Friday, December 7, 2007

The Wedding Gig

Wedding trips can be so wonderful.

No, I didn’t go to Aruba, or Jamaica, or anywhere that would involve me holding onto the armrests of a plane seat while screaming in terror. I went to West Virginia. Yet any long weekend getaway to a place that had free food, cheap drinks, and a casino to blow $1000 on slot machines was an entertaining vacation in my book.

Most of the entertainment was found right in the hotel.

Before my trip out, I packed the rental car with luggage while doing small jumps of joy in the driveway. This was a relative’s wedding, which meant that I could actually enjoy the ceremony instead of running about like a headless chicken who had to decorate the Event for a client. I waved goodbye to my neighbor who promised to allow my lovable schnauzer to roam the neighborhood terrorizing squirrels while I was gone. Then I drove away from the hillbilly havens of Pennsylvania in my jaunt to see the next State, although I essentially lived in two different ones every day.

Quoted from the famous Pop Art guru, Andy Warhol, "Pennsylvania is nothing more than Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama in-between."

Anyway, I floored the gas pedal until reaching the interstate where I really pounded on the accelerator. I reached my hotel four hours later, as I waved at my urban relatives that had no idea who this strange person was or why she had a terrified opossum clutching to the grill of her car. Inside the lobby, I walked casually up to the desk clerk with reservation paper in hand, and was ushered upstairs to the coffin that the manager called an economy-size room.

Well, the lodgings left a lot to be desired, but it would only be a two-night stay. As I stood in the doorway drawing in the smells of sweaty gym socks and lemony disinfectant, I heard the side exit bang open at the end of the hall. Uncle "Jim" stood there as he glanced around for any hotel employees. Then he yelled, "All clear!"

Running feet stomped up the stairwell. Three cousins and four children darted through the open door and into the first room that belonged to Uncle Jim. Then two nephews and a niece ducked into the next room only reserved for my Aunt "Penny" and her husband.

As I watched the stampede of bodies coming into the hallway, Uncle Jim walked toward me. "Hey, don’t we know each other?"

"No," I lied quickly as the second hotel room became filled past capacity and the relatives were now piling into the third empty space. "Sorry."

The man frowned at me as I retreated into my coffin. I leaned back against the closed door, relishing in the funky odors and the quietness of the one-person atmosphere. It was then that I was sure that my parents had adopted me.

The hotel wasn’t The Caesar’s Palace, or even a Holiday Inn. The rooms weren’t that expensive. If the place was any cheaper then the owner would have had to pay the mice to stay there.

It was amazing to witness the things a person would do to save a dollar.

That night I slept well in my tiny room. When morning dawned, I sprayed my clothes with an air freshener to get rid of the odorous smog from the closet and went to the wedding feeling refreshed. At the church, I spotted several sleepy relatives whose eyes were shut during the ceremony as the pews became makeshift cots for them. Then I played hide-and-seek at the reception as I avoided Uncle Jim or anyone who claimed kinship with me, which was practically everyone there. So I spent the remainder of the evening at the casino where I spent $100 and won two bucks. It was great.

As I checked out of the hotel on the third morning, the manager sat behind his desk, fuming. I asked him what was wrong.

"Can you believe it?" the annoyed manager ranted. "Some people here had sneaked unpaid guests into the hotel. The cheap squatters! They act like they were raised on a farm."

I stared at the manager blankly, thinking about my return to hillbilly country where neighbors celebrated Super Bowl games by going outside and shooting off their rifles. Those people (including me) would never dream of doing such a thing as sneaking uninvited guests into reserved rooms. The manager’s comment couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Simply shrugging my shoulders at his inflated opinion, I escaped to the parking lot and started up the rental car. A family of six pulled into the parking slot beside mine as they all tumbled out the small coupe’s two doors. Three of the soon-to-be-guests inconspicuously picked up sleeping bags and headed around the back of the building.

I laughed at the sight while telling the opossum on the car grill to hold on tight. Hillbilly Pennsylvania, here we come!

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