Archive for April, 2012

The WineDiaries: or, the Boston Chronicles, Part 2

Friday, April 13, 6:30PM
Success! K and I have managed to deliver a perfect presentation. “That thing we did…that was…good,” I can’t resist declaring. You’d think we’d be feeling elated, but after having spent nearly every weekend for the better part of the last year preparing for this moment, what I’m feeling is a kind of post-academic project postpartum depression. Alcohol. We need alcohol, stat. The only obstacle to obtaining said alcohol is that neither K nor I are willing to purchase a $40.00 bottle of wine from the Hotel restaurant. Then, of course, there’s the problem of inquiring at the front desk where we can obtain less-than-$40.00 adult beverages without appearing a: cheep, or b: like the functioning alcoholics we most certainly are not. A gentleman at the front desk suggests an Italian eatery down the street and a seafood place behind the hotel.
“We want wine,” K and I interrupt. I repeat: we are not functioning alcoholics. We’re simply pointing out what we’re in search of because we recognize the value of this gentleman’s time. I don’t want anyone getting the wrong impression. After thanking him for his help, we head toward the doors.
“Just one more thing,” another young woman at the front desk calls after us. “If you bring anything back, just make sure it’s covered, because *lowers voice conspiratorially* you’re technically not supposed to bring alcohol into the hotel.” I refuse to feel guilty about violating hotel policy, because the staff are obviously skilled enablers.

Undaunted, we venture forth and, feeling slightly self-conscious, enter the Italian restaurant that, according to the desk clerk, looks-but-isn’t-fancy.

“Can you by wine here?” we ask the hostess. (Being a proud, card-carrying Italian with that passionate and spicy blend of the Sicilian and Neapolitan in my blood, I realize as soon as I ask that inquiring if you can purchase wine in an Italian restaurant is like…asking a Catholic priest if he believes in the Immaculate Conception.) “Yes, of course.”
“By the bottle? For takeout? OR just with dinner?” (Now, be honest: does that sound like the sort of question a functioning alcoholic would ask?)
“No, only with dinner,” replies the hostess apologetically. K and I exchange a look. This is not going well. We were specifically told we could purchase wine, and only wine, if we chose. Short of singing to a crack in the sidewalk and waiting for a grapevine to magically spring up, there seems little hope of accomplishing our mission.
“Wait, you want to buy wine? I can tell you where to buy wine. Come!” The hostess guides us outside and points directly across the street to a grocery store—one that the hotel staff has conveniently neglected to tell us exists—and assures us that “They sell wine.”

We enter the grocery store expecting to find wine, and discover instead a fully-stocked liquor store on the second floor. Hallelujah! Eureka! And suddenly there appeared in the sky a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God, etc. Flash to scene in “Willy Wanka and the Chocolate Factory” when Charley discovers the ostensibly found fifth golden ticket glimmering from within the wrapper of his candy bar. So drastically has my mood been lifted that when the cashier neglects to card me, I forget to appear insulted at the implication that I am old.

9:00PM
Mission accomplished! Back at the hotel, we stroll across the lobby and have almost made it safely to the elevator without notice when we hear, “Did you girls find what you were looking for?” from the woman at the front desk. Can we do anything in this hotel without attracting the attention of the entire lobby? First my guidedog decides to perform a rain dance in front of an audience of about 50 bellhops. Now the desk clerk is broadcasting our quest for cheap liquor to the entire lobby. ON balance, we decide it’s best to respond politely.
“Yes, we did, thank you, and actually, we discovered a grocery store just across the street that we didn’t even know was there.”
“Oh, yes, and it’s open 24-hours,” replies the desk clerk, adding after a pause, “So, if you ever…need anything, you know where it is now.” (Translation: when you run out of alcohol, you know where to restock). WE nod and thank her again before making our escape.
“Enablers,” whispers K, which I suppose is some way of assuaging my Catholic guilt (not, of course, that I have anything to feel guilty about. I’ve been tottering around Boston in high-heeled boots all day in an endeavor to appear sexy and sophisticated. This alcohol is medicinal. You know, for the leg cramps).

