Friday, September 23, 2011

Our Taj Mahal

Deb: It’s the last thing I would have expected. My husband and I checked into a hotel in a small town for business. The company we were working for apologized up and down about the level of accommodation explaining that at this particular location it was the only game in town. They assured us the other locations would be better and it turns out they are. Mind you, the other hotels would not have far to come to top our current address.

Those of you who know and read me, are fully aware that I am a stuff snob. I like nice things. Sue me. I do not like to stay for business in a place that I would not stay in for pleasure. I know what you are thinking right now, but I have chosen to be honest rather than admired.

I will state categorically that I am NOT a people snob. Not even close. Don’t care who you are, where you’re from, what you make, or how you lace your shoes. I will take you at face value. Things? Not so much.

Our hotel room had scary bedspreads, a shower drain that plugged up when you showered so that you are standing in water up to your ankles, a channel changer that changed the volume but not the channel, mold on the bathtub and floor, and a toilet handle that was so corroded that when you pulled it down you could see right through the tank. Add to that the fact that after I took my first shower (in flip flops, oh yes!) the noise from the drain was so loud and continuous for the rest of the week that we had to close the bathroom door in order to sleep. Okay, so I had to shut the door.  My husband could sleep soundly if he was laying in the shower, lucky bastard.

But the piece de resistance was the smell that started slowly day two and built through the week into what can only be described as dead rotting critter.  The only other room available was filled with smoke and so we chose to stick with Rotty The Reeking Rodent, rather than move. On the last day they managed to move us when a room came up and we slept one night reek-free.

But the biggest shock of that week in the Bates Motel came not in the form of mold or stink or stains or scum or one TV channel. It came in the form of romance. I cannot explain it. Neither of us can. But it became one of the loveliest romantic fun-filled weeks we have ever spent.

To offset the Eau de Roadkill, I lit a scented candle that I brought with me. I cannot begin to describe to you what the scent of lavender does to rot ... well, I can actually: lavender rot. And yet romance prevailed. Oh yes. The motel gods were trying to tear us asunder but we defied their damnation that week. We clicked rhythmically, exactly like the sound of the 6-dollar bottles of spring water dropping into the slot in the third floor vending machine.

If you had seen us laughing, walking hand in hand along the quaint streets, you would have thought that it was because we still had the sweet taste of our pillow chocolate melting in our mouths. If you had witnessed us holding hands at dinner you would have been certain that a champagne and strawberry tray awaited us back at the inn instead of the sickly sweet scent of rodent CSI.

It wasn’t this romantic when we were in Paris for the love of mike. Okay, twelve-year-old boy was in a cot at the end of our bed. Still. Relationships don’t always have as much surprise value as the years go on, so the silly shocking surprise of this week made us feel like newlyweds again.

Now I just have to figure out how to convince my husband that the romance was a one time only deal in such a place as this! Back to the 5-star we go. After all, a snob is just a person who has made a commitment to her high standards. And I for one pride myself on honouring my commitments!

But dumpy digs notwithstanding, I learned this week, especially since the nest is empty, that wherever my husband is, is home.

Barbara: Well, I’m not so much of a stuff snob. Deb knows this. I’m often as happy just admiring from a distance as getting to have it. But here’s where the wheels come off: dirt and smells. This Bates Motel you describe brings out every shudder that I have in my body. Dead critter smell? Noooooooooo! The worst. Mold in the shower? Arrrrrrgggggghhhh! Shiver, shudder, gag, and faint. And then not being able to go somewhere else? This is maybe my worst nightmare.

All this to say that I admire your romantic time that much more. It seems that when little things can so often get in the way of romance, it’s a downright miracle that this didn’t waylay even the best laid plans. So impressed with you guys. But also not gonna be searching for love in all the wrong places. 


  1. Wee, first comment! But first class of the day awaits me, will post later! :)

  2. Wow that motel sounds just horrible. Wow the smell and the nasty shower. Nasty. That would have been enough for me right there. I am glad that you all were able to make a positive out of a negative. The fact that you all were together is the the best part.

