Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Only in Palm Springs does the radio station play 'Theme from A Summer Place.' Not ironically. It does so in all seriousness.
It's a world in itself.
Full of fantastical creatures that only appear here, and only a few times a year.
From the flaming spa owner who professed the benefits of a dry finnish sauna and his mineral pools...to the wealthy socialite wearing her layered heavy gold chains into the pool, complaining about the pressures of a vacation in Tuscany or Venice. 'Which spa to go to next week?', she wondered aloud as we floated on our water noodles with indecision. We couldn't advise her, so she retreated to her aromatherapy massage to ponder in tension-releasing silence.
Here in Palm Springs, the passing of centuries seems only no longer than one night. Or more precisely, the mid-20th century stands still.
There were our new friends, two men so in love. They referred to their own community as 'the gays' and suggested softball might be a good way for me to meet quality guys. They informed me that Palm Springs' is 47% gay. It was proved when we took our evening stroll on Palm Canyon, every second car waved at them, and every second passersby was a neighbor or friend. That makes it more like 50%.
The enchantment of Palm Springs is limited... no-one may leave, otherwise the one-night enchantment spell will be broken.
We walked in vain, searching for the elusive restaurant Melvyn's, Frank Sinatra's wedding spot, only to decide it was the Brigadoon within the Brigadoon. We walked past the hoochie mammas in skirts smaller than their heads, all tan and slicked up for free margaritas bought for them by balding divorcees in tropical shirts. There were the locals at the pinkberry rip-off 'cactusberry' ordering 'the usual' frozen passion-fruit yogurt with kiwi and tropical fruit.
And yet you fall in love. With the city. With the people. With the yogurt. You want to stay.
'Caution Blowing Sands' signs frame the highway, and the cliffside of a mountain rises up, blocking Palm Springs from the infrared vision of the desert. It hides itself away underneath the palms, each street named Palm Drive, Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Tree Drive...evoking images of Cary Grant lounging with Randolph Scott pool-side, their secrets hidden from the world.
But you cant stay, otherwise you'd get sucked in, forced to live in Palm Springs forever...you must leave, and those with you disappear.
Late that night, after discussing love, Palm Springs, and the elusive search for a place to call your own...my friend V tore me out a magazine photo of a Palm Springs Boy in sympathy naming him 'Henry'. I was allowed Palm Springs Henry for only that night. He would comfort me. She placed him next to my pillow for company. But in the morning when I awoke, Henry was gone, disappearing in the night. Only there for the moment, before vanishing from view.
Such is Palm Springs.