, Newburyport, MA


January 19, 2011

The Mother Load: The perils of room service

I am in the lobby of the Marriott Marquis, an elegant hotel in San Francisco, but I am not sipping an appletini.

In fact, I'm lurking behind a column, waiting for the line to clear at the front desk.

Yes, that's right. I said, "lurking."

I'm hiding from general view because I'm not appropriately dressed — not like my many publishing colleagues (also here for this company-wide meeting) who are passing through the lobby on their way to or from dinner. They are dressed in what one might call "business casual."

I, on the other hand, am dressed in what one might call PJs. I'm wearing a faded "Life Is Good" T-shirt and a pair of flannel boxer shorts. Oh, and no shoes.

It's Jan. 3 and 45 degrees outside, and the line of dinner-goers waiting for taxis is keeping the door open, so a cold breeze keeps blowing in. Needless to say, no one else in this enormous lobby is barefoot.

How did I get here?

You're not alone in wondering. That's what I keep asking myself.

Yes, I'll admit, I seem to get myself into goofy situations on a regular basis. But I swear, this one isn't my fault. I blame it all on room service.

Let me explain.

First of all, I almost never order room service, even when traveling for business. It's expensive, and the rolls are always stale. Plus, it requires a lot of willpower not to steal the adorable little salt and pepper shakers.

But this evening was different.

I was exhausted. Just the day before, I had endured a seven-hour cross-country flight, sitting in front of a family who played Yahtzee the entire way. Do you have any idea what the sound of dice rattling around in those hollow little cups for seven hours can do to someone? (And that's someone sane to begin with.)

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