Inn Keeping With Vacation (tf)

I don’t like hotels because they remind me that I’m not home. I like to be home. I like my own bed and my own stuff and my own alarm clock and knowing what each light switch does. I like a remote control that’s not bolted down (sad commentary on human nature, the bolted down remote). The modern hotel is cookie-cutter stuff. Once you close the door you could be anywhere…..in any chain in any city. The rugs and the blankets and the towels and the soap and little shampoo bottles and the ironing board in the closet and the bad pictures on the walls. Even the fire exit diagram on the door. Maybe there’s some secret off-shore company that churns all this stuff out.

It’s not entirely unpleasant. It’s a nice feeling hanging the do not disturb sign and sliding that lock across the door and flopping on a bed you don’t have to make. For a few hours or a few days at least, you’re free from most of your entanglements. On a whim you can summon servants to bring you food. If you’re cold you can fire up the heat. If you’re warm you can turn the room into a meat locker. With an Ipod jammed in my ears, I no longer need concern myself with noisy neighbors (the last hotel I stayed in the guy next door had his banjo with him). While I’ve never had to deal with headboard banging lovemaking coming from the other side of the wall, one night I did hear the guy next door vomiting over and over again….all night long. This is worse.

I do miss the old-fashioned motel though. You see them sometimes….but mostly they look so seedy. Weeds instead of grass. Signs with missing letters. Pool with yellow water and topped off with leaves. An assortment of unmatched, broken down lawn chairs in front of chipped doors. Guy behind bullet-proof glass wearing a wife-beater t-shirt with loads of shark tattoos who can’t speak a word of english. Soda machines that have been out of order since cans cost a quarter. But still, “free HBO”. I can’t help myself. They are very tempting.

As a kid my Dad drove the family to Florida one summer. I think it took 3 days. We’d stop at these motels on the way. One was in Georgia. It was the kind of place that if you opened your room door and stepped out without looking you might get hit by a car. But it had free ice. It had air-conditioning (jammed in the window with 2 x 4’s and towels). And it had a pool. If you’re stranded in Georgia in August after 12 hours in a station wagon, such things are unimaginable luxuries. I don’t remember much about Florida that year, but I’ll never forget that night in Georgia.

It’s the quirky things in life that we end up talking about years later. Nothing really quirky ever happens at a climate controlled Marriot….which is the point of climate controlled Marriot’s I guess. And that’s good. I guess.

But still. Free HBO!

Almost makes me want to hit the road with a banjo.

–Tom Flannery

~ by admin on June 10, 2011.

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