Summer is just around the corner, and the weekend inconveniences around Malibu begin with tourists eating all the day-old, $1.25 muffins before I can get to my favorite coffee place, not to mention the nonstop parade of wannabe bikers, out-of-towners, Vals, shoppers, choppers, weekend surfers, skinny Parisites with their poodles and dark glasses, soul-patched Gapsters, proles, trolls, dreamers, telephone schemers, and all the jerkoffs who generally destroy the semirural peace and quiet for which we citizens pay the big bucks.
And yet, Malibu weekends are comedy. It is comedy to see the plastic-surgery victims whose stretched faces recall Katherine Helmond’s Ida Lowry in Brazil. The dingalings who drive around in convertible Ferraris wearing Ferrari hats — yeah dude, we get it — are comedy. And it’s comedy trying to figure out who is a yuppie talking on a hands-free cell phone and who is a demented homeless person talking to himself. The homeless of Malibu are often better dressed than the tourists.
Malibu celebrities usually avoid my coffee spot on weekends in an attempt to dodge the paparazzi or phone-camera-wielding out-of-towners who don’t abide by the Unwritten Law that even if you are sitting directly across from Pamela Anderson or Dick Van Dyke or Hilary Swank — even if they spill coffee on you — shaddup and leave them alone.
So, it was surprising and cool to see Jerry Seinfeld and a guy who could have been his brother but was probably his agent or manager or mechanic or investment banker, roll up four different times on consecutive weekends. I heard him before I saw him because that low, nasal, New York twang ranks with Barry White, Walter Cronkite and Gilbert Gottfried as one of America’s Most Distinctive Voices. Each time, they were in different, almost-matching pairs of vintage Porsches. Seinfeld is reportedly the Imelda Marcos of Porsches and owns a million-dollar 959, the kind of collector’s car that millionaires wrap around signposts on PCH — except that his isn’t legal to drive. I’m not sure if they were Spyders or Speedsters, but the 914s that Seinfeld and friend rolled in looked like daily drivers — not perfect, but beautiful. Seinfeld was usually in the hardtop for privacy, while his friend liked the convertible.
This first time they came in, I heard them talk about, surprise, television, and Seinfeld told an embarrassed story about moving a neighbor’s airplane out of a hangar so he could wash his cars, and his neighbor showing up to find his apparently very expensive airplane out in the rain.
When they came in a week later, their conversation suggested they had run out of places to drive their cars. I knew exactly where I would go in a speedy little Porsche, so when I saw them the next day, I broke the Unwritten Law: “You guys should take those things up Las Flores,” I said, looking from the Porsches to the mountaintop, taking care to avoid direct eye contact. “Go south on PCH to Duke’s, turn left and drive up to the top of that mountain there. There is a great view back down to Malibu Colony, and on a clear day you can see Orange County. That house up at the very top belongs to Frank Lloyd Wright’s grandson. Then you can come down Piuma to Malibu Canyon Road. Fun, fun, fun.”
“That sounds good,” Jerry said, nodding thoughtfully, like we’ve seen a million times on Seinfeld.
“Be careful,” I said.
“Cops?” the friend asked.
“No,” I said. “It’s steep up there. You can launch a hang glider from the side of the road. Don’t get too crazy.”
Jerry laughed politely at that, and then I told a story that happened the night before, when a Sheriff’s deputy pulled me over on PCH for expired tags. The deputy took my license and then took forever to return it. He was walking around his car with a flashlight and I thought I was in real trouble, and then he came by and admitted that he had lost my driver’s license. He was very embarrassed and said, “The bad news is, I lost your license. The good news is, you don’t get a ticket.”
Seinfeld laughed at that and seemed up for more. “When I was growing up in Santa Cruz, in the ’70s, those cars were Pussy Wagons,” I continued, as if we were insta-bros. “The biggest wolves in Santa Cruz drove Porsche 914s — and when a girl got into a 914, she knew she was crossing that line.”
Seinfeld, either embarrassed or just not interested, said, “Oooooh,” and looked off into the hills. I had clearly transgressed, and my pass was being pulled. He and his friend finished their coffee, hopped into their Porsches, backed carefully through the tourists in the parking lot and went off Sunday driving.