Having suffered through an exhausting summer and then, insult to injury, a terrible revival of Into the Woods, I turned to my life companion, Mr. Martin, at 11 p.m. on a Monday night and said, “We have to go away this weekend. You pick the place, book a room, and I’ll take care of the car.”
Saturday morning at 8 a.m., we were on our way to a bed and breakfast in upstate New York.
Things were going smoothly, really. Sure, we missed our first exit, but we recovered quickly. And yes, we did get stuck in Middleburgh Village for 90 minutes because it was celebrating its 300th anniversary, which meant the highway was shut down for a parade. And yes, the Catskill Mountains seriously impinged on cell phone service, which meant that we were far too tentative for much of the drive, waiting for a turnoff that came 50 miles after we had expected it. But we’d soon be at a B&B with a spa!
Except our B&B turned out to be a room in a dilapidated house, with a permanent garage sale covering the front lawn. The proprietor, who lacked a shirt (if not body hair) and had the joviality of a serial killer, led us up some rickety stairs to a bedroom that boasted a 1940s table fan in lieu of air-conditioning, and two twin beds shoved together with a king-sized fitted sheet as a comforter. Mr. Martin and I raised eyebrows at each other, but we lay side by side on the brick-like beds out of sheer exhaustion.
“We should go get some snacks and water,” I said. “We’ll feel better then! This really isn’t so bad.” Mr. Martin lay immobile on the bed while I poked around. “Look! I said. “Next to this broken Frigidaire is a cabinet containing kitsch dishes and silverware for meals in bed!”
We harnessed the dog and walked back downstairs via a dark back staircase. Our proprietor was standing in a backyard pit, trying to catch a frog when we came outside.
“Where can we go to get some food?” Mr. Martin asked.
“Oh, there’s no reason!” he said. “I have lots of delicious things to eat here.” I concentrated on watching the dog and biting my cheek.
“Oh. Well, the dog has special dietary needs,” Mr. Martin said, thinking fast. “So… where can we go?”
“Great!” our host said, not to be put off (or eat alone again). “Last night we had a guest who worked at the hospital, and she brought back lots of organic sausages and things that would be perfect.”
“We have to also get cash!” Mr. Martin cried out in desperation.
“Just head up the hill. There’s a Stewart’s there.” As we started to leave, he took a few steps deeper into the pit. “I’m just going to jump in the mud bath to beautify. I call it a mud bath, but it’s really just a pit!”
At Stewart’s, Mr. Martin went inside while I sat in the car, watching swarms of rode-hard-put-away-wet bikers milling about. “I’d like an orange creamsicle,” he ordered at the ice cream counter.
“Um, an orange creamsicle? It’s here on the board?”
The cashier came from around the counter. “When did we start naming things?” she said aloud. “Sandra! Sandra, did you know we started naming things?”
Her co-worker looked over. “What? We did?”
“That sounds like an ice cream shake to me,” the cashier said to Mr. Martin, who voiced his opinion that it was more of a float. She then handed him a cup of ice cream, went to the fridge, pulled out a bottle of orange soda, and poured half of it into the cup before handing the rest of the bottle to Mr. Martin.
We called around in the car and found an available, pet-friendly room at a resort an hour behind us. In addition to safe haven, the resort offered a tiki pool bar, a Saturday night dance off, and a petting zoo with chickens and peacocks. Needless to say, it was heaven. Comparatively.