What a trip: Palm Springs, CA

My fantasy residence — the Kaufmann House.

Apparently a full eight hours of work was way too ambitious for my first day back on the job.

My friends the Mssrs. Meathead left last Friday morning for a long weekend in Palm Springs, a town that I all-caps LOVE.*

*Partly because of its embrace of the midcentury architecture that’s so pervasive, and partly because it’s filled with gay guys who are like, “If I was the sort of person who’s obsessed with my own hotness, I’d be vacationing in Los Angeles, not here.”

When Mr. Brooks turned 30 oh so many years ago, a bunch of friends met in Palm Springs and rented rooms at one of the local resorts. In fact, we had seven of the eight rooms. (Although it was a clothing-optional resort we kept our swimsuits on, being proper Midwestern boys. Those poor guys from England who had the eighth room.) And Mr. Brooks and I had such a great time, we kept going back, experimenting by staying at a different place each time.

STOP STARING AT US. We're really brothers, we swear.

One weekend we told people we were brothers**, which when you see us side by side is totally plausible, as long as your eyeballs have been plucked out and replaced with pimento-stuffed olives. However, everyone we met believed the saga of Billy and Brandon Malkovich … which made it uncomfortable when, at the end of the weekend, we had to fess up to some very nice people from Seattle, since we knew that if we wanted to stay friends with them, we would have to admit that we weren’t brothers, and I didn’t live in Montana. (Our friendship withered on the vine after that.)

** A disturbing number of people asked if we had ever had sex with each other, and our mutual revulsion at the concept was genuine (even though we’re not siblings). “You don’t ask straight brothers and sisters if they’ve had sex with each other,” I’d start. “And we’re not each other’s type, anyway,” Mr. Brooks would add as the punchline. We got asked this so many times that by the end of the weekend, our timing was Emmy-worthy.

Our last visit was two or three years ago, so when the Mssrs. Meathead announced their intentions to visit, I wanted in. There was just one problem: the commute.

Palm Springs and Phoenix share much the same climate, but there’s still some distance between them; it didn’t sound fun to leave Saturday, stay for a single night, then hop back in the car for a return trip.

So I shared my regrets that I couldn’t attend, went to work Friday morning …  and discovered around 11:30 a.m. that I had completed pretty much all the work I would be able to for the day (and what was still on my plate wasn’t due until the following Wednesday). “The heck with it,” I said. “I’m taking a half-day.”

When I got home, I booked a room at the hotel the Mssrs. Meathead were at, opened the suitcase I hadn’t bother to unpack from my trip to New York, removed anything that looked like office attire and stuffed it full of T-shirts and fresh underwear. I called Meathead A from the convenience store while I was filling up, to let him know I’d be there by sundown, and hit the road.

My commute included two more doors and way fewer cool lights.

Before my trip to San Diego, I don’t think I’d taken my car on a road trip. On one hand, that’s good — it keeps the mileage down, since my commute to work is only 4 miles — but there’s that little part of me that says, “You need to take your car out on the freeway; it’s good for the engine!” I’m not sure if that’s left over from the days when I had a 1976 Chevy 8-cylinder behemoth or what.

I’m also not sure how long it took to get over there, but it seemed like forever and when I finally crested the pass I was greeted with:

Compared with the view I was more accustomed to, I was a little perturbed. “Is something on fire?” I asked Meathead A. “What is causing all this haze? Where are the mountains?” The haze dissipated the closer I got to town, and soon I was happily toodling down Ramon Road toward downtown Palm Springs.

Right around then I realized I knew the name of the resort but hadn’t a clue as to its location; I remembered Tahquitz Canyon, but didn’t know which road that was. Luckily, I stumbled across it pretty easily and as I was Mr. Magoo-ing along looking for a sign, the Mssrs. Meathead pulled up right next to me to say hello, and I followed them to the resort. The place was lovely — my review on TripAdvisor is here — but a slew of business-casual Latinas were swarming the place. (It turns out the hotel was hosting a Christian women’s convention, and most of the attendees were Latina.)

