I secretly wish the Limousine driver was more attentive to the job in hand than to turning his head. The limo uncoils outside the airport “It’s the best hotel in Tempe” he says “The best”. My flight was nine hours long and I’d just smoked my the first cigarette . It was 2am in my body but 5pm in Phoenix Arizona and I was enjoying an oxygen deficiency high from the smoke. The drivers words shot through my head like a distant steam train. “and it’s one hundred and one degrees”. He had the habit of repeating the end of his sentences “one hundred and one degrees”. Maybe he wasn’t repeating his lines – Maybe my mind was playing tricks on me. Playing tricks. On me!
“Here we are” he says proudly as the liquidite limo slows into the car pool “The Mission Palms”. The sand coloured hotel had something of the Marriot about it. Something’s wrong. He is compelled to list the benefits ” a swimming pool on the roof and….” but somethings wrong. “the whole shebang and…” Somethings wrong. It’s all getting slightly Stephen King. “and the service” Two words come to the back of my mind and get louder as they try to squeeze out his banter. Twin Palms. Twin Palms. “It’s the Twin palms Hotel” I say “The Twin Palms”. Silence. “The twin Palms you say” he says stopping mid flow. He checks a clip board “yes the twin palms”. And I consider the coincidence of Twin palms and the title of the hit American TV series “Twin peaks”
The driver checks his details. I get that sinking feeling. If The Mission Palms is “the best hotel in Tempe” then I will now be traveelling to the NOT “the best hotel in Tempe”. The driver readjusts his mental map out loud ” Oookay. The Twin Palms. Twoo Twooo Five Apache Booolevard”. he is driving and looking down at his clip board giving me the distinct impression that he is DeNiro in the famous you twalkin ta me mirror scene in Taxi.
Funny story about DeNiro. He loves black girls and an ex of mine was in Nobu in New York and he got his people to give her his number. She didn’t call. But he got her number and did.
The journey is silent from thereon in except for a ludicrous conversation about….. “Stones. You call them stones” He shakes his head “Stones. Would you look at that”. For the first time I realise how ridiculous it sounded “yeah I weigh 13 stones”. he shakes his head again. “If you don’t mind my saying sir – that is arcane. Pounds. We weigh in Pounds. Stones” he drops me at the Twin palms and I tip high. Double the expected tip. I always tip over the odds on the first ride because it seems a good and respectful way to say hello to a country. It will notbe the same on my return – never is. “Stones. I dunno. G’bye surrr”
The twin palms is small unnassuming and clean. rather than large impersonal and corporate. Perfect. It looks out over the Gammage Theatre where I will be performing and it’s central enough. There’s free internet access which rarely happens at the big corporate hotels. The corporate affairs learn to extract money out of their customers, like it was the last drop of water in the desert. There’s a swimming Pool out back and a small bar. It’s all good. And their they are The twin palms. Like lovers, like they own the hotel, a family run business.