Wednesday, August 01, 2007


At the risk of starting off this week’s missive with a cliché, it is SO hard to find good help!

Faithful readers will recall from earlier entries that my devoted houseboy Panton-

- recently decided to take the entire summer off and visit his family in Peru. Or Ecuador. Or some other country south of the 10 Freeway. Lord knows the dear boy’s probably told me where he’s from half a dozen times in his “mother tongue” but I must admit to my shame that I haven’t really ever gotten around to learning Spanish.

Of course it’s not as if I really HAVE to learn a new language to communicate with my staff. The gardener already knows where the trees are, he’s been killing them at random for several years now; the housecleaners have keys, their own mop and absolutely no problem finding their way to the expensive vodka; and even the pool boy, hired more for his hot body and dazzling smile than any algae-killing talents, can’t possibly miss the huge, water-filled hole in the backyard. What more do they need me to say?

Frankly, in terms of sheer world population percentages, Cantonese would be a much more practical language-

--not to mention it would be nice to know just exactly WHAT goes into the making of chow mein.

But then again with the way things are going in the middle east, I suspect a quick refresher course in Arabic is going to be rather useful in the coming years. After all, if one boards a bus and finds oneself faced with some deranged, nitroglycerin-jockstrap-wearing Islamofascist (a new Anderson Cooper-y word I simply ADORE because it sounds like a ride at Magic Mountain) I sincerely doubt saying “No nos mate por favor Senor Ali Bin Kaboom!” is going to have much impact.

Speaking of suicide bombers, it appears that the government of Iran is following through on its promise to stone adulterers and hang homosexuals in accordance with Sharia law. It’s nice to see a place living up to the promise it showed around the same time as the discovery of fire. Several years ago there was a movement spearheaded by some of the more radical members of the Toronto Muslim community to force the Canadian government to let them live according to the aforementioned tenets of the Qur’an when it came to settling family disputes. Surprisingly, cooler heads prevailed and the law of the land – that is to say, the legal safeguards of the usually insanely politically correct Canadian government – stayed intact, thus robbing the local tabloids of the possibility of such attention-grabbing headlines as “LOCAL BRIDE-TO-BE BURNED ALIVE BY FIANCE’S FATHER. ‘Not enough goats in dowry, relatives say’”.

Anyway, with Panton out of town – and since, as of this writing I’m still unable to negotiate with any of those wretched kitchen “devices” to turn themselves on, let alone cook a meal - I’ve been forced to dine out rather regularly and I am utterly delighted to report that my theories about the current state of public gatherings are completely accurate.

There we were, just the three of us, my sister, a friend of hers and myself, dressed to the nines and enjoying what should have been a lovely and ELEGANT meal at ZIN, one of our favorite local bistros, when we were suddenly accosted by a very loud voice ringing out with the most hideous accent this side of the Beverly Hillbillies. I turned to see what on earth was going on and was greeted by the sight of five – I can only call them - “goons” in ratty looking “tank” tops (which by the way were designed to be worn while – and ONLY while – piloting a Sherman tank through the desert battlefields of World War II, not in a restaurant where they display the wearer’s underarm hair along with the fruit and cheese tray) and those horrid thigh-length boardshorts that straight boys wear to the pool so nobody can see what they’re compensating for when they pump their biceps to the size of casaba melons.

The louder of these neanderthals was going on and on about being tired of “all these homos” making him feel like an idiot because he didn’t know how to dress or decorate his trailer. At first I thought he must have been kidding – this is, after all, Palm Springs where the population is conservatively estimated to be 40 percent homosexual, with the remaining 60 percent either too old to remember or dead.

But when his fellow kennel mates all nodded in agreement, their misspelled tattoos undulating in unison, I realized I was in the presence of an actual, authentic homophobic hick! I felt like Dian Fossey at the height of her career!

At first I considered asking the waiter, a delightful boy with a sense of humor that can dissolve metal, to ask them to keep their voices down. But thankfully by this time the simpletons had finished their meal and were already on their way out the door. Not, however, before one them – a muscular, seedy looking reprobate who kept his camouflage colored cap firmly planted on his fireplug shaped head throughout the entire meal – told the Hostess that his soup wasn’t what he expected.

“What did you order?” she asked sweetly.

“The vegetable soup. It was cold” he replied. (I swear, dear reader, this is TRUE.)

“It’s gazpacho,” she said by way of explanation. He just looked at her blankly.

“I didn’t like it,” he muttered, following the rest of the cast of Deliverance out the door.

