One of the many things they don't tell you when you start dating is that if you are hoping for the earth to move, your best chance is to move over 5000 miles east across the Atlantic.
It looks as if this much awaited experience might finally happen for me, as I get my act together for what the posters in Beverly Hills call "Earthquake Preparedness Month." I am slightly panicky, as EPM is billed as April and, although I arrived on the 1st of the month, my earthquake cupboard is somewhat bare.
Although the earthquake is not a dead cert, everyone assures me that after last year's 25 second quake in central LA, and the promise of a monster one in 2010, I can expect something over the coming months and should Be Prepared.
My local hardware store, Pioneer, offers computer repairs (including Apple), handymen, knife sharpening and, I noticed, "earthquake kits". When I went in to see one, I was told that I could put together my own, although I was in such a state at having to have one at all, I didn't really listen to what I might need and came away with a Le Creuset casserole dish.
One friend, who grew up with the threat of earthquakes since he was a child, has been instructing me as to where I should head, if the seemingly inevitable happens. He says it is good that I live just one floor from the top of my building, so that the other floors will not come crashing down on me, and that in an emergency I should on no account leave the building, where I will undoubtedly be hit by low-flying rooftops.
My best bet, he says, is to head for the door-frame; failing that, I should take refuge under a table. I have a better idea: as he is well over six foot, how about HE stands under the door frame or goes under the table, and I take refuge under HIM? I have yet to put this idea to him.
I have become mildly obsessed with the earthquake problem and today, when I checked out the sister gym of the one I go to in Beverly Hills, the floor was shaking so badly in the Ladies, I thought my big moment had come. When I went to reception, she explained that the trembling was as a result of the various cardio-vascular machines operating on the floor above; I just pray that I am not in the gym when the earthquake strikes and be subjected to a double whammy of terror.
It was a bit of a nerve-racking day all round at the new gym. Shortly after the non-earthquake in the Ladies, there was the most almighty roar of an alarm that sent me reeling from the treadmill. Thinking that it must be an earthquake warning (I told you I was obsessed), I ran to the other side of the building, only to find three lots of men playing basketball in the Magic Johnson gym.
The hooter was sounding for reasons I have yet to work out, and related to timings that flashed on a board above the court; it all meant nothing to me. But if you want to die among fit men (in both senses of the word) when the earthquake strikes, then the Magic Johnson basketball court is your place; well, it'll be my place.
As if the hooter was not terrifying enough, a man on the step machine next to my treadmill made me think that all my earthquakes had come at once. "AAAAAAGGGHHHH NOOOOOOOOOOOO! PLEASE NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! WHAT'S HAPPENING . . . !" He wasn't just sweating, he was a geyser of open pores, all of them spraying in my direction. "What is it? What is it?" I squealed, frantically looking for the nearest door-frame. "Baseball," he panted. "Sport. It's important."
The television screen above his machine was showing a baseball match (at the moment it appears to be both basketball and baseball season - as well as earthquake season! Aren't I the lucky one), and someone on the team he was supporting had apparently just done something incredibly stupid.
He told me he was rooting for the Boston Stranglers (or some such ridiculous name - I could hardly hear through the downpour), and that their opponents the Yankees were evil. Half an hour later, he was still on the machine, but a lot calmer. "I was getting worried for you," I said. "Hey!" he replied. "You should see my marm." Blimey. What does he do to her when his team is losing? Knife her?
On my way back to Beverly Hills in the bus (just $1.25 to go just about anywhere, incredible), a man opposite smiled and said "How ya doin'?" He was in conversation with a young man who had just moved to LA, but really wanted to be in New York. "Yeah," said my new friend. "You can't fault the weather here; just the people."
He didn't want to be in LA either, he said, but was on "high risk parole", so he had to stay. Something told me he wasn't talking about the department he worked for in CSI on the telly. "I have to get me a woman to sort myself out," he continued. Oh, no. Why me. I averted his eyes and kept them fixed on Wilshire Boulevard, where the earthquake posters en route had suddenly developed an enormous fascination for me.
Yes, I still dream of the earth one day moving; I just don't want it to be with someone booking our honeymoon on Death Row.