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By H.G. Miller

LA isnít always an easy town to live in. If youíre a guy like me, youíre going to spend ninety percent of your time feeling goofy. Most of the pretty people find their way here, and they permeate everyday life in unnatural ways.

The guy bagging my groceries the other night looked like he stepped off the cover of Muscle & Fitness magazine. I buy coffee that I donít even like from a shop down the street because the girl at the register is a few degrees cooler than the sun.

Most of my workday is spent wondering if the shoes that I guilted my parents into buying me four years ago are still passable enough to trick the office women into thinking that I have fashion sense.

My philosophy in regards to clothing has always been that if you can find it at Target for under twelve bucks, then thereís no need to spend half a paycheck for a label that advertises in Vogue.

Of course, there are a multitude of differences between the 100% cotton garments on the racks of massive retail chains and the rayon/silk/acetate/lycra blended fabric ensembles garnishing the displays of small boutique shops along Melrose Avenue. I canít for the life of me tell what they are, but the dismissive glances tossed my way in lieu of conversations and dates has convinced me I should start to care.

Caring only takes you so far, though. So, I also dragged my friend Sarah along on a shopping expedition last weekend. Her job was to crush my crude fashion instincts and breathe new life into my hapless wardrobe.

Some of the issues we had to work through:

Stripes Ė I am deathly afraid of patterns. Clothes are clothes. They keep you from being naked. Whatís wrong with a nice solid blue if it brings out my eyes and keeps my love handles from giggling in the breeze?

Well, apparently, the new black isnít black at all. Itís stripes. Lots of them. Shooting off in every direction across sleeves and buttons and patches of fabric for no reason whatsoever. I now own a shirt that makes me nauseous when I look at it, yet politely informs the rest of the world that I am indeed on the cutting edge of style.

Changing rooms Ė Does anybody else break into a cold sweat when trying on new clothes? I start fumbling with buttons and zippers, and I imagine an impatient sales person tapping their foot outside the changing room, wondering how retarded I must be to take so long with a task as simple as putting on pants.

Money Ė Since when do blue jeans with holes torn into them cost $150? I planned on shelling out a little more cash than I normally do when shopping, but what kind of super denim is Lucky Jeans using, and what planet do they have to ship it in from, and why in the hell are there holes already ripped into it!

I only went into the blue jean store because my current pair has a hole wearing into the knee. Finding out that this actually increased the value of my pants was probably the highlight of the day.

When the dust finally settled, my credit card wept quietly and I had several really nice sacks to replace my grocery store bags as trash can liners. Oh, and I had some new clothes.

The next day at work, several people commented on my new wardrobe. People asked if I had gotten a raise, slept with some sugar momma, or had a rich uncle die. A few of the girls even said I looked nice.

Yep, LAís a tough town sometimes. But, itís nothing a decent credit limit canít fix. At least for this season, anyway.