Tuesday, July 1, 8:10 p.m.
For all the ground we covered, trying over the last few years to be so sophisticated with our half-a-grand bottles of $35 vodka, the Hummer and that too-good-to-be-true down payment on a condo in that high-rise tower over by the … oh wait, it never opened—we’ve been throwing good money after bad. Lucky for us that this little recession—whether you’re of the opinion that it’s real or imagined—has come along to gently bitch-slap us back to reality. Enough with the flash and bling. As The Beatles said, all we need is love. Yep, love, good friends, great music, a pool, some drinks … and 25,000 rubber ducks.
“You’ve got how many in there?!” My mouth takes on an unflattering, cavernous gape that catches the dry, blow-dryer-force gales that whip through Palms Place’s sixth floor pool deck. I am just seconds away from strolling across the colorful carpet to check out a few rubber ducks bobbing in the center of the pool. Then my eyes refocus. There is no carpet; that is the pool under there, and everyone is just wading around, ankle-deep in $7,000 worth of sailor ducks and cheerleader ducks and Dracula ducks and devil ducks …
The ducks are par for the course at this playful gathering—George Maloof himself hand-writes the ad every week with a Sharpie—but they are not meant to be the sole form of entertainment. In one of 19 cabanas, miniature versions of those at the casino’s pool, DJ 88 spins in a couture muumuu, while over at the doors to the pool deck, party-goers fill out raffle tickets for a chance to win a stay in the Fantasy Suites. They also sift through the ducks to find those with vouchers for free rooms, dinners and drinks written on their flat little bottoms.
Even more ducks bob around in the little waterfalls and ponds that dot the deck between the cabanas and the long L-shaped pool that wraps around the Simon Restaurant’s windowed façade. Pebble walkways lead to those as well as to the dining patio with wood and brushed-steel furniture and the shallow wading area where more furniture sits right in the water.
“Who’s gonna fish all of these out tomorrow?” I ask Jon Gray, assistant to Maloof and the creator behind this new Tuesday-evening pool party (6 p.m.-midnight). He glances at the undulating sea of canards and admits, “Someone is. But not me!” While he always pairs his impeccable suits with funky sneakers, this time it’s his scary-short plaid swim trunks that match his skate shoes. Like his attire, this party is casual and far more laid-back than those of summers past, when I quickly sweated through silk dresses before even making it out of the parking structure. I like the direction this is going.
Everyone, in fact, is super-casual. In flip-flops, bathing suits, cover-ups and tees, they partake in Twister and hula-hoops and occasionally take a swim. The greatest concentration of bodies is in the smallest area of the deck. But around the corner, past the fire pit, suddenly it’s all guys. They’re in slow motion, pondering the fireplace, popping out of the pool to drip dry or wrapping themselves in plush towels, dipping slowly into the hot tub. It’s like a Samantha fantasy scene on a Sex and the City rerun. Why this concentration of attractive men and not a single girl? Right then, my girlfriend’s skirt flies up. Then her dress blows open at the top. Ah, it’s a wind tunnel, and thus, a hazard zone for women. We nod hello and goodbye in the same breath, clamp her clothes down and scuttle back to the crowd. A word to the wise—bring fashion tape to windy evening pool parties.
As midnight nears, dripping shopping bags of rubber duckies leave wet trails to the elevators, destined for nieces, nephews and “the neighbor’s kids.” A contest has broken out to see who can make it out of the building with the biggest haul. That means another $7,000 for next week’s party. Economically speaking, that’s good news for rubber duck manufacturers everywhere. And it’s great news for whoever would have had to fish them out Wednesday morning.