Recently I was the unlikely guest of Rob Peetoom at the gala opening of his new Seminyak salon, along with festivities afterward at the Metis restaurant. I say unlikely because there is nothing I can lay claim to that would recommend my presence at such an auspicious event. On the other hand, my wife is an important person -- just ask her -- and it was she who received the invitation, along with the offer to bring a guest. Given that two of her friends backed out at the last minute, she dressed me up as a guest and took me instead.
Upon arrival we found ourselves instantly swimming in a soup of rapidly wilting expatriates highlighted with a peppering of stunningly beautiful Indonesian women. Designer dresses were the theme of the night, all carefully engineered to be much too stifling for this hot and humid Seminyak night. For some reason everyone was being held outside a single gate, which intermittently peeked open to receive two and three of our enormous company at a time, while the rest, either unlucky or unimportant, pushed forward, gasping and sweating, clawing the unfair, dispassionate air.
I remember someone mentioning once that there are 70,000 expatriates on the island of Bali. I know it now for a fact, for they were all on the sidewalk outside Rob Peetoom‘s salon.
The gate opened again -- just a tad, mind you -- and the ravishing young Italian woman standing next to me (partly on me, actually), resplendent in airy white chenille, stiletto heels and carefully conspicuous jewellery, shoved me deftly against the wall with an unusually powerful left arm and thus made her entry to inner court, along with three friends linked together like sausages fried nearly to perfection.
Eventually all 70,000 of us made it inside. There we commenced to matriculate, shoulder to shoulder, pelvis to rear, and to breast up to the bar where free champagne was being served. People were hot, a bit wet and stringy, and so they gulped the first glass and asked for more. While I waited for seconds, a man stepped up behind me and put his hand on my shoulder. Then the hand slipped up to my neck. He said nothing, but just smiled, fingers gently kneading my neck. I decided I wasn’t very thirsty after all.
Why do people always think I’m gay? My second wife said it was because I walk like a giraffe. But what is it about a giraffe, or the way that he walks, that’s gay? And if giraffe’s are all so gay, how do they procreate and make more?
Paris Hilton was to be present at the party afterward. Everyone knew it, and the name was on every tongue, whispered in steady repeated cadence ---- Paris Hilton, Paris Hilton, Paris Hilton. Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Bettlejuice.
Honestly, I don‘t know who Paris Hilton is. I mean, I know the name and the fortune that goes with the name; but who is she otherwise? What has she done? Why is she so famous? Has she ever had her picture on a bubblegum card?
The Rob Peetoom salon is a fine salon. I was able to see it inch by inch, in the finest detail, as we shuffled painstakingly through the premises. At the back of the place we found a patio and some breathing room. People had matriculated back this way in order to light up cigarettes, and my wife and I did the same. Limpid pools shimmering in hues of indigo and magenta breathed contented sighs between polished Dutch colonial pillars in an effortless blend of nature and architecture, gazing onto the rich green tapestry of the abutting rice field. But where was the ashtray? This, rather than Paris Hilton, became the whispered subject of the moment. Ultimately, most people reckoned that that was what the rice field was for.
We headed early to the party at the Metis in order to avoid another frustrating winking gate scenario. And in fact Paris Hilton did show up. How she made her entry -- whether it was through a tunnel, a secret door, or down the chimney -- I do not know.
“Get a picture, get a picture!” my wife urged excitedly.
Raising the camera above several shoulders and heads, I snapped a photo.
“Got it!” I said, handing the camera to my wife.
She stared at the screen, frowning.
“That’s not Paris Hilton.”
“Oh?” Who is it then?”
“I don’t know! It’s nobody.”
It seems I may as well have taken a picture of myself. I tried again, but this time came up with a pair of large breasts. No head, no body; just the breasts.
“Never mind,” my wife decided, waving a hand in dismissal. She had lost interest. She might have enjoyed sitting down for a private chat, but if Paris wasn’t receiving private guests, my wife wasn’t receiving Paris.
Two women I had been more or less noticing all evening now caught my eye again as they floated our way in a cloud of admirers lit lightning-like with camera flashes, making the group as a whole seem like a little self-contained storm front. Both of the women were Indonesian, and apparently quite beautiful. One wore a red dress, the other was in green, and both dresses displayed dark sweat marks in all the wrong places. They looked like movie stars to me. Indonesian soap opera movie stars. I couldn’t help wondering if they had made a few internet movies on the side (having read that that sort of thing was going around).
As a general rule, the closer people approach, the better you can see them; but this was not the case with the two movies stars. Rather, the closer they approached, the hazier they became, a disorienting effect of facial makeup which seemed to have been applied with a putty knife. Shadows and highlights became blotches and smears. Who were they really, I wondered, beneath the meticulous disguise? They could have been Lindsey Lohan and Kim Kardashian for all I knew. Given the heat and general drippiness in the atmosphere, I figured I could find out if I waited around long enough for the makeup to kind of slough down to chin and dress front, but my wife had other plans, and escorted me to the dance floor.
The evening gently deteriorated to dancing and mingling amidst a unanimous effusion of auxiliary sweat, and at last we all headed out to our far flung homes -- and Paris to the far flung corners of the earth.