Friday, August 30, 2013

I'd stayed at the Hyatt at the Bellevue before, so I remembered. I remembered setting the air conditioning on HIGH the second I set foot in my room, and I remembered that when I returned after eight hours of sightseeing the place was still as stale and dry as day-old toast. Still, I'd made it through that last visit and I figured I'd make it through this one too.

I didn't. I woke up at 4 a.m. lightly bathed in sweat. I don't particularly mind sweating in bed, except I was alone.

Not helping matters was the bedding. It was dark and the covers were mangled and somehow the tiny top sheet had gotten swallowed up by the thick duvet. My options seemed like either arctic provisions or a naked man laying atop a mattress. While I enjoy the odd naked man, I also know that after laying prone for a period of time, his body partially liquifies and forms folds and wrinkles that rival the Grand Canyon if it had curly brown hair springing out of its chasms. Not to mention the whole Tennessee Williams stigma that comes with oppressive heat and sleeping:

STELLA: Oh, Brick. This heat is like a vice, squeezing the living daylights out of me. The dank air is settlin' in my lungs so it's like I'm a'wallowin' and a'frettin' in the soggy recesses of a swamp rather than at the luxurious Hyatt at the Bellevue.

BRICK: I can't take it, Stella! It's circling my head like a buzzard and squeezing me like a snake and I swear it's going to suck me dry. Every breath I take my mouth turns to sand, and I can't move without feeling the accursed vines of the kudzu plant creeping up my thick, tattooed legs here on the edge of the upscale Rittenhouse Square shopping district.

I'm not the kind of person who accepts something and lets it go, especially if it means paying big bucks to not sleep for eight hours. I'm definitely a "bee in my bonnet" kind of guy, except I own the Bonnet Store. I hit a button on the phone that said "GUEST REQUESTS." I wasn't sure it was appropriate: it sounded like it was for people who ran out of hair gel rather than, say, people who had reached medium-rare, or didn't like lions clawing down their doors.

I explained the situation to the woman. She offered to send up an engineer to fix the thing, but in my book putting on clothes and having company pretty much means sleep time is done. Instead I went with her helpful tips: first, set the fan on AUTO instead of HIGH. I assumed that something running constantly at top speed was more efficient than something that randomly turned on and off, but I've never been paid to think at 4 a.m. Second, set the desired temperature at 68 instead of 60. I may have missed the logic here, but apparently if the air conditioner thinks the job is too big, it won't even give it a try. When the desired temperature is close to room temperature, it feels like it's got a fighting chance.

She also offered to send up a fan. I got the idea that if she worked at Avis and my Mercedes broke down, I'd be tooling around Philly on a Big Wheel.

I decided to go with her helpful tips. Twenty minutes later, when I realized the temperature wasn't going to change and I wasn't going to sleep, I called back and asked for the engineer.

I completely banished any thoughts of a silver lining when he arrived and wasn't even remotely hunky. He confirmed that the GUEST REQUEST tips were total crap while he pulled the AC filter out. He actually thought I'd be interested to know that it was two inches thick with lint, and I waited while he fetched a new one. "It'll be okay now!" he said. Really? I thought. Is that the Hyatt motto? If I find a hair on the Grilled Skuna Bay Salmon at the XIX restaurant will the waiter pluck it off and proclaim, "Looks like it's okay now!"

Needless to say, I was a bit grumpy when I boarded the MegaBus home. The guy behind me talking nonstop on his cellphone certainly didn't help. In his fourteenth conversation his voice suspiciously lowered, clearly indicating a female on the other end.

"Nickname?" he asked in Barry White's voice. "You gave me a nickname?" He chuckled long and low and I actually started to think it was sweet. "Yeah," he said, "I like that nickname. We'll have to give you a nickname too." Another pause while my chilly heart defrosted. I felt like recommending the standards: Sweetie, Darling, Honeybunch. "Okay," he finally said. "We'll call you Downstairs Margo."

I sighed. New York City's skyline appeared in the distance and I thought, "Well, it looks like I'm okay now."

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