Last night I had a vivid dream which has stayed with me. These are the details:
I am in my apartment and reading a telegram. I have been invited by a ritzy Hollywood producer to an exclusive party he is hosting at his desert home. I can bring a guest with me. I pick up my rotary phone and dial a young woman I have not seen in years. She is a former Latin American soap opera star who now makes her way as a “girlfriend” for elite billionaires. When I knew her I was not a Hollywood VIP, and so I was relegated at once into the “friend zone.” Nevertheless, I know how well she can master a room, and I want someone there who will partner with me in cozying up to the big wigs. They will be easy to identify: Older Jews with ill fitted toupees and noticeable facelifts who hover like dried up moths around the spiked fruit punch. Pretty much everyone else there will be a good looking wannabe actor or a swinger, and I am not interested. For me, this is all about the film finance deal, and I am desperate to close something that will pay me a commission.
I pick up the aging soap opera star (still young and pretty, but “aging” by the standards of the industry), and I am driving down a dirt road on the eastern outskirts of Southern California. Out here, there is mostly tumbleweed, abandoned western movie sets from way back when, and occasional mid-century homes still sporting TV antennas. What is most impressive is the setting desert sun. It is red, enormous, and casts the landscape in a crimson brown earth hue that calls to mind a desperado on his way to the Mexican border. The desert is getting one last encore from the sun before the curtain drops and gives way to a bone chilled night.
The last house is a mid-century behind a gilded gate. Like the others it sports a tall and gangly TV antenna. Unlike the others it sports several pink flamingos on the manicured, watered lawn just inside the gate. The pink flamingos look alive, but I can see that they are being held up with wooden sticks. There is a spotlight beside the walkway leading up to the front door. It is like those car dealership lights pointed up into the night sky. It moves from side to side like it is trying to get the attention of any flying saucers that may be up there in the stars.
I park my car, retrieve my date, and walk through the front door. It is implausibly still and quiet inside the 1950s decorated home. I see the spiked fruit punch bowl, but there are no older Jews hovering around there. Indeed, apart from my date and myself, there is no one inside. I step over to the fruit punch bowl and pour myself a cocktail. I look up at the framed Mamie Eisenhower portrait over the mantle. She is in her pink floral dress, as she always is, and is the queen of the pink and green decor everywhere beneath her gaze. As I walk around the living room, I think I spot a guest or two in my peripheral vision, but as soon as I turn to face them directly they are gone. I look back at where I had left my date a moment ago, and she is gone too.
I open the sliding door, and I step out onto the patio. There is an outdoor tiki bar beside the swimming pool. The sign in front of the bar reads: “Mele Kalikimaka.” It is unmanned as expected, and there is no one else outside. Like before, though, I sense that there are people just outside my peripheral vision. They are all caricatures from the 1950s, or so I imagine. No matter how fast I turn my head they are gone before I can see them.
I stay outside even after the sun is gone. It is dark and cold, but there is enough light from that spotlight out front that I can walk around the pool with my cocktail in hand. I continue to walk around the pool by myself waiting for someone to come into view. No one ever does.