(EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm delighted to introduce Ilona Saari's new column to Studio City Patch that will be a regular feature on Saturdays. You can also find Ilona's blog posts in in the Local Voices. Enjoy!)
I don’t know about you, but my Playboy centerfold days are over. Even sitting seductively in a bubble bath with one leg strategically draped over the edge of the tub is no longer one of my best looks.
So, needless to say, when a bunch of strangers (well, two) find me this way, I’m not a happy camper. But first a little back story:
Remember when those charming California one-story bungalows and craftsman houses in Santa Monica on those tony, tree-lined streets between Montana and San Vicente were bought as "tear-downs," and huge two-story homes (some tasteful, some garish) were built on bungalow-size lots dwarfing the land and the original smaller houses that remained?
Well, now it’s happening in our ‘hood. I call it McMansion-ification… a derivative of gentrification, and whether we like it or not, our neighborhood is being McMansion-ized before our very eyes.
It started on my street a couple of years ago when a neighbor sold his house to a "speculator" who built a 5,500 square foot, two-story, “Mediterranean” McMansion. Right across the street! Right in front of my office window! Nightly I prayed to Gilda, the Goddess of Good Taste that the front lawn would not be adorned with fountains and naked statues.
Please, no knock-off Davids or armless Venuses! Thankfully, there aren’t… they’re in the backyard (I kid you not). I use the term “back yard” loosely, since there is no back yard, just a pool and a narrow cement surround with statues. “Pool yard?”
Putting aside the very poor workmanship of this McMansion, it was listed for more than double the value of any house on our street. That was more than two years ago. It hasn’t sold. Rented, yes. Sold, no. And, now, this overblown, overdone house is empty again. They say it takes a village—well, a village is what it would take to fill that house.
The fact that this house hasn’t sold, however, hasn’t deterred other speculators. Nope. A new McMansion is being built on my block. Right now. Right next door. Right on top of me and my 1941 one-story California “bungalow.”
Every morning, 7 a.m. sharp, the banging starts, the truck, back-up beeping noise begins, jackhammers jack, steam shovels shake, our windows rattle, and lumber trucks roll as construction workers (and their cars) take over our street.
So what does all this have to do with bubble baths? I love them. I love to soak in my wonderful vintage claw-foot soaking tub. Now, did I mention that this construction going on is not more than 10 feet from my bathroom window which sits very nicely over my wonderful vintage claw-foot soaking tub? And since it is, when I want to soak in bubbles, I’m forced to time this meditative, relaxing experience to the construction workers schedule… their lunch break, or when they’re working on the first floor or in the front of the building.
Did I mention that I have no window treatment on that window over the bathtub? Didn’t need it because the house next door used to be only one story… and we had a nice fence… and I didn’t want to block out my sunlight.
So, after checking the whereabouts of the workers the other morning (they were all working on the front façade of the building), I drew my bath, got the latest mystery I was reading and sunk deep into the hot, bubble-bath-y water. Heaven. All my aches, pains and woes were melting away—that is, until I heard loud voices overhead.
I looked up and there above me hanging over the ledge of the McMansion second story frame were two workmen hauling something up with a rope. I put my book down and sunk deeper into the tub and under the bubbles. Should I wave and pretend this is an everyday occurrence? Should I pretend I don’t see them? They seem to be pretending not to see me.
Should I nonchalantly stand up and get out of the tub? Have you ever tried to nonchalantly lift yourself out of a deep claw-foot tub? Not a graceful thing (even for an ex-dancer). On the off-chance they didn’t see me, I was afraid to move (remember, being naked in a bubble bath is not a look that I would tweet to anyone)… I felt like a hiker confronted by a bear in the woods. Should I freeze Roll over? Play dead? Drown myself?
The workers weren’t leaving and my bubble bath reverie was long gone—my water was rapidly fading from blissfully warm to unappealingly tepid – I needed to get out. A light bulb went off in my head. I reached for my plush, white bath towel and wrapped it around me—yup, in the water, and trickily held it together with one arm while I clumsily lifted myself up and out of the tub and out of the workers’ sight with my other arm.
Did they watch me struggle to maintain my naked dignity? Well, let’s put it this way—I didn’t hear any applause, but I will always be grateful for bubbles and towels.
So, on this note—a note to all: When McMansion-ification comes to your street… go shopping for shades or take your bubble bath at midnight.