A Stumbling Otis Original
We were young, poor and had done our very best to pay for our own wedding, so the gift was perfect. The gift was a honeymoon.
It came wrapped in a Hallmark envelop from my bride’s father and step-mom. The card said, “This coupon good for three nights on the water in Laguna Beach”. Fucking beautiful, we were tapped out so until then our honeymoon looked like box wine and filthy, bedroom sex. “Filthy, bedroom sex” being a classic double entendre: as our bedroom is typically filthy, and this being our honeymoon….well. Figure it out.
We had survived a week of last minute planning, out-of-town visitors, a drug-addled bachelor party (ok that was just me), an intimate “family” only wedding under a tree at dusk in the red rock desert, our reception the following night complete with food, dancing and gratuitous drinking. By the morning following the soiree we were exhausted, half-sick and in desperate need of a break. We said a few good-byes, napped awhile then we headed south on I-15 out of Vegas in the late afternoon.
Hours later, deep into the megalopolis of LA proper when consulted the computer printout of our reservation confirmation, our step mother-in-law had located the beachfront hotel and booked their best suite ALL online. The address was a five digit number on Pacific Coast Highway, nothing seemed mysterious about it.
It was dark by the time we rolled through a quiet, weekday evening in downtown Laguna. A feast of trendy galleries, posh boutiques and glamorous eateries planted seeds of promise in our young lovers’ hearts as we rolled past. We drifted quietly down PCH enjoying the salt smell of the sea while monitoring the numerical advance of block after long, sporadic block. As the numbers climbed we got closer to our hotel. Finally we past the intersection which meant the next block promised our destination. We were on the outskirts of the primary commercial district so the buildings were mostly dark, forced by the steep command of the slope to only be on the sea side of the roadway. Small avenues shot off perpendicular, dead-ending at the seawall. Our windows down, we could smell the kelp dying on the beach. It was exciting and new like we were the characters in a romance novel, our honeymoon bed achingly close.
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I clicked off the addresses as we idled past 58001, 58003, 58005….. 58017 Pacific Coast Highway should be….right……heeeerrrreeee……….. 58025, 58027, 58029—intersection? The 59000’s? U-turn. Back down the other side of the street, 58029, 58027, 58025—right there, it should be right there….58005, 58003. It CAN’T be anywhere else, universal laws of mathematics demand it. U-turn. Up the road, u-turn, down the road, it was maddening.
There was no pink glimmer of neon “VACANCY” in a window, no warm glow of a quaint, up lit, hand carved bed and breakfast sign. The only things noticeable at all were the numerous rainbow flags languishing in the warm summer night. On the corner of an avenuette were plate glass windows garishly painted to say ’BOOM BOOM ROOM’ open Wednesday through Sunday, Happy Hour 6-10. A small placard diplomatically invited “Straight Friendly”. It was a gay bar, not our hotel.
WTF!! I was travel and party tired, frustrated and looking to get my new bride into our honeymoon boudoir. We had parked and were walking the sidewalk now. Im not so cliché a male as to not ask for directions, but the sidewalk was empty. It was Tuesday evening so the Boom Boom Room was closed. I was at an impasse.
Between the nearby crashes of surf hitting sand snatches of conversation could be heard from an open door across the avenue. A microscopic shop was housed in what looked to be a tool shed or toll booth boldly adorned in more rainbow flags. A piece of plywood had been cut, hand painted in rounded cartoony letters then screwed onto the outside wall with wood screws; it said “Gay Mart- Books and Supplies”. No bullshit, I couldn’t make this up.
I strolled across the street and peeked inside. Two young men sat sipping wine and talking by candle light.
“Sorry, were closed.” One said politely. They batted eyes and smiled coyly.
“Just need some directions guys, sorry to bother you.” I replied.
“Oh, you don’t seem to be a bother at all. Glass of wine?” sweetly asked the nearest in white cashmere and penny loafers.
“Thanks anyway Tiger.” I winked. “Can you guys tell me where the Ocean Front Inn is? I can’t find the address; it should be right across the street?”
“Oh, it is. See those stairs,” the other, a portly chap in short cutoffs and a silk Hawaiian shirt said as he brushed by me. He pointed to an unmarked set of stairs behind the main highway and directly attached to the rear of the gay bar.
“The hotel is up those stairs! You DO have to know it, to FIND it, dontcha!” he was hanging in the doorway like a turn of the century Parisian hooker, head tilted back talking to me over his shoulder.
“You are SO bad, Jonathan.” mock scolded the sweater guy, “Let that boy go!”
“Hey I appreciate it fellas, take it easy on each other, “I said as I headed back across the street laughing to myself. Unbelievable.
“Dear,” I said, arriving back at the car where she leaned, waiting. “We are staying at a Gay Hotel. Grab your stuff, its right around the corner.
“You’re shitting me!” she said laughing, “That’s just great, Im going to have my husband stolen away by some runaway homo named Lance before the honeymoon is even over. You better not get all GAY, I’ll kill you.” My bride has never been the subtle, demure type.
We grabbed our bags, and then proceeded to climb the narrow stairs. The stairs opened to a small but very nice open air, terra cotta courtyard with planters and iron patio furniture. It was classy and immaculately kept, French doors on one side; more stairs toward the ocean on the other. The small “Visa/MasterCard” sticker on the window made the guess easy. Through the French doors into the office we went.
A small bell rattled, seconds later, after some rustling the sweetest little man appeared. He was the perfect incarnation of the Fairy Godmother from the Cinderella Disney cartoon. Kind and jovial and rounded, minus the gray beard he just emanated fairy godmother.
“Hi, were…………..” I couldn’t finish.
