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Five Writers and One Theme: Sanctuary : Cover Story

Poolside in Hancock Park

February 11, 2001|JANET CHARLTON | Janet Charlton is the gossip columnist for Star magazine

Don't get me wrong. I accomplish most of my writing seated at the computer in my home office. But the place where I think best is certainly my tiki cabana by the pool.

First of all, the idea of having a cabana by the pool is a dream come true. Where I grew up in Chicago, few people had pools, much less cabanas. My first cabana experience was at the then-fabulous Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach in the late '60s. In those days the hotel was so exclusive you couldn't walk through the lobby in shorts. When I was a teenager, I won a trip there--without my parents--for writing a patriotic essay. My free vacation included unlimited room service and the use of a poolside cabana. I felt like a million bucks reclining in my cabana, eating a hot fudge sundae. I'm always reminded how incredibly lucky I was, and still am, and that sweetens my mood, even after a difficult workday.

I can lounge on my bamboo couch and make notes on the latest Meg Ryan spotting while chatting on my cordless phone. Behind the tiki bar I have a refrigerator stocked with diet drinks. I can look out at my glistening pool, surrounded by tropical birds of paradise and banana trees, and beyond that I can see my sprawling Hancock Park house, built in 1961.

My domain is laid out in front of me. Since all the walls of the cabana are glass, it's as if I'm looking into a dollhouse with colorful furniture. I almost feel as if I've stepped out of the picture and am observing my own life from a distance. This is the place where I don't mind sitting and pondering the best way to present a story, the best choice of words, or a way to make a story funnier for my column in Star magazine. With a gossip tidbit, it's all in the presentation. You have to be accurate but entertaining, too.

I have to do a mountain of daily and weekly reading--trades, columns, papers, competing magazines. It's time-consuming, but a gossip columnist must keep tabs on what everyone else is writing about. The cabana offers comfort and quiet without being too far from the office. The lighting, as seen from the cabana, is particularly beautiful as the day changes into evening. The straw-and-bamboo retro decor makes one feel transported to a less-stressful place and time. Maybe I should call it a guilty pleasure, but working in the cabana doesn't seem like work at all. It's not altogether different from savoring a hot fudge sundae.

*

Copyright 2001 by The Kilimanjaro Corporation. All rights reserved.

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