Have you ever found yourself somewhere that wasn’t as it seemed, where everyone else was – well, everyone else wasn’t there? Did you wonder if something perhaps had gone really terrifically wrong, like say every media outlet on earth was blasting some news about the Russians having launched all the missiles, and the only place to be was hidden as deep below the surface of the earth as you could possibly go? Except, you were listening to the Doors on your iPod, so you missed it completely?
Yesterday was a day like that. Duston, her mother, and I drove up to Palm Beach to do some research for a pitch that I’m working on. We needed to find Luxury with a capital L, an orgiastic concentration of this mystical shit. Where better than Palm Beach? But even driving in, there was a deep disquiet in the air, a heaviness almost pestilential. The very cars seemed unsure, lost in torpid reverie as they tentatively nosed around corners. Bentleys, Rolls Royces somehow neutered, like sharks that awoke that morning and discovered that they were vegans and didn’t know what to do.
We got out. We walked. A big blingy Christmas tree, as Gstaad as can be, stood in the middle of an intersection, trying to shove the palm trees out of the way. It had a soundtrack, some Tony Bennetish velveeta music, oozing into the windy tropical air. A playboy and a slattern (there is no other word) walked by, the closest thing to glamour we would see all day. And in front of every store, men in expensive black turtlenecks, not the security guys, you see, but the owners of the stores. Standing staring with an expression of bottomless shock at what they were seeing, what was happening to them. It was as if the perpetually astonished looks of the nipped & tucked “blondes” on the street had been tatooed onto these men’s faces. Now they too were astonished, masks of bewilderment and fear.
And inside the stores, some of the most precious goods on the planet. Silks, damasks, the finest cashmeres. Sapphires and rubies and diamonds – look, that ring in the window belonged to Ginger Rogers! Leather jackets so soft, so supple that they felt like they coexisted not only in our world, but in some of the other dimensions that the physicists tell us about.
But there was no-one there. We walked past store after store after store after store and there was no-one inside. A security guard, perhaps. A cashier. Small golden lapdogs lay in the doorways of a few of them. It was like being in a museum of “luxury” after closing time.
But it was anything but closing time. It was three o’ goddamn o’clock in the afternoon on the 23rd of December, two shopping days left until Christmas. In the high season. In Palm Beach, Florida. Where people are so rich they shit money, where none of what’s happening to the rest of the world is supposed to be happening to them.