Last night I had a vivid dream which has stayed with me. These are the details:
I am walking through the lobby of The Peninsula Beverly Hills Hotel. The Christmas Tree in the foyer, and the candlelit wreaths hanging on the walls, add just enough Dickens to the festive season. People are bundled in thick coats and scarves, for it is uncommonly cold this winter in Beverly Hills. I spend some time enjoying a grand floral display that is on a table beside the entrance to the bar. The long stemmed Calla lilies are incongruent with the season, but they remind me that even when we are fast approaching the Day of His Nativity this is still Beverly Hills.
I continue down the lobby to the back. The lobby opens into a tea room with a piano. An officious tea room hostess stands beside another floral arrangement. She is a pretty woman hidden behind oversized glasses and a blond bun pulled back much too hard. Only those privileged to be on her list can pass. I am not on the list. I do not stop for her to check for my name on her clipboard. She is about to stop me, when she is distracted by someone.
I know the pianist. She is an older, horsey, English woman with a flirtatious nod and grin whenever she sees me. I love how she can acknowledge me without skipping a note on her piano. I turn toward the back of the tea room. There is a potted tree back there that provides some seclusion for the seated celebrity guests, but since I am a regular here at the Peninsula I know exactly where to look.
There is a woman seated back there whom I instantly recognize. She is equally famous and beautiful, a Swedish entertainer who has kept a lower profile in her later years, and yet always has a pleasant smile for anyone who happens to acknowledge her. It is as if she is pleasantly surprised still for people to know who she is, even though at one point in her life she was among the most famous of celebrities. Though still very beautiful, she is less angelic in her appearance and countenance today than she is regal. The shyness is still there, but it is now a bit more assured, like she is no longer fighting back unseen demons in order to force herself upon a stage she would rather avoid. She is contented with her life. No one can force her to be where she does not want to be nor to do what she does not want to do. The result is a woman living for her family, her flowers, her horses, and perhaps most charmingly for herself.
The woman sees me, and acknowledges me over to her. We nod at one another like old friends, and yet I am aware that we have never met before this moment. I take a seat on the white sofa across from her. There is a coffee table between us decorated with snowy Christmas balls. A waiter approaches. He ignores me. I can tell from the way he confers with her that he is really asking her if she wants me to be escorted away. I also can feel the eyes of her entourage watching me from their seats close to ours. I look around me, and I see men who could be Secret Service agents looking at me with total contempt. I wonder if they are really as protective of her as they are jealous of me. The woman lets the waiter know that all is well, and she puts in her order for tea. She nods toward me. I nod back to her, and then also place my order. As always, I ask for Earl Grey with just a hint of cream. The waiter takes both of our orders, but he never takes his eyes off of her.
I speak for some time with the woman. The conversation is pleasantly charming, but just beneath the surface there is an emerging sexual chemistry. Part of the fun is feeling that chemistry and yet never exhibiting in our voiced inflections nor our outward mannerisms any hints. Can we hide this game from the prying eyes and ears? Can we hide this game even from one another?
In time, with the tea finished and the cups removed, one of the entourage approaches to let the woman know that it is late. I take her hand, as she stands up, and she invites me to carry one of her bags to her suite upstairs. I am all too happy to oblige. The entourage is considerably less happy that I have been added to the party. We all walk with her with bags in hand into the elevator and up to her room.
After we all leave the bags beside her bed, the woman invites me to stay back, while the rest of the entourage leaves. I notice two security guards positioned just outside as the suite door closes on us. The woman asks me if I would like a night cap. This is the first time this evening she is overtly flirtatious with me, and I observe how she struggles to overcome her natural shyness in order to be a bit more forward. I accept the offer, but then we both notice that though the hotel staff had left behind a bottle of champagne they had only set aside one rose stemmed glass. They had presumed apparently that she would be drinking alone. Rather than dial for the staff to bring up another glass, I volunteer to go back to my own apartment to retrieve one of my own. Of course, given the opportunity, it makes no sense that I would find an excuse to leave even if only for awhile, but I recall something I need to do at home. The woman assures me with her smile that she will be waiting for me when I return to her later tonight.
I leave the suite. I see how the security guards look at me, as I walk toward the elevator. It occurs to me that the woman never explained to them that I have permission to return to her later tonight. Will I be allowed back? I wonder with a bit of anxiety as the elevator doors close on me.