    I have stayed at a really bad hotel when I graduated from high school with my boyfriend and it was horrible. Maby not As bad as the one you all stayed at but still bad. The bed was so hard that the I had to use my boys arm as a pillow. The floors were nasty and when u would step in the showers part of the shower up too would fall down on you. To say we all never. Stayed there again for any kind of road trip.

  3. What a great story of turning a lemon in to lemonade!!! I don't know if I could do it Deb, your motel sounds so gross. I too, like nice stuff (especially in a hotel) It's a great thing you had that lavender candle with you! You got through an endurance test together and love prevailed! I love it!!!!

  4. Holly, see you later. Hope you day of classes is great. Yeah Lyndsie, sounds like you have experienced the Bate's hotel yourself. Mary-Jo, it was funny how the lemonade came about. Just happened. Meant to be I guess.

  5. ick, I'd rather have pitched a tent. I'm not particular about a lot of things but hotel rooms are one of them. Without doubt I like my comfort and grime does not make me comfortable. Sounds like you certainly made the best of it. I love those surprise moments when romance is or should be the last thing on your mind and then somehow becomes the only thing on your mind.

  6. I love that sentence Erin about romance. Beautiful.

  7. OHMYGOSH!!!! I just got filled with warm fuzzies! :] I think you two could have the most romantic time anywhere!!! :D So glad you all still had a good time even though the accommodations were...sketchy. MOLD. HACK!!!

    Speaking of which, Deb, I know your husband goes on tour across the US....AND WE'RE SEEING IT IN NOVEMBER!!!!!! (actually...8 weeks from today). So pumped! This post just made me more excited! :]

  8. "I have chosen to be honest rather than admired."

    This has gone straight into my collection of favourite quotes.

    I hardly notice my environment -- it doesn't have to be "nice" -- but it has to look clean and the door has to lock. Hot water is nice, and a scrubbed bathroom is required in a public place or hotel room.

    My home drives some of my friends batty. Due to our water issues and their insolvability at present, our household water contains iron and sulphur. Not only does it turn rusty brown within moments of exiting the pipes and making contact with oxygen, but it has a smell. Living here, and being raised with water having similar qualities, I've gotten used to it. But when friends come out from the city? They are put off; their noses lift about an inch; I know they won't stay longer than they have to, as they need their fluoride-treated clear water. Which I also enjoy when I go to their places.

    I won't invite you over till we get the new water system, Deb! Or ... perhaps a holiday on a Saskatchewan farm could be your next romantic getaway ... hee!

  9. Deb,

    I'm just tying together the stench of your decomposing mouse which surely must've bloated up with enough intestinal bacteria feeding on the corpse from the inside out during during the week to have ruptured and spilled liquified putrifaction into the wall with your earlier post about your gag reflex and truly boggling over how you made it through the week much less made it through with the swooniest, snuggliest, most loveydovey warm fuzzies.

    That was certainly a peculiar bit of grace.

    Cool. Very cool.

    It does beg the question, though, of how long it is taking to get the remnants of the wreak out of your suitcases.

    Thinking back to your earlier picture of you curled up in your husband's lap, I can only think, "If anyone, those two." Yup.

  10. Lovely that you can make passionate love in a place like this. I am also impressed you brought flip flops. I have stay in some pretty bad places with bedbugs and toilets overflowing and not flushing filled with other people's crap. But after all is said and done romance gets the better of me too. Well, sometimes anyway.

  11. Kelly remind me just before you see the show. I know that Colin would meet you backstage. Kate, it's funny but that does not bother me. Our family cottage when I was a kid, had a well and it smelled like sulphur from the iron content. It's only when something is dirty that it gets me. Rigel I have never used brilliant and gag worthy in the same sentence but that describes your comment. Loved it. You know Madge I once got a plantar wart in a hotel shower and ever since then, plastic flip flops for me!

  12. I immediately thought of the Bates Motel after I read the first paragraph! So sweet that after all these years, you and Colin can find romance in the best and worst of places!

