Stuck in traffic on the Hollywood freeway one morning, a happy-go-lucky guy named Jake gets into an accident amidst nursing a fantastic dream about owning a better car than his beat up ’58 Buick. After surveying the damage on his car and the absence of it, Jake sees an opportunity once he meets the victim of his traffic flight of fancy. He unleashes his charms and proceeds to woo his victim, a Venezuelan immigrant named Marianna, by asking her name and number, and by trying to convince her not to let the authorities know what happened. However, all his attempts fail as Marianna keeps shifting the focus back to the problem at hand.
When finally confronted with the responsibility for the damages, Jake decides to lie his way out by giving false information regarding his identity and car insurance. Despite these, he pursued Marianna by claiming to be both a musician and an actor. After the so-called solution to the problem, Marianna seems to warm up to Jake and finally relents in giving her number. As they part ways, Jake notices that Marianna jots down his license plates, making sure that he would be traced. However, Jake has the last laugh as it is revealed that his license plates were just stolen from an old junk.
The story ends with the sly fox gloating on his escape and slipping back into another fantasy. Love in L. A. is a story about love, or the lack of it. Readers of the story are led to believe that it is a story of two star-crossed lovers, a carefree guy and a stable, proper girl, meeting in the most unlikely of places such as a traffic accident on Hollywood boulevard. However, the story reveals that the romantic notion of finding love in unlikely places is just a fantasy, a flight of fancy not unlike the one Jake was having when he smacked into Marianna’s car.
L. A. is perfect as a setting for this story as it is a chorus of both the business world and cultural diversity. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, it is one of the largest and most diverse cities in the United Sates with a population of almost 10 million multicultural residents (State and County Quick facts). Aside from its impressive statistics, it is also home to the most famous entertainment town in the world, Hollywood. It is the perfect place for a carefree character to have a chance encounter with the prim and proper business type.
And where else but to stage it in a freeway where all walks of life are made equal by suffering the same fate, being stalled in a traffic jam. Thus, L. A. can be considered a perfect setting for star-crossed “lovers” meeting in a city’s societal crucible, the freeway. The interaction between the characters when they meet mirrors courtship. The boy finally having a chance to talk to the pretty girl, tries to put his best foot forward while the girl seems impervious to the infatuation.
This encounter reveals the hidden agendas, the motives behind the charms and the fallacy of first impressions. Then, the reader is once again taken for a ride as it seems that the prim and proper girl melts to the charm of the easy-go-lucky guy and relents in giving him a sliver of personal information. But this hope is dashed once again in the last part of the story as the masks of the two characters are stripped away to reveal their slyness and manipulation: one is making sure the other will not escape while the other gloats in his final sham.
This final encounter supports the fact that the love in this story is nothing more than a means, to be manipulated by both characters to achieve their ends. When Jake Met Marianna The introduction of Jake paints a picture of a carefree easy-go-lucky guy who lives detached from the set rules of life. He is presented as a man whose philosophy hinges on self-freedom rather than stability. He despises being chained to routine, as shown by his arrogance towards ‘the steadily employed’ and his reference to Marianna’s hurrying to the office as ‘boring’.
He can be considered a free spirit, not in a positive sense, but rather more as a bum who would rather live in fantasy than face the responsibilities of reality. Despite the age of his car, 52 years old, Jake comes off as middle-aged, around 25-30 years of age, lanky and with a scruffy chin, wearing a shirt with a rock and roll theme, faded jeans and battered Chuck Taylors. He would have been cool if he had focused on restoring his ’58 Buick rather than daydreaming about having a new car. Instead, his daydreaming almost led to the loss of his present car.
The traffic accident strengthens the characterization of Jake, magnifying his tendency to live in his dreams rather than face reality. He went for swagger and charms rather than owning up fors his mistake, in the hopes of both escaping the responsibility of paying for the damage and capturing the girl. The traffic accident was also the means for the reader to be introduced to Marianna, the victim of Jake’s daydream. She is first introduced as affable, even smiling at Jake in their first verbal exchange.
However, the conflict also reveals her true nature as she deflects all of Jake’s advances to ensure that justice is served. Despite her short exposure and introduction in the story, the reader can glean so much history from the way she reacted to the problem. From the small pieces of information provided in the story, one can infer that Marianna’s immigrant family have had success in their adopted homeland, evidenced by the fact that her father was able to give her a car. She is an independent woman, asserting her right even in the barrage of Jake’s swagger and charm.
But, she can also be very manipulative. Realizing that Jake was untrustworthy, she pretended to be affected by her charms so as to escape his advances. Then, when they were about to separate, she jotted down the Buick’s plate number just in case the information received was false. Her efforts failed however as it is revealed that even the plate number was false. The last paragraphs defined both characters. They were an anti-thesis of each other right down to their cars. Jake drove a beat down yet very durable 1958 Buick while Marianna drove a brand new, imported but quite flimsy car.
The beat down Buick is an extension of the characterization of Jake in the sense that it had the potential to be a very beautiful car if only taken care of. Its fake plate number represented the swagger of Jake, open to the public but fraudulent. Marianna’s car on the other hand also mirrored her personality. It was new, imported and up to date with the advancements of the modern age. But since it was imported, much like the immigrant Marianna, it was flimsy and not up for the abuse of American freeways.
Even the effect of the accident on both owners and cars were similar. Surely, Marianna will be traumatized once she finds out that all the information she got, down to the plate number, were fake and useless, much like her car which was dented and damaged. As for the Buick and Jake, life goes on, the potential of the car continues to be unrealized much like its owner’s reality warped by his fantasies. In closing, the title of the story misleads the reader into thinking that it is indeed a romantic story.
Thus, it perfectly encapsulates the underlying theme of misleading. This theme propels the story: from the lies and swagger of Jake to his penchant for living in daydreams to the manipulation of Marianna with Jake’s infatuation of her down to the fake license plates of the Buick. Even readers will shake their heads, falling victims to the same fate as Marianna and her flimsy car. Works Cited U. S. Census Bureau. “State and County Quick facts”. last revised 21 April 2010. Web. 13 July 2010. <http://quickfacts. census. gov/qfd/states/06/06037. html>