Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ojai Overnighter

I was expecting Jay Gatsby to show up or Lady Grantham. This is the Ojai Inn and Spa, fit for royalty, titled or not where old money and new money put up with one another. People who bought Apple at six mingle with grandkids born on third base. Of course this is all in my head. Peggy and I are playing Rich, a game we indulge in no more than once or twice a year, crashing the gates of the one percent.  

The grounds comprise 220 acres of golf-grass, tennis courts, pools, herb garden, enormous roses, well-scrubbed villas with red-tiled roofs, five restaurants and winding paths traversed by electric carts, still elegant after all these 90 years and not yet shabby. And then there is the spa where one can get aromatized, firmed, pummeled and re-arranged. Guests dress in studied carelessness with designer names. I was an imposter in my Ross-Dress-for-Less attire and hoping Polonius was mistaken that apparel doth proclaim the man. No questions are asked demonstrating that one person’s plastic is as good as another’s … even with my Obama bumper sticker.
Our room looked out on the wide expanse of the rolling golf course dotted with clumps of eucalyptus. The bark of the giant trees was naked and immaculate as if anything less would be unacceptable as riff-raff. 

There is something about golf that seems ludicrous to me. Is it a sport or a board game, particularly as the players drive from hole to hole?  Everything in its place as balls are gulped into their assigned holes. Balls and holes, just like basketball without the athleticism and trash talk. I know I’ll get a fierce argument from the duffers about steady nerves under pressure but that could also be said about chess and poker.
In any case Peggy and I are sitting in our shaded patio looking out onto the sea of green. Bird calls caw, gurgle and tweet into this suspension of time. Pauses like this are to be cherished. We are reading our books due back at the library tomorrow. Can we afford the overdue fine after paying for this one-day stay?

After a while one finds their royalty within. Even without bonafides of any kind I begin to feel privileged, as if to the manor-born, as long as the conversation doesn’t veer into fine wines, hedge funds or grand homes in Newport. Already we are making the adjustment as eccentric millionaires.
We might have gotten away with our impersonation had it not been for check-out time when the valet parking attendant brought our 11 year-old Honda Civic around to the front. He then popped our trunk as a convenience to store our baggage.  Now all Ojai could see our warehouse of Costco paper towels, tissues and toilet paper. Was that an errant golf ball as we drove off or a sign from the gods to know our place? 

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