Monday, February 11, 2008
A few years ago, in an unexpectedly bold move, my (ex) boyfriend Michael sprung a Valentine surprise on me: Pack your bags hon, we're going to spend the night in a posh hotel! Woo-hoo!!! He'd scored one of those all-inclusive packages geared to the Valentine's Day crowd, and as horrifically cheezy as we knew it would be, we also felt a certain thrill at this little adventure. We left my place around 10, tipsy and stuffed to the tonsils from our dinner of maple syrup and miso-marinated salmon, strawberry and spinach salad, loads of red wine, and chocolate-raspberry torte. It happened to be one of the coldest nights of the winter, so we decided to screw the old bus pass and call ourselves a cab. Start livin' large now, why don'tcha!
Our cab pulled up to the stately looking Hôtel St-Paul, a new boutique hotel in Old Montreal, which, in an earlier post-colonial incarnation, had probably been a bank, or a palace of some sort. Struggling out of the cab and up the stairs, a doorman ushered us into the vast, high ceiling lobby that smacked of Nordic über-cool chic and Wallpaper* Magazine. Fur and leather everywhere. Marble. Granite. Wood. Around a massive fireplace fit for a pig-roast, scads of beautiful people languidly reclined in their stylish ensembles, providing a harsh contrast to our Winnipeg-winter parkas, book-ended by Sorels and a toque. We clearly didn't fit the profile, and were loving every minute of it.
Upon checking in, the concierge, managing not to smirk, handed me a white rose (wrapped in cellophane with baby's breath, natch) and informed us that the porter would be up shortly to deliver our exotic fruit platter, complimentary champagne, and to RUN OUR BATH. Michael and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows. So this is what it’s like to be Really, Stinking, Rich, and helplessly dependant.
After some initial exploring of our suite, opening every cabinet door, light switch, faucet, knob, curtain and blind in a manner suggesting we'd just come off the boat into the New World, we admired the splendid view and reassured ourselves that we were still in Montreal and had not been transported into some sort of V-Day Twilight Zone. Testing the bed’s bounciness, we giggled at the sheer ridiculousness of it all. And by the way, where the heck was that bath-boy? We didn't have all night. As the minutes wore on, a slight queasiness began to grow in my stomach. At first I attributed it to the bed-bouncing and the general giddy anxiousness that accompanies any frivolous, completely out of character adventure. But these were no happy butterflies. These were dizzy, drunk, nauseated butterflies. My mind raced. Food poisoning! But Michael was fine. Fit as a fiddle, in fact. Good Lord, why now?
Finally, after an hour of waiting (and calling the front desk to inquire on the whereabouts of our bloody fruit platter), Bath-boy finally showed up. Michael was on the phone with the front desk again, this time asking if they had any Gravol (no), so I was left to answer the door. I would not want this poor guy's job. Imagine the humiliation of having to interrupt the romantic proceedings of dozens of randy couples, on this, the most over-hyped night of the year after New Year's Eve. This party-killer's tap-tap-tap at the door was eerily similar to a mother's tap-tap-tap on the bedroom door of her 11 year-old son, bringing his pre-teen self-explorations to a cruel, screeching halt.
Avoiding eye-contact at all times, he made quick business with the task at hand, hurrying past us to deposit the exotic fruit platter, champagne bucket, and scented candles on the table. I sat on the edge of the bed, trying to gauge where my stomach juices were at. Then, as if on cue, I entered the dry heaves as soon as he pulled out a bag of rose petals and began strewing them about the room. Before I knew it, the room looked like the worst romantic fantasy imaginable come alive, and I was in it. Finishing off the petals, Bath-boy quickly whisked by muttering "I'll just run your bath now."
That an awkward, pimple-faced teenage bellhop should be responsible for setting the scene for a romantic soak in the suds is the most surreal and un-erotic scenario ever. But there he was, kneeling over the tub-for-two, lighting more candles and strewing yet more of those blasted rose petals.
Palms sweating, bile rising, I stumbled to the bathroom and stopped in the doorway, blurting over the sound of rushing water: "Uh, sorry. I GOTTA GET IN HERE NOW!!!" I will never forget the look of shock on his face as he took in my greenish pallor, frozen with the look of those whose plans take an unexpected turn for the worse. He b-lined for the front door, leaving the water running full blast and a trail of rose petals in his wake.
Fiercely clutching the toilet bowl, I yakked like there was no tomorrow, thinking all the while "I can't believe this is happening!!! Tonight of all nights!!! I am CURSED!!!" Meanwhile, Michael was still on the phone trying to locate the nearest all-night drugstore. My only grace was the sound of rushing water thundering up a storm of bubbles in the tub, enough to mask the ungodly sound of me revisiting that night's dinner. After a few rounds, things settled down enough for me to get up, rinse myself off and eventually emerge to take on the night (and the exotic fruit platter).
Maple and miso-glazed Salmon
Sioux-Lookout Strawberry Spinach salad
chocolate raspberry torte