“Dad!” my son says with every bit of sass that a ten-year-old boy can muster. “This is not our hotel!”
“Yes, it is. I’m sure of it,” I say.
I’m totally not sure if this is our hotel.
I’ve got vacation brain; father’s variation. The normal vacation brain is one where you lose track of time, perhaps you don’t even know what day it is. Is it Wednesday or Monday? Who cares, where’s my piña colada?
The father’s variation of vacation brain is much more severe. You are not sure what month it is. All you know is that you have somehow survived an eight-hour car ride with three little people that sang a song about cheese for the last hour.
“Honey, are you sure this is our hotel?” my wife says as I pull into the valet parking.
“Don’t you start. This is our hotel. Yes. I am totally sure of it,” I say.
I get why everyone is asking questions. This hotel is way, way nicer than I usually pick for our family vacations. For starters, there is valet parking. I never pick places that have valet parking. First off, it costs a lot of money to valet park, and as a father of three, I need that money to pay for braces and valium. Second, yeah, the hotels I usually pick are shit holes.
This hotel is also really tall. Way tall. As tall as Superman can jump. I don’t see anyone rolling in tractor tires either. That’s a true story. We once stayed at a place where a guy rolled in big tractor tires and asked if he could keep them in his room. I was more surprised when the concierge (missing teeth desk-clerk) told him that it was just fine, and that it happens all the time. This place has no tractor tires. Instead, it has a sign that is gilded, and the aroma of scented candles can be smelled from the street. A young, well-groomed man approaches me as I pull up to the valet.
“Where’s self-parking?” I ask him.
“Just around the corner, next to the Starbucks,” he says.
I’m still not paying for valet. I don’t care how fancy this place is.
I park the family minivan and everyone plods out, making sure to kick the complete dumpster of trash that we have in the back. I have no idea how they do it, we don’t bring that much with us, but at the end of the day we have enough refuse in the back of the van to build quaint folk art.
“Come on, everyone, grab your gear and follow me,” I say.
My daughter comes up to me, asks in a whisper, “There is no way this is our hotel. It’s ok, daddy. We can just get back into the car and get to our real hotel.”
“I said it’s our hotel. Now come on,” I tell her, loud enough so that everyone should get the point. Dad is tired, quit doubting me.
I can’t back down now. Does my family look at me like a cheap miser? Maybe, sometimes I have to be. It is expensive raising three kids on one income. But I’m a great planner, usually, until I’m not. To find this place I hit the web and got us a great deal. At least, I’m pretty sure I did. Hopefully. I’m just not actually sure of the hotel’s name. I made the reservation three months ago when one of the kids had the flu. I got puked on and forgot to write down the name. It started with an H, of that I’m sure. And it was in downtown. But then one thing lead to another, blah blah blah, I couldn’t find the actual email confirming my reservation. There is a chance that the deep state hacked my computer just to foul me up. Damn bastards, always deep stating things.
So when we set off on this trip, I looked up on my good old maps and found the only hotel that started with an H. And here we are, walking into a place with our luggage while men rush us.
My son gives a squeak. Who are these men? He’s never seen this before. I hand the uniformed men my luggage. I notice that they have all their teeth.
“Dad! Why did they take our bags? Are they going to throw them out on the street?”
“No. They are going to hold it for us, and then take it to our room,” I tell him. “This place is fancy. Tuck in your shirt and wipe the jelly off your face. Let’s at least act like we belong here.”
“But dad, we don’t have a room here. This is way too fancy.”
“Shut it,” I tell him.
I say thank you to the porters, and I head to the front desk. The moment of truth.
“I’m here to check in. I believe I have a reservation?” I say/ask. This is going to be pretty embarrassing but I’ve gone this far. Might as well go all the way. I look at the guy, my eyes trying to grow big like a wounded kitten. Please let me be right. And if I’m not, please tell me I am so that I don’t lose face in front of the family. Also, I’m sorry that we stink. The five-year-old likes to splash around in truck stop bathrooms. I have no idea why.
I take out my ID and hand it too him. My wife shakes her head and pats me on the shoulder. She’s trying to tell me it’s ok to back out now. The bluff has been called, lets go down the street and find the hotel where they rent to you by the hour.
“Ah, Mr. Carpenter! We’ve been expecting you. Your room is already made up and since you paid at the time of your booking, your are good to go.”
“Ha!” I say, wheeling around to face my family. “Ha! Ha! Ha! I was right. I told you this was our hotel!” I’m loud enough that other guests are raising their monocles to stare at us.
“But this hotel has a restaurant in the lobby! How can this be our hotel!” my daughter asks.
“Because dad is freaking awesome you bunch of sour grapes. Look at this place! I’m awesome and right and all of you should have more faith in me!”
“Excuse me, Mr. Carpenter,” the clerk says. Well, that was short lived. I’m about to get the old speech all parents fear when on vacation. The “there appears to be a problem with your card” speech. This was nice while it lasted.
“Would you like to upgrade your room to a suite? No charge, of course. We have some vacancies tonight so it would be no problem.”
“Why yes, my good sir,” I say.
“No problem, Mr. Carpenter. Here are your room keys.”
I like how he calls me mister. That’s a man that knows how to show some respect.
As we leave, the porters already getting an elevator for us, my son asks me, “Can we eat at the restaurant here, too?”
“Oh, hell no. We need to find someplace that’s cheap. Preferably one that allows tractor tires in the dining area.”
Photo credit: Pixabay