The beauty of getting older is that you donâ€™t have to deal with men hitting on you anymore. The sad thing about getting older is that you donâ€™t have to deal with men hitting on you anymore. Donâ€™t get me wrong. Although I had a few â€œlife of the partyâ€ moments in my youth, I was never, ever the long legged filly that all the colts were eyeing for a date. Still, when and if a gent did ever throw a pass my way, it was received as a compliment, whether or not there was any intrigue on my part. That all came to a screeching halt years ago when young men regularly started calling me â€œMaâ€™am,â€ just as well mannered bucks are known to do here in the south. The last man who insinuated that I was a hot tamale was about eighty five years old and suffered from early Alzheimer’s Disease. He was sweet though, and he thought I was fabulous, God rest his soul. Much worse than the â€œMaâ€™amâ€ thing, is the illusion of thinking that someone is hitting on you, when in reality, they are just dealing with you. A girl never forgets her initial encounter with this unfortunate truth.
When I was in my late twenties, I had the pleasure of traveling to Beverly Hills on a business trip. It was the first time I had ever traveled for any purpose other than visiting family or going on vacation, so I felt oh-so-grown-up and relevant about it all. My travel expenses were all covered and I was booked to stay at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, donâ€™tcha know! Well, lah-tee-dah for me. I was working for a talent agency in New York at the time, and the agent whom I assisted was very old school. His California clients were people like Troy Donahue and Soupy Sales (look them up). The trip was fairly easy for me. Mostly, I schmoozed at a pool party. Just a little bit, I set up meetings and interviewed actors seeking representation. Troy took me for a ride on his motorcycle down Sunset Boulevard and pointed out where he and Suzanne (look it up) lived when they were first married. It was all a bit surreal and overwhelming. I was actually glad when, on my last day there, my afternoon was free. Since I had no car, but still had a twenty something figure, I decided to take a dip in the pool at the Beverly Wilshire. Surely, there would be oodles of movie stars lying around sipping rum drinks and shifting their gold chains so that their tans would remain even. So I put on my new swimsuit-yes, a bikini-and headed downstairs with my towel and book in hand. I had forgotten to bring sunscreen, but so what! I passed right by it in the gift shop and opted to pick up a drink from the bar instead. I was in Hollywood! Because I have such a pathetic sense of direction, it took me quite a few twists and turns in hallways to finally spot the pool. It was gorgeous and actually had a little fan of water shooting up from the center. Very old Hollywood. Strangely, the pool deck was empty of people. And although I expected to find puffy lounge chairs upholstered with fresh terrycloth, there were only a few regular chairs and umbrellas flanking the perimeter. That was ok by me, though. After all, the entire place was pretty exclusive, and it was only 2:00 in the afternoon. People were still closing deals on movie lots and in the bar of the hotel. Fine. I would take a little solitary dip, then seal the rest of my trip with my drink (Pina Colada) and a good book. Better that way anyway. New York was so crowded and noisy! I would soak up the luxury of solitude for a few hours before going upstairs to pack.
I set up my towel and my book on one of the chairs and inched my way over to the pool, where I tested the water with my big toe. Nice and warm, so in I went, very gently. I didnâ€™t want to ruin my hair-do since the arid climate of Cali was treating it so nicely. My plan was to cool myself down with a little water treading before planting myself in the chair for the rest of the afternoon. The pool was dreamy, and quite shallow through out. That made sense to me. The shallowness of it made it easier for movie moguls and me to hold our drinks and carry on with other moguls without sliding under the surface. Still, it was barely two feet deep. Then it struck me. Oh! You are supposed to SIT, not swim! Of course. This wasnâ€™t an olympic lap pool, after all. It was for schmoozing (look it up). Perfect. So I sat. Just me and my Pina Colada.
I had been soaking for about twenty minutes when I noticed an attractive man slowly walking across the pavement, directly toward me. He had that sort of smile, a smirk really, that I had come to recognize in my adulthood. He had spotted me from afar and had targeted me through his scope. Canâ€™t a girl get a break? He wasnâ€™t even in a swim suit. Clearly, then man was at the hotel on business, but even that didnâ€™t stop him. He just kept smiling and
strollingâ€¦.struttingâ€¦towards me. That was OK, though. I knew how to handle these types. And this guy looked good, so he probably wasnâ€™t used to rejection. I almost felt sorry for him, knowing what was coming and all. He walked straight over to me, with my elbows draped over the ledge of the pool, my head tipped upwards in hopes of capturing as much California vitamin D as I could. I had on dark sunglasses, so he couldnâ€™t see my eyes. He had no idea that I was watching his every move, like you watch a snake. He stooped down in his Euro-California custom tailored suit.
â€œHello.â€ Smiling, he spoke the word almost as an apology for what was to come as he pulled his sunglasses down onto the tip of his nose and peeped over the top. The Blue Grotto coming right at me.
â€œWell, hello.â€ I cooed back, preparing to give him the bad news. I was not looking for fun. I wanted to quietly enjoy my drink and read my book. Poor guy.
â€œUh, I am going to have to ask you to get out of the fountain.â€ All the words that followed were in slow motion, as in a nightmare.
â€œI am from security. Sorry, but you are going to have to get out of the fountain.â€
â€œTheâ€¦.fountain???? Uh. This is THE FOUNTAIN? Oh, no.â€
â€œAre you a guest here?â€
â€œYes. Yes, I am!â€
â€œMay I please see your key, maâ€™am?â€ Maâ€™am. That was my first time. It stung. This whole thing felt like a punch to my flat little tummy.
â€œOh, uh, sure.â€ I crawled out of theâ€¦fountain (I had to sort of climb out like a baby crawling over the rail of a crib because there were no steps), and reached for my key. It was an actual key, as was common at the time. It had the room number engraved on it, so it was proof that I was an actual guest and not a hooker.
â€œOk, thanks. Sorry. The pool is over there if you want to go for a real swim.â€
â€œUh, no. I think I better just go upstairs and (suck my thumb) start packing. I have an early flight tomorrow. But thanks. Sorryâ€¦.about the fountain thing. I thoughtâ€¦..â€
â€œItâ€™s ok, no harm done.â€ I wrapped myself tightly in the towel, then gathered my book and the drink. I avoided all eye contact as I bolted away from the pâ€¦fountain.
What now? Couldn’t I just leave? Please? My shoulders felt a little pink.
â€œThe building is the other way.â€ He pointed in a direction that meant nothing to me, but I turned and followed his point anyway.
â€œRight. I know. I was just going toâ€¦right. Right. Sorry!â€
I went straight to my room, minus a couple of wrong turns, and packed my bags while I finished my drink. By six oâ€™clock I was ready for bed. The time change thing, you know? I took the last sip of my PC, which had taken the edge off my humiliation. At the bottom of the glass, I found the realization that if Mr. Security had not been on duty, he would have definitely made a pass. Definitely. Poor guy.