  13. I have to admit, I read this post with (probably) a most disgusted look on my face the entire time, but right at...

    "It came in the form of romance" onward, I broke out into the biggest smile that I can possess at 8:30 in the morning!!! Y'all are just proof that it doesn't matter where you are; what matters is who you're with!!! :)

    P.S. In case you haven't figured it out yet Kelly and I are beside ourselves with excitement for November!

  14. Carolyn, yep took us by surprise too! Holly I am so glad that I made you smile! And please remind me before you guys go. Colin will meet you backstage! Don't forget!!!

  15. I about fell out of my chair in a fit of giggles reading about the romance of the situation. Sorry you had endure such a room. Places like that should be comdemned. I had a similar experience last summer, but without the rot or someone to laugh about it with. Glad you were able to turn it into something amazing to remember.

    You and Colin are rocking in those outfits. You both just look fantastic!

  16. Thanks Molly it has been fun. And you are so right. It makes all the difference in the world when you have someone to laugh at it with. You will, girl, you will.

  17. Deb! Snap out of it!! Your husband went and got a bottle of that cheap, dead skunk, rot, aphrodisiac stuff from one of those tacky Lovecraft places and planted it in the bathroom to look like mould. Oldest trick in the book! Come on now.....

  18. Oh, I most certainly will not forget! Next to graduation this is something I am really looking forward to!

  19. Just checking in after a big day -- great comments! Tim -- won't even acronym it -- LAUGHED OUT LOUD!! Thanks!

  20. I couldn't help but laugh at the hysterical post above mine! LOL
    Anyway, while reading your post, Deb, I've been reminded of some hotel rooms in my past. Now, none of them were quite as horrifying as yours, but we did have a room once that has a leaking ceiling. So much water was coming down through, according to my folks, they thought it would totally collapse! My parents demanded that we be moved as soon they could do it. Now, we've become first-class room snobs. ;)
    Having an experience like that brings people together, in an odd way. One of the fun things about traveling with others. Interestingly enough, I must confess that I didn't hear the water. I guess Colin and I both the kind of people who could sleep through a tornado- lucky us!
    Again, those outfits look awesome on you guys! :)

  21. Okay Tim, clearly you have his number. I will take this up with him. Thanks so much for pointing this out. Barb clearly you have seen the truth in Tim's comments and I have seen the light. Beth I envy you your tornado sleep. I WISH!

  22. Just sayin Deb......nothing like a guy's perspective to throw a blanket on this whole romance thing eh?

  23. And sometimes a blanket is all you need.

  24. Nah. It's way better when you have someone to spoon with under the blanket.

  25. Ok, I'm getting afraid of where this is did we get from romance to this? Never mind, sorry I asked......

  26. Tim -

    If you want to play with words and have conversational tangents, this is the place. Give us your best shot. Let's play. ;)

  27. Nope.....I think I'll w-rigel out of this while I still can! Hugs!

  28. Tim for any number of reasons I love that you are in the mix. It is so great to have a smart male point of view. Join us. We are friendly. It's nice to get another point of view.

  29. Nice to be stuck in the middle with you too Deb....
    I've got the male thing covered, not too sure about smart though....
    I've got five sisters, this kinda feels like home!

  30. Tim I love that you are here! Simply love it. I forgot about the five sisters. Yes, you belong. This makes me very happy.

  31. I'm laughing too hard at Rotty the Reeking Rodent to comment properly. I'll be back.


  32. Okay, I'm better now. The romantic side of this got me all mushy and calmed down.

    I just got back from Ottawa and Kingston, ONT (to see "Whose Live Anyway?"). I stayed in a Days Inn that was...well, a Days Inn. I needed a bed and a decent shower and that's what I got. (I never thought of the flip flop idea, though I did wear them in the dorm showers all throughout college.)

    Deb, I literally would have slept in my car if I'd ended up where you did. I've told Colin that the reason I drive home after the shows is because I don't want to stay in the hotels that would fit into my budget. I simply can't do it. You're made of stronger stuff than I am. 'Course, it does help when the spouse is there and the romance all clicks into place once again. How sweet is that. Sigh...

    It's such a warm sense of RIGHT when what happens while you're there outshines where you stay.
    (And mitigates the Eau de Lavender Roadkill, at least somewhat.)

