Thursday, May 17, 2007

Notes from the Biltmore (pt. 2)

This has been my day so far:

Startled awake by the electronic screech of the cheapo alarm clock. The Boy leapt in the shower to get ready to go do conference stuff, and I pressed a couple of his shirts. The brand of iron was Toastmaster, which made me consider calling room service for slices of bread for experimentation purposes.

After The Boy went off to his conference, I wandered down to breakfast in the open-air courtyard.


A table by a gently tinkling fountain. Palm trees at my shoulder; vigorous potted rosemary plants on the tables. Fresh papaya juice, good coffee, steel-cut Irish oatmeal and mixed fresh berries bursting with flavor.

Mind you, that pleasant experience cost $25.

And then I figured out where the pool was. Oh. Oh, the pool.



So back up to the room to change into my new bikini, bought last week.

I had planned to post a rant about the horrors of bikini shopping. But it turned out to be a not-terrible experience. I ended up with a fetching black and white polka-dot ensemble that's sufficiently modest (for an almost-40-year-old) without being grandmotherly. That, plus my silver sandals and oversized black sunhat, made me actually want to expose my pale skin.

I found a lounger next to the pool and settled in. Reading material (New Yorker, Freakonomics): check. iPod: check. Bottle of water: check. Sunscreen: check.

All was quiet, peaceful, relaxing. Perfect.

And then a four-year-old moppet, with grandmama in tow, took the loungers to my left, and spent much of the day doing that high-pitched toddler shriek that causes dogs to bark.

And two young women came and sat to my right, comparing skin tone ("You're so much more tan than me"/"No, you're, like, way more tan") until they ordered a cocktail, got impatient ("Why isn't it here yet? It takes, like, four seconds to make a daiquiri") and left.

And the male Samoan out-of-work banker sitting at the end of the row kept trying to make conversation with the female New York out-of-work TV producer sitting behind me, despite her best efforts to rebuff him.

I was close to yelling at them all to "JUST SHUT THE HELL UP, CAN'T YOU?" And then The Boy, on his lunch break, arrived to see how I was doing.

"I really need to get something to eat," I said.

So he walked with me round the pool to the cafe before going inside for his networking buffet. I sat in the shade next to the water. Tall, frosty mojito; conch shell filled with hot, fresh, golden conch fritters, served with a nice curry-cumin-red pepper dipping sauce.

Somewhat fortified, I resumed my place in the noisy corner of the pool. Listened to music, read, and watched a photo shoot for teen fashions (the young models switching effortlessly from between-shots yawning boredom to now-we're-working dazzling vivacity).

A nice enough way to spend the day. And then later I discovered that the conference organizers had set aside a private cabana for accompanying spouses. I could have spent my day abusing the cabana boy! Who knew?

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