I know, dear readers, that you have been holding your collective breaths waiting to hear if my lovely winter home near the Salton Sea had survived my husband’s absence of six months.
For those of you looking puzzled, let me briefly review. My column, written about a year ago, told of a goofy, 8-foot-by-6-foot shack my husband had spent months building in Slab City out in the middle of almost absolutely nowhere. He had become curious when he heard about the deserted Army base where Canadian snowbirds and ne’er-do-wells migrate to live rent-free. My spouse loves to explore places like this for his ongoing study of mankind. He also likes to build things, but not to code.
No, I don’t understand it either.
In any case, the final touch was to paint the hut silver to reflect the heat. On one visit, he arrived to find hilarious signs on it, declaring it the “Silver Cube Café” complete with a menu and posted hours that indicated it was never really open.
Now the legend grows.
Just too busy with work, my hubby had no time to make the three-hour drive all winter. When he headed out there Saturday, he considered the possibilities of what he might find. He figured it was burned to the ground, dismantled for firewood, occupied by eight or 10 of the local denizens, or hopelessly vandalized.
To his great glee, he found that a very pleasant, retired fellow of about 70, from Oregon, had parked his trailer next to it. He doesn’t need to live inside the tiny shack, but instead uses it to lock up his motorcycle and other supplies. On really hot nights, he pitches a tent atop it and sleeps there. When Mr. Gillette introduced himself and shared that he had built the shack, the nice fellow was suitably chagrined and apologetic.
“Oh!” he exclaimed. “The story I was told is that it was built by some Mexican fellow who died!” They agreed to let that be the story that stands, as it is much more interesting than some peculiar, middle-aged man from Carlsbad who just likes to putter.
My husband assured his tenant that his presence had, no doubt, kept the Silver Cube from a far worse fate and that he was welcome to stay as long as he liked. I think they bonded.
Now we need to expand on “the legend” to give it a permanent place in the lore of the Salton Sea, like ersatz mayor “Hunky Daddy” and Salvation Mountain. I think we should call it “The Legend of the Albino Mexican.” My husband is so fair he has pink freckles, but because he wears a big floppy hat, long pants and long sleeves whenever he’s in the sun, it’s hard to tell what his coloring is.
I’m working on a really good tale about how he died, involving an attack by scorpions and tarantulas on his way to the outhouse. Or perhaps he was shot by an irate customer upon discovering the Silver Cube doesn’t actually sell margaritas for $1.
Hi, ho Silver Cube, awaaaay!
Jean Gillette is the Community News editor for The Coast News Group. As a journalist, she primarily worked in San Clemente and Los Angeles. She has been with the Coast News for 20 years and lives in La Costa.