    I'm just glad my car is comfy.

  33. I'm just glad my car is comfy! Wow, good for you. Could not do that I am afraid. I guess we all have our line in the sand don't we? Next time I will take scented cream and stick it up my nose. IF there IS a next time. So hope not. Last place we stayed at was not fancy, but clean as could be.

  34. I've changed my share of outfits in McDonald's restrooms, too. Gotta do what you gotta do, but also what you can do.
    Bring one of your dogs. Or just imagine you brought the dog. Right before she was bathed. LOL

  35. Deb -

    Mentholatum or Vicks Vapor Rub are preferred for coating the inside of your nostrils when dealing with corpses that aren't fresh dead. Tiger Balm is too strong and burns a bit.

    Mentholatum is also good nostril stuff if you have to debride a wound that's gone to necrotic tissue/gangrene. But, scent abatement does nothing to help you handle the sight of lifting the soiled, homemade bandage and revealing that the person has got maggots in the wound. FWIW, I've had patients who were alive because of the maggots. Believe it or not, the larvae do a great job of keeping a wound clean and cutting down on the risk of systemic infection.

    Now that I'm typing this, Deb, I'm thinking there are some fields that maybe you ought not explore given your gag reflex.

  36. Rigel,

    Menthol corpse is still menthol corpse. Nothing worked for me when I worked in the field of eye and corneal donation. Light toilet water (???) spray or perfume was too much. I just didn't breathe. :) It's never pleasant, regardless of the scent protection.

  37. Meh. When you're doing harvesting, they are at least fairly fresh dead. But, yeah, you are so right about the perfume. Bad to worse! Ugh! Mentholatum doesn't totally clear the situation, but it helps for that first minute or so until I'm adjusted (especially if there are fluids involved). After the first couple of minutes, I don't really notice much anymore. Thank goodness, I've been lucky in that most of the corpses I've dealt with have been fresh dead waiting for either the crime lab or the funeral home (or harvest team! :) ). Floaters and bloaters were never much in my arena. I can deal with it if I have to, but I'd prefer not. Let me work on the living, please. Let me fight for them.

    I'm jealous, Dawn! A friend of mine when I lived in SC was a tech on-call for cadaver cornea harvest, and I found it completely fascinating. That's a job I would gladly work --- using science and technique to help a beautiful good rise out of a horrible bad.

    I've gotta give MAJOR props to the researches over at the body farm in Knoxville. They are badass! Some of the stuff they do with their corpses would make me take a couple of steps back. It's this bizarre swirl of completely intriguing science and nightmarish horror show. If I ever were offered the chance to tour, I'd say yes just out of intellectual curiosity. They do brilliant work over there. But, I have a sneaking suspicion I'd be a vegetarian for a few weeks afterward. lol

    Actually, one of the worst human body smells I've ever had to deal with came from someone who was still alive. Well, barely. Bless his heart. It was a crushing injury with tearing, full abdomen and both legs. Let's just say that as each moment ticked by in the trauma bay, more of his large intestine was outside of his body than still within. It takes A LOT to phase me in an ER or ambulance, but when that splattering started, even I had to do some fast, shallow breathing.

    What does phase me? Unseated eyeballs hanging by optic nerve down on the person's cheek, slit throats (esp. if foaming and gurgling), decapitations, and major amputations give me pause. Oh, and I don't like seeing brain matter outside of the skull. But, it's just a second's pause, and then I cowgirl up. What needs to be dealt in my head can be dealt with later after my patient has either been transferred out of my care or has been declared dead.

    Autopsies of adults don't phase me. It's just meat. The person's gone. It's just anatomical study.

    Autopsies of children/babies. Well. We're not gonna discuss that. No. Moving along...

    I handle the natural side of death better than I do anything to do with artificial corpse processing. Embalming, trocars, and all that stuff bother me to no end. *shudders* I could NEVER, ever be a mortician. *shivers*

    Oh, Dawn, would you agree that the worst smells are the ones you can taste?

    Ugh, and don't you hate how morgue smell clings to your hair and clothes?

