Monday, October 24, 2005

Bounded by Deception and Hairy Toes

Josh’s dad told us that bad things happen in threes. It was comforting at the time, because we got hit last week with three doozies. First, Maggie pulled some coffee beans off the counter and had a feast. That was an expensive trip to the doggie emergency room and a long night of worrying. Second, I ran into a door, smashing at least three toes. I’m not even really sure why I have toes. Their only purpose on my feet seems to be to either run into something or trip over it. Third, I stuck either my thumb or Josh’s cell phone antenna in his eye when, in a sleepy daze, I tried to hand his phone to him while he was rolling over to get it because some jackass was calling at six in the morning. I had to limp into the doctor’s office with him holding his eye. I’m sure that looked great to the nurses. Oh, and as a side note, I was looking around the doctor’s office with a strange sense of déjà vu, when I realized that I actually HAD been there before. It was the former office of Dr. Tooler, a.k.a. Dr. Quackler, a.k.a. Dr. This-is-Gonna-Hurt-and-That-Makes-Me-Happy. It brought back some memories. When I told my brother about it, he told me this awful story about getting a toothpick stuck in his toe for a few weeks. That’s precisely why I don’t think I should have kids. If any other kid in the world is going to end up with a toothpick in his foot, it’s going to be one with my genes.

After all that happened, Josh and I decided we were ready for some good luck. Our three bad things were out of the way. The timing was perfect because we were about to go on our anniversary mini-vacation. Josh surprised me with tickets to Nine Inch Nails, which was very sweet considering that he was going to be utterly terrified through the entire show. We planned to get there a couple hours early for munchies and beer, but Chicago decided to stick it to us. That’s when we started to realize that bad things may happen in threes, but that doesn’t mean that good things are due next. One set of bad things can easily follow another.

I’m not sure why I’m paying Chicago to drive on the crappiest road in the country. We spent around twenty bucks total on tolls, and that bought us a ride on a congested, bumpy, dangerous road. Traffic is never bad when I don’t have somewhere to be and my bladder is empty. When I’m due at a concert in an hour and I just drank a liter of water, then it’s bound to be backed up to the Quad Cities. It didn’t help that our friends that were also going to the show kept calling every twenty minutes, asking where we were, sounding very smug about the ice cold beers they were drinking. We rolled into the hotel parking lot right at 7, when the opening band for the opening band was supposed to start.

We checked into the hotel, quickly changed, and downed a couple beers. The concert was just through our parking lot. On our way, we passed a car in the hotel lot with two naughty teenagers rolling up a joint. There were cops about 100 feet away, directing traffic. We pointed and laughed at them. I’m glad they didn’t shoot us.

The arena was filled with angst-ridden teenagers that hated their rich parents for no reason. To rebel against their minivan driving moms and dads (who were picking them up outside at 10:00 sharp… no “buts”, mister…), they dyed their hair black, wore lots of black eyeliner and black lipstick, stuffed themselves into black leather, and probably wrote poetry about the blackness of their souls. Josh quietly warned me not to start any fights.

I’m used to paying more for everything in bigger cities, but the Allstate Arena should be ashamed of itself for charging $6.75 for beers. I can get a beer that size at Third on First on Fridays for a buck fifty. Seriously. $6.75 for a beer. That’s not even right. Hell, I could probably get a twelve pack of Natty Ice for that. Chicago beer prices are just silly. I remember the first time I ever went to the bars there was after a Cubs game a few years ago. I got away without buying beers for a few rounds, but when I decided it was my turn, I pretty much got wiped out on a single round. The bastards around Wrigleyville charge four dollars for a CAN of beer. That’s more than I was used to paying for pitchers while living in Ames. I guess living in Iowa, especially a college town, can spoil a person. Oh, and pitchers were $12 at the hotel after the show. For Bud Light. Really.

