Alice B. Toklas Has Her Say

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NOVEMBER 23, 2018

Still slightly bleary-eyed from the previous night’s Thanksgiving feast (and accompanying drinks), my wife and I slipped into a Sorrento elevator and headed down to the hotel bar. We’d been to the hotel a few times at this point, having been captured by the charm of the old place, and by the ghost that was said to frequent its halls.

Inspired by a few cocktails, I decided that now was the perfect time to ask about the rumored spirit of Alice B. Toklas.

“I don’t have much to offer, outside of a few weird feelings and some strange noises,” said the bartender, drying a Champagne glass and sliding it into a stainless steel rack overhead. “Some of my co-workers have had some experiences, though…”

As he began to share stories of wet footprints, faint appertains and flickering lights, another bar patron — seemingly compelled by a different kind of spirit — slurred in. “That’s all bullshit,” she blurted from the end of the bar. “Great way to sell rooms, but total bullshit, and you know it.”

The bartender laughed. “I can’t argue with you,” he said, “because like I said: I haven’t had any experiences personally. I just know that quite a few people here have…”

Un-quelled by his diplomatic response, she continued venting her disbelief. As her voice grew louder, I began to regret my question. What had started as a fun conversation had turned into a booze-fueled debunking tirade against all things unexplainable. Just as it seemed inevitable that someone would ask her to calm down, Ms. Toklas took matters into her own hands.

Untouched by any human hand — and far from any perceivable passing forces — a glass from the overhead rack jumped from the stainless steel shackles and smashed at the feet of the bartender. The bar went silent.

“Well, I guess I have my own story now,” said the bartender.