What should I be doing instead of this?
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By Bob Woodiwiss · November 8th, 2001 · Pseudoquasiesque
Check-in chafes. I can't simply be polite, I have to be friendly; I can't merely transact business, I have to meet our "hosts;" I can't just be interested in getting to our room, I have to feign interest in the house and grounds and grasp "how breakfast works." Thus, I'm reminded that vacationing at a Bed & Breakfast is always much harder work than the work it's supposed to provide a vacation from.

We're here because The Partner loves B&Bs. She also claims to love me. That these two paradoxical loves can exist in a single human vessel proves the existence of God. Or of multiple personality disorder.

Our room is over-decorated. Of course. Dark, ornate antiques compete so heavily for space I expect them to start throwing elbows. (The room is, however, shy one critical piece of furniture: a TV. This, I know from bitter past experience, is not the result of some cataclysmic blunder but rather of heartless intent.) Frilly lampshades and curtains make a brazen but largely futile attempt to distract one's eye from the clashing, vertigo-inducing floral prints of comforter, upholstery and wallpaper. Gracing various horizontal and vertical surfaces around the room are handmade craft items of faux stained glass, needlepoint, decoupage, appliqué, even shells glued into the shape of little people, each a reminder that the bric-a-brac arts are best left to the inmates of Chinese torture camps. (Theory: Antiques Roadshow, riding the swell of a bipolar mood swing, seduced an absinthe-swilling Martha Stewart Living and this room is their twisted mutant lovechild.) The bathroom is spun saccharine, with its dish of untouchable baby soaps, untouchable embroidered hand towels and un-tush-able decorative crocheted commode cover.

On the wall, a sampler featuring an outhouse genteelly alludes to an amusing aspect of urination. So, I think, standing there, Hell is ceramically tiled.

Making an exit here is troublesome. Troublesome because I can't seem to reach the sole door to the outside without being buttonholed by our chronic, lurking host. "Where are you off to today?" "Has our kitty-cat wandered back to your room to check you out yet?" "I see you've got a book with you. I love to read, too. Why I bet I've read every single one of those Chicken Soup books. Like Chicken Soup for the Camry Driver's Soul, Chicken Soup for the Mexican-American Dyslexic Hockey Player's Soul, Chicken Soup for the Taliban Soul ..., " "Does this look infected to you?" The Partner tells me these spontaneous discursions are harmless and diverting; I tell her they're assault with a deadly personality.

I sleep fitfully in the too-short, antique four-poster bed. (I'm confused: If the simian-to-human evolutionary transition was more or less completed tens of thousands of years ago, why is it that, all the way up through the 19th Century, the length of the average bed was only sufficient to comfortably accommodate a reclining chimpanzee?) Its tired wooden frame and slats protest with a long, low groan when I roll over on the lumpy mattress. In the morning I discover that the noise and lumps weren't the bed at all. I'd rolled over and smothered the aforementioned inquisitive kitty-cat.

And what would our B&B stay be without breakfast? (I suppose it would be a stay at a B or, perhaps, at a B&No B or, possibly, the negative-B of the non-Breakfast would cancel out the positive-B of the Bed and we'd simply be staying at the "0," but I digress.) This is a nasty affair. First, we're compelled to share a table with four other guests -- total strangers! All looking crisp, well-rested and Republican! And wearing madras, a practice I'd assumed had (sensibly) died in the roadhouses of the Middle Ages. Second, we are served and attended by our hosts who hover and jabber and urge to such an excruciating extent that I find myself longing wistfully to be a black man eating at Denny's. Third, I don't want dried fruit compote and Eggs Bangladesh and millet/pumpkin seed/cranberry granola and yam hash browns and mango slurry and cinnamon-raisin decaf at this hour of the morning. All I want is a triple espresso. Preferably pushed in front of me from the kitchen by a mute with a long stick. Fourth, did I mention that people wear madras here?

Time to leave. Check out. Settle up the bill. I send The Partner to take care of this. I don't want to know how much this little adventure is setting us back. Financially, I mean. I've already assessed how much it's set back our relationship. ©



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