My husband Mike and I recently stayed at the Planter’s Inn in Charleston, South Carolina. The Planter’s Inn has a main building and an auxiliary building overlooking a central courtyard. When the hotel staff took us to our room, the fact that we walked out of the main building, through a sunny alley and into that auxiliary building never registered. It wasn’t a blip on our radar.
Remember this bit. It’s important.
We threw our luggage in the room and met Mike’s brother (the bother-in-law) Gary and his family at the Low Country Bistro. Then my sister-in-law, Heather, my two nieces and I started back to their hotel. We thought Mike and Gary were in tow, but they’d stopped for another cocktail and to have their photos taken in front of a thrilled police man in his cruiser as they pretended to be cuffed.
(Mike’s scowling, so you can tell he’s the really bad seed.)
In town for less than an hour and Charleston already loved us.
Mike and Gary went back to our room, where Mike threw up the white flag and took a nap. Gary, who had not spent the whole morning finding the courage to fly at the bottom of a airplane mini vodka, came back to his hotel where his family and I were playing cards. We tried to call Mike but he wouldn’t wake up, so an hour later I started back to the Planter’s Inn.
The moment I left it began to rain, and by the time I reached the hotel, I looked like I’d spent the afternoon lost at sea. I hustled past the front desk, head down, and hopped into the elevator. I was pretty sure we were on the third floor, but I had no idea what room. Buzzed from drinking most of the afternoon, my eyes drifted to my key and I spotted the number “09″ engraved on it.
We had to be in 309. I believe that’s the moment I mumbled something like “I just Sherlock Holmes’d this bitch” and looked around the empty elevator for my appreciative audience.
Things got less Sherlocky when I realized the whole third floor was a square loop with tiny offshoots that led to rooms like 304 and 305, but no 309. Looking like a bedraggled zombie, I walked around and around the same 10ft long hallways, sure that at any moment a new turn would appear like a magic maze. I even fell back on my old video game skills and made every right all the way around to be sure I didn’t miss a turn.
Finally, I gave up and went down to the front desk. I ran my hand through my hair, which stuck in fat wet clumps, a trick I picked up from my years as a supermodel.
I asked where room 309 might be because I was 80% sure it wasn’t on the third floor and didn’t she think that was weird?
The girl looked at me with sad eyes. I can only liken it to the way you look at a cat when it gets its head caught in an empty can of baked beans.
“You have to go all the way back and through the doors to the other building,” she explained, pointing down the hall from which I had just come.
I grinned and rolled my eyes to make it clear that I, too, knew I was an idiot. I mumbled something I thought was witty but probably sounded more like gibberish, waved for no apparent reason like my parents were filming me during graduation, and bolted down the hall.
Nothing looked familiar. Mouth hanging open in confusion, I turned to walk back to the desk in time to see the woman running after me.
“I’m sorry!” she said, like it was in any way her fault. “I meant this hallway.”
We turned and went down another hallway, past the elevator. Frightened I might end up on a milk carton without her help, she took me into the other building and to the correct elevator.
Once safely in my room, I awoke Mike and we laughed about how I am probably permanently brain damaged. After dinner I had a bit of a tummy ache, so when Mike’s brother called asking if we would come over, I stayed behind and now it was Mike who walked the seven minutes to Gary’s hotel.
As I slept, Mike had a ball with his family and then came stumbling home. He took the elevator to the same wrong third floor as I had, where he looped endlessly looking for 309. Like me, he ended up back at the desk begging for help.
“Have you checked in?” asked the girl who must have been having deja vu.
“Mm hm,” said Mike, nodding. By this time he’d figured out that speaking was not his strong suit.
“What room are you in?” she asked.
Mike thought about this. “The one with my luggage in it,” he said, beaming, proud as a Spelling Bee champion. He’d Sherlock’d that bitch.
The girl must have been so impressed with us. Particularly since Mike had spent the previous 15 minutes stopping to smile, shrug and throw his hands up in helpless desperation at every camera he spotted on the third floor. Half of the ‘cameras’ I’m sure were just fire alarms, the other half was the same camera as he looped past it again and again. The desk clerk had probably been watching him make the same befuddled trek around the third floor: stop, smile, wave, repeat.
When we talked about our Magellan-like prowess the next morning, Mike and I immediately realized the problem.
Usually we share one brain.
Apart, we were hopeless.