WHAT ARE YOU DOING THIS SATURDAY NIGHT THAT WOULD CHANGE LIVES, GUARANTEED, BY 9 P.M.?
How about dinner, drinks, live music, stories, a raffle, a great rooftop view on a balmy evening near the beach, and hanging out with some amazing young people who will renew your faith in humanity and the next generation? Only $100, and you don’t even have to leave town.
I wrote about this in my April 15 column — that Camp Kesem exists for the very important but nearly unrecognized needs of kids who are struggling mightily with knowing one of their parents has cancer and could die from it, or already has. It’s hard to imagine anything scarier for a child, yet they have to keep it inside almost all the time because no one around them, not even their best friends, could possibly understand.
Camp Kesem, a weeklong sleepover camp in the mountains near L.A., gives them seven days of being surrounded by only adults and other kids who understand completely, and they all will tell you that is a life-changing experience that stays with them and gives them strength and solace from that point on.
If this sounds like an offer you shouldn’t refuse, go to campkesem.org/ucla to buy tickets. The UCLA Camp Kesem gets much of its needed $130,000 from its annual Make The Magic benefit dinner, this year held in Santa Monica on the rooftop of Real Office Centers at 604 Arizona Ave., this Saturday evening, May 9, from 6 to 9 p.m.
If you can’t make it but would like to be part of this worthy endeavor, for whatever amount you’d like to give, you can do it through any of the counselors. I would recommend one of the best, my daughter, who has done groundbreaking work there since she was 10 — camp name Quinkidinc, whose fundraising page is at https://campkesem.givebig.org/c/CK13/a/campkesem-ucla/p/NicoleAndrews.
To those who have already donated, good job, and thank you.
AND A GOOD PLACE FOR YOUR SUPPORTIVE POSTERIORS tomorrow night at 7 p.m. would be in the seats at Samohi’s Barnum Hall, waiting to see “BIG VOICE,” a documentary about the transformative choir program at our great high school, led by the passionate, quixotic, demanding, gifted, moody, lovable, infuriating, charismatic, rude, funny, award-winning miracle-working choir director Jeffe Huls.
My daughter enrolled in choir her freshman year at Samohi and kept with it four years. She experienced Huls in all those ways, I would say, and in the end felt it was a privilege to study under him and a gift to her artistic life. She also got to tour England with the choir and perform at awe-inspiring historical landmarks like Canterbury Cathedral (over Becket’s tomb), Salisbury Cathedral (Magna Carta, right there), Cambridge was cool, and the Lady Chapel wing at Ely Cathedral had jaw-dropping, very long delay acoustics, a rare treat for a group of singers. Not your everyday high school learning experience. Thank you, Mr. Huls.
Tickets are $10-40 at http://bigvoicemovie.brownpapertickets.com and all proceeds go to completing the film. Can’t wait to see it.
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN FEEL LIKE A TEENAGER AGAIN. Schedule your driving test at the DMV on Colorado, worry about whether they’ll deny you the privilege to drive and how that will devastate your social life and embarrass you no end, study up a bit, and sweat about failing it.
You’ll probably never be asked to take it if you’ve passed before, but you could. When I went to renew my license recently and failed the vision test for my right eye (as I knew I would, I always do — permanent injury from college days), I was informed I would need a note from my doctor, to confirm that my condition was not a deteriorating one, and would have to take the driving test. What? New rules, they said. My last one was when I was 17, and I’ve got a shoebox full of old DLs from CA and NM.
When I arrived I put my car in line and shut the engine off, hopped out and joined a gentleman a little younger than me who was standing in the shade in front of his car, a spectacular silver 1958 Corvette. One of the World’s Most Perfect Automobiles. Only the ’58 has those two strips of trim that run downward the length of the trunk. Women will say “Huh?” and guys will get it.
It didn’t occur to me that he was there to get his car certified, to be officially the work of art that it is. So I said to my supposed brother in torture, facetiously, “You’re too young to take this test!”
He laughed and explained why he was there, but added that he did take the test a couple years ago, after more than four decades of driving. And failed.
“What!?!” I yelled, as I grabbed his shoulder. “Don’t tell me that!!” If I wasn’t that nervous before, now I was.
I carefully scoped out my tester, Mary. Did she look grumpy? Was she a former prison guard? Disgruntled dominatrix? We chatted and joked a bit (getting someone to laugh puts them on your side), but I was careful not to relax too much. Yes, still, it was a test of courage, knowledge, cunning, practice, nerves of steel, and will.
We took off on a convoluted path to the freeway, and I felt like I was doing everything perfectly. I wasn’t. But I passed! While they do grade very closely and I got 13 marks off, it takes 21 goofs to fail.
Next week I will give you some insider tips based on my experience, good for wannabe and actual teenagers alike. And tell you about the dreaded “Critical Driving Error” box.
FOR MY CAFFEINE FIEND FRIENDS: They’re back, now through May 10 — half-price Starbucks Frappuccinos from 3-5 p.m. You’re welcome.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of 80 and gradually approach 18.” —Mark Twain
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for almost 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at email@example.com.