And Now, a Few Words About the Honeymoon
There are just some things I have to talk about on the subject of the honeymoon. Mostly about the bed & breakfast. It's as though I'm 9 years old and have returned from 4-H Camp where the counselors have spent the week beating the children with wet ropes. And I simply need to tell the authorities.
I'll be unexpectedly kind and not list the exact name of said B & B, lest someone google the place and feel all twisted up because they've already booked it for a weekend.
A little segment of the honeymoon night:
Scott and I were really exhausted, hair still drenched, struggling to carry our luggage up the sidewalk. It was 11:00 p.m. Wes and Sheryl, our pastor and his wife, had checked out of the 3rd floor suite right after our wedding ceremony. The owners of the Cozy Hideout (yes, let's call it that) had had at least two hours to change the sheets, tidy up, etc. No problem at all for us to get there so late.
The master of the house let us in, since we had not yet acquired a key. He is difficult to describe, but for me he looks like someone who was born to play the mortician/embalmer/creepy neighbor/creature of the woods kind of guy in movies of the "Friday the 13th" ilk. That guy who is determinedly stepping over felled limbs in a forest while glaring menacingly at the sorority girl who has, yes, fallen down while running away from him. In her underwear.
Upon arrival at the B & B I was especially worn out because, with the excitement of the night and the storm and the running up and down the hill for pictures, I had not eaten more than half a helping of lasagna in the last 12 hours.
Lurch welcomed us to the Cozy Hideout and asked us how we were. I answered:
"Great. Really great night. You know, I'm wondering...I ate hardly anything today and we didn't think to bring snacks with us. Would you happen to have a cracker or anything I could have?"
I admit it, I was embarrassed to ask, but I was starving and didn't think it'd be a big deal.
Just "no." Then a beat of time passed and he threw his waxy hands into the air, way into the air since he's about 6'2", and rolled his eyes to the ceiling like a man who is about to trigger a trap door and drop you into his seething pit of rats. "We didn't plan on snacks!" It was as though I'd asked him to go to the kitchen and bring me the thigh bone of a Leprechaun. "But," he said proudly, "there are drinks in your refrigerator upstairs."
I was stunned. I stood there in a nutrient-deprived daze, trying to figure out if I had already killed Lurch, or was just gearing up for it.
Perhaps it was my physical weakness. Or my stunned-ness at his socially inept reply. Or just not wanting to mar the day by chewing out his spine in front of my groom.
"Oh," I said. "OK. We're going upstairs now."
As we started up the winding, creaky staircase, Lurch said: "Breakfast is at 8 o'clock."
Scott, naive civilized person that he is, asked "8 until when?"
Lurch: "Just 8."
And with that began our lovely 2-night stay in central Indiana's least adaptable bed & breakfast. Far be it from me to assume I know the proper etiquette for lodgery better than this man. I don't have a bed & breakfast. But it occurs to me that if I did, and if a freshly married couple came to stay with me on their wedding night, I would supply them with a few little goodies. Maybe a plate of Girl Scout Thin Mints and a bottle of cheap champagne. Or a measly Whitman's Sampler. Or a simple bowl of fruit with a "Congratulations" card. Any show of hospitality, say, a saucer of Fancy Feast, would have been a step up. But there was nothing. And the drinks in the fridge? Looked suspiciously as though the previous guests had left them there. A hodge podge of half a dozen mini-cans of pop sitting glumly, abandoned, like carbonated refugees from the Island of Misfit Snacks.
We were not impressed. Scott offered to go out and get me something at the convenience store, the only thing open in this little town at this hour. But I said I'd be fine.
Later, while my new husband was sleeping, I was starving. As my mom says: "My big guts were eatin' my little guts." I was cursing the sleeping Lurch, imagining his hearty dinner of something that would match his personality, like boiled flank of jackal. I got out of bed and dumped the contents of my purse onto the carpet. When I saw the little cellophane package with the fortune cookie inside, I clapped like a sea lion. Only the snoozing Scott kept me from triumphantly honking like a sea lion. It didn't matter that the fortune cookie had been purse-smashed to pieces the size of rice. It was my key to surviving until daylight.
The sound of the cellophane crackling was joyous. I poured the cookie vapor into my mouth and fished out the fortune before I swallowed it. I was astonished to see that it said "Use a sledgehammer on the big man downstairs." OK, I'm lying. But the cookie was delicious. I sat and sucked on my teeth for several minutes, waiting for my stomach to get the message that all was well. But it only felt toyed with, led on.
I'd asked Scott to wake me for breakfast. He shook me gently at 7:55 a.m., and said "Do you want to go downstairs to eat?"
No. So the poor lonely groom went to the dining room alone. Or so he thought. At the other table was a trio of elderly folks who were in town for their 165th high school reunion. When Scott told me later that the entree was "a sausage-y quiche sort of thing...you'd have gagged on it," I was glad I hadn't made the effort to show up. He also said that the conversation next to him had vividly revolved around chronic physical ailments and dead or dying friends. Always a perk at a meal.
We took off for my niece's farm at lunchtime. The diehard members of Scott's family were there to help gather up and put away the last remnants of the wedding. Then we all sat down and chowed on the wedding leftovers. The lasagna was even better the second time, as lasagna tends to be. When we headed back to the Cozy Hideout, we loaded up on foodstuffs. No way were we going to be stranded again in Ghoulville with nothing to eat. We had an embarrassment of riches. Cheese, garlic bread, olives, peppers, fruit, wine, and scrumptious no-bake cookies from the baker who did our wedding cake.
