March 29 – April 2, 2006 marked the 16th annual Dinah Shore golf tournament in Palm Springs. Technically it’s not the Dinah Shore any more. It’s now called the Nestle Lipton Tournament. But to many it is still the Dinah Shore Weekend – one of the largest gatherings of the lesbian community in the world.
This year I made my maiden voyage, so to speak; and for me the Dinah Shore Weekend was more than a Sapphic scenario. It was also one of the more fascinating spots for people watching I’ve experienced in quite some time.
For those who haven’t been, Palm Springs is a beautiful place. Abutting a rocky range, nestled right up to the base, the town exists in an odd plane where myriad habitats – each with its unique life forms – converge.
There is the desert – arid, unforgiving and stern.
There are the mountains – craggy and powerful.
And into this mix is thrown civilization, scraped onto the surface, wherever it can stick.
The fauna complementing the flora are equally at odds; and it’s particularly interesting when the edges from these separate circles of life overlap. Most of the time they coexist. There’s balance.
But sometimes rather than gently overlapping, the disparate creatures from different ecosystems smack up against each other.
And so it is in this desert town that I witnessed just such a collision.
The setting: The lobby bar of the Wyndham Hotel in Palm Springs, 3:00pm, March 31, 2006.
As I mentioned, this weekend I chose to make the desert trek to Palm Springs was the annual Dinah Shore Weekend. Several thousand lesbians from all parts of the country (and some from overseas) gather for pool parties, film festivals, concerts and comedy shows. On this particular day the weather was a bit overcast, so I was looking for a cozy spot inside to curl up with a magazine and a view of the goings-on by the pool. I sidled up to the bar to pick up a beverage, and overheard a guy talking to his buddy on the phone.
“Dude! Man you have GOT to get down here. There’s this GIRL party and – DUDE you HAVE to get down here.”
At that moment I turned, he glanced my way, and our eyes met. I took the opportunity to point out to him that he was drooling.
I wanted to point out to him that he could gawk all he liked, but no one was interested. (Well, that’s probably not entirely accurate since there were likely some bi-sexual gals around, but this particular weekend they were more apt to be fishing from the other side of the boat.)
My next instinct was to slap his face; and then pull the barstool out from under him, kick him – probably several times – and tell him to take his scum-sucking-lowlife-lecherous friends and get the fuck out.
Thankfully the angry wave passed quickly and shifted towards a pure curiosity.
“Why are YOU here this weekend?” I wanted to ask. “Do you know what’s happening here, or was it dumb luck?”
Others do, after all, come to this town on this particular weekend. What activity or plan had drawn him to this town on this day? Perhaps through this conversation I could learn a bit more about the male psyche.
That’s when he snorted into the phone again: “No! Dude! Some of them are f—kin’ HOT, and we’re the ONLY guys!”
Sometimes wild animals are fine when suddenly and unexpectedly thrust into something that’s not their natural habitat. Others may withdraw and try to blend in. And then there are others that will always pick a fight.
When you encounter the last type, it’s best to turn quietly and walk away.
So I did.