  38. Dawn and Rigel, I am realizing that the dead creature in our hotel would not have phased you girls at all! Got my gag reflex working here this morning ladies! :-)

  39. Deb: I think I'd be fine with the corpse. The smell, however, is still ugly.
    I'm sorry we took that wrong toyn at Albuquerque with this. It's rare that we morbid folks find others like us to chat with.


    Rigel, have you ever read "STIFF: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers" by Mary Roach? It's a fascinating history of medical science/doctoring and also covers areas of research that use corpses, including the work done and purposes of those body farms.

    I need to point out that, though my cases were "fresh," (within 24 hours), not everyone else in the morgue was. Doing a case in the same room in which an autopsy on a "floater" was also being done is another one of those things you don't forget.

    I agree, that scent clinging to your clothes was another side effect I didn't care for. That's when the windows got rolled down, even in single-digit weather.

    Before I was hired by the eye bank, and yes, I removed eyes or corneas (depending on transplant suitability), I had to watch an autopsy, to make sure I wouldn't barf and waste all the money it'd take to teach me. The pathologist who did it ate lunch first: an egg salad sandwich. Ulp. Later (months?), I could eat, too, but that sandwich killed me.

    I was going to major in nursing, but after one semester, I realized that I'm not a nurse. Props to you for handling patients and all that entails. I'd rather work with the dead. Wasn't willing to go to med school after college. Had I, I'd be a anatomic pathologist. Instead, I'm trained as a clinical microbiologist. Yeah, bring on the specimens! (Sputum is the worst. Poo is just poo, but who wants to deal with SNOT? Ick.)

    The eye bank brings with it an odd sense of humor. I'd tell people what I did and there was one of three reactions. The medical field people would want to watch. Some people, my dad included, would say "Congrats on getting a job. Never discuss it." The third type always reacted with,"You take eyes out of dead people??" My answer: "Well, yeah. The live ones kick too much."

    I'll actually stop this here. A good idea, no? :)

  40. God, this conversation looks/sounds even worse when you scroll back up the page and see Deb in those beautiful costumes.

  41. LOLOLOL Yeah, my first reaction to Dave's job was, "Ooooo! Can I come with you on your next call, please?!?!?"

    I tried to interlibrary loan _Stiff_ a while back, but the local library couldn't (wouldn't?) get it. I'm currently twitching to get my hands on the recent book about Einstein's brain.

    Dawn, just look at it this way: Anyone who was 57 in 1912 is already a corpse. And, the sad truth is that fewer folks made it to 57 a century ago. The real versions of those lovely costumes are currently moldering around bones and teeth.

    For the record, I don't consider myself morbid in the least. I just have a very clinical approach to adult, human corpses. I do the Christianity thing, so, as far as I'm concerned, the soul has left the building. It's not a person anymore. It's just complicated meat to be studied, and in the case of crime, avenged. But, of course, human remains should be treated with respect and compassion shown toward the families.

    I do, however, have a huge problem with pediatric corpses. But, I'm not going to have that discussion.

    BTW, just out of curiosity, how fast did the aqueous humor get cloudy? I've never gotten to see the fluid in a syringe after the increase of crystals in suspension.

    And, you had the advantage that once you started dissecting the eyes, you were no longer dealing with having a body giving you a doll's eyes stare.

    Yet, I tear up over dogs, cats, rabbits, squirrels, and raccoons dead on the street after being hit by cars.

    *shrugs* I dunno. I'm just mutant me.

  42. P.S. Dawn, do you ever play the Band Name Game? You know, when suddenly a random phrase in a conversation will register with one of the participants in the conversation as a set of words that would make an excellent band name?

    Menthol Corpse could totally be a band name. I'm thinking that would be a band that Abby on NCIS listens to.

    P.P.S. "Wrong toyn at Albuquerque" slayed me. I'm in the habit of referencing this one myself:
    I'm always tickled pink when someone gets it when I talk about interwesting monsters with interwesting hair dos. And, yes, it the opportunity does turn up in an occasional conversation.

  43. Deb -

    If only you could read the reply that Dawn emailed me. LOL

    "jars" *snort* *giggle*


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