Saturday is, I must confess, basically an over-caffeinated rerun of Friday, so allow me to leave you with the highlights encapsulated in a few choice quotations while the closing credits roll to the background music of “Me and my Shadow”.

Me (commenting on the dog’s position at my feet while we sit in the coffee shop): “He looks really adorable. You should take a picture.”
K: “He’s kind of just lying there, looking up at me with this expression like ‘Paint me like one of your French girls.'”

Hostess from previous evening’s alcohol adventures (standing outside restaurant and spotting us as we pass): “Hello, my friends! Did you find wine?” (That wasn’t at all conspicuous. Keep it classy, Boston).
K: “We did. Thank you for your help.”
Me: “We’re just…enjoying this spring weather…while it lasts.” (Translation: we are just two sober citizens on an evening walk. Judge us not.)

Tiny humanoid creature (running up to dog): “Hi, doggy!”
Mother: “Yes, nice doggy. But you can’t pet the doggy, because he’s doing an important job.”
K (attempting to distract small humanoid creature): “You’ve got an elephant on your shirt. I like that.”
Small humanoid creature (as he crosses street): “Bye, doggy!”
Mother (in v. “I-do-teach-my-child-manners” way): “Bye people, too.”

And so, it ends.

Author’s note: if any of the above appears less amusing than anticipated, a formula of less than 4 hours of sleep, several caffeinated beverages, and a few shots of vodka should spice things up a bit.

Related post: Doggone It: or, How to Avoid being Kicked Out of a Boston Hotel with a Service Animal

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Doggone It: or, How to Avoid being Kicked out of a Boston Hotel with a Service Animal

Thursday, April 12th, 5:00PM, Boston

I’m standing at the front desk in the Boston Copley Marriott with my friend and colleague, the lovely and talented K. Flush with the success of having completed the Sherlock Holmes book chapter we’ve been slaving over for the better part of this past year, we have arrived to present our labor of love at the 2012 conference of the Popular Culture Association. The day has been a haze of airports, metal detectors, and bad coffee. (I am still determining whether or not to grant amnesty to the Atlanta airport for that assault on my digestive system they called coffee). My guidedog is unceremoniously dripping rain-water on the highly polished lobby floor, and after months of anticipation, I’m thinking this is a rather inauspicious beginning to our adventure.

After determining which of the hotel’s approximately eight elevators will take us to our room and depositing our belongings, K and I descend to the lobby to discretely inquire where we might find a patch of grass for my dog to relieve his bladder. Being a suburban Floridian where foliage is plentiful, I have apparently underestimated the difficulty of locating greenery in downtown Boston. A severe-looking bellhop informs us that our only option is to walk around the corner of the hotel, which seems simple enough until K and I walk outside and discover that a: it’s still raining, and b: “around the corner” is actually about three blocks away. A simple trip outside has now become operation dogwalk, which we will execute about four times a day during the duration of our stay. (On Friday I will attempt, with only partial success, to execute operation dogwalk in high-heeled boots, a decision for which K will remonstrate with me in mingled amusement and exasperation). For now, we slosh through the puddle-dotted streets, dodging raindrops and the occasional pedestrian-oblivious driver, Zeus does what he set out to do, and we trudge back to the hotel. I am about to express my relief at being indoors when my dog, ever a paragon of poise and grace (except when he isn’t) performs a muddy paw-print prance across the lobby, shaking the water from his back and spraying a half-amused, half-disgruntled bellhop in the process.
“Bit wet out there, eh?” he remarks as we pass. Since my teeth are chattering with cold, I cannot smile without biting my tongue, so I settle on a nod of acknowledgement as we head for the bank of elevators that seem more at home in Panem’s District 13 than here.
“I think he shook his fist at us,” whispers K as the doors close behind us. She doesn’t think he’s actually angry; Zeus has probably managed to diffuse the situation with cuteness, but I wonder if there’s a button on the wall panel that will take us to a subbasement, since there doesn’t seem any hope of the earth opening and swallowing me whole. We’re going to be kicked out…and we haven’t even made it to the hotel bar yet.

