Notre Dame beat Stanford 28-21, but that's not what I'm here to talk about.
Hotel rates are always jacked up for football weekends at Notre Dame, and we were quoted as much as $650 per night (two night minimum) at one of the nicer accomodations right in town, just minutes away from the stadium. While this rate DID include all-you-can-eat waffles every morning, it was a little rich for our blood. Not surprisingly, hotel rates declined the further away from the stadium - the city - the state of Indiana - if you were willing to commute on gameday.
Hence, the reason why the wife and I arrived in Elkhart, Indiana (which is about 12 miles east of South Bend) Friday afternoon. Mrs. DaBlade had made reservations at one of those cookie-cutter economy lodges with a name like "Comfort Econo Quality Sleep Inn Cabins & Suites" (or something like that). The plan was to check in, stow the luggage in the room and spend the rest of the day with our college boy on campus.
There was a strong and overpowering smell of chlorine from the 5X10 "pool" as we entered the lobby. So strong, in fact, that my eyes teared up from the fumes. I smiled, conforted in the knowledge that any stray bacteria I may have been carrying had just been stripped away (along with a few layers of eye skin).
A gentleman of about 80 years of age was at the counter speaking with the clerk. It was obvious that he didn't have reservations. "foolish old man," thought I smugly. "What if there are NO ROOMS available in all of Elkhart!" "I know I won't be sleeping in MY car tonight because my wife and I had the foresight to make reservations for $215 per night (yes, for a two night minimum) in advance." We understood that this rate was a ripoff for the accomodations offered (no waffles), but we still felt frugal for our willingness to stay 12 miles down the toll road.
We listened in as the elderly gentleman inquired as to the availability of a room for his wife and him. The clerk said all she had available were two fantasy suites, and quoted him a price of $290 per night with a two night minimum, and with the AARP and AAA discounts he was entitled to. The kindly gentleman smiled a "no thank you" and that he "only needed a room for one night" and began to walk away. The clerk said, "sir, I will let you have it for $135 for tonight."
Now in my defense for what happened next, you would have had to witness the look on Mrs. DaBlade's face when she heard this transaction take place. She turned her back to the counter and whispered angrily, "I want that rate," and "why were we made to reserve for two nights?" and mumbling something about "the injustice of being punished for making reservations ahead of time" as she stormed away. Just then, the old dude completed his transaction, choosing the Taj Mahal Fantasy Suite.
"May I help you?," asked the clerk.
"I want the same deal you just gave that guy," I stated (as I quickly hid the reservation printout behind my back).
"OK, I'll give you the last suite for the same rate. Did you want it for one night or two?"
Now I was flabbergasted! I never really expected to get this special senior citizen's rate, nor did I expect to get just a one-night commitment. All this, AND for some kind of "SUITE", no less. We would be upgraded AND save $300 to boot! (*Barney Fife sniff as I hitched up my drawers*)
Before I accepted, the clerk added, "That is... unless you already HAVE reservations. Do you sir?"
Now I'm normally an honest kind of guy, but when Mrs. DaBlade isn't happy, that is no time for taking the moral highground. "No, I don't," I answered, which was technically not a lie since the reservation was in the wife's name. I nervously handed over the credit card, answering with address and phone info when asked. I was sure that the transaction would be interrupted prematurely and that my "scam" would be discovered. I feared at any moment a loud siren and flashing lights going off, a rush of security guards capturing and waterboarding me with the chlorine pool water for my deception.
To my relief, I was given the room key and excused. I approached the wife and proudly gave her the good news! She gave me a look that said, "maybe you're not as big an idiot as I thought." That look lasted right up until the moment we wheeled our luggage into the suite.
"What the... there are palm trees growing out of the freakin' walls!"
I guess I didn't stop to consider what a "fantasy" suite was, or why the clerk was so quick to downgrade the rate. I was immediately struck by an overpowering perfumy smell that I was sure was there to cover up something sinister. WARNING - Clicking this link is not recommended, but it is honestly what I was thinking, but not sharing with the wife. It was a long drive, and sleeping in the car seemed more torturous than even this possibility (one that I planned on keeping to myself).
I looked around, taking advantage of the wife's momentarily silence born of stunned disbelief. The bed was round. ROUND!? It had a mirror above it that lit up like a star-filled sky and tiki torches on either side of the reinforced headboard! The furniture was bamboo and the TV was on a swivel with a built-in VCR. There was a hot tub encased in lava stone and surrounded by mirrors. The walls were painted with volcanoes and island scenes. Did I mention the real imitation palm trees? Fantasy suite? Maybe for Tarzan. Or Gilligan.
"Honey, did you pack my robe and pipe?"
She was not amused. "All I meant was that I wanted the cheaper one-night rate on our original NORMAL room!," she snapped, as she removed the comforter from the bed and began tearing up the sheet from each corner checking for bedbugs. Hey, once bitten, twice shy, and certainly this room would rank high on the "probable list" for infestation.
Thankfully, no bugs were found, but some unidentifiable stains on the floor, drapery, and mirrors were. I wondered how many porn flicks had been filmed in this very room. I knew I had to blog this, and snapped these photos with my digital. The wife hollered for me to stop, horrified at the idea that someone outside might see that flash photography was taking place and draw the wrong conclusions.
We quickly left the room as planned, and spent the day on campus, the day before the big football game. When we returned to retire for the evening, the wife stripped the bed again for the obligatory bug check. We bundled up in long-sleeve sleepware, even leaving on our socks to avoid as much contact with the bed as possible. We looked ready for a space mission, killing any chance that the misses would be even remotely interested in taking advantage of the mirror on the ceiling above. I've found that "bug checks" have a way of killing the mood for woman. If the wife finds a spider on the wall of the bedroom back home, romance becomes radioactive, with a half-life rivaling that of plutonium. I was sure the Taj Mahal was seeing more action this night.
"What is THAT smell?," I heard her mumble, as I sank into blissful oblivion.