Laguna Beach. Another perfect day in Paradise, but oh no, what about an entrance? Truth be told, I’m more an expert about exits. “Here’s the door. Get lost, buddy.” I’ve always thought the “buddy” at the end was hopeful even though I was being shown the door. I’ve seen the backside of many doors in my youth. Correction. I’ve seen a few more in middle age, too. I’m not proud of these moments, but my therapist, Dr. Arnie Paypal, encourages me to take negatives and turn them into positives. “Become an interior designer. You know doors. Times up. That will be $300.”
Laguna Beach’s City Council has agreed to put in a village entrance. The cost is $42 million dollars. I have to tell you, that price tag seems pricey compared to the doors I’ve sailed through. It’s hard to believe an entrance could possibly cost that much. Perhaps I’m not the person who should comment, in that I’m more experienced with the backside of an entrance than the front side. Maybe front sides just cost more. How would I know? I’ve never been pitched through an entrance. “Here’s the door. Welcome buddy.”
It seems to me that an entrance makes a statement. “You are now entering the hallowed grounds of the extreme, most magnificent vacation that has ever been thought of and will be realized by you during your most wonderful stay.” It definitely sets the tone. But can we cough up the funds to pay for this promise, without setting the entrance too high and setting ourselves up for vacationers who demand a refund because it was not the most wonderful stay. It may not be our fault. Maybe their families are difficult and there’s no place on earth that could make them happy. Should we be civically accountable for Dennis the Menace or Bart Simpsons’ family vacations? One thing is for sure. There’s a lawyer out there that will say that the entrance did not live up to it’s billing. We have to be careful here. he entrance has to be welcoming, but not over welcoming. Perhaps an entrance that more than 50% of the tourists do not see will protect us from future lawsuits. I would encourage the City Council to okay an entrance design that does not draw too much attention.
The entrance should proclaim Laguna Beach as the “second happiest place on earth.” The first happiest place on earth will continue to be Disneyland. Coming in a distant second will protect us from a myriad of unhappy tourists who will demand a refund based on not being made the happiest people on earth. This situation will continue to be Disneyland’s problem and not ours.
Remember a good offense begins with a good defense. Set the entrance high. But do not set it too high. It will serve us well that the entrance measures up to the promise. Dr. Paypal is right. I have the balance to be a great interior designer. Call me. I’m available.
Mark is a transplant to Laguna from Chicago. He occasionally writes the guest column “Pet Peeves.” His recently deceased Border Collie, Pokey, is his muse and ghostwriter.