Musing on the Coast


The Hot Blonde: Back by Popular Demand


By Michael Ray

Yeah, Petra waltzed in again to the Lumberyard, looking her usual smashing self: tight leather pants, 4-inch Christian Louboutin do-me pumps with red bottoms, a fur jacket she soon shed and a red sweater so thin you could almost see through it.

And yup, she ordered her usual martini from the gorgeous barkeep Jean, leaned into me, then said, “I know you don’t think I’m real, but I am. Look into my eyes.” They were cobalt blue, intense. “You can’t have eyes like this if you’re fake.”

She was slurring her words as though she’d been making her way from bar to bar and this was probably just another stop. “Are you drunk already?” I asked.

“Sort of. The election’s over, finally, thank God, and I’m wandering around the town asking people what they think.”

“Well…?” I paused, waiting for her response.

“They’re frigging glad it’s over, but you know what? They kind of want more. It got them talking, pissed at one another, but invigorated. They’re involved now and don’t wanna stop.”

I have long white hair and Petra bent toward me to brush it back from my forehead. She let her hand linger. I loved it even though it wasn’t real. What is?

It was like she was reading my mind. “Hey dude, Michael, if you can feel my hand, it’s real. So just relax. I’ve got some comments.”

“If you must; go for it.”

“Ok, first observation. As of Monday, Nov. 26, there is a new City Council champion, Peter Blake. The old champion, Toni Iseman, was narrowly behind. I’ll drink to that.   Let’s order another martini. Hey Jean! Uno mas!”

What she meant is that of all the candidates, Peter narrowly was in first place.

Petra pushed me then, “The Queen is dead; long live the King. That’s cool, but let’s amp it up. Peter and Toni should go on the Billy Fried radio show and duke it out. Let’s keep this thing going. It’s great sport.”

“You mean we look upon politics as a sport?”

“Of course. What are you, an idiot? You think people like Trump because he’s a policy wonk? It’s about entertainment. Jesus.”

Petra winked then, twice, long and slow. “And you damn developers think you’re gonna take over this town. Good luck on that. You’ll run into the usual B.S. and sob in gratitude for anything you get approved.”

“Petra, all I own in Laguna is my house and a duplex. I ain’t no Laguna Beach developer.”

“So what? No one cares. It’s not about reality. It’s about perception. You think I’m a ditzy blond with a hot bod with not a real thought in my brain. Cool, I use it. I let you fools think one thing while I do the other. So people think you’re gonna pave over the town. So what? Use it.”

This conversation was veering off course quickly. I had to reel it back in.

“Ok Petra, what else have you heard while wandering from bar to bar?”

“More activist groups are getting started. They see an opportunity to weigh in. I’d bet City Council meetings will be a lot better attended, and more people—and not the usual people—will want to speak. And loudly.”

Petra got to her feet then, more than a bit wobbly from the drinks and her do-me pumps, made it to the restroom and back, and everyone in the bar stared in captivation. Here she was, in an almost see-through sweater, hips swaying, head turning side-to-side inspecting anyone—daring anyone—to say one word.

“I told you I was real. Why is everyone watching if I don’t exist?”

“Ok, what else have you heard?”

“The new City Council will stop the new Village Entrance from being built ‘cause it’s a waste of $11 million and no one likes it. And besides, with $11 million, you can do a lot better things.”

“Like what?”

She reared her head back. “You really are a fool, aren’t you. People want the damn movie theater re-built into something like the Port Theater in CdM. If the owner is letting it sit there and rot, which she is, the city should buy it and let some local developer turn it into the cool/lux experience you all want. And by the way, ditto for Hotel Laguna. Jesus, the owners let it go dark because they’re too greedy. Huh, what? The two iconic buildings defining downtown Laguna are both dark and you think the locals don’t want them re-built? You can’t be that stupid.”

She got up again, wobbled around a bit, threw a couple of twenties onto her check while looking at me with a dare that said, don’t even think about it; I pay for my own.

“Don’t leave yet. What else?”

“You figure it out. It’s obvious. But make it fun. Make it drama. People like drama when change is afoot.”

Then puff, she swayed out and disappeared. Was she real?

Michael Ray grew up in Corona del Mar and lives in Laguna Beach. He is a real estate entrepreneur involved in many nonprofits.

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