Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Palm Springs, California with my husband Fred. We were on a sales reward trip, hosting Fred’s customers who had surpassed sales expectations when buying from him, therefore earning a few days’ rest and relaxation on the West Coast. So, I was very excited for the trip. California! Home of the Beach Boys, Hollywood, mudslides, earthquakes …Wait a minute. Earthquakes!
I only thought about the earthquakes for a minute. I was going, baby, out to Palm Springs! Bob Hope’s playground! The place where Elvis once brought his new bride Priscilla Presley for a month-long honeymoon! Land of cactus, golf, and the perfect martini! The place where there might be earthquakes! Wait a minute …earthquakes…
Never mind about that; I needed to get ready to go. On my list:
- Shop for enough food for my 15-year old son — and my 24-year old son, who was in charge of him.
- Go to nail salon for acrylic fake nails (which I never wear).
- Go to tanning salon for spray tan (which I never do).
- Learn about earthquake zones on Wikipedia.
I quickly shopped for my sons – can you say frozen pizza, 20 liters of Coke and Pop Tarts? Then I ran over to the nail salon to get my nails done. I decided to order long nails; what the heck, I am going to be in Cali! The nails were stunning, when the appointment was over. Everything I touched looked better; even a roll of toilet paper I grabbed with my new nails back at home looked glamorous and meaningful as soon as I held it. The problem is, I own a horse, Nello, whom I love dearly. So, I had to go out and make sure he was “all set” before I took off, which included designating, in writing, a new owner, should I not make it back from Cali for some (earthquake) reason. I am assuming a note written on the back of a wrinkled CVS receipt and tucked into our “Comments” box at the barn designating my friend Christine will suffice.
Feeling melancholy from the idea of being away from Nello for almost a week, I decided to go for a quick ride. Question: have you ever tried to saddle and bridle a horse with foot-long nails? I looked like Edward Scissorhands trying to buckle his throat strap; my nails kept poking us both. I reached into my pocket for a carrot treat and slit my jeans open with my new daggers; I brushed Nello’s mane lovingly with my fingertips and half his mane fell out on the ground, sliced off by my hand-weapons. I rode on the trail completely secure; should an animal or bird try to attack us, I would simply spear him with my index finger, like an all-powerful giant. Still, I needed to be careful; “I need stitches” is not a sentence you want to say when you are trying to get ready to go to California for the first time!
Next, my spray tan. I have gotten spray tan before, so I kind of knew the drill. Last time, however, I had gone into a spray tan “box,” where I was alone under the pelting brown rain of an automated tanning system; this time I was to be tanned by a human artist with a spray gun. This is an awkward experience, to say the least; I was poised in what the tanning world terms the “crouching lion” pose, in my underwear, making small talk (“So, how ‘bout the weather? Crazy cloudy; right?”) while my artist angled her gun here and there to uniformly fakely tan me. I looked in the mirror while getting dressed. Looking good, gal! “You will develop a little more throughout the day,” my artist yelled through the door. What? I could not go out to California looking like an oompah-loompah.
By the time I got home, no one could touch me – I could “smear” easily – and I couldn’t touch myself without drawing blood. “I hope this trip is worth all this,” I said to Fred, trying to make a sandwich using just the sides of my fingers. My 15 year old walked in. “You are zebra-striping on your legs,” he observed mildly, and I subsequently panicked, backing out of the room towards the bathroom to somehow fix my legs using my elbows, my claws fully extended.
So, after all of this, how was Palm Springs, you ask? It was absolutely beautiful. We soaked up a little sun, ate well, did not die in an earthquake and visited a zoo called The Living Desert, which I loved. Note: the animals all lined up and bowed down like I was Mufasah when they saw my nails.
It is always nice to come home, though – particularly when the trip is long, and a flight attendant scowls at you for prying off your acrylic nails in-flight. I hope to go back someday soon – next time, though, with pale skin and my normal-length nails!
Deirdre Reilly has written one humor book, and authored a syndicated family life column for Gatehouse Media for 13 years. She has won a Massachusetts Press Award for humor, her op-eds have been published in the Boston Herald and The Hartford Courant, and she has had short fiction published in literary journals. Deirdre was raised in Columbia, Md., and now lives outside Boston, Ma. She enjoys outdoor pursuits, and is obsessed with the care and happiness of a retired carriage horse named Nello that she bought for a few hundred dollars on a menopausal whim.