Nine Inch Nails put on a hell of a show. There were some d-bags behind us in a VIP area. They actually invited a couple skanks that were sitting in our row to come up and “party” with them. The skanks were all about it, of course. They were all loud and obnoxious through most of the show, including inappropriate times like “Hurt”. They were hootin’ and hollerin’ about a baboon that had been up on the screen a few songs before. One of Josh’s bitchy coworkers actually mocked me for saying “hootin’ and hollerin’” when I was telling the story to someone else. She can kiss my BWA. As if I use that in normal conversation. I wasn’t talking to her in the first place. Wench.

The next day we were supposed to meet Lorelle in some suburb a little south and west of where we were staying. Josh decided to take a different way due to the advice of a rambling drunk man the night before. It led us through every ghetto of Chicago, except Caprini Green. That would’ve made me poop my pants, just a little. Not so much because of the neighborhood itself, but more because of Candyman. Lorelle and I said his name five times into our reflections about 12 years ago and I’m still waiting for him to show up at an inopportune time, like when I’m already late for lunch.

We ended up fairly lost, compounded by the fact that some grizzled old cop gave us the wrong directions. Josh was going 50 mph in a 30 zone while running a red light. The cop only got him going 44, but still. Josh threw in that it was our anniversary so the cop went soft on him. Either that, or the pig was out of his jurisdiction and didn’t want to push it. We got a seatbelt violation instead. Still, $75? That’s not right.

We knew we were probably lost when we made it to I-80 and we were supposed to be up by I-88. By that time, we were forty miles south of where we were having lunch, so we just gave up and ate at a Lone Star. I wanted a sirloin with RICE but she gave me fries instead. I can see how the two can be confused. What wasn’t right was that Josh was defending her and telling me that I said fries. I definitely said “rice”. I don’t really care, because the fries were absolutely delicious, but for all I know the rice would’ve been even tastier.

The original plan for the weekend was to stay in Galena, but they had the biggest craft show of the year going on. Screw that. One place I called actually told us to stay far, far away when I told her I wasn’t into crafts. Apparently you can’t drive, walk, eat, drink wine, or anything because of all the people. I would rather attend a Creed concert backstage than go to a craft show, let alone a whole town of them. Instead, Josh found a cute-sounding B&B on the island town (yes, Iowa has an island town. Who knew?) of Sabula. It was a very pretty drive across the water, but the town itself was a little sad-looking. We saw a restaurant called “Restaurant,” which was proudly displaced in five-foot high lettering across the building.

The B&B itself was definitely NOT bounded by water, which its name had promised. It was a full block or so from any water. That’s totally false advertising. Had it been called “Kinda Close to Some Water” like it really was, we might not have even given it a second look. It was just a drab brick building on the corner of a city block. When we walked in, no one was around. We walked around inside, calling out, but there was no response. I found the kitchen and slowly pushed the door open, half-expecting a dozen bodies strewn about and a knife-wielding psychopath crouched in the corner, but it was just a cluttered, messy kitchen. Already, I was not looking forward to the “gourmet” breakfast that the website promised.
Eventually, Josh had to just call the place and the owner came around from some secret room outside. He was a short, pudgy old hippie with ugly sandals and hairy toes. I was never an advocate of the socks-with-sandals look until I saw those things staring up at me. Now I actually encourage it. He did not offer to help us carry our bags upstairs. Instead, he took the cooler out of my hand and told us that food wasn’t allowed in the bedrooms. Josh explained that it was the top layer of our wedding cake and we were supposed to eat it since it was our first anniversary, so he just offered to serve it up in the dining area. Really. I’m sure that when that hole tradition started, they meant that on your first anniversary, you’re supposed to eat your wedding cake surrounded by other guests and a hairy-toed troll. He probably would’ve cut himself a piece, too. Pudgy trolls like cake.

Josh and I just exchanged “WTF?” glances and went upstairs. The room was the size our computer room. There was a bed and a nightstand. No Jacuzzi. Nothing. Just a window. And a bed. Josh asked Unhappy Little Man (ULM) about the Jacuzzi, and ULM told us that’s the room HE had been staying in. Josh told him he asked for a Jacuzzi, but ULM insisted that he wrote down the De Elegance Suite, not the Grand De Elegance. We kept explaining that the Jacuzzi was the one thing that we had wanted, but he wouldn’t listen. He took us back downstairs to show us that he had, in fact, written down De Elegance in his little book. In ink, even. He told us that it would take him at least 4 hours to clean out the Jacuzzi room since he had been staying there for the last six weeks.

