Hot Damn had a little swim in Lake Me followed by a sobering attitude adjustment this week. See, I’ve always had a secret smug satisfaction with some low-key character traits that set me apart…you know, the sort of things that used to make Big Daddy coo, “You’re not like other girls…” Of particular pride is that I am not a hotel snob. If my bags are packed, who cares where I’m sleeping. AmIright? I know this is my personal truth. Don’t believe me? Check out these two compelling examples:
1.The summer my brother and I traveled across Europe, each armed with a Eurail pass, a hostel membership card, a deluxe backpack, $2000 in travelers checks (in lieu of a credit card) toted in my flesh colored money-belt and absolutely no plan. We happily slept on trains, benches, sofas and sometimes beds. The less money we spent on accommodations, the more we had for fueling the wanderlust. I washed my hair in train station sinks and never held a blow dryer. It was cool.
2. A motel just outside of Charleston, S.C. called The Lord Ashley Court. You had to pay a $10 deposit to have the phone activated in your room. The cable for the TV dangled from the roof and was snaked through the window. There were rollie-pollies on the shelf above the sink. I stayed here two years in a row during Spoleto. The first year was by process of elimination, the second year was a choice.
So, this week Snakebite and I needed to spend just one night in Sewanee, Tennessee. Our options were slim and it was the Best Western Smokehouse Lodge that was both recommended and available. I did briefly pause at the $72 per night reservation, but then recalled a darling Best Western where I once stayed in Chaing Rai, Thailand on the banks of the Mae Kok river. That this would be just fine for us girls for a scant 12 hours was a given.
My Facebook status when we finally got checked into our room:
When we checked in at the front desk, the “lobby” was kinda packed with what I thought might be the stragglers from the weekend’s mountain family reunion/meth-cook recipe swap. Lotsa mullets, jeans without back pockets, hoodies that had seen better decades and extreme smoker teef. Turns out this was the lodge’s cracker-jack staff on perpetual break.
On the bottom floor, our room overlooked a parking lot flanked pool and a retention pond. The walkway outside of the room was built of peeling painted wood decking boards. Any time someone walked the plank it was loudly announced. It was also super slippery, which I didn’t realize was foreshadowing.
We got 2 queen beds, piled high with pillows stuffed with…cotton balls? We sat down at our tiny laminate table to our Sonic feast and rallied for the saddest Oscar party ever. Before you judge me for feeding my sweet daughter Sonic as a sit down supper, know that my choices were a skeevy Pizza Hut, Hardees, McDonalds, Waffle House (which my digestive system will not abide) and the adjoining restaurant which tempted with offerings such as fried frog legs, fried chicken livers, fried catfish fillets, fried pies and something called a BeerCooler, a bargain at $3. Probably, their food was awesome in a country cookin’ way, but at this point I just couldn’t belly up to the food jamboree. Sonic’s sweet ‘tater tots was THE healthy option.
Once I began tending to my evening face-wash-tooth-brushing routine I discovered that we had been furnished with just 1 bath towel. So, I had to undo the lock-chain on the door (the deadbolt didn’t work so much) and go back to the front desk. I tried not to touch the actual door as I think CSI will be coming back to lift someone’s prints in the near future. But in the present, at 8:30pm on a Sunday, they hadn’t gotten to the laundry just yet.
On the way back to the room I pit-stopped to get some ice and that’s when saw the vending options…
I don’t know if the machine hasn’t been restocked in years, or if it was full on Friday and the methy guests snarfed it all up over the weekend. Either way…
With the Oscars underway, I brushed the ladybugs off of the top of my bed, secured my handgun, plus an extra loaded clip, by my side and settled in. And by in, I mean on top. I wasn’t getting under anything. After I plugged in the window-unit heater, I had to turn up the sound on the TV every 4 minutes to compensate for the noise, then turn it back down 4 minutes later when the unit rested.
During commercials I fielded texts from friends with helpful advice like, “send pictures” and “check for bed bugs”. That last one had the same effect as the annual lice letter from school. I immediately became, and have remained, itchy. Thanks, Claire.
My morning shower didn’t do much to quell my scratching. My focus was trained on the wallpaper that was caulked to the top of the wall against the waaay water damaged popcorn ceiling. I’m not real clear how the ceiling height even passed code. Yet another thing about my visit that had me scratching my head. Oh, and there was a shoe print on the outside of the bathroom door…like someone had locked herself in while her abuser was trying to get in a kick to the spleen through the closed door. Shudder. Who can get clean in that set-up?
The good news is that we woke up alive that morning. The bad news is that the crappy weather system forecasted for Tuesday stepped it up and blew in early to wrap my car in an impenetrable ice condom. I don’t have a scraper for my windshield, so I of course appealed to the concierge. No help. They would not let me borrow a scraper. I guess they thought I’d either keep it for scraping my meth pans, or use it as a shiv and shank them. Luckily, 15 minutes of the defroster going full tilt coupled with the edge of a Starbucks gift card cleared enough ice to let me drive to 4 different gas stations in search of a scraper.
What did I learn from all of this? I need to keep an ice scraper in my glove box? Done. I should keep healthy snacks in the car? Yep. Or is it that I’m no longer as traveler carefree and cool as I once I was? That summer when I slept in train stations? I was 17. And my weekends of slumming it at the Lord Ashley Court? Early 20s. Things have changed, I’m older with excellent credit and it’s time to check myself and recalibrate. Damnit. I do like fancy sheets, marble bathrooms, pristine door jambs and in-room safes. I like a fleet of kiss-ass front desk staff. And even though I may not order a fruit cup and La Croix from room service, I NEED that option.
So long hostels, motor-courts, motels and couchettes. I’ll be at the Four Seasons if you need anything.