Last Saturday Shiloh rented a plane and flew me to a party at Suzanne Somers’ home in Palm Springs. The weather departing Santa Fe was terrible and for the first 100 miles I kept my eyes closed, deferring to Shiloh to keep me alive. How can you fly under clouds that are kissing the ground? I didn’t want to know.
Suzanne’s house doesn’t have an address so we received email directions and pulled up to a huge green gate, and rang the bell. After convincing the security staff we were not terrorists the gate opened and we drove a few narrow winding blocks to a secluded parking area surrounded by 10’ high oleanders and palo verde trees. It was like a jungle.
Strangely, there are no roads within 300′ of the house, (all of the building materials were carried up by burros). So the “walkers” put us in a small open-air tram and pushed a button. Two minutes later we were half way up the side of a rocky mountain that’s full of mountain sheep, bob cats and rattle snakes. Suzanne doesn’t like rattlesnakes.
Our greeters at the top were George Hamilton, (He made 57 movies) and a lady with an unforgettable face who lived with Elvis for seven years. (Sorry, I forgot her name) George wanted to know about the hidden treasure and couldn’t stop asking questions about it. Shiloh was impressed and I tried to appear indifferent.
Then Suzanne introduced us to a few of her friends: a dashing shipping magnate who wore a white hat and a matching white tie. He owned three, 300’ long ocean freighters; a slight, soft-spoken man who recently stepped down from a job making $200.000.000 a year running Occidental Petroleum; and a guy who sold Google one of the three city blocks he owned in downtown Seattle.
I decided to back into a corner and make notes while Shiloh, who was thirty-years younger than anyone else at the party, flirted with Suzanne’s divorced daughter, Leslie, and a billionairess widow lady who financed many of the civic organizations around Palm Springs.
Barry Manilow, who remembered me from my gallery days, wanted to talk about the treasure. He said that if he could get out of a contract he would go looking for it.
A ten-piece orchestra played Cuban music non-stop in a natural stone amphitheater that abutted the house. The singer moved to the music, and I swear, her body shook in places that I didn’t even know existed. She had to take frequent breaks. You know how Cuban music is.
Suzanne’s favorite bathtub, a gift from her husband who is an avid photographer
At dinner I sat next to Suzanne and she HAD to introduce me to everyone who came up to chat, about a hundred in all. I felt like a dime at a dollar bill convention.
When the candles burned low Shiloh took me to our motel. Then he went back to the party and stayed until the candles died of old age. He denied it but Leslie told me.
At breakfast the next morning eight of us sat around Suzanne’s kitchen table while her husband, Alan Hamel, cooked eggs over-easy on corn pone cakes and grits that were decorated with bitelets of bacon. Suzanne served healthy glasses of a severely green liquescent she described and “a blend.” It was made of eight different fruits whose names were foreign to me, except bananas, and I didn’t taste them in the mix. I drank it like it was good and I’m sure it was because Suz is a health nut.
I didn’t know the man sitting on my right but when he was introduced as Arnold Kopelson, I said “Oh,” pretending to understand. Suz knew I didn’t, so she whispered that he had produced 29 movies and received an Oscar for Platoon. I smiled and sat up straighter in my chair.
At 10:30 Shiloh and I jumped in the Cessna and pointed it 060 degrees for Santa Fe. The strong headwind didn’t help so we stopped at Sedona for fuel and a buffalo burger with grilled onions and a small fries. With the time change and an hour lost, it got dark fast and Shiloh couldn’t see the flight instruments. After fumbling with the switches he got the lights working just in time for us to land at a very dark airport. No one was around anywhere. It was nice.
In my car driving home Shiloh noticed we were almost out of gas and there were no stations close. But a few minutes later we coasted into my garage and closed the door. It had been a good trip.
For an aged kid from a small town in Texas, the Palm Springs experience was both ego shrinking and mind expanding. It was fun to see how some people lived. But it was nice to be at my computer again with a little pinon smoke coming from my fireplace. There is no place like home.