“YOU’RE FINALLY HERE”!!!! With that we were washed away on a pink flamingo tidal wave, a Cher soundtrack montage of hugs and kisses and questions. My bribe got a flower bouquet and the brunt of the attention, an after thought bottle of wine for me.
“You’re so beautiful,” it was a machine gun interview. It was like a Bravo channel hurricane. “How was the wedding? Do you have the dress? Can I see it Sugar? How did you wear your hair? OH MY GOD!! You’re just so beautiful!” Throughout the barrage of hugs and kisses and top to toe longing gazes he continued, “What kind of shoes? Did you throw the corsage? How as the cake? Did you eat the cake? Darling, you’re so skinny; I bet you don’t eat a thing! WOW! Isn’t he a handsome one and so taaalllll,ummm umm girlfriend, didn’t you just find a keeper!! Well he’ll be the bell of the ball around here Sugar, but don’t you worry, don’t be mad Honey!! He just screams straight. You might as well put it neon sign over that pretty head!”
“He does?” was all my bride managed to squeeze in. I had become a mere ornament.
“OH MY GOD!! You two are just like Barbie and Ken; you’re like that little couple on top of the cake just jumped down and came to LIFE!!! TEEERRRYYYY, they are here, and sooo precious. Get out here Terry!”
Terry was a small, bespectacled man that radiated “professor” with as much certainty as his mate did magic wands and singing mice. He had a soft strength and intelligent patience, he spoke like a dignitary and offered little more than a firm, confident handshake to me and a Fifth Avenue faux two cheek peck to my bride.
“As you can tell, William has been beside himself with excitement all day,” said Terry. “Im sure you can guess that we don’t get many honeymooner’s here at the Ocean Front. It is a treat for us and we hope you have a wonderful time! William release that poor child and let them get settled.” He handed me a key, gestured gracefully toward the stairs across the courtyard and advised I stay to the left. As we exited William was tucked tightly under Terry’s loving arm and both waved. They were the picture of two happy grandparents basking in the pride of their lineage.
Every room of the Ocean Front had a beach view. It was a tidy, well groomed structure retro-fit onto the rear of the original construction. Three tiers of rooms, stair-stacked on each other, it clung to the back side of main building desperately comfortable like a baby koala high in the eucalyptus. Each of the three floors sat slight back from the next so the higher floors could see into the balconies below. Large rainbow flags trumpeted from each of the main corners.
Our room was magnificent.
If the hotel part of the building was a 70’s brainchild of architecture and commercial opportunity, then our room was a fairy godmother’s long-awaited, gumdrop dream come true. The room was more like a little casita perched on the hotel addition like a jewel on a crown, clearly of recent fabrication. Where the lattice work of stairs and walk-ways lead down to reach the rest of the hotel’s rooms ours lead up. Inside was a spartan kitchenette, small sitting area, big screen tv, standard bathroom , a king size bed and massive windows, nearly floor to ceiling stretching the entire width of the sea side wall. The Pacific seemed to lap at the very edge of the balcony. Everything was soft, clean and new.
“Holy Shit!” we each stammered.
Exhausted we tossed our bags and collapsed. My bride flopped on the bed; I plopped into a wicker chair and kicked a foot up on the railing of the terrace. The saline wind and rhythmic surf lulled me into a half sleep. Not sure how much time passed but a polite knock roused us both.
“They’re already here for you, Babe. Go! Go then and be free with your gays!” mocked my bride, not one to ever miss a chance to insinuate my repressed love of cock.
I opened the door to a beaming William and slightly embarrassed Terry. Between was a service cart laden in culinary luxuries. William understood the open door to be an applied invitation, pushing the cart past me and into the room.
“Are you decent Sugar??” he yelled rhetorically. “Sorry, there is simply no stopping him once he gets something in his head.” stated Terry remaining at the threshold.
William rolled the cart parallel to the expansive windows, positioned two chairs at either side then snap-turned with a butler’s tight and proper efficiency and removed the sterling plate covers and rolled back the lid of a chaffing dish. With silken fluidity he popped a champagne bottle, and began pouring flutes.
The setting was amazing! Fresh cut roses, two New York steaks as thick as my fist, two scarlet Maine lobsters still steaming from the pot, fresh tossed greens, roasted asparagus, new potatoes, strawberries dipped in chocolate, matching cheese cake slices that seems to have fallen off a magazine cover; it was like a hollywood interpretation of the perfect romantic meal. Our jaws dropped.
“I don’t know what to say…… we, I …. Ahhh”, I stuttered.
“Oh, Sweetie, thank you and don’t worry. It’s our wedding present to you.” he gestured toward a small white card, hand-written in lovely calligraphy.
Terry & William
“I just don’t think you quite understand what beautiful, little celebrities you’ve become. You two have created quite the divine stir; honeymooning here at this fierce and flamboyant chalet of all that is queer in Laguna Beach, California and darlings don’t you know there is A LOT of queer in this old town!”
“Look here,” he continued, “This wine is from Room 126, there is a card from #211, and our friends Patrick and Thomas are just dying to meet you. You two are the biggest thing to hit this town since the Sir Elton concert last spring. Better get used to it.”
And so it was….. We were the official dollhouse attraction for every queen south of Newport. It was just about the most annoying thing I’ve ever experienced.
I couldn’t sit out side on the patio without catcalls and lurid remarks from the hands-in-the-air, techno dance parties below. We had to walk a few hundred yards down the beach, in front of a standard resort to relax everyday because the Speedo and moustache brigade couldn’t manage to apply sunscreen without obvious erections and gratuitous touching of themselves.
William and Terry proved to be wonderful and respectful. We would often share and evening drink with them in the little courtyard before heading out to our own dinner and adventures away from the Fruitville fiesta.
On the last night of our stay, coming home from dancing excessively drunk we decided on a nightcap at the Boom Boom Room where we got a round of fairy slap applause.