Honeymooning couples like their alone time. Especially if it is raucous alone time. And there is an unsettling feeling when, moments after such raucousness, the proprietor of the inn yells up the stairs:
Oh my God.
"Uh, hello?" Me.
"Just making sure everything's going well and you have everything you need!" What did this mean?
"Everything's great. Thanks." Yeah, now he shows up wanting to be of some assistance.
It was then that Scott and I pointedly realized the very open design of the house. The quaint window-like cut-outs near the entrance of our suite made a clear passageway for sound to carry all the way to the first floor. Luckily we had gagged the hyenas and oiled the squeaky trapezes that we had rigged for our nuptials. But still, the idea of Cadaver Boy skulking by to yell up the stairs right then was icky.
I wanted escape. My parents are a 3-minute drive from the Cozy Hideout. And from everything in town, really. I was already feeling homesick for them, since I was leaving for Phoenix in 2 days.
Me: "I know it's our honeymoon, but can we go see my parents?"
Scott (most understanding man in the Western Hemisphere): "Hell yes!"
We hung out with Mom and Dad, watched some TV, talked about the wedding. At 10 p.m. we returned to our suite. I hadn't noticed, on our first night, just how remarkably creepy the place looks in the dark. Like scenery from "Young Frankenstein." As we climbed the merciless winding staircase again, I became focused on the idea that Motel Hell was, indeed, haunted.
During the night, I had to make a bathroom trip. The Ghouls-R-Us feeling had intensified. In the far corner of the bedroom was an old wooden rocking chair, a la Bates Motel. I was terrified that if I looked at it, someone would be sitting there, with or without all their limbs. I cupped my hands around my eyes to form some makeshift blinders.
"Don't look at the chair. Don't look at the chair," I whispered to myself. And yes, I did feel like a Grade-A idiot.
I managed to drag myself out of bed to make it to breakfast on our 2nd and last morning, only because I felt bad for Scott eating alone. We sat at the table drinking coffee and watching a plump, Oompah Loompah of a woman feather-dusting the 9,000 knick knacks covering every flat surface in the house. One of the flaws in the philosophy of the Cozy Hideout, in Candy's humble opinion, is that the owners spend their energy and money on collecting a massive amount of antiques, dolls, vases, homely amateur paintings, yellowed photographs, doilies, instead of providing some genuine, welcoming ambience.
I said to the woman "Interesting place to work, I'll bet."
She looked up with a somewhat trancey beaming smile. "It is a joy to work here. An absolute joy." OK. Good. Job satisfaction is good.
The mistress of the house, several notches closer to normal than her spouse, brought us a mediocre French toast/cream cheese/berry thing and said "Now you feel free to stay as long as you want today. Don't worry about the check out time."
Not that we were dying to stay, but it was nice to have some flexibility. After breakfast I of course needed a nap from the exertion. Scott went to put a few loads of stuff into the car. When he came inside, the cheerful Oompah maid had transformed into someone else entirely.
"I need to get into your room to change the sheets!" said the surly she-beast.
"Well, the owner said we could stay as long as we want," Scott said.
"Well I have to leave at 11:30 and I need to change those sheets!"
"NO," Scott said. "My wife is sleeping, and you can't go in there!"
The wildebeest hoofed away angrily, off to eat some children.
I woke up when Scott came back to the room. He had had it with the Cozy Hideout.
"Let's just shower at your parents'. I'm ready to be outta here."
So I tossed my stuff together and threw on shorts and a T-shirt. We descended the stairs one last time. But wait! We hadn't played basketball! The entire reason for our choosing this joint was going to waste.
Opening the door off the kitchen, we entered the stale old gymnasium, charming in its old timey-ness, the foul lines almost totally rubbed off from years of use. Each of us threw 5 free throws, and Scott took a photo of me kneeling down behind the basketball, my finger in a "We're number one" gesture. And that was that. We left.
Outside our own bed & breakfast world was another very different flavor of treatment. Gail, on whose blog Scott and I met, was our guest of honor at the wedding. We had gotten 2 rooms for her, her husband and daughter at the B & B on the outskirts of town. The place was beyond well-kept, gorgeously decorated, filled with just enough glamor and kitsch to please the eye. The couple who own it are amazingly nice, warm, accommodating, normal people. I knew Gail would love the various themes in the rooms. The one I chose for her and her husband looked fit for royalty, all purple velvet and lush pillows and perfection.
The day after the wedding, we went there to see Gail and family off, and regaled them with the details of our experience across town. Gail told us that their hosts had offered to feed them any time they were hungry. They had, in fact, provided a lavish breakfast and packed up a bag of still-warm muffins for their departing guests to eat on the road.
"If you'd gotten here on your wedding night and were starving," said the angelic hostess, "I'd have made you a full meal."
At this point, Scott and I were so crushed with envy that we wanted to crawl under the house and chew off our own hands. But instead we watched Gail drive away in the 24 karat gold Rolls Royce she'd been given along with the warm baked goods. OK, the car didn't happen, but the rest did. And really, who does that Gail think she is anyway? Sure, she handed us love and happiness. But she ran away with our muffins.