Don't blame us. There is no weather more un-photogenic than a drought. Your hurricanes and tornadoes, your haboobs and your blizzards all offer exciting opportunities for weather people to stand next to wrecked homes, swollen rivers or keister-high snow drifts and actually demonstrate that weather is happening. You can't expect these weather people, ambitious individuals who have adopted kinetic-sounding names like Derek Driven or Hazel Eyeful to stand in front of a camera and say "It's another sunny day in CA," seven or eight hundred days in a row, which is what reporting on a drought would require. Nor would you expect to watch them.
We have water restrictions, but only people with really long attention spans and an unnatural desire to read government bulletins know what they are. The rest of us know because we have huge flashing signs on our freeways, which usually inform us with sadistic glee how long we can expect to be stuck in traffic, but on those occasions when traffic is flowing freely, they switch to saying "Extreme Drought Emergency—Water Conservation In Effect."
What you are supposed to do while barreling down the freeway to conserve water they don't say. Are you supposed to finish off all the half-empty coffee mugs in your cup holders or search out all of the bottles of water you were sipping on before you set them down on the floor because the cup holders were full and they rolled under the seats? Don't ask me.
The only thing I learned the government is definitely doing to conserve water is not watering the median strips on the freeways. I applaud this action, because no one will ever notice. In California, you are either zipping by the median strip at the unofficial state speed limit (80 mph), which is far too fast to check it out, or stuck next to it going five miles an hour, in which case you are busy desperately looking for a gap in traffic so you can switch lanes to one going seven miles an hour.
I had plenty of time to be stuck in traffic the other day because I had business in Anaheim, and I took full advantage of it. When I finally got there, I had a room booked at the Holiday Inn Anaheim. This hotel is to Disneyland what a tumor is to a lab rat—wholly dependent on the larger organism. There are pictures of Buzz Lightyear in the lobby. The password to the hotel wifi is "Mulan." Large parties of Asian guests board buses for the park at hourly intervals from the lobby.
I took a seat at the bar, which had a full view of the pool. I wasn't expecting much in the way of entertainment—maybe a few chunky kids doing cannonballs in the deep end—but I was wrong. No fewer than six bikinied, light-haired California girls were tanning together by its edge. They jumped in and out of the pool. They splashed in the Jacuzzi. They chatted and laughed. They occasionally went to the bar to get drinks, which led me to believe that they belonged to the intensely visually appealing "barely over twenty-one" demographic.
To put it bluntly, they were frolicking.
I hoped sincerely that somewhere in the hundred or so hotel rooms that had pool view there was at least one guy from Iowa or some other such flyover place, on his once in a lifetime trip with his wife and kids to Disneyland, looking out the window at this swim-suited idyll, then furtively dialing his best buddy on his cell phone and saying "Clem—it's all true! You should see these gurls! Cally-fornia! It's jest like they make it out to be in the movies!" And his buddy replies "Dammit, Lem, quit yer yapping and email me a video!"
California. We'll always be here. Come and see us. For the time being, though, bring your own drinks.