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  • Princesa
  • Bill Roorbach (bio)

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A famous actress was supposed to arrive. Everyone Robert and Philippe met found a way to mention her: Tessa! She was shooting a film across the island with the great director Pedro Almodóvar, whom Philippe claimed to admire, no one Robert had ever heard of. The hotel driver who picked them up at little Ibiza Airport talked about her the whole way, mostly in Spanish superlatives, beside himself with the pleasure of her, that such a luminary would grace the Royal Mediterranean Hotel, kissing his fingers to the air: Tessa Embrodar!

[End Page 59]

Philippe caught the bug immediately. He’d heard of the actress one way or another. Shame on Robert for not knowing Tessa! was the attitude. The actress had been in a dozen European films, none Robert had ever heard of. But she was in that Harrison Ford movie, too, Philippe kept saying. They’d seen it on a double date when Robert had first met Julia, who’d adored it! What was it called? Robert had no interest, Harrison Ford or no, and certainly no wish to be thinking about Julia, not on this trip. The name Tessa Embrodar meant nothing to him whatsoever, even repeated a number of times by guests and hotel employees alike in various faulty accents around the buildings and grounds as Robert and Philippe toured the place and were introduced to simply everyone (none of that all-American anonymity here): Tessa Embrodar is coming! Robert was superior with Philippe about it—some obscure actress in some second-rate Harrison Ford thriller, not even one of the big ones, give him a break. They made a gay-straight joke of it between them, he repeating the actress’s name in mock awe, Philippe shaking his shaved head in not-mock-enough disgust at his old friend’s geeky philistinism.

Philippe’s aunt was an executive-travel consultant for the likes of Goldman Sachs and Bank of America and had secured for her favorite nephew this golden sojourn. Double occupancy and Philippe with no boyfriend at the moment, unheard of, thus bereaved and boring Robert. Robert had had to look up Ibiza. It was one of the Balearic Islands off Valencia, Spain. And now that he was here he had to admit it was spectacular. Plus, they were paying less than 10 percent of the standard price because a castle suite had come empty at the last minute. Suddenly, they were jet-setters.

Robert continued to complain—that was the game—but he was very satisfied with the Royal Mediterranean, extremely pleased, in fact, especially with everyone else paying something on the order of fifty thousand American bucks—a castle and vineyards and olive groves once owned by the contessa of somewhere or other, and attentive maids and obsequious bellboys and unobtrusive waiters and insistent concierges everywhere, all but brushing your teeth for you, multiple spas and restaurants and swimming pools and tennis courts and beaches and boating and archery and surf lessons all included. How many massages could you take, how many high colonics refuse? Robert and the late Julia had spent their honeymoon all those twenty years ago at a Motel 6 on Lake Erie near Buffalo, where she was from and hadn’t strayed far, after. Philippe (he’d been Phillip until after college), well, he’d gone to the big city, dabbled [End Page 60] in acting, secured sugar daddies one after the next. Or at least that’s how he told it—famous rich Republican closet cases who supposedly lavished him with gifts—though he wasn’t exactly rolling in cash.

Ah: magnificently manicured gardens and walled walkways meandering down to the Mediterranean as viewed from their three private patios or from the great windows in their separate and equal bedrooms (massive round beds with canopies, glorious baths), the old castle and village visible from their “drawing room,” which was a beamed expanse of foyer complete with astonishingly vast and real medieval tapestries, huge windows, the vineyards and hills and horses and scrubbed cattle out there in ancient pastures, the stone fortress...


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pp. 58-78
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