There are several things wrong with that statement. First, how popular can the place possibly be if there has been absolutely no demand for the best room in the whole building? Second, what could he possibly be doing in that room to get it that filthy? Nothing should take four hours to clean. I need a shower just thinking about him and his hairy toes soaking in our Jacuzzi.

Eventually, he began to understand that we were going to leave, so he pulled out the big guns: a ten percent discount. Oooooooh. Nothing we were saying seemed to be getting through that thick skull, probably because his brain was still fuzzy from a lifetime of bong hits and that Mr. Piggy acid someone slipped him at Woodstock. He kept telling us that no one can get a Jacuzzi suite anywhere in the Midwest for $119. That was totally irrelevant and also a load of crap. I looked at a few dozen places when we first decided to stay at a B&B and there were plenty with Jacuzzis for that price range. Plus plenty of hotels have hot tubs and are even less than that. Finally, Josh told him in plain English that we were leaving. The guy had told us before that he wasn’t booked since everyone was staying in Galena that weekend, so it’s not like we were keeping other customers from staying there. Josh threw $40 at him to cover whatever he spent on breakfast supplies (probably a box of Marshmallow Maties and some Tang) and we went upstairs to get our stuff. The horse’s ass didn’t even apologize. Even if he thought we were wrong, he still should’ve pulled out an “I’m sorry for the misunderstanding” or something like that. Anyone running a business should know that. I used to have some unreasonable asses at Lucullan’s all the time, and I would at least apologize for misunderstandings, miscommunications, for their bad night that they took out on the poor server, for them not knowing that marinara means a tomato-based sauce and they have an ulcer and can’t eat tomato sauce, etc. It’s just good business.

We were silent in the car for the first few minutes, but then we were able to giggle a little. After bitching and rehashing the events for a half hour or so, we decided to move on and not talk about it for the rest of the night. Josh did an amazingly good job at letting it go, at least for the evening. We brainstormed ideas to salvage our anniversary and decided we would come back to Crapids, have a few drinks and a nice dinner at a restaurant other than “Restaurant,” pick up our doggie, and go home.

I had made reservations at Vino’s for 8:00 but we got there a half hour early so we decided to hit the lounge for some serious cocktail action. We weren’t messing around. Josh had a scotch on the rocks with a little water brushed on and I got a Cosmo. Kristin’s cousin Brandon is the manager there, and while we were drowning our sorrows he asked us what the occasion was. We gave him the 30-second version, and he gave us a bottle of champagne. It was the Martini and Rossi stuff that my mom used to have around all the time. Good stuff. We took it with us to our table and had it gone before we even ordered, so we were forced to buy a bottle of Chianti. Dinner was absolutely wonderful. They were so nice to us, and it didn’t even seem like it was totally out of pity. We had a really good time and spent less on dinner and the cab ride home (yeah, we had to take a cab, so what?) than we would have spent on that craphole room.

Once we were home, we were able to eat our cake wherever the hell we wanted without creepy trolls lurking around making sure we didn’t get crumbs anywhere. It was surprisingly good after having spent a year in the freezer between the Grey Goose and Schwan’s chicken, but not good enough to eat too much of. I think we each only had a piece and threw it out a few days later. The only thing that would’ve made it any better is if we had more of those truffles. Those things were so freakin good.

If you’ve read this far, I’m impressed. This was supposed to be a 2 or 3 paragraph bitch session. How strange that I went off on tangents. That’s never happened before.

To summarize, the following may kiss my ass:

My toes
The person that called at 6:00 a.m., causing me to poke Josh’s eye out
Chicago beer prices
Chicago traffic
$1.90 tolls
Chicago cops
Oh, hell, all of Chicago
Sabula, Iowa
Hairy toes
Unreasonable hippie trolls