NO ROOM AT THE FAMILY INN
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."
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.
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."
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."