Thursday, March 17, 2011

My breakfast with Jean

There is something electric and seductive about warm desert air. It's relaxing in a way no other air can be. And it makes me wonder why my diasporic ancestral tribesman left the oasis on the Mediterranean for the grim, often-bloody and always-brutal winters of Grozno, Poland.

Years ago, my wife and I renewed our love affair of triple digit temperatures and single digit humidity. We started making weekend trips to La Quinta Resort located in, of all places, La Quinta, about 20 miles east of Palm Springs.

We don't go there anymore as my uncle has a lovely house right in the heart of Palm Springs. Not only are the accommodations a lot cheaper than La Quinta, we have his entire pool to ourselves and we don't have to endure other people's bratty children, or their boomboxes or their noxious Axe body spray. Plus it gives my uncle an opportunity to show us all the latest gay-themed restaurants in the Coachella Valley.

He once took us to a diner where a poster in the window read: Welcome to Ray's, where every burger is a fistful of meat. If I'm lying, I'm dieing.

But back to La Quinta and one of my favorite ad stories.

My wife suggested I play golf one early Sunday morning before the course reached baking levels. So I hightailed it over to one of the four PGA courses available at La Quinta. The starter put me on The Dunes course, the easiest of the four, and had me tee off with three complete strangers. There was a 60 year old dentist and his 29-year old son from Des Moines. And an older, grey haired gentlemen who seemed to be playing as a single. The starter paired me up with him.

The first two holes were kind of uneventful. A Bogey and a double Bogey for me. Same or slightly better for my partner. Enough to clear the early morning jitters. By the third hole, we started to engage in a little golfing small talk. Again, this is completely by the book golf etiquette.

Me: So, what do you do?

Him: I'm in business. In Paris.

(I picked up on the French accent immediately)

Me: Oh, what kind of business?

Him: Advertising.

Me: Get outtahere. (not sure if that translated well) Me too.

Him: Is that right? What do you do?

Me: I'm a Creative Director at an ad agency in Los Angeles.

Him: Oh yeah, what agency?

Me: TBWA Chiat/Day.

Him: Ok, well that's very strange, because I work for TBWA Chiat/Day in Paris.

Me: No way. What do you do there?

Him: I'm the CEO.

And then it dawned on me that I had been paired up with Jean Marie Dru, the highest ranking officer in the entire TBWA worldwide network. Now I suck at golf on a good day. But playing with my boss's boss's boss sent my normally sucky game into a shankathon.

On the next tee-box, I snap hooked a drive into a condo about two hundreds yards east of the fairway. I'm pretty sure we all heard glass breaking. By the ninth hole turnaround I had to run into the pro shop to buy a few boxes of balls to replace the ones I had lost and a new shirt to  replace the one I had sweated thru.

It was not pretty. But it was fun. Jean Marie turned out to be a very good sport. He bought lunch for our foursome and chuckled as he tallied up his equally disastrous score which matched the high temperature of the day: 113.

Death, it turns out, is not the only great equalizer between the haves and the have-nots.
There is also golf.

No comments: