The Last Time I Looked: (Stories, Real and Unreal) -

Chapter One

May 13, 2013

At an age when many couples are looking at brochures from condos in Arizona, my husband Adolph went off to Paris to star (for the very first time) in a movie directed by Alain Resnais, and I (accompanied by eleven unmatched suitcases full of severe, dark clothing and serious books) skyed to L.A. to co-star (for the very first time) in a new TV series called "Coming Of Age," about a couple forced into early retirement in a condo in Arizona. It was a dream job, with one serious drawback... it wasn't in New York.

Many years ago my hubs Adolph (a theatre lyricist and librettist) and I made the decision to make our real and only home and raise our real and only children in New York. I, in particular, didn't accept any work that kept me away for longer than a couple of weeks. But, things and times, and bank accounts change. Children grow up, parents grow down... and well, you get the picture.

I arrived at LAX and was met by a driver sent by the studio. In true N.Y. style I made him show me some I.D. before I handed over my tote bag for him to carry. Luckily we had to wait a long time for the luggage, so I had time to peel off a few layers of my inappropriately hot traveling outfit.

The Sunset Marquis Hotel was recommended to me by my son Adam, a gifted writer, who went to L.A. from time to time. It's on Alta Loma just off Sunset, and my goodness, it was so pink, pink, pink and THE HOT rock 'n' roll home-away-from-home. During the few minutes it took me to check in, I realized that I was the only guest who was over forty and not on the charts.

Years ago, it was a moderate to low-priced haven for moderate to low-priced New York actors. It had been refurbished with charm, comfort and wit so that you feel like you're part of a daily performance piece by David Hockney. The trees and shrubs surrounding the canopied entrance are strung with thousands of tiny white Christmas lights. You walk down into a lobby the size of an upper Westside living room, with a couple of banquettes and tables, a cozy bar on the left, and a small dining room on the right. It's instantly seductive.

The hotel is built around a central patio and free-form pool. There are PINK scalloped umbrella'd round tables and PINK towl'd chaises all around. It's the Heart...Heart...Heart...Beat...Beat...Beat of the place where you can breakfast, lunch or just stare at the changing cast of young people on the move. I wondered how I was going to adjust to months of living in those lush, pleasant but genuinely alien surroundings.

First, I did what I always do when I'm bemused (or not) at a new hotel. I studied the Room Service Menu as if it were a new "Secret To Life" book. I read about protein shakes, cholesterol-free omelettes, fresh squeezed anything. Good. I could get "with it" and aim for the looks of the eleven-year-old models draped around the pool with their goddamned perfect tawny hair and skin. I could lose the extra weight I had gained during a year's run in a sedentary part in the play "Broadway Bound." But -- I got a severe attack of home sickness for my corner Greek-owned coffee shop. So I compromised and ordered a cheese bacon burger, fries and alfalfa sprouts.

As I ate, I reaffirmed my intention to avoid falling into the stale and tiresome pattern of comparing L.A. to New York. We all know by now that L.A. has developed its own admired style, mystique and culture.

I practiced cheeriness, mellowness and openness in front of the mirror, unpacked and went off to work the next morning.

Click here to read chapter two.
Add comment
Have you written a chapter on the little "black box" that allowed you to make free phone calls and almost sent you to prison for life? I have. Love the way you write. And you.
1:22pm 05/20/2013
Larry Miller
She should teach a master class in...Class: "How to live your life, so people want to read about it."
4:58pm 05/13/2013
Val Valdez
Cheese, bacon, ground beef and sprouts. Where was the deep fat fried zucchini??
1:20pm 05/13/2013
Ron Barron