Tuesday, March 17, 2009

VALLEY OF THE DOGS

So I came back from the gym this morning and was puzzled to find my side yard gate barricaded along the bottom by rocks and cement blocks.

This is the kind of thing I normally do when my houseboy Panton is having one of his "episodes", where he decides that the princely wage I pay him isn't enough and he threatens to "giddaway from Boss" back to whatever dusty third world rug market he came from in the first place.



(I think $5.00 a day is quite adequate myself, especially considering his housekeeping chores entirely consist of wearing nothing but a pair of gold lame shorts and bending over to dust under the sofa twice a day...but I digress.)

However, given that Panton is currently out of town, attending some sort of religious retreat in the high desert where he and his brethren are worshipping a "taxidermied" moosehead mounted atop a larger than life plaster statue of Mamie Van Doren they found in a local "vintage" junk shop-



I was understandably confused by the make-shift security measures put in place by persons unknown.

The mystery was solved, however, when I discovered a four footed interloper in the back yard, lurking amongst the tikis. It was, in fact, a dog.



Now, I don't have a dog. Haven't had one since my ex-boyfriend of some years ago left unannounced, taking a good chunk of my self-esteem and our weimaraner, Jack Daniels by name. So i was fairly certain that this tail wagging stranger didn't belong here.

But on closer examination, I noticed he was moving very slowly, as if in tremendous pain, and he looked rather dazed, doubtlessly from drinking out of the salt water pool all night. I know how that feels, having done it myself during one rather inebriated afternoon where I was convinced that the martini glass mosaic at the bottom was, in fact, the real thing, and I could relate to the slightly dopey look in this mutt's eyes.



However when he resolutely refused to eat the garnish i offered him from my morning cocktail - it was, sadly, the only solid food in the house - I realized he was in need of serious medical attention. I mean, what ELSE could possibly cause someone to refuse Jensen's finest blue cheese stuffed olives?

And so, one quick trip to the Animal Doctor and a hundred dollars later, I now have an adorable dog roaming around the property, his discomfort somewhat assuaged by the painkillers he's been taking every six hours, wrapped up in some expensive brie and bacon appetizers (well, when one's Houseboy is indisposed, one must make do with WHATEVER is in the fridge you know!).



In Palm Springs, even the dogs are on "dolls".



I assume that somebody must have hit the poor beast with their car and then, figuring it was my dog and fearing the wrath of a man who has a martini glass flag waving over the front gate, they just heaved him over the fence and locked him in. I shan't bore you, dear reader, by sharing with you my distaste for the sort of people who would do this kind of thing, but suffice it to say I am posting a photograph here in the hope that the lovely little fellow's owner will recognize him and get in touch with me here.

Failing that, we shall have to find a name for him.

If I keep shouting "hey, you mongrel!" when Panton returns from Bible Camp, things could get very confusing around here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

THE PRICE OF LOVE

Long before it was fashionable - let alone a socio-political weapon of mass destruction - I had my very first Gay Marriage.

Of course being that we lived in California, which in 2000 still didn't allow gay couples to do that which Elizabeth Taylor has done countless times -
Britney Spears did overnight in Vegas-- and the lower classes do for money on reality television programs, our event was considered a "Civil Union". But regardless of the nomenclature, we were getting married and, as such, we had to throw ourselves a real, live, honest-to-whoever-you-pray-at WEDDING.

It was held at the glamorous Yamashiro restaurant in Los Angeles, an authentically recreated Japanese mansion perched high above Hollywood Boulevard and in keeping with my belief that if you're going to do something, you might as well do it first class, we pulled out all the proverbial stops.

The best food, open bar, bottles of Veuve Clicquot champagne by the truckload; and in keeping with this theme, we had our wedding rings done by Tiffany's. During the fitting at the renowned jeweller's Beverly Hills store, one of those bleached blonde OC housewife types who have lowered the bar at every high end shop in town smiled patronizingly and said "that's so cute. Too bad it's not a real wedding."

At which point the Tiffany clerk gave her a hard stare and said "of course it is. It's recognized by a higher authority than the government. It's recognized by Tiffany's."

For this reason, I have been a devoted Tiffany customer ever since.

With rings in hand, and guests in tow, we stood before my old friend The Duchess of Milton who had procured an online ordination as a minister for the event - which really just supports my belief that religion is nothing more than a game for hucksters and suckers, not necessarily in that order - and spoke our vows...you know, the usual, "love, honor and cherish" and "til death do us part"...

Most of the attendees swear to this day it was the most beautiful wedding they'd ever seen. I would have to agree.

The MARRIAGE however was a disaster.

I won't bore you with all the gory details, but suffice it to say that two years later, upon returning from an extended work trip to Africa, I discovered my husband had packed up his things and left. Took the dog.

But left his ring behind.



For five long, increasingly ridiculous years, that ring - and my matching one - sat in my dresser drawer, moving from a place of dark honor ("there they are - the symbols of my broken heart...") to simply being an annoyance ("Panton! What kind of a houseboy are you?! Where are my silver cufflinks? I can't find anything in here except these stupid wedding rings!") to the point where I finally decided something HAD to be done.

