I knew my husband and I were in questionable hands when we pulled into the historic Pennsylvania town between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and read "JESUS IS LORD" in block letters in the windows of an abandoned building. I was hoping that the resort I'd booked two months ago and neglected to confirm still had our reservation. Then I saw we had backups: We could always stay at the Relax Inn and eat our meals at Hoss's.
Despite the fact that the Marcellus Shale BCDA Convention was meeting in the Reagan Room and there was a wedding to which we were not invited, the front desk did, indeed, have our reservation -- which was good. The fact that our first room was next to the elevators, and our second room overlooked the resort playground, was not.
"Should we check for bedbugs?" I asked Jeff, hopefully.
"Change that pronoun, and I'm behind the effort," he said.
Instead, I turned on CNN and read that "22% believe the economy will not improve" and that Etsy is "banning the sale of drugs and body parts."
During lunch at the hotel's tavern, the waiter tipped a full glass of red wine into the lap of the woman next to us. I would have preferred that he had done so to me because the victim would not shut up about it, even after the manager offered to buy her "new duds" at the "Tally Ho Sport" shop.
To try to relax, I abandoned myself to Flo Rida's "Wild Ones" in the resort's cozy fitness room. But I suddenly realized, to my horror, that my sweat was pelting the woman on the treadmill in front of me. I beat a hasty retreat to the pool, where I heard a meaty fellow tell his friend that he wished he'd "brought a book or something."
I knew I was in for more trouble when a trio of women -- one of whom laughed like a small honking goose -- debated about whether to get coffee and muffins at the Che Sara Sara Café in the morning before working out, or whether to reverse the order. I restrained myself from resolving their dilemma.
Then a small boy with an errant ball kept dribbling toward my husband's lounge chair. (Kids always seem to sniff out not only that Jeff likes sports, but also that he is good at playing them with children.) Meeting young Campbell's expectant gaze and then turning to me, Jeff said, "I just drove three-and-a-half hours to get away from this."
At dinner, while I was nibbling my fennel crusted sea bass, Jeff decided to do his throat cork thing with a piece of steak. He has eosinophilic esophagitis, which is a fancy way of saying that he gets things stuck in his esophagus. I should be sympathetic, but it's never a proper "emergency" since Jeff can still breathe and only makes a good scene -- which he did this time, gagging into his napkin and overturning his chair in a frenzied dash to the bathroom. I experienced 27 minutes of mild panic while I tried to imagine sobering up enough from my Rail Bender Scottish ales to drive Jeff, in the pitch dark, 200 miles home and back to a viable hospital.
Luckily, the piece of New York strip slid down before that was necessary. Jeff later asked me if I had made it back to the room -- to which he had retreated during his duel with the steak -- in time to see his "throat cork went down fist pump." I had not.
Afterward, as we sat by the outdoor fire pit, children chasing each other with s'mores' prongs like "Children of the Corn" gone wild, my husband looked at me and said, "Livin' the dream."
Indeed we are.
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