Off for a weekend getaway in Prescott, where rednecks, Harley riders, cowboys, visitors and wealthy retirees mingle in the town square. Arizona’s Territorial Capital sprang up long before Phoenix, fashioned after a Midwestern village where shops, galleries and cafes surround the majestic courthouse plaza. Along one entire side, the former notorious red-light district of Whiskey Row beckons bikers and thirsty visitors into dim, noisy saloons where neon signs illumine tufts of blue smoke.
Had we not been so cheap and arranged our day around the early-bird dinner prices, we would have missed the unexpected highlight of the entire trip.
Radiating in all directions from this whimsical blend of Midwestern charm and Western rowdiness, turn-of-the-century homes survive in varying stages of renovation. Hassayampa Inn was our choice, the crown jewel of historic Prescott—brimming over with elegance and grandeur. Translated from marketing speak into the real world, that means long, narrow staircases with six-inch steps. People with big feet are literally tip-toeing. Forget the elevator. It’s only for emergencies and people in wheelchairs—which is a smart move considering the sound it makes in operation.
On to the teeny tiny rooms with half-sized pillows on a Baby Bear’s bed. Not to mention a water closet with a throne that can only be saddled sideways unless you are three years old with knees that barely extend beyond the edge of the toilet seat. Which begs the question, just how small were people in early America?
What the inn does offer in spades is ambiance, especially in the quaintly formal dining area. White lace curtains, etched glass, floral carpeting, vintage lighting, fresh flowers and impeccable table settings. Had we not been so cheap and arranged our day around the early-bird dinner prices, we would have missed the unexpected highlight of the entire trip.
"Oh my God, Tommy! Is that you?"
Only one other guest—a lone gentleman—had already been seated in the smaller secondary area of the restaurant. The hour was still early and the empty tables in the main dining area made me wonder why we were being ushered into another room. As the hostess led us to the coveted window-view table, I couldn't help but overhear the man who was seated alone mention the word "Smothers” to his waitress. Apparently, the name meant nothing to her because he followed with, "People that age tend to know us."
Smothers? Stop my beating heart, could it really be? And yes, one glance at those twinkling eyes, that diminutive mustache, and the slight build crowned by well-groomed silver hair explained the entire sketchy dialog. My widening eyes met his growing grin. My hands were clasping my face in fever-pitched dramatic expression.
"Oh my God, Tommy! Is that you?"
The slightest hint of disappointment flashed in his eyes as he said, "No, I’m Dick." Like I couldn't tell them apart? Rather than blurting the truth that my brain had misfired, I launched into "Of course, of course, you're the smart one!" The moment it flew out of my mouth, I knew it was a completely inane cliche he probably finds more annoying than being mistaken for his incredibly bright clown brother. Like I wouldn't know that? Now I'm feeling like a such an ass, I may just as well have tossed back my head and brayed like a donkey at him.
Dick seemed to overlook the meltdown because he was still smiling disarmingly and extended his hand to shake mine as he tried to rise from his chair. The poor man was half-seated (always awkward) as I flew into him, throwing my arms around his neck for a bear hug. He continued to rise graciously in the midst of my stream of giddy accolades about the Smothers Brothers, pausing to introduce himself to Bill—who had been utterly ignored in the frenzy and was standing patiently behind me. In spite of my brash interruption of his dinner, Dick not only agreed to a picture but suggested a photo of the three of us. Pulling out my camera, I thrust it in Bill's hand, gently pushing him back as I rushed to Dick's side announcing, "That’s okay, he can take the picture of you and me."
I'm the flaming liberal hippie-gypsy rock-loving '60s weed-smoking Flower Child.
In defense of my self-absorbed behavior, if such a defense could even be mounted, I must say that I had no idea Bill even knew who the Smothers Brothers were, much less that he was a huge fan and never missed their show. After all, he's a Republican Marine child of the Great Depression who loves Sinatra, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman. I'm the flaming liberal hippie-gypsy rock-loving '60s weed-smoking Flower Child. Just could not imagine him appreciating their edgy political humor, but au contraire. I found out how much he loved the Smothers Brothers once we were seated and I remembered that I was actually withsomeone. Even then, it took every ounce of willpower to keep myself from walking over and inviting Dick to join us or just plopping down beside him. So many questions. So much to talk about.
Always wondered how I would react to a celebrity sighting. It's clear now that I fall into the "worst nightmare" category. Bill just grinned and shook his head, "God help us if we ever run into Brad Pitt."
“Oh please, I don’t care anything about Brad Pitt. Now if George Clooney ever shows up and so much as winks at me, you'll be out on that sidewalk with cement burns on your palms and knees."