While shooting a movie several years back, one of the stars advised that I should melt the rings down and turn them into a key for my house. The other star suggested, considering how things had ended, a BULLET might make more sense; given that he was once married to a large and rather loudly unpleasant television star himself, he knew of what he spoke.

But I'd kept the rings for all these years, tucked away neatly in their little blue velvet bag, taunting me like one of those cuts you get on the roof of your mouth. "You failed," they kept saying to me. "You were a loser as a husband and you'll never find love again!"

This of course turned out to be false, as several years ago I eventually met the current Boyfriend, a prominent Palm Springs businessman, and while I refused to let the car wreck of the first marriage make me gun shy about getting into another relationship, having those rings around didn't help. They lurked there in the dark, rattling behind my gold Brooks Brothers collar tabs like Jacob Marley's ghost, their voices reminding me that every love has a price, a piece of your heart taken and never returned...a piece as big as two men's wedding bands.

Now if you, dear reader, found that last line to be as nauseating to read as I did to write, you'll understand exactly why I spent Valentine's Day this year sitting in a conference room at a local hotel, waiting my turn among the retirees and widows to find out just how much cold hard cash those damned rings would get me.

The time had finally come to let go.

I'd heard about the "Gold Buy" being run by a group of out-of-state jewelers on the local radio station for several weekends running, but decided to wait until the perfect symbolism of February 14th arrived to make my move. And so, with the Boyfriend beside me - and with visions of the vacation in sunny Mexico that these rings would surely buy us dancing in our heads - we sat down in front of a charmingly overbuilt fellow who weighed both wedding bands, checked his scales and values, viewed the Tiffany markings with a magnifying loop and then finally leaned back and smiled at us.

The rings had originally cost me three thousand dollars. In cash. They had also cost me considerably more in self-worth and hard won life experience, and as such they had come to occupy a huge place in my own personal mythology. I wanted them to be worth every moment I'd felt I'd lost, every single heart ache I'd endured and every last tear I'd shed.

They turned out to be worth two hundred bucks. Flat.

So much for Mexico. That wouldn't buy us a weekend in Banning.

But it did buy the BF and I a couple of great books to read on a rainy day at home, and a bottle of wine and a pizza to enjoy while we do. And frankly, I'd rather have that - and him - than those rings any day.



Even Valentine's Day.

URINE AMERICA NOW!

It appears that last month's somewhat dramatic display of nature's force here in our desert paradise yielded more than just some soggy tourists and a few rather grim looking palm fronds cluttering up the front walk.

When my faithful houseboy Panton did his morning rounds of the house, checking for overturned Tikis, swamped outdoor stereo speakers, or any of those same seven indigents who seem to show up in the regional news from time to time bobbing in the pool, he discovered a delightful little bit of propaganda he felt sure I'd enjoy. Bless Panton - not a word of English bouncing around inside that copper colored head of his and yet he still manages to know exactly what I like.

This particular item, soaked almost beyond recognition, appears to be from the nearby public school. It is a form letter, of the kind one sends home with misbehaving children so their parents can feel even worse about that drunken night in Barstow that begat the little cherubs than they already do.

I myself never received one of these foul notes, having been a perfect student and the light of my mother's eye (she valued me quite highly, naturally - as the illegitimate son of Grace Kelly and George Hamilton -
- I was subsequently lost in a plane crash over the southern Asiatic region, rescued by a kindly group of Tibetan monks and then, eventually, brought back to America by some missionaries where I was adopted by a kindly white trash couple and raised as their own), but I digress...

Entitled "POOR CITIZENSHIP LETTER", it begins "Dear _______", the blank left obviously to be filled in according to each child's situation: "Dear Belabored Grandmother Who Expected Peace In Her Old Age But Instead Ended Up Tending To Her Lazy, Drunk, Good For Nothing Daughter's Brat" comes to mind, but certainly wouldn't fit in the space provided.



In this instance, the salutation is filled with "Mom and Dad" which sounds promising, but it's when we continue through the "form" portion of the missive, a litany of pre-written, shame-inducing sentences including things like "I did not Qualify for Good Citizenship because I did not follow the School Rules" and "the other students who did not break the rules got to do something fun today" that things take a decidedly darker turn.

Further along, in the student's own writing, we find a list he himself has made of his "crimes", the horrendous anti-American activities which have earmarked him as a Communist or, worse yet, a Terrorist-in-Training. These include "I did not raise my hand to speak", "I get out of my seat", "I talk to my friends" and, most damning of all, "I go to the bathroom too much."

I'll admit I'm not necessarily an expert in the field of national defense, but where exactlydoes "incontinence" rank on The Department of Homeland Security's list of "threatening activities"?

Finally, the letter concludes, ominously: "Please have a conversation with me about what I can do to earn Good Citizenship".

"A conversation"?

I suspect that particular "conversation" may have taken place on the business end of a belt, which explains why little "Hassan" - the lad whose paper this was - tossed the damning letter away and let the storm take its course.

Bravo, Hassan. Don't be fooled by these adults and their ridiculous rules!

Freedom of speech is your right, as is the Right to assemble freely. So speak when you have something to say! Visit with your friends!

And for the love of all that is good and just in this world, you urinate whenever you want!

For that, Hassan, is the American Way.