Blog: I Serve Light Fare

Burt Ross

For those of you who read my column for 18 months in the Malibu Patch, you already know what I am about to tell my new and wider audience in the The Malibu Times: I serve light fare. With a few exceptions now and then, this is a humor column. My purpose is to entertain. If you take offense at anything I write, I apologize in advance. If you take what I write literally, you do so at your own risk. Humor trumps truth for me every time.

Most of my columns will in some way relate to how I view Malibu and California through the eyes of an immigrant from the “old country” — New Jersey. I still consider myself an immigrant since I have only been here for two years and a few  months. To be honest, I think I may remain an immigrant for the rest of my days. My accent is a dead giveaway and not about to change, and until I get the lay of the land, it will be obvious I come from some far off land.

A few months ago, a friend told me his company was hosting a two-day conference in some place which sounded to me a lot like Ohio. Why anybody would travel to Ohio for a conference is beyond my comprehension, especially during the winter, but far be it from me to tell my friend where or how to conduct his business.

When I asked him how long his trip should take, he said he could get there in a little more than an hour. “That is insane,” I blurted out, “nobody can get from Malibu to Ohio in just over an hour unless you take a rocket ship.” My friend laughed, “Who said anything about Ohio? I’m going to Ojai.” I had never even heard of Ojai.

Another case in point was a trip to San Diego. I was driving north of there when I entered a fairly large city La Jolla. Quite frankly, I was surprised I had never heard of this town before and asked my driving companion about the place. Never having studied Spanish, I pronounced it phonetically. “No, no” my friend proclaimed. “Pronounce the ‘J’ as an ‘H’ and the double ‘L’ as a ‘Y.’” As a foreigner in a strange land, I found this very confusing. If the city wants to call itself La Hoya, why don’t they just spell it that way?

Now perhaps you are beginning to understand what I mean when I say I don’t yet have the lay of the land.

I do use a GPS in my car and have become very dependent on the female voice which I affectionately call “the lady.” She almost never pronounces any street or town name correctly including our city, which she insists on calling “Maleebu,” with an accent on the second syllable. At least I know how to pronounce Malibu. I guess there is some hope for me after all.