The Hotel Room …. or how we became friends for life

I had two cups of coffee this morning.  One cup leaves me talkative but two cups and I’m sarcastic.  I thought I ought to take advantage of that and write this next piece.  You’ve been warned of my sarcasm if you intend to continue reading.

Years ago, fall of 1986 to be exact, my two year old daughter was going to a sitter just a few doors down from us.  When I was dropping her off one morning, there was a new father dropping off his two daughters.  We exchanged hellos and that was that.  A couple days later, My wife and I attended a neighborhood casino night.  We were new to the neighborhood and not knowing anyone there we attempted to mingle while playing casino games.  At the end of the gaming session and prior to the auction for prizes, I noticed the new father I had met at the sitter and realizing he hadn’t known anyone either, introduced him to my wife.  He in turn introduced his wife and we boldly joined them at their table.  The auction was rolling along when a room for a weekend at the Embassy Suites in Milwaukee came up for bid.  We had been looking for a quick get away, so my wife and I started bidding on the room with our play money winnings.  The bidding soon passed our total.  About to bow out of the action, our new found neighbors offered to throw in their meager winnings and we offered up the entire works on our next bid.  Now I fully expected to be immediately outbid, or should I say, hoped we would be outbid.  After all, we really didn’t know our partners in this bid let alone intend to share a suite with them as our first date.  And you guessed it.  No one bid.  I was the anxious owner of a Milwaukee hotel room with let’s be honest here, total strangers.  For all I knew they had been forced to move after a recent stalking charge leveled by their previous neighbors.  Worse yet, they would turn out to be swingers and my wife and I …. well we weren’t … aren’t.  Disclaimer here, my wife worries that the reader will get the wrong idea …. well don’t.

I decided the best course of action would be to graciously hand the room over to them and formulate our early exit.  And again you guessed it or you figured out there wasn’t much of a story if they accepted my offer.  They were already setting a date with my wife for our hotel stay.  Now I WAS convinced this couple was either crazy or desperate, possibly both.  Before I could make up excuses, like I snore loudly or I prefer to sleep in the nude, I don’t but I thought it might scare them off, unless of course they really were swingers, we were scheduled to all head down to the Embassy Suites that very next weekend.

The weekend came and my wife was actually looking forward to our “group date”, which made me begin to worry about her as well, after all, I had only known her for nine years and maybe she was really good at keeping secrets.  We had decided to bring our daughter with us, as had they, but I was still wondering how this would work?  At this point, my detail planner wife explained that it was a suite, implying, though adjoining, two rooms.  We would take one and they could have the other.  All I had to worry about was hitting it off conversationally.  My anxiousness was reducing.

Arrival in Milwaukee.  The suite turned out to be a shared bedroom and sitting area with at least a separation of sorts between the two areas.  Remember how I said we brought the kids.  The three of them were already thick as thieves from the common sitter we shared.  And again you guessed it.  They all wanted to be together in the sitting area on that wonderful fold out couch that only three kids under the age of six could not only love but share.  And that left us right where it turns out BOTH couples had thought wasn’t going to happen …. sharing two queen beds in the same room.  Thank god for wine and a mini bar.

It has been over thirty years since that night.  Not only did we survive our time together …. turns out they were as nervous as we were …. our families traveled together many more times in the years that followed.  Through multiple moves by our friends, first to Chicago, then back to the Madison area and eventually settling in the St. Louis area, through our children’s graduations and two of their weddings, and even through grieving the passing of Doug’s wife Carol two years ago, we are still and always will be best friends.  It is clearly not the same without Carol as part of the “Bob and Carol, Ted and Alice” running joke of our first meeting, but nothing can break up a friendship forged by sharing a room as your first date.

Thank you Embassy Suite.  From that night forward, Doug and Carol and their family became an integral part of our family’s life.  Without your donated room to that casino night thirty “odd” years ago, my wife and I would never have discovered one of the most likable, family oriented and adventuresome couples with whom we have spent a lifetime.

To quote someone “Ain’t life funny sometimes.”

Stuff… or how I won the war.

It’s strange how stuff can take over our lives.  If you’re not careful, one day your office turns into the family storage bin.  I had run a business out of my home for twelve years, offering my clients a professional and comfortable place to meet with me and benefit from my services.  At least I’m pretty sure they benefited or why did they keep coming back.  About twenty years ago I merged my practice with a local firm and my office was soon sitting vacant.  Oh I still tried to keep it as an office, but I was losing the battle.

It seemed the stuff of life was running out of space in the rest of our house and just like that it began its relentless take over.  It must have happened late in the evening when we had retired to our bedroom and then, in the darkness of night, the stuff would creep downstairs and take up position in my office.  On the occasions when I would stop into my office, I would sense it getting smaller but I couldn’t quite identify the invaders.  For awhile they hid in the closet and under the desk and this alone might explain why in my complacency, I hadn’t noticed them.  They are sneaky, that stuff of life, and I think they breed.  No other explanation could adequately explain how suddenly they were under the bed too.  Wait, the bed?  When did an entire bed sneak in here?  I couldn’t even find a room in the house from which it might have escaped.  And yet it had clearly taken up residency and now the stuff was hiding under there.

As the years passed, the office was overrun.  There was no corner that the invading army hadn’t claimed.  If only there had been a United Nations of Offices to come to my rescue,  I would still have an office and the insidious Army of Stuff could have been held within its borders and my office would still be a free nation.  But of course, I was too late to the war and my office was gone.

But wait, there is a happy ending.  Retirement left me without an office and my old office would need to be reclaimed.  I rolled up my sleeves, and yes, opened my wallet, and the war of reclamation was begun.  It has taken several hard fought months but the invading horde has been soundly defeated and sent packing.  Off to Goodwill and Restore and any other Nation of Stuff that would take them in.  Oh there were casualties, as there will always be in these type battles, but in the end my office has been restored and is thriving.


As testament to its existence, I decided to write this piece.  My office, once the work place of a multitude of IRS forms and then the land of unrelenting stuff, is now my writing office and yes, semi man cave.  Tomorrow I will build a moat at its entrance and employ some stout guards to patrol the perimeter.  Stuff, TAKE NOTICE.  If you try a counter attack, YOU WILL BE REPELLED.  This office is mine.  Long live the King.