By Scott Sullivan
When we learned we could not believe it. The Commercial Record’s mild-mannered — when she’s comatose — Office Manager Laura Schippa had opened a spa. Not just any spa.
The Norse had Valhalla, Hindus Nirvana, Jews a Promised Land. When we made our pilgrimage we were trembling. What miracles would Schipp-a-Lago bring?
We all know about the President’s Mar-a-Lago, The Crown Jewel of Palm Beach: 20 acres of manicured lawns, vibrant gardens and sweeping sea-to-lake vistas, world-renowned oceanfront swimming pool and beach club, six championship tennis courts, lavish seaside cabanas, sumptuous Donald J. Trump Grand Ballroom, yada-yada.
All pales next to Schipp-a-Lago. Valley parking greeted our Marketing Guru and me; pavement next to her home was crumbling. A tiki bar spread before us.
“Wha’dja bring?” asked Schippa.
PBR tall boys and Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey shots.
Look how green the grounds are!
“I’ll scoop up the dog poop tomorrow,” Schippa said.
I cast my eyes heavenward but couldn’t get past the tin stock car nailed to the shed wall.
“Mike Martin. Drove for Viagra.”
Each drink slid down more easily than the last.
“Whad’ya think this is? The Four Seasons?”
Teens entered and left her half-rental house, slamming screen doors.
Ready for summer already?
“Never changed ‘em.”
“What an attraction,” our MG said.
“Not if we brand it. ‘Where the Elite Meet to Eat’? ‘Where the Scum Sink to Drink’?”
Roofer friend Steve Wunder stopped by. “Give us a testimonial,” our MG told him.
He was briefly speechless. “How ‘bout ‘I’ve never seen a roof like that one’?”
“Seen or fallen through?”
Let me edit, I said. I’ve never seen anything like Schipp-a-Lago, says Stevie Wunder.
“Stevie Wonder’s blind.”
We’ll just say it, not spell it. Why’s your pug trying to hump his sister?
“She’s in heat,” Schips said.
“We could charge to watch,” our MG suggested.
That means no.
“I’m leaving,” said Stevie Wunder.
“What’s with your ugly red shoes?” Schippa asked.
They were cheap, I explained. The coconut bra nailed to the shed wall?
“It is a tiki bar.”
“Authentic …” our MG noted.
The red-wire crane hanging from a tree branch?
“Like the blue marbles inside?” asked Schippa. “His sister is yellow. Want to see her?”
“Wildlife preserve with exotic birds,” said our MG.
Your cat’s hunting a real one.
“Simba, stop!” shouted Schippa.
“Safari extra,” our MG noted. “Got anything ‘nestled’? I can’t write a promo without something ‘nestled.’”
Two clay sculptures sat on the bar: one a cross-eyed fish holding a heart pendant with its left fin, the other a blue apelike something.
“Unique art …”
I hope so, I said. Are those tiki torches?
“Close,” Schips said. “I ran fence stakes through Frisbees and put luminaries on them.”
Paper bags with sand and lit candles in the bottom? They don’t look too steady.
As flames spread I thought of Saugatuck’s Big Pavilion, Chicago and hellfire till a passing teen doused them with squirt gun.
“Risen from the ashes,” our MG wrote on his half-scorched notepad. “Schipp-a-Lago: A Modern Phoenix!”
What about winters? I asked.
“We need year-round traffic to pay marketing bills,” our MG added. “All those tall boys.”
I know! I said. Boot camps! President Trump and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are making respective Enemies Lists.
“What’s to respect?” asked Schips.
Let me finish. If you question their leadership, there will be retribution. Why not exile non-political purists, like Stalin did to Siberia? “You need an attitude adjustment,” we’d say. “I assign you to Schipp-a-Lago.” “No! No!” they’d scream as guards dragged them out.
“It’s not that bad,” said Schips.
We are here, aren’t we?
“It’s like Oz,” our MG said. “Tap your heels three times and repeat, ‘There’s no place like home.’ You’ll be in Kansas in no time.”
“Who would want that?” Schips said.