The front desk, in the sparsely accoutered lobby of The Congress Hotel. And behind the desk, the Hotel Clerk–a sufficiently brushed lad of about twenty, maintaining the sparkly suggestion of a smile, though not directed at anything in particular–stands at the ready before the desk phone.
Hotel Clerk: Congress Hotel, this is Sean, how can I help you?
Me: I’d like to book a single room for this Friday through Sunday.
Me: Why is that?
HC: Why is what?
Me: Why is Friday perfect?
HC: Well, Fridays are the start of the weekend! Everybody loves the weekend. Don’t you?
Me: Yes, but why is booking a hotel room on a Friday perfect?
HC: You’re planning on arriving on Friday, correct?
HC: Well then, you want to book the room for Friday so it’s reserved. Otherwise somebody else might take it and you wouldn’t have anywhere to stay on Friday night. See?
Me: Oh, of course. What was I thinking?
Me: Plum. P-L-U-M.
Me: Thank you, I’ve been spelling it for years.
Me: I spelled my name and you said it was perfect.
HC: And it certainly is. First name?
Me: Initial “U” and then “Allen”.
HC: Well, we have to know what your name is in order to book the reservation.
Me: I’m referencing your “awesome.”
HC: Oh thank you, that’s nice of you to say. Did you want a single king sized bed or a queen sized bed?
Me: No, on second thought let me have the queen.
Me: Is awesome better than perfect or is perfect better? Would you recommend the awesome king over the perfect queen? It seems to me that nothing can really top perfect even if it is awesome. What do you think?
HC: It’s entirely your choice, sir. I’m just going to need a cell phone number in case we need to reach out to you before Friday.
Me: You may need to reach out to me?
Me: Are you expecting to have an emotional crisis?
HC: Ha. No. Why?
Me: Are you anticipating the need to introduce me to beneficial services that previously I’ve been unable to take advantage of due to my ignorance, limited social status, or extreme shyness?
HC: Like maid service?
Me: No. Perhaps you wanted to restore the bond that was severed long ago by a misunderstanding.
HC: With who?
HC: I don’t think so.
HC: I don’t think I’ve met you before.
Me: Agreed. So, you can just call me. Save the reaching out for your estranged relatives.
HC: Well… …I don’t think my relatives are strange.
Me: Uh–stranged, not strange.
HC: Anyway, feel free to reach out to us if you need anything before Friday. One other thing I’ll need is your credit card number.
Me: How do you know my credit card number?
HC: I don’t. That’s why I asked for it.
Me: Then how did you know I had memorized it perfectly.
HC: I didn’t.
Me: Then why did you say my recitation was perfect?
HC: Could you hold for a moment?
Dionne Warwick: (What the world…needs now…is love…sweet love…no, not just for some…but Thank you for calling the Congress Hotel. All of our customer service agents are busy helping other people. Please stay on the line and we’ll be with you momentarily. Lord, we don’t need another mountain…there are mountains…and hillsides…enough to climb Do you need a car while staying in town? Make sure to ask your personal service agent about discounted Avis rental cars. enough to last…till the end of time! Whoa! Oh! What! The! World!!!! Needs! Now!!! Is Have you dropped into our new Hawaiian Lounge? Luxuriate in the tropical ambience of the Congress Hotel’s newest addition and relax with a cocktail or special–
–Mr. Plum, this is Amber, I’ll be able to finish your reservation. (New Clerk)
Me: Thank you.
NC: Not a problem.
Me: Thank goodness for that.
NC: For what?
Me: That it’s not a problem for you.
NC: Not a bit.
Me: I’m relieved.
NC: Oh good. Are you going to need valet service for your car when you arrive?
Me: Yes. Thank you.
NC: No problem. What is the make, model, and year of your car?
Me: It’s a 2010 Ford Escape.
Me: Really? What would a Lamborghini be?
NC: Ha. I’m sure I don’t know.
Me: Ha, yeah. You know, when you start with “awesome,” there’s really nowhere to go from there unless you’re going downward.
Me: Do you know what I’m saying? If you refer to something that’s average as “awesome,” then you don’t really have any way to emphasize the comparative value of something that’s much better. You’re out of balloons. Know what I mean?
NC: Absolutely. What time did you intend on arriving?
Me: Six p.m.
NC: We need to know what time to have the room cleaned by.
Me: And six p.m. works best for you?
NC: Oh, it doesn’t matter to us.
Me: But six p.m. is excellent.
NC: Whatever works best for you. It’s entirely a matter of your convenience. Will there be anything else?
Me: No, thank you.
NC: Not a problem.
Me: Again, relieved.
NC: I’m glad you’re feeling better. Feel free to reach out to us at any time before your arrival.
Me: Or I can just call, right?
NC: As opposed to what?
Me: Reaching out.
NC: I don’t understand.
Me: Not a problem.