Jul 28, 2006

SMITHERS, British Columbia: We drive too far – largely my lead-foot go-go-gooooo-boot fault – and wind up trawling for shelter at 10pm.

At first, I'm all uppity. "I'm not paying for a hotel room without wi-fi."

Um. Broadband.

Morse-bloody-code. Smoke signals?

I resort to feeble Simpsons impersonations. Hands rubbing, the Mr Burns cackle: heh, heh, get me online, people!

But Smithers has no rooms of any sort.

Try down the road. Further. Just around the bend. No clerk calls ahead, no one helps with a referral. Have car, will travel. Welcome to the neon-lit hell of the North American highway strip.


Edward pulls the Suburban into the Last Chance Motel forecourt. I dash into reception and skid to a stop on the linoleum. Greasy air – stinking of roast beef – shimmers between me and proprietors.

Drawing shallow breaths, I idle. The two people behind the counter ignore me utterly.

Minutes pass.

My friend makes an impatient gesture from the truck. I clear my throat.

"Hmmmm, erm, have you got a room for two people?"

The woman flashes a gimlet eye. "We have a double, if you're married. $79.95."

Oh, I'm slow. Too much time in morally mellow Europe. Plus, I'm not dressed the femme fatale – what with the dirty braids, fleece hat and food-encrusted, mosquito-blotched jeans – and thus am slow to realize the Mary Magdalen casting call.

"We'd rather have a twin. What would that cost?"

"Yes. That's $79.95, if you're a married couple."


Forgive me.

I played it all wrong. Shocked, I stalked away in lofty liberal silence.

The only correct response would have been: "Well, lady, he's someone's husband, just not mine. Too bad."


  1. Anonymous8:14 PM

    You should have just assured them you weren't having sex....

  2. This woman had ZEAL in her eye. No amount of assurance would have carried the day.

    Plus, I don't consider it her business what I'm doing in that $79.95 room, provided it's legal.

    (And I was worried she'd produce some bundling board or other kinky Puritanical device if I pushed the issue.)