I was doing a pretty good job pretending all of the inn’s amenities were part of my regular life, but the hairdryer got me. The extension cord was wrapped so neatly around the thing; beginning at the base of the handle, it was impeccably wound around and around in the kind of perfectly flat, compact coil only someone with severe OCD determined to make a hairdryer look really nice could achieve. This is not what my hairdryer looks like at home. My cord would never behave that way.
But I’m not at home. I’m sitting in a corner room at the Inn at El Gaucho in Belltown, where my husband and I decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day a little late, pretending to be far away. I’ve never spent the night in a hotel in my own city before, and it really is a fabulous idea. The sounds and the light are so different from my the ones in my neighborhood, and despite the fact that I’ll just jump on the #5 bus to get home, and that I’m sitting here typing on my laptop with my work files on the floor next to me, I feel so far from home. There are no dishes. Someone else made the coffee. And whether it’s the connection here or my as-of-yet unpersonalized new hard drive, I can’t seem to get the wireless to work, so it’s just me and the coffee and the seagulls and the sunlight streaming through the wooden blinds onto the dark chocolate-colored leather couch. I’ve been here for 12 hours now, pretending this is my real life. Pretending that when I get home every day, the first thing I do is take my shoes off, throw my coat over a chair, flop onto a giant leather couch, and watch my husband pour me some champagne. I’m lucky if I get through the shoes part before I start doing something else. This morning I pretended I always drink coffee in bed with my head, back, neck, and arms comfortably propped up on fifteen million pillows.
We still don’t own a television. Which means that the first thing my husband did when we got here last night (after he poured the champagne) was pick up the remote, not because there was something he so wanted to watch, but because a 3 1/2 x 1 1/2 foot piece of spanky-new electronics fastened to the wall represents a challenge to him. He picks up a remote the same way most of you might pick up an iPhone – with awe, curiosity, and maybe a little trepidation.
While I was inspecting El Gaucho’s plush white chenille bathrobes, my husband had an epiphany. “Hey, guess what?” he said. “There’s more than one channel for all those channels now.” Hmm. Okay. I looked at him quizzically. “You know, like HBO and stuff. There’s more than one HBO channel.” Sometime in the last 5 years I’d picked up on this fact, even without a cable bill to review, but he’d missed it entirely. Oh, the novelty of television.
But where were we? Oh yes, playing pretends. It turns out that the Inn at El Gaucho is the place to spend the night if you have housewares fantasies. Like if you’ve ever stood in the bathroom fixture section at Restoration Hardware, willing yourself to remember how much you like the wannabe retro maybe-stainless-maybe-not shower fittings your home’s previous owners got at Home Depot, but really secretly wishing that the giant discoid shower head you’re staring at would just jump into your arms, screaming “take me home, baby!” The Good Shower Head lives at this inn. Or say you’re the type that’s tactile by nature, and maybe you might have once (in a big department store, where no one notices) run your hands along a tall stack of big soft-yet-absorbent white couture towels, thinking how cool and wasteful and somehow thrilling it would be to spend $200 on a friggin’ bath towel. Not that I’m a towel-toucher. But if you are, you’ll like the towels here. Oh, and a first for me: feather bed. Ahhhh.
In Mrs. Hanson’s 7th grade accelerated English class (or was it still Language Arts then?), we read this poem called Almost Perfect, by Shel Silverstein, which outlined a pompous, bratty little girl’s take on the things that weren’t perfect about everything. Here are my Mary Hume comments:
Our breakfast arrived with steaming hot strong coffee, the perfect brew for a Seattle visitor, but the only available additives were Splenda, Sweet-n-Low, and CoffeeMate (The Original). Sacrilege. I mean really, shouldn’t a place that offers “shower cream” from L’Occitane – which, as an aside, will be my new permanent name for sour cream, as in “please pass the shower cream” – be able to muster up a cold pitcher of real half and half for the breakfast tray?
The pastries from Macrina Bakery, which I’d never had, were superfresh and delicious, but to my horror the filling from one leapt quietly, deftly to the sleeve of my snowy robe, and then spread like a pink-spotted plague across my entire body until I noticed ten minutes later that I’d been attacked by a raspberry scone. They should really train their pastries better. I might have to buy the robe.
My in-laws arrive today, and I’m sort of regretting not putting them up here. It’s really convenient to the 99 and it’s boutique-y enough that I feel like I’m in someone’s very well-appointed guest bedroom rather than in a hotel. No fake plants. No doilies. No teal, just rich, warm tones and a photograph of Marilyn Monroe bench-pressing barbells next to the bed.
There’s no way I’ll get that damn cord back the way it was. I just tried, and despite my own strong OCD-tendencies, and I failed. Sigh. Guess it’s time to check out.