[autumn 2008] I would press play. It helps the reading.
We are heading from some sort of premiere event to the Beverly Hills Hotel. It’s hard to know why. One of my friends is convinced there is a party somewhere deep in the lush brush behind the Polo Lounge. A certain sickness always clings to my insides upon seeing the wallpaper at this hotel. It is nothing like you see in movies. To be standing next to it is to understand that it was plastered on some wall as some sick trick to make returning GI’s from the South Pacific, and later Vietnam, feel convinced they have transported back to their most medieval memories.
The hallway is long and someone in our group decides to uppercut what appears to be a large, wooden canoe filled with exotic potpourri. This kind of behavior is usually reserved for a drunken exit from a hotel, however no one seems to know why we are here or what time it is. If not now when, I guess.
When you are the most vulgar people in a room, you sort of dictate the tone. No one says a word as we pass through the hotel into the gardens out to the rear. I expect some sort of beast to appear out of the deep flora surrounding us. Everything feels like a beach resort in Hawaii, somewhere near Polo Beach and its cinnamon sand. I can hear bossanova and everything in my body pulls me towards it.
We step through a clearing to find ourselves at a cocktail party. Alcohol barons are showcasing their upper-crust libations to Los Angeles’ finest restaurateurs. First thing is first. I steal a large amount of pens from the hotel, mostly because I see the opportunity. Their cream colored ballpoint is elegantly decorated with coral and mint stripes and the hotel’s signature font, a universally recognizable cursive that takes me back to an era I often feel I belonged in.
With my jeans teeming with ballpoint pens, I begin to make a lap around the room. I have always been able to appear to be whatever was necessary, at least for a short while. I have decided that I am a sous chef from a new downtown lounge that will specialize in tiki era drinks and a limited menu of British pub style tapas. I am fully prepared to describe my made up signature dish, a deconstructed beef wellington made with braised oxtail, Irish soda bread and a mustard greens salad. If I am asked for any more detail, I plan to knock over whatever drink is nearest to me and flee wildly into the darkness of the man made jungle just outside.
I get caught in a conversation with two real estate agents where I am discussing my feelings moving to the Pacific Palisades if I ever decide to sell my downtown loft. They respond to me by telling me what an emerging community downtown is becoming, which is standard issue real estate talk. Downtown was always cool and these people have never been there except to see a Laker game.
I am drinking some very, very old brandy and thinking about how I don’t really like brandy no matter how good or old it is. Outside, an older former professional athlete is getting stoned on the edge of the jungle. I do my best to ask him some questions, but he is uninterested.
Soon, I make off with some sample boxes of upper crust whiskeys and whiskys and begin making my way out of the jungle. I find myself in the string light lit Polo Lounge. I can feel Hunter S. Thompson plotting his trip to Vegas on this patio. You can almost taste the Singapore Slings on the film of your unwashed teeth. I decide to make phone calls, but soon notice a celebrity chef is at the bar making out with someone too young and desperate to be his wife. He is uncomfortable and ferret-like as he sees us recognizing him.
On our way out, the potpourri bowl has been cleaned up. This is a recipe for disaster. A member of the group uppercuts it again. I am too slow to know to run. It’s a trap. We’ve been set up like raccoons.
My party has vanished and I am speed walking behind them, unsure of whether or not to stop as some sort of hotel staff member is chasing me down. Eventually he catches me and we do a clumsy verbal dance. After a few minutes of discussing the absurdity of arguing over spilled potpourri, we are allowed to leave and be alone with our thoughts.