we can now get Martino’s Tea Cakes right here from the cashier, but the theatre I grew up taking acting classes at is still down the street in one direction & my Aunt & Uncle’s house is still just the down the same street in the other.
Like my father before me, I’ve spent my life trying to break out of small-town Burbank, but strangely now that my home is over those hills in West Hollywood, that time has marched on, circumstances & loved ones have grown, (& maybe a little due to the fact that the Burbank Fire Department guys just sat down to eat on the patio)… all I want to do is stay.