Not that this sort of behavior is exclusive to boorish straight people. My friend the Duchess of Milton, seen here at his palatial estate nestled away in the Hollywood Hills -

- has a particular loathing for that breed of gay men who treat every restaurant as if it’s their own personal dining room, shrieking with laughter and loudly spouting witless sarcasms as if they’re characters in one of Sir Noel Coward’s lesser plays. In this case I agree with the Duchess – if I wanted to hear my dining neighbors’ conversation, I would have bought them dinner.

This of course can backfire, as I found out recently at the Magic Castle, a private club for Magicians Only in the heart of Hollywood.

I found myself at loose ends one evening after an exhausting day of editing my latest spy movie, so I dropped in for a quiet dinner and perhaps a bit of cabaret. The Maitre d’ seated me at my usual table and I was about to make my way through Daily Variety when an EXTRA martini was placed in front of me, a gift from two rather pemmican-like women at the table next to me. I thanked them graciously and tried to return to my newspaper, but they insisted on engaging me in conversation, as if two ounces of premium liquor entitled them to “An Evening With Ron Oliver”.

The drunker of the two, a suspiciously blonde investment banker in her late 40’s wearing a rather age-inappropriate dress which resembled nothing so much as a sarong made of wallpaper from Ikea, couldn’t wait to tell me she’d spent the past three days in court finalizing her divorce from “that bastard”. She and her tablemate – who, it turned out, was an ex-Rockette dancer which would have made for an interesting evening’s chat if her friend hadn’t monopolized both the conversation AND the oxygen supply in the room - were “guests” of another club member, who turned out to be both their kickboxing instructor and a performer in that evening’s close up show.

(An observation: why do ALL women over the age of 40 insist on taking up martial arts? It seems to me that learning self-defense in one’s middle age is a bit like closing the gate after the horse has escaped; any untoward advances should probably be encouraged, not deflected with a quick chop to the trachea!)

As The New Divorcee gulped down yet another Singapore Sling, she looked me over head to toe, mentally peeling off my cream colored linen suit and pastel shirt and tie, and asked me “so why are you eating alone tonight?” in the same tone that a lion might ask a slow moving gazelle to help him get something out of his teeth.

I explained I was a member of the club and as such I was enjoying a quiet evening…alone. She didn’t get the hint and once again insisted I join HER and her dining companion, but I demurred with some vague excuse about not wanting to sully their tablecloth with my salad. As I leaned back in my chair, crossing my legs, she glanced down and saw the pink socks I was wearing, a bit of a whimsical counterpoint to my white bucks. She took a beat, looked me in the eye and said: “so you’re gay?”

“Oh yes,” I replied, never happier in my life to be genetically encoded to avoid both the lusts of women AND military service. “Very.”

“Well…” she said, in a ‘that’s that’ kind of tone, and turned back to her drink, the conversation over. I, it seemed, was no longer fit to be meat for the beast.

I completely understand that the end of polite society is upon us, of course; anyone who has attempted to negotiate their way onto an airplane or through a crowded shopping mall at Christmas knows that Darwin’s Theory is currently running in reverse. But people like these used to stay in their place at dinnertime – which is to say, in establishments where one orders one’s food from a high school student in a paper hat and the condiments come individually foil wrapped. Now it seems they’re everywhere, sitting upright with their paws on the tablecloths of even four star restaurants, demanding their Steak Tartare sent back to the kitchen because it’s undercooked.

I’m all for democracy, but this is ridiculous. Perhaps it’s time for me to start a political movement of my own; Sharia Law for the Restaurant Community!

I guarantee you the first diner to be stoned to death for using the wrong fork with their salad would set an excellent precedent and perhaps once again decent people could eat out in peace.


Blogger wcdixon said...

"(An observation: why do ALL women over the age of 40 insist on taking up martial arts? It seems to me that learning self-defense in one’s middle age is a bit like closing the gate after the horse has escaped; any untoward advances should probably be encouraged, not deflected with a quick chop to the trachea!)"

Oh so true.

Ron you make me smile.

9:45 PM  
Blogger Autrice DelDrago said...

As lecherous as as she was, I am astonished that this charter member of the Red Hat Society didn’t take the pink socks as an indication of your desire for a three-some.

As to your rhetorical question in regard to aging women and martial arts: how on earth are they going to possibly find a sexual partner if they do not learn how to stun their prey? An Estee Lauder-encrusted praying mantis has no hopes of being mated unless she is agile enough to render an unsuspecting male cataleptic. They even have their own mantra: “God, please send something with a penis my way!”

Perhaps the pink socks did in fact rescue you from an otherwise grisly demise.

6:12 PM  

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