12:30AM

After what will hereafter be referred to as the “lobby incident,” nothing—not even increasingly painful stabs of hunger—could convince me to leave my room, where I was content to hide my face in shame for the remainder of my stay (assuming, of course, that we weren’t going to be asked to leave, or at the very least to mop the floor). It was with the suggestion of alcohol and the assurance that the hotel’s restaurant’s location on the 2nd floor would allow us to avoid another encounter with the wet bellhop that K coaxed me to leave. We ate a celebratory “hurrah, we are in Boston and will kick ass tomorrow” dinner in the hotel restaurant, where I am compelled to emphasize that we partook of only one adult beverage each. Note this for future reference: it will become important later in the story.

After another trek to the poop park to avoid potential dog-related shit hitting the fan, we popped into 7-11 to obtain alcohol only to remember that grocery and convenience stores in the North do not carry alcohol. From the perspective of the girl who runs into her local grocery at 12:45PM on a Sunday for a bottle of wine and purposely spends an unnecessary amount of time deliberating over red or white until 1:00PM so she can purchase said wine under Florida law, I found the resignation of returning to the hotel from an aborted mission to obtain adult beverages just a little sad.

In any case, we are now snugly settled in our room for the night, depressed by, well, our failure to obtain depressants. We discuss what time we should be up and about the following morning, and K heads for the bathroom to brush her teeth.

K: We have a problem.
Me (pausing in the search for my own toothbrush, which I suspect might be buried in the dog food): What’s the matter now?
K: it’s…the bathroom door.
Me: What’s wrong with it?
K: It’s stuck. I think it’s locked.
Side Note: the bathroom door is a sliding contraption with no outer handle–just a screw to indicate where the inside lock has probably, and, inexplicably, gotten stuck. Additional note: alcohol has been consumed only in limited quantities–see above.
Me: but that’s impossible. It can’t just lock itself. Are you sure?
K: Well, I can’t open it.
Me: Let me try. (Pull, grunt, insert four-letter expletive of your choice. Lather, rinse, repeat).
Zeus: looks on in bewilderment at strange humanoid antics.
Me: Um, you’re right. It’s locked.
K: (in v. “Thank you, Captain Obvious” tone)I told you it was.
Me: Well, I just wanted to be sure. I guess we should call the front desk.
K: Which would be fine, but I don’t see any numbers posted anywhere.

We begin searching for paper containing need-to-know information. We discover a room-service menu advertising Eggs Benedict for the reasonable price of $17.00. (Let it be known that unless the Benedict associated with said eggs is one named Cumberbatch, I cannot justify the cost).

K: I’ve found something. This says to call “at your service, and we’ll be happy to assist you.” Which would be great, except there’s no number listed.
Me: Maybe there are dialing instructions on the phone?
K: I don’t see any.
Me: Are you sure? (Pointing to phone on nightstand).
K: Oh my god, there are two phones. (Walks over to examine keypad) and, there’s a button labeled “At your service” right here on this phone. What a waste of time!
Me: Just so we’re clear on this, I’m the blind one, right? But wait…what phone were you using? I’m confused.
K: This one, over here (pointing to phone at the other side of the room).
Me: I…what?

Apparently, for reasons clear only to the hotel staff, there are two phones approximately 10 feet from each other, both of which connect to the same line, rendering the necessity of two phones essentially pointless, what with this being the 21st century and all, where people need to be surgically detached from their portable electronic devices. I want to laugh, but consider banning this activity until the bathroom door has been unlocked, because I’m not sure my bladder can withstand the unnecessary pressure.

1:00AM
K has successfully placed a call to the front desk, after which we endure an agonizing waiting period. Finally two men from the maintenance staff arrive, screwdriver in hand, and the path to the porcelain throne is unbarred, much to our relief.

Me: Well, we’re off to an interesting start.
K: That was weird. Two strange guys with screwdrivers just came into our room, at 1:00 in the morning.
Me: and I wasn’t wearing a bra. V. awkward, that.
The only thought I can form as I crawl into bed is “Thank god they haven’t kicked us out…yet.”

Coming soon: Episode 2 of the Boston Chronicles-stay tuned!

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