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Please Form Line Here
By Meredith Hoffa

In this day and age, who actually goes inside the bank?

As far as I'm concerned, the interior of the bank is kind of a non-space space reserved for a specific crowd, basically people who are either a) fundamentally flustered by ATMs, like my mom, b) applying for a loan, or c) doing something else bank-y that isn't a loan, but falls into that same category of things involving percent signs that are all too complicated for me to understand.

But on those rare occasions when I do have inside-of-bank-business to tend to -- i.e. getting quarters for laundry -- I have to say: I kind of love it. It's a quaint, old-fashioned-y type errand, and the running of it makes me feel sort of wholesome, much the way people feel, I bet, when they go to Western Union to send a telegram, say, or to get their shoes cobbled. All I know is that whenever I stride up to that faux-velvet rope and step into line amongst my fellow West Hollywood peeps, a bolt of contentedness hits me and I find myself thinking: I am a citizen of this neighborhood. And of the WORLD!

I should mention that my gusto for banking is helped along by the fact that at my local Bank of America branch, the employees -- 100% of whom are Armenian-American and/or Persian-American, by the way -- are the friendliest people on earth. At the very least they're the friendliest people in West Hollywood. Plus they're so amazingly efficient; whenever I transact with them I feel like I'm truly and thoroughly Taking Care of Business, a feeling that I just so happen to treasure more than any feeling in all of life.

So last Saturday I headed over to my B of A to do the quarters thing. I'd complete a life-affirming bank errand and then head to a yoga class taught by my favorite teacher Fusako, who's not only incredibly bendy but also adorable. (At the end of every class she goes around and gives everyone a head rub. Who knows why she does it but it makes me so excited I can barely breathe.)

When I arrived at the bank there were just a handful of customers there, and, thankfully, no line. I stationed myself behind the little island -- the one that houses all those forms and pens-on-a-rope -- and awaited my ding.

Seconds later, another customer came in and stood behind me. This person, I noticed, was phenomenally petite. Not in a midget way, just in a tiny man way. And his entire look was fabulous. He was somewhere between 40 and 70 years old, and sported a platinum-blond Phil Spector-esque bowl-cut replete with bangs that flopped "boyishly" into his eyes. Meanwhile, a vast thicket of white chest-fur lunged from his half-unbuttoned shirt and the charms from his necklaces nestled cozily into this hair -- as if it was a down quilt, or a very comfortable patch of grass. But what I actually found most beguiling about Tiny Man was his vaguely curious figure, a silhouette I will call Narrow Yet Deep. Meaning, if you measured from his bellybutton straight on through to his back, it would be possibly an insane amount of inches.

Tiny Man's overall look was utterly compelling to me. And actually, I thought, his whole presentation just so perfectly epitomized Hollywood. On the one hand he easily could have been some celebrity I was supposed to recognize; just as easily he could have been homeless and living out of a Ralph's Supermarket shopping cart on Sunset. L.A. is special.

As we waited in our little two-person line, I noticed that Tiny Man kept sighing in an irritable and dramatic fashion. It reminded me of what I used to do between the ages of ten and seventeen whenever I had to pose for a family photo. I was about to lean over to assure him that the line moves quickly and not to worry, but then suddenly, inexplicably, he let out an extra-loud sigh and then erupted. At me.


He stormed past me -- his bejeweled little body a cacophony of jingle-jangling -- and stationed himself at the very end of the velvet rope. Hands on his hips, his eyes bore into me, challenging. As if to say, "I cut you. So?"

Now, true, I hadn't been standing at the exact official spot. I'd been maybe a foot back. But the bank was empty. And who cares anyway? Sorry I'm not an overly aggressive line-stander.

"I am actually in line," I responded calmly as I strode past him to reclaim my position. And then -- because I had to stick up for myself -- in a perfectly friendly tone I added, "You don't have to be an asshole."

It was like I'd tasered him. His body vibrated. His eyes bugged out. The craziest thing, though, was his tongue, which started wagging frantically inside his little "o" of a mouth -- like there were hundreds of words in there all sparring over which should come out first.


Everyone up at the teller windows looked over, and so did the bun-headed Greeter-lady standing by the door. But I just fixed my gaze straight ahead and willed a serene, unruffled expression onto my face, an expression I hoped said, "What? There's no angry gnome screaming at me." I actually visualized being inside a soundproof box, thinking how I'd later tell my shrink Patricia that I did that, and she'd be pleased with me for coming up with such an innovative, mentally-healthy idea.

But then Tiny Man stomped right up close to me, completely disregarding the walls of my box.

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