Yesterday's Magazette

14 – He Highjacked My Honeymoon

How The Son of Sinbad

Highjacked My Honeymoon

By Terri Elders

Even before The Four Preps dubbed it the Island of Romance, to those of us who grew up in Southern California in the l950s, Santa Catalina was the number one summer honeymoon destination for those who longed for a Pacific island getaway, but could not afford Hawaii.

So when my fiancé, Bob, suggested we spend our wedding night at the historic Villa Riviera Hotel in Long Beach, then fly to Catalina on a Grumman Goose seaplane the next morning, I was overjoyed. Though I’d been preoccupied with plans for the wedding itself, now my attention swerved to the honeymoon.

Avalon! Moonlight excursions to view the flying fish, glass bottom boats to savor coral gardens, the glamorous Avalon crescent with restaurants and nightclubs, and even a movie theater at the old Avalon casino, in case any honeymooner grew bored. Not a likely prospect, I’d told myself. I couldn’t imagine resorting to a movie for entertainment at a seaside resort. Not on one’s honeymoon. How excruciatingly embarrassing to confess to squandering honeymoon nights at the movies!

Bob booked our room at the Hotel MacRae and I perused the travel brochures, planning our itinerary. We’d have time for the inland tour to see the buffalo. Zane Grey’s house. Two Harbors. I envisioned romantic tete-a-tetes each evening at such fabled venues as The Marlin Club or The Chi Chi Room.

I shopped for suitable beach attire. A new bathing suit, sunglasses, a beach robe, shorts, sleeveless tops, capris, tennies. I even found a pair of His and Hers beach towels. I was set!

When we stepped off the Goose, I grinned when a cabbie took my suitcase and offered to taxi us over to the MacRae, though it was only a few yards away. Both Bob and I looked dapper in our new beach duds, and I was pleased that my “going away” corsage, a creamy hued cymbidium orchid, pinned to my black sheath dress, fitted the tropical ambience.

That afternoon we strolled out to the casino. The movie theater occupied the lower level, with its walls sporting art deco murals of King Neptune and his son, Triton. But Bob had no interest in these, since his eyes had caught the poster in the front, which advertised the current selection. “Harems Topple!” it declared, in flaming red letters. “Kingdom’s Fall…Veils Drop!!” It was The Son of Sinbad in Superscope, featuring Dale Robertson, and the stripper-turned-actress Lili St. Cyr.

“This is a MUST SEE,” Bob enthused. “Listen to this: ‘Beauties by the hundreds, thrills by the thousands, in the land where love knows no law.’ Doesn’t that sound great?” His eyes gleamed.

So we skipped the early evening flying fish tour and went to the movies. Though this seemed like a typical dames-and-desert opus to me, I could see that Bob was caught up in the visual appeal of the Vegas showgirls who were filling the screen. Especially the notorious burlesque queen Lili St. Cyr.

Later that night, back in our room at the MacRae, he called me his little harem cutie, and mentioned that he’d heard of harem pajamas. Pity I didn’t have any, he said. I countered by pointing out the many advantages of my baby dolls. He winked, and twirled an imaginary mustachio. “More than veils can drop,” he whispered.

The next afternoon, as we rested after our glass-bottom boat foray, Bob suggested a return trip to the theater. A compliant wife, I agreed. I was determined I wouldn’t be the jealous type.

I admired the domed ceilings, the fire curtain with its mural, The Flight of Fancy Westward. So far as I could determine, Bob admired Lili St. Cyr.

The third night, after we returned from tracing the bison herds in the interior, I put down my beach-sandaled foot. No more Son of Sinbad. No Lili. Enough was enough. I wanted cocktails at the Chi Chi.

That’s when I learned that Bob, to his chagrin, had been a lifelong devotee of desert adventure tales, and just couldn’t resist. “Just one more time,” he pleaded. “Hey, it’s Sin and Bad!”

So I got over my embarrassment and went along. Later he treated me to an Old Fashioned at the Chi Chi and referred to me as his sultry harem queen, eyes twinkling. I determined to indulge his mini-passion for swashbucklers.

Upon returning home, I purchased some harem pajamas. Two sets, in fact. A rather demure coral pair for sweet and tender evenings, and a black nylon set for naughty nights. Though I never enrolled in a belly-dancing course, I learned to manage a hip swivel or two, and a sultry slink across the bedroom floor.

Over subsequent decades Bob watched endless versions of Gunga Din, Beau Geste, and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieve. I didn’t object. He never stopped calling me his little harem cutie. And I’d always manage an appropriately demure blush plus a sultry Lili-like smirk.

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