Night one: Dinner and gay-watching at Wang’s, then a pub tour. You’d think a bar called SpurLine would be … I don’t know, a leather place? … but it’s a video bar that had everyone glued to clips from films and TV shows. One of my favorites: a megacut of the times Mrs. Slocome from “Are You Being Served?” discusses her pet kitty, such as this phone conversation with a neighbor:

Would you do me a favor?  Would you go to my front door, bend down, and look through the letter-box?  And if you can see my pussy, would you drop a sardine on the mat?

(Strangely comprehensive list of other quotes here.)

They played several clips of songs or movies that it seemed like everyone else was singing along (or at least familiar) with, whereas we stood there with brows furrowed. “We’re bad gays,” I whispered. This sentiment was reinforced a bit later, when the bartender came by while a clip from Evita was playing. “You don’t have napkins!” he said, so we took them, chastened … and put them under our drinks, like we thought he was ordering us to.

That wasn’t it. See, apparently there’s a whole Rocky Horror-style thing in which you’re supposed to talk back to the screen at certain moments during “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina,” and at the very end of the song, you frantically wave your napkins in the air, much like the good gentlemen in the photo at right. So now we’re fishing our soggy napkins out from underneath our drinks, trying to pretend like we know what we’re doing, but the moment is pretty much gone. “REALLY bad gays!” I repeated.

The second day and early evening was filled with outlet shopping and an Art Walk sort of thing in which many of the design stores and galleries stayed open late. One of them was the enticingly named Interior Illusions, which delighted me because it afforded me the opportunity to repeatedly say, “While you enjoy an Absolut cocktail in the Interior Illusions Lounge …” as RuPaul does before he dismisses the contestants on “Drag Race.”

We also checked in to the Shag store — literally, checked in on Foursquare, and got these cool buttons as a reward. The sales associate was awesome and showed us the newest prints, as well as humored us when we’d say, “Do you have the … print he did for the zodiac series for Gemini? For Taurus?”

Here’s another thing that was reinforced on this trip: If you enjoy receiving admiring glances or having people chat you up, do not stand anywhere near the Mssrs. Meathead. First, they make me feel like Jack Skellington. Below is a typographical representation of what it’s like to stand between them.

(The M represents width of shoulders, not bellies)

Secondly, they are the friendliest, chattiest, most outgoing people ever — especially on vacation. Before I even got to town they already had become besties with our hotel staff and a slew of store owners and sales associates. This draws The Gays to them like bees to honey … or predators to fresh meat, which was more apt at the bar we went to the second night.

“I feel like Marlin Perkins on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” I told another guy at the bar.***  “I see them be approached [stalked]; I witness the flash of “wait, what? no!” when the other guy gets too grabby or manhandle-y [prey startled as predator goes in for the kill]; and I watch them move away to another area [flight to safety].” After one particular aggressive pass, we called it a night and climbed into a cab.

*** A store owner they’d been introduced to the day before, who met us out that night and was kind enough to give us a ride to said bar, and even cleared out the merchandise in his back seat to make room for us.

The next morning, we set out for Elmer’s, recommended because one of us was craving French toast. I was transfixed by this assembly of cool lamps above our heads, and I noticed that a couple of other people were snapping photos of them from a particular vantage point, so when we were done eating I hopping up and tried to capture them with my iPhone. (The colors are right; the ceiling is like a weird hospital green but the lamps were beautiful.)

From there, I headed straight home while the Mssrs. Meathead enjoyed the city for a few more hours. I timed the drive back from the moment I pulled on to Interstate 10 at Ramon Road to the moment I took my exit back in Phoenix — 250 miles, in 3:15.  The trip back sailed by; it seemed like it was half as long as the trip out there. I’d like to blame the Earth’s rotation, like you can on long flights, but I think that won’t hold water.

And I haven’t left town since. Then again, the weekend is still nigh….

WHAT SAM WORE: 9-20-11
The shirt: Long-sleeved button-up shirt by Façonnable, from Last Chance.
The pants: Corduroy jeans from Uniqlo, New York.
The shoes: Leather loafers by Bacco Bucci, from Last Chance.
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