Isn’t salacious a wonderful word? Just the way it sounds as it slithers across your tongue and through your lips, hissing, steaming as it hits the cool air in front of your face; expanding, glistening with saliva and sinister innuendo. And then, then it beckons the person with whom you’re conversing to lean in closer so that no word that follows will escape their scrutiny, their understanding, their pleasure. Salacious is the word that I thought of when I first started this walk.
This past week I found myself with time to kill in the flats of Beverly Hills, so I took a walk off a busy and well-known thoroughfare and in less than a half block the city, the traffic, the congestion, of course that means automobile congestion, no one actually walks in Beverly Hills–farther than from the curb to the waiting open door of the restaurant, shop, boutique, club, or gallery they’re on their way to, fell away like a flat from a movie set pulled into the fly space above the sound stage and there now were open doors, and deep shade from eucalyptus trees lining the parkway, truly sun-dappled and secretive, and birdsong, and the occasional radio, TV, popular music drifting across my path, a snake charmer’s melody drawing me up the street.
There was much to admire, lovely potted cymbidiums drooping, drugged from a Juliette balcony; their waxy petals little flashes of light on the shady side of the street, beacons for the eye; watch, watch out. This walk was peopled with the shades of humans. Their touch was everywhere–windows open, eyes to the street; potted, tended plants the result of careful attention.
Everything said ‘human’ but none to be found, a pet (Maltese/Shih Tsu?) perched at the edge of open French doors on a second floor tracking my photo-taking, walking, admiring, up one side of the street & down the other, giving me little notice as it licked its nose with that little sucking sound they make while doing so. No barking, though, which made me think that there was no one at home, no need to alert their humans of activity on the street.
And yet, other doors, coolly shut against the street, spotted by shade and sun, this blue color redolent of secrets and crimes and times past. I have always found little stories behind the doors (my imagination set free by the closure/the denial of entrance.) What keys open this door; whose hand turns the knob, stoops to pick up the mail, and softly, gently shuts the door behind them? The lock clicking into place with a little snap of bone against bone.
The dark hollow of an archway encircled with plaster stonework, cool and damp, the carefully barbered shrubs stanchions holding back the world; entry guarded, a bouncer manning the line of hopeful party-goers, “You, and the pretty lady in the black mini-skirt, you’re okay, come in, come in.” Do you not anticipate coming home in much the same way? Your day, the heat all shrouded behind you as the still dark air takes your anxiety down, down, down and you shed your aches and stiffness and muscles relax, you’re home.
Beverly Hills, the apotheosis of all that defines southern California: the blinding sunlight, the fog in the mornings giving way to the blanket of smog during the day, always cloaking the reality, the plastic surgery, the flash and cash and Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Lamborghinis, Priuses (“I’m green!”) I met only one person on my half-hour walk through this neighborhood. A middle-aged woman walking her dog, a slick hunting dog. I said “hello” as we passed each other and she completely ignored me. I am not a bum, I was dressed in a suit and had my camera out. I smiled as she approached. I was all open and friendly. She ignored me, divinely floating past me on a cloud of superiority and condescension. Tant pis (two can play the game.)