Our travels today took us from Red Wing, Minnesota to Scottsdale, Arizona and a very nice room at the St. James Hotel to a palatial villa at the Fairmont Princess. In between I was a somewhat uncomfortable guest of Northwest Airlines, sandwiched into a middle seat (though my original seat reservation was for an aisle) while the guy in front of me reclined into my lap so far that he blocked the light from the reading lamp so that I had to hold my book up over his head in order to read. Which I was happy to do, while also summoning up the juiciest coughs I’ve had in days. He was unmoved.
Meanwhile a mother seated behind me read an endless series of Curious George books to her toddler daughter who showed her delight by happily kicking the back of my seat. I was also four rows from the back of the oversold flight, which meant a long wait to “de-plane”. Once out into the concourse I had to take several deep breaths to re-inflate to my normal body size. Things definitely started to turn for the better when my wife and I got to the rental car counter and found that the full-sized car she reserved had been replaced with a brand new Suzuki SUV (so new it still had a paper license plate in the window). Not only that, it was in my wife’s favorite electric blue color!
Still it was 9 p.m. ‘zona time by the time we got to the hotel, where we found that I had been upgraded to a villa suite by the resort. Apparently my name on the contract for the conference my company is hosting made them feel especially warm and friendly. The accomodations are very nice; the bathroom “suite” alone is nearly the size of the very nice room we had had over the weekend at the St. James. In addition we have a sitting area, two large plasma-screen TVs, a private patio and a king-sized bed ideal for playing Marco Polo with the Reverend Mother.
We had to hustle, though, to get something to eat before the restaurants at the resort closed, and around 9:30 we made it to Bourbon Steak, a very, very nice place where the staff was very, very pleased to see me after tapping my villa number into the computer a the hostess stand. We were seated (in a small booth with real fur pillows!) and then our waitress approached and addressed me by name (“Mr. Night Writer”). It was late and we wanted to eat lightly, but the menu was awesome, though some of the entrees were well north of $45. I finally settled on a Kobe-beef hamburger (only $22) topped with fennel slaw and water cress while the Reverend Mother ordered a salad and crab cakes (you don’t want to know how much, though Accounting might ultimately take an interest). After we ordered our waitress brought us a selection of duck-fat fried french fries (some coated in smoked paprika, another variety in a truffle seasoning, and a third, savory option that I can’t remember), all with different dipping sauces, plus some fresh from the oven buttermilk foccacia bread, all compliments of the chef.
A short time later they brought our food, and it was almost too beautiful to eat. Almost, but we were really hungry (and it was all delicious). We did pause long enough, however, for the Reverend Mother to take pictures of our food and the fur pillows. I told her I thought I could get used to living like this, and she said that no, I’d probably die from a heart attack if we ate like this all the time. I reminded her, though, that if I had a heart attack while on company business my life insurance pays off triple — which would mean that she could then live like this for some time.
“Would you like some crab cake?” she asked.