I have a piece on CNN.com – for the magical thinker in all of us.
If you’re in the market for a little ego boost, I highly recommend a Palm Springs happy hour.
Last weekend, my partner and I, along with my in-laws and our friends Nicole and Joe, went to a bar that features live jazz music in Palm Springs. This in itself should have been entertainment enough. The music was great, and the venue was very retro Rat Pack. But there was a little something extra.
Now, if you know anything about Palm Springs, it is populated primarily by two groups: gays and greys. A trendy retirement spot, Palm Springs is the Miami Beach of California, so chock full of 70-year-olds that the average driving speed is about 11 miles an hour. And since the area has tons of classic architecture with many 50’s modern homes, and a lot of Hollywood history since almost every movie star of the golden age owned a home here, gay folk have flocked to it like flies to a bug zapper.
This makes for a sedate yet fashionable atmosphere that – whether you like to dine at 4:30 or 10:00 p.m. – can be highly appealing. Especially, it seems, if you go to a jazz happy hour.
Our visit began innocently enough. We selected a table in the back, ordered a drink and began to enjoy the jazzy yet mellow sounds of the Mack Killian Trio. The waitress was a very friendly woman who was a dead ringer for Cate Blanchett. What a nice, dignified crowd, I thought, as the six of us clinked glasses and congratulated ourselves on our sophisticated musical taste.
But within minutes, the atmosphere began to change. The mellow sounds of the Mack Killian Trio started to morph into something far creepier: the wedding band sounds of the drunk and lascivious. The trio kicked into a high-energy Huey Lewis and the News number (what Huey Lewis has to do with jazz is still unclear)…and within moments, the postage stamp-sized dance floor was filled with more sexy cougars than a Real Housewives of Sun City episode.
A sixtysomething blond in all white who looked like Suzanne Somers in a cancer wig began dancing alone, performing a number that blended Romanian gypsy moves, interpretive dance and an invisible stripper pole. Nicole decided her name was “Snow”.
An 80-year-old Bob Barker lookalike stepped onto the floor with – I’m not kidding – the biggest wad of cash I’ve ever seen, strategically placed inside one pants pocket so that it was visible to virtually anyone who glanced up from their Chivas. Perhaps unsurprisingly, every time he stepped onto the dance floor, it was with a different, highly captivated woman.
A seventyish woman whose face had been pulled so tight that her eyes were now catlike slits lurched onto the dance floor – and then realized she had overshot her mark (the ladies room, which was about ten feet to the right and somewhat hard to miss, since it was framed by enough makeup mirror light bulbs to illuminate a Broadway stage). She was holding a sharp object of indeterminate origin, which I presumed she would use to release the pressure in her over-collagened clown lips.
But although all these patrons were highly entertaining – we had stumbled, it seemed, into a strip club for senior sluts – they were not the “little something extra” of which I speak. That came when it was time for a bathroom break.
As I excused myself and headed for the men’s room at the front of the bar, I realized that – thanks to the burgeoning crowd – there was now little more than an eighteen-inch wide passage through the crowd. What should have been a simple, fifty foot trek to pass through the long, narrow main room now became a gauntlet.
Hordes of sexed up septuagenarian females threw their chests out (and in a couple of cases, their backs), rubbed their thighs and coyly fingered the curls of their Eva Gabor Autumn Sonatas as they drooled over the fresh meat passing through their midst. About 20 years younger than the youngest of them, I was obviously the May to their December, and romance was in the air, or at least in their suppositories.
I was alternately amused, horrified, and titillated. Amused that they thought I was straight. Horrified that they thought they could get me. Titillated that this many women in one room actually wanted to try.
After fortifying myself with a few splashes of cold water, I closed my eyes and plunged back through the crowd as this pack of prowling cougars strained at the bars of their cages. I arrived back at our table just in time to see a sixtysomething woman – wearing supertight green jeans and sporting a shade of red hair rarely found outside a Twizzlers factory – join the fun on the dance floor.
Twizzlers appeared to have just inhaled a small mountain of meth. She began dancing frantically right in front of me, rotating her artificial hips furiously as – I am not exaggerating – she slapped her ass like she was riding Seabiscuit. She whirled around, giving me a better perspective on her equestrian abilities as she teetered perilously on her Candies.
For a finale, she did the splits, one slingback sliding into the leg of our table and knocking over our drinks.
“Annnnd, we’re out!” I said to those assembled as I stood up and marched to the front door to give the valet my keys.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t upset. I’ll definitely be back. The music was good. The martinis were tasty. And the crowd, although disturbingly horny, was definitely memorable.
I just need to bring a big wad of twenties. Then I can drive those women right over the edge.
This essay was just featured on The Advocate. You can read it here.