I’ve written about my snake-bitten writing retreats in the past, but his one is really something.
So, my friend Laurie and I are staying overnight at darling, old-fashioned hotel in anticipation of attending writers’ workshop tomorrow morning.
Getting out the door this afternoon was a bit of a challenge, but once I
packed everything I own for a one-night stay and found my car keys hiding the basement, Laurie and I were on our way.
On the drive, we enjoyed one of those never-ending conversations where you talk and talk until you have to draw a breath and then your companion jumps in and does the same, and before you know it, you’re all caught up and more up-to-date on how the other is doing than you’ve ever been. We never even turned the radio on. It was fabulous. That’s not the snake-bitten part. Just wait.
Then, we went to dinner, and the waitress was just lovely, and so, so patient. Laurie and I were still engaged in our barely-stopping-for-a-breath conversation and ignored our menus in favor of gushing at one another. The waitress came over and said, “Have you decided what you’re having?”
I replied emphatically, “YES!”
Laurie said, “Oh no, I haven’t even opened the menu yet. Have you?” she asked me.
“NO!” I said, just as emphatically.
The waitress couldn’t contain her mirth at our silliness, and she promised to come back when we’d left the secret signal that we were ready to order: we placed our menus, closed, and the end of the table. I ordered chicken pot pie and Laurie had a salad. I know her order was healthier than mine, but that’s really none of your business and I don’t know why you’d even bring it up. That’s not the snake-bitten part either. Almost there.
So, we filled up on our delicious dinners to the point where we had no room for dessert, then we retired to sweet, little lounge on the second floor where we chatted again at length and where I decided, later, would be a good place for me to go and write once Laurie, who is not a night owl like me, turned in.
And here is where we get to the snake-bitten part.
As it turns out, November 20 is a very special day. It is the owner of the hotel’s daughter’s birthday. I’m not sure exactly, but I think she turned 13. This is my best guess based on the number of middle-schoolers running around the hotel dressed to kill in high heels and prom dresses.
To take a big, class-sized picture, they sat down and completely covered the staircase that led to the lovely, little writing lounge. No biggie. I took the elevator.
I sat and wrote for a little while, but I was distracted by the ambient conversations. “This is just like a middle school dance,” said one guest, and I heartily agreed, though not out loud. It wouldn’t do for me to be seen talking to myself.
Another voice that (I hope) belonged to a chaperone said, “I’m not sure if he’s married. I know he’s got a twenty-one-year-old son. Or maybe he’s twenty-three.” I never did find out why it mattered if “he” were married (or why his son couldn’t possibly be 22) because then, inexplicably, Frank Sinatra tunes started to play. I could no longer hear much else, but suffice it to say that all dialogue was delivered in urgent, middle-school staccato, and so I can tell you that the conversations were about very, very important things.
I’ve been on snake-bitten writing retreats before and I know when to give up. It wasn’t long before I headed back to my room to listen to the middle-schoolers knock on one another’s doors and party in their suites. Since I am working on a middle grade manuscript, I consider this a golden opportunity for research, and not at all irritating in any way. Really. Seriously. I mean it.