After Friday’s Potomac Hound and Virginia Terrier Group shows, I am eager to get back to the Richmond Sheraton Airport Hotel for a quick bite to eat, shower, and the comforts of a bed. Having been significantly under the weather for several weeks prior to our local show, a good night’s rest is essential, if I am going to manage to stay vertical over the next two days in support of our local Middle Peninsula Kennel Club Dog Shows and the whole “Checkered Flag Cluster.”
Checking into the newly remodeled Sheraton, I am impressed with the transformation. DESKCLERK, a middle-aged man with the mannerisms of BASIL FAWLTY from the famous '70s sitcom, FAWLTY TOWERS, played by JOHN CLEESE, greets me upon entering. “Good afternoon, are you checking in?”
Since I am carrying luggage, Mini-Man-Bag and an additional tote bag filled with dog show stuff, I ask myself why the need to ask the obvious. I respond —“ Yes, thank you!” and leave it at that. I hand over my credit card and I.D, while DESKCLERK takes several minutes to locate the reservation and is frustrated in the process. Upon seeing that BIGMICHAEL and I have achieved Lifetime-Titanium, he desperately attempts to adjust his cynical/snobbish misanthropic attitude in hopes of impressing me. It is painfully obvious to me that he could successfully run a top-notch hotel…if it were not for all the guests.
“The elevators are to your right, straight ahead. Your room is on the fifth floor and the Club Member Lounge will be open at 5:00 PM for light food.”
“Thank you!” I genuinely express in fear of retribution and proceed to the elevator.
Hello, DOT! Listen I am just getting in the elevator. My room is 513, come on up. We can get a snack in the lounge and enjoy a glass of wine before retiring.
I leave the message, thrilled that DOT flew in from Chicago to help MS.POLLY, MS.ROZ and myself with the show. Upon opening the door to room 315, I am impressed with the spacious accommodation. Immediately I unpack, phone BIGMICHAEL, and put the wine in the mini-fridge for cooling and wait for DOT to respond. A text comes through from DOT —“Just arrived, on my way up with bubbly in hand!”
“Fantastic, wine and champagne. I will sleep well tonight,” I joyfully express to the freshly painted, gray walls. DOT arrives, and we manage to procure two large shrimp cocktails from the lounge, along with enjoying several glasses of wine before retiring for the evening. DOT exits room 315 with a half-open bottle of bubbly. I cork the remaining chardonnay, place it back in the fridge and hit the shower before bed. It’s a real treat to have new, plush towels and a new oversize bathrobe provided upon the completion of my before-bed-routine.
Feeling like a million bucks, I remove the hotel provided robe and let the bed wrap itself around me. “This feels F#$*!g amazing!” I blurt out to the Universe, and then fall into a deep sleep. I wander in and out of a relaxing, enjoyable dream state and somewhere between judging Best in Show at Westminster and Winning the Power Ball, an ALARM explodes in my head. “What in the hell!” I shout while propelling my formerly relaxed body forward and twisting to the floor. The ALARM is real. It’s a fire alarm screaming from every direction!
I wait just a moment before launching myself into escape mode. The ALARM continues.
I pick up the phone and call the front desk. DESKCLERK (aka – BASIL FAWLTY) answers. “Hello — Front Desk?”
“Yes, this is Michael in room 315.”
“Yes, I know who it is — you’re Lifetime-Titanium.”
“Yes, OK….Can you tell me if this is a real fire situation and should I evacuate the room?” I politely inquire.
“Sir, if it was not a real alarm, it would not be going off. So, get out of the hotel!” he commands with a smidge of hysteria.
Again, I channel BASIL FAWLTY and let it go.
Quickly — in commando fashion — I throw on a pair of jeans, a sweater and a pair of black leather slip on shoes with no socks and remember to grab my cell phone. Interestingly, I leave my wallet, mini-man-bag, and anything else of importance in the room…such as the half bottle of chardonnay for the flames to consume.
Exiting room 315, I turn to my left and proceed towards the elevators. Two young girls rush past. I question why the elevators are working and we are not forced to use the stairs. “I don’t understand what you are trying to say?” one of the girls remarks, while shaking her head as if she is the daughter of DESKMAN.
The three of us enter and proceed to the first floor. The entrance doors to the lobby are locked shut, and we are forced out the side stair entrance. (Elevators and front door locked? Really? ) Before opening the doors, the lovely judge, MS.VICKI from OHIO gracefully cascades down the last few steps of stairs with a rather large bag in tow and looking fabulous for just crawling out of bed.
“Well, hello there, my dear,” I laughingly greet her.
“Can you believe this. I was in such a hurry the only thing I managed to grab was my makeup case,” MS.VICKI from OHIO shares. I can’t hold back and the laughing continues as we move to the front hotel entrance.
The majority of hotel guests gathered are members of the kennel club and the illustrious panel of judges. MS.KIM is a tall vision in her hotel bathrobe and windblown hair. MS. POLLY appears to have not been in bed and looks like she’s ready to party. The NAUTILUS GIRLS approach the entire situation like a LGBT reality boot camp experience. LITTLE-PATTYK is squeezed in the arms of DR.JRN to stay warm. MR.RED and MS.YHZ use the valuable time to further discuss canines, while DOT meanders aimlessly in a bubbly state of mind with MS.RMS and others. (DOT shares about many fire alarms during her 35 years teaching in a Chicago Public High School. Especially twelve in one day — and one of them was real. Flames shooting out of the third-floor study hall! Once the students were outside …it always became a cat-herding competition.) I am aware that the charming judging-couple, MRL&MS.VICKI from TEXAS, remain in the comfort of their room and did not exit. Secretly I am jealous of their bold move and know that deep down it is all about not placing MS.VICKI from TEXAS’s hair (Seriously what are the chances of having MS.VICKI x 2 in one article?) in a compromising weather situation, and nothing more.
After about fifteen minutes, I announce to everyone: “I would like a picture or two to memorialize the ALARM adventure in support of my Dog News magazine article that is due next week." Quickly, we take a few photos. A Sheraton staff member (not DESKMAN) exits the door and informs us that we can return to our rooms. I enter without my suitcase, without Mini-Man-Bag or the tote bag containing dog-show stuff. I proceed past DESKMAN (AKA BASIL FAWLTY) and cannot restrain myself. “Hello, remember me – Lifetime Titanium? I’m so happy you managed to get the fire put out.”
“Sir, there was no fire!” DESKMAN explains.
“Yes, I know, only an ALARM. Sweet dreams.”