It was nearly lunchtime and Jeff and I were pootling about in the Vanquish coupe, headed aimlessly along the coast, when he said: "Hey, you want a coffee? I know a good place. Malibu Kitchen!"
Sure, I had never heard of the place. But for Southern California, I would trust Jeff to the ends of the earth: he had only lived in Los Angeles for about a year and a half, but he had ingrained himself with the fervor only a transplanted New Yorker, tired of the snow, could muster.
We turned towards the Malibu Country Mart, down a side street…slowly. The V12 grumbled reluctantly.
I looked up. "HOLY SHIT," I said, "TINY HORSES."
Middle-aged women, riding miniature horses, around a parking lot, at noon, on a Tuesday—this is a thing in Malibu. This is how the other half lives. Color us slack-jawed plebes, toodling about in not our car, thoroughly impressed.
Malibu Kitchen is one of those living-museum type places best described by travel books as "funky," harkening to a time when Malibu's inhabitants were the sort of drifters and surf bums who'd be sneered at by today's inhabitants. (Stay the fuck out of Malibu, Lebowski!) However, it holds two things that endear it to Jeff's heart: it is the hotspot of a certain Jerry Seinfeld, the childhood hero of any New Yorker, and it imports bagels from H&H Bagels.
Jeff perused the counter as if picking out an engagement ring. "Is there a bathroom here?" I asked. There was not.
But first, we had to ogle this sweet Land Rover Series II like the automotive paparazzi we were.
And also this big, shaggy, friendly golden retriever who resembled Dug from the movie Up and, as dogs and occasionally humans are wont to do, was busy sniffing a butt.
Jeff is good with dogs. "Here boy!" he said, throwing a tennis ball he found down the porch, whereupon the black dog would leap out and scramble after it. After 15 minutes of this, he laid the ball down by my feet. "I think he wants to play," said Jeff. The dog didn't say anything. He pointed his nose at the ball, then pushed it towards me.
I picked it up. It was drenched in dog spit. Big white globs.
I gingerly rolled the ball forward, and the dog lunged at it.
"That dog's good, isn't he?" said Jeff. "He wants you to try it again."
I threw it up, underhand, and the dog leapt gracefully off the ground, majestically, like the end of Free Willy before plucking it out of the air like it was a friggin' endzone interception. Bam, he landed and dropped it right back by my feet as if saying, "that's all you got, you stupid human?"
Here, doggie—I threw it harder this time, but really rolling it like a candlepin ball, and the dog snatched it in his unfeeling jaws like the ball-hunting Terminator he was. Smart dog. I snapped a photo on my phone. "It's two dollars per picture," said a dark-haired woman in an apron who had been there all morning, smoking. I hoped she was kidding. I'd have to take out a mortgage.
A photo posted by Jeff (@jeffjablansky) on Jan 27, 2015 at 2:49pm PST
This went on for twenty more minutes. We should have been driving the Vanquish more, but we didn't. We also wanted to bring the dog with us.
Later, the tiny horses came around the parking lot again, and Jeff and I dashed out of Malibu Kitchen waving our cameras to hastily snap a picture. The women looked at us as if we were the weird ones.
The wall on the shop says "TODAY IS BEAUTIFUL." It sure is.
Screaming down Las Flores, top down in Smurfette's Vantage, we searched for a turnout and followed the road to Rambla Pacifico, a Byzantine Hobbit hole of tiny mansions—then we turned a corner and ran into this brand-new Porsche 911 GT3. Well, not ran into. You know.
The Vantage's cupholder is a perfect place to carry your Canon lens. (Note: never carry your Canon lens this way.)
Lifeguards love yellow things.
It only appears that our cars are broken—instead, we pulled over to compare engines. (The V12 Vantage S is just like the V8 Vantage GT, only more Vantagey.) It must be noted that even when presented with the British car in its natural state, not one passerby stopped to ask if we needed help.
I like to think that if we had broken down at Malibu Country Mart, we'd be saved by tiny horses.