California Dreaming

View from the backyard

Rich and Tara pick us up around 7pm Friday night. We stop at In-N-Out Burger on the way: my first since we’ve been out here. Mike and I obviously made a point to go on our trip last year and loved it. Now we know there’s a “secret” menu that they don’t display, so we all get a cheeseburger, animal style. Silence as we eat, except for the occasional, “This is so good.” Mike is intent on updating his FB status to something good and keeps asking us our opinion. We laugh with/at him, as usual. We don’t care what your status says. “Yea, I know, no one does. No one ever comments on or likes my status.” Tara tells him she’ll like his status. He finally goes with this: “Food trucks for lunch, In-N-Out for dinner…Lemon up in LA…heading to Palm Springs for the weekend.” No one comments, and one person likes it.

It takes probably three or so hours to get down because of the traffic, so it’s dark when we enter their complex. I mostly just take notice of the house – very retro 70’s shabby chic. It’s awesome; slightly reminiscent of Graceland. I’m surprised it’s been kept like this for so long: wall-to-wall carpets – even in the bathroom – mirrors that take up whole walls, crazy wallpaper, and all 70’s style furniture. It’s so cool.

Tara brought down a bottle of Ketel One from George. You know, Clooney. Yea, so he walked into the office one day and told the staff they could help themselves to his stash – all leftover from Christmas, I guess. He’s probably on a diet for his next movie and can’t drink or something. Tara told me about it the other day on gchat. There was a lot of good stuff in the basket he left on the table. I start laughing when she tells me. I just picture you all diving for the basket when he left the room. “That’s pretty much how it went down.” That’s great. Tara is making us some drinks when Mike tastes it and says something to make Tara start cracking up. “Did you just call me Aunt Tara?” He did not, but Mike did reference how Tara got him drunk on New Years’ Eve making him take shots. It becomes an ongoing joke to call her Aunt Tara whenever drinks are involved.

We head out to the garage to play ping pong. I feel like this is all the three of them talked about on the way down. They’re all really serious about ping pong and I know they’re going to kick my butt. Tara ends up running the table and beats me by a lot. Yea, well, I’ll see you on the hockey field. That’s all I can come up with.

Saturday afternoon we lay poolside, cocktails in hand. Finally, I can work on my tan. After quick showers we head to The Parker, where Rich and Tara are getting married. They have their wedding tasting today, and invited us along. I tell Tara I feel like we’re intruding. Isn’t that something just the two of you should do? “None of our parents are coming and we have four tickets. We want you to come, it’ll be fun!” OK, twist my arm. Tara gives us a quick tour of the place. It’s gorgeous. We pass a ping pong table by the pool and Rich and Mike can’t help themselves. They play while Tara and I walk around a bit more. By 3:30 we’ve all worked up our appetites and can’t wait to taste everything.

That's a lot of silverware for one person

We meet Keisha in front of the dining room and another lady – forget her name. Keisha is running the show and she’s a big, black, super friendly woman with a hearty laugh. I’m a little nervous that this is going to be a formal thing but she immediately makes us all feel very relaxed. We sit down at the table with lots of forks and knives on either side of our plates; more importantly lots of wine glasses. A man comes out to fill up our water glasses, then our champagne glass. Let the fun begin.

We go through three types of white wines and three types of reds. Rich and Tara can only pick one of each. They don’t know what to pick. I’ll take it from here guys. I pretend to be the wine connoisseur. I get really excited when they pick the chardonnay. Yes! I know what I’ll be drinking at the wedding! While the whites are tasted, so are the hors d’ouevres. It’s incredible. They come out in waves; each of us getting to taste one off the plate. They’re all a perfect size, too, able to eat in one bite. One is a goat cheese tart on a parmesan crisp – I’m a sucker for goat cheese. It’s creamy and delicious and melts in my mouth. Then come the appetizer courses for dinner: mushroom or butternut squash soup, or a salad. The mushroom soup is probably the best mushroom soup I’ve ever had, but the butternut is one of the best things I’ve ever tasted, like, in life. It’s retardedly delicious. I try not to eat the whole thing and fail. Tara is leaning towards the salad, only because she thinks it should be a lighter course, but Keisha and the other girl convince her that butternut squash soup is very light. Her and Rich go for it. Score. I will be eating this again.

At The Parker

As the entrees come out, I start to realize just how amazing this whole thing is. It’s so exciting when every course comes out. I feel like I’m on Top Chef. Every time I watch any of those cooking shows I always wish I could taste the food; today I am. I announce my excitement to the group. I think this might be the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Keisha gets a big kick out of this. She laughs at a lot of things I say, so obviously I like her even more. But it’s true, this whole experience is amazing. One of the entrees is a steak and I really am not a fan of steak. I taste it, and the flavors are perfect. I try not to eat the whole thing, but can’t. It’s so good. There’s a chicken course and a fish course, and the steak is my favorite. I can’t believe it. Finally, the cake. By now, we’re so full and ready to burst, we have to force it down. It’s cool how they bring it out: there are three different cake flavors, three different fillings, and two frostings. They’re all separate, so you can basically build your own cake in your mouth.

Tara showing off her dance moves

When it’s all over, they ask Rich and Tara if they want to bring the rest of the cake and frostings home. I see all the opened bottles of wine on the table. How about the wine? Only laughter from Keisha. We say our goodbyes and pile into the car a bit more than tipsy. Rich, the ever responsible one, is mostly sober. Back at the house Tara starts a dance party. If you play music on your phone it plays through the speakers in the house. Another awesome thing about Palm Springs. We stay up and watch American Psycho, then pass out around midnight.

Sunday morning we go out for breakfast before heading to the tennis courts – another sport that Tara is really good at. Dammit. She gives me a quick lesson. I need a lot of work – but it’s really fun and I hope we can start to play more. Mike likes it, too, but is dying by the end. We go back to the pool to lay out. Rich and Mike don’t last long, heading over to the pond to fish. Mike’s never gone fishing before, and Rich promises that he’ll definitely catch something here: everyone always does. So Mike catches his first fish. Only little guys in there, but still, exciting.

It's a big one!

We finally shower and pack up to leave. Goodbye Palm Springs, we’ll miss you. It was great while it lasted. I don’t know how soon I’ll be back, but I’ll definitely see you Memorial Day Weekend for Rich and Tara’s big day.

*The Beach Boys

One thought on “California Dreaming

  1. I love the pic of you, mike, tara and rich (the blondes and brunettes). It’s so great to have a fun couple to hang out with. I haven’t seen you guys in a while and miss seeing you. Love seeing your pictures though. You all look so happy, which makes me HAPPY! Love you.

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