Monday, March 24, 2014


From the highway, all you could see of the beach house was a high white wall and an electrified wire gate.  Melora pressed a buzzer and it swung open.  We were in a courtyard with stone angels and tubbed geraniums.  The front door opened straight onto a big white airy room with more windows than walls, and the sound of the ocean hitting the rocks below.  At one end there was a bar with a striped awning and a sign above it saying CHEZ SWAN.  The floor around it had been made to look like a sidewalk, with small round tables and chairs instead of bar stools.

“That’s pretty cute,” I said.  “Like you’re in Paris.”

“Cannes, honey.”

I followed her out to the sun deck.  It was like being on a pier, there was no beach, only rocks and pilings underneath.  A butler appeared, very formal in white tie and tails, which I thought weird, and asked Melora if she’d care for a drink before lunch.  She ordered a dry vermouth and I said I’d like to try one too.
“Make Miss Clover’s long, with soda,” Melora said.

I sat down on a canvas swing seat and faced the ocean.  The ocean!  It was really a long while since I’d seen it, and right now I felt very glad we were together again.  The wind made whitecaps on it, the water looked bright and glossy.  I closed my eyes for a moment, just to listen more closely to the marvelous thud of the waves.  When I opened them, Melora was putting on dark glasses.

My mind began to wander.  I thought how strange it was that a few miles down the coast, at this very moment, someone must be looking out at a quite different ocean, gray and sour, from a trailer in Playa del Rey.  I thought of old men playing chess on the boardwalk near Santa Monica pier, and the smell of seaweed and fish.  And I remembered a whole afternoon I spent, staring out the window from behind that bead curtain in the old Spanish dump, waiting for Mr. Swan to call until the moon came up.

Gavin Lambert, Inside Daisy Clover, New York, Viking Press, 1963.

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