As is usually the case when I’m in California, the talk turned to real estate. A 75-year-old retiree told me exactly how much it cost him to buy all the cacti surrounding his pool. A stockbroker from Seattle said the house she recently bought was originally owned by Col. Tom Parker and had a TV room that was specially built for Elvis Presley. Everyone talked about someone named Sven, who was moving out of a beautiful home down the street to a smaller, less attractive and more expensive place 10 blocks away simply because it was a snazzier neighborhood.

No one talked about the stillborn presidential election, which seemed odd since we were all college-educated adults attending a private cocktail party in tony Palm Springs. I had always imagined that people who went to such parties talked about nothing but politics. These revelers, however, were providing a sharp contrast to what The New York Times called “an audience communally obsessed [and] privately agape” at the Florida recount.

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