Those of you who follow this blog will remember that last week was filled with “Vulgaris Dies” (“Ordinary Days”) and that I had nothing very exciting to write about. I ended that blog with this line: “… in my gut I have this gnawing feeling that all H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks will break forth next week.”
Welcome to my tale of H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks.
There was a seminar we, Mary, who is my OCAS Director of Sales, and I wanted to attend in Los Angeles and it began very early Monday morning. So early that we decided it would probably be a good idea to go up there late in the afternoon on Sunday and stay over rather than get up in the middle of the night to be there by 7 a.m. … and as you know, leaving at 4 a.m. doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll make the 55 mile trip between my home and downtown LA in less than three hours, no matter what the time of day…or night.
So we set off on our road trip and other than the fact that Mary’s GPS couldn’t make up its mind as to what was the most efficient route to the hotel and insisted on repeating almost at every corner “Make a legal U-turn” we arrived without incident. (Black Beauty, given her last, very expensive experience in a big city, was left at home to continue recuperating from her ordeal.)
I won’t mention the name of the hotel, but it has a Four-Star rating and was featured in several action movies, the most noteworthy being True Lies and Rain Man. I was able to get a really excellent rate with the help of several discount travel websites so it all seemed worth it.
We checked in, took the glass elevator to our floor, wound our way through the circular hallways to our room. It was really quite nice. We had a lovely view of Downtown LA, the sun was setting and we had beautiful colors reflected in the gleaming office towers surrounding us. Since we were in the middle of the business district and it was Sunday there wasn’t much open and we opted to go up to the rooftop restaurant for dinner.
The place was empty but for whatever reason the hostess put us directly next to the only other table with diners, two elderly couples…who were all hard of hearing. They were literally shouting at each other but for them it was just normal tones of voice. We were really not at all interested in the problems they had with bodily functions, the long list of medications they were taking and whose son was getting divorced for the fourth time because he had “…once again married a wh-re.” I was tempted to lean over and say “Inside voices, please! Inside voices!” but I didn’t think they’d hear me. When the server came to take our order we asked if we could be moved. It wasn’t a problem since there were only six dinner guests. The foursome and us.
We had a great meal and since it was still early we thought we’d go down one flight to the revolving bar and have a nightcap.
Now…about this cocktail lounge and the people who were in it. I am telling you, there was enough blog material for a month to be found there.
First of all, there were these very bizarre looking Alexander Calder-like mobiles that were the lighting fixtures in the ceiling. They were sort of a cross between something in one of the early Star Wars movies and a headpiece worn by Lady Gaga. They must have been very expensive, because there were only a few of them scattered around which made it quite dim. I prefer to think that was so you could enjoy the view outside without lights reflecting off the glass and not the choice of a bad interior designer. Most of the buildings surrounding our hotel were the homes of huge banking institutions and Mary and I laughed. Here we were, sitting in this carousel bar, literally watching our money go by.
The clientele was a mixed bag of people…most of whom should have been wearing bags because it would have been an improvement on their attire. Once again I seemed to have arrived in a city where it was “National Don’t Look in the Mirror Day.”
There were people in jackets and ties that were something Potsie and Richie would have worn during Happy Days; people in mini-skirts who should have been wearing mumus; two waddling women who looked oddly like twin fashion penguins - but instead of tuxedos, wore long gauzy, sparkly shirts over too-short blouses, over leggings with striped anklets and Mary Jane pumps. One of them had one legging rolled up so you could see the elaborate tattoo of some scary looking snake on her shin. There were also guests in tents. Really. I swear I saw one of the outfits in the Camping Section of Sports Authority and it slept four.
Then there was one obviously European tourist whom I decided was “The Man of My Dreams.”
Despite the fact that it was now 10 p.m., he was in the bar sporting denim cargo shorts that were too short for him, which called even more attention to his toothpick-sized legs, topped by a plaid shirt over a low cut tank-top sprouting a veritable forest of chest hair, grey knee-high socks and black sandals. His only accessory was a fanny pack, placed squarely and tightly (you could see an ever-so-slight muffin top over it) near his belly-button. I decided that this is where Steve Martin and Dan Akroyd got the inspiration for the “Two Wild and Crazzzz-y Guys” they created for Saturday Night Live. It was better than a floor show in Las Vegas.
Mary and I had a grand time people-watching.
Now, an aside. I am a street smart, New York City raised girl. I rode subways and buses with everything I own securely placed in something zipped that I had my hand on at all times. I never leave my purse on an unattended chair, hanging off the back of my seat or anywhere someone could get into it. I learned not even to trust movie house arm-rests as you may recall from an earlier blog. My bag was placed squarely between my feet where I could physically feel it at all times. Even though there were maybe 20 people scattered around the bar and no one was near us.
Just as we were getting ready to leave, Mary got up to go to the rest room and at the same time I ventured about six feet to another table to retrieve a lit candle since ours had blown out and I couldn’t see the check. It took me, at most, ten seconds.
I came back, reached down for my bag and it was gone.
G-O-N-E…along with my wallet, credit cards, license, house and car keys (I remember thinking “OMG! Black Beauty is in danger of being kidnapped!”), tickets for the next day’s seminar, medications I need to take at night, our room key, all my store coupons and the possessions of the homeless person who lives in my bag. I was close to panic. No, that’s not true. I was totally panicked.
Impossible. I looked under, I looked around at the other empty tables, it was nowhere to be found. Mary came back and she helped me look. It could not have moved anyway because the floor of the cocktail lounge moved, not the outside wall so there was no possibility that it somehow got hooked onto something and dragged away without my knowledge. With where I had it placed, it would have had to drag me with it.
We flagged our waitress who alerted security. They sent up three men, all in blue blazers sporting shiny brass nametags and grey slacks. Two were shorter than I was (perhaps this is where Officer Shortguy, who ticketed me last spring, got his start?) and one looked like the center for the San Diego Chargers. They really had no authority to search every one of the 1,354 rooms and 135 suites that were in the hotel as I suggested. They did provide me with the phone number for LAPD and offered to accompany us back to our room to make sure no one was there and that the purse was also not there. We went back, everything was fine in the room. Except for me. I was now bordering on hysteria. I asked if I could look at the security tapes (too many repeats of Law and Order had led me to believe that every public room, everywhere, in every hotel in the world had cameras) but they declined. I was feeling nauseous with nerves by now and went back into the room to use the facilities while Mary stayed in the hallway with Los Tres Amigos.
I came back out to find Mary with the two Short Guys. Big Guy had gone down to retrieve a bag someone found at the hostess station at the bar. I was hopeful but not overly excited … until I saw Big Guy coming down the hall with my bag in his hands…then it became a scene in one of those old movies where the two lovers run towards each other in a field and embrace. Only this time it was a hotel hallway and I was running towards a man I’d only met an hour before. Nevertheless, I hugged him and kissed him on his cheek. The trio waited while I went through my things. Everything was intact, except for the cash I’d had. I didn’t care. Black Beauty was safe, my home was safe, even my hotel room was safe. And I now owed St. Anthony (finder of lost objects) a ridiculous amount of money I’d promised him if I could find my bag. I think he will allow me to pay it off over time. He knows where to find me.
So, I’ve decided that I am going to a security store and buying one of those handcuff things that you see bank couriers using? Where they chain the briefcase to their wrist? I don’t know what else I can do.
In my gut, I have this gnawing feeling that next week will be extremely C-A-Single Hockey Stick-M. (And I hope that works as a jinx for this time.)