It was the early ’90s, and I was tooling along Santa Monica Blvd. on a nice, sunny afternoon in my relatively new but not quite super-hot Nissan 240 SX. But I felt the car looked and felt pretty damn good, and I was in a pretty good mood. Then I saw a ’60s muscle car of some kind (a yellow ’65 Mustang convertible?) with whitewall tires pull alongside me. It had a FOR SALE sign in the rear window. A very pretty…okay, hot girl was at the wheel, and her passenger window was rolled down.

I pulled up alongside at a red light, smiled at her and said, “How much?” She took one look at me and my wheels, waited a beat or two, shook her head slightly and said, “Too much.” My heart sank like a stone. Fragile as this makes me sound, on a certain level I don’t think I’ve ever recovered from this, the most withering L.A. putdown I’ve ever suffered in my life. That’s Los Angeles in a nutshell. That’s the attitude that runs it. And the fact that I let that remark hurt me means that I’d bought into this mentality as much as she had.