Adventures in Room Service

Dinner is served, Madam.

Dinner is served, Madam.

A few summers ago, my husband and I headed north to take our then nine-year-old son, Jackson, to goalie school in Canada. After delivering him to the rink, Stephen and I, along with our two-year-old son, Benn, arrived at our “resort” hotel in downtown Toronto. Before long we were comfortably settled in our room.

“This is great, eh?” my husband asked, trying out his Canadian.

“For whom?” I responded, a bit prickly after so long without food.

“You don’t like this place?” he questioned, as if his manhood was somehow involved.

Actually, I loved it, but I had recently realized that “resort amenities” and “two-year-old-boys” were mutually exclusive propositions. We clearly had a week of zoos and playgrounds in store for us, not plushing around a posh resort.

“So let’s eat,” I offered, changing the subject to the only thing on my mind. “I’m starving.”

“If you’re too tired to go out, call room service,” my husband offered off-handedly. Shocked, and confused, I turned to stare at him. We never used room service. For 18 years, on every vacation we’d ever taken, my job (aside from planning, packing, plotting, and post-trip bill paying) was hunting the eatery for our next meal. Somehow the process had always appealed to my primitive hunter/gatherer urges, sort of my yang unleashed. And now he wanted me to call room service? Where’s the challenge in that?

“Fine,” I finally replied, a bit disgusted by the whole idea, but too tired to deal with a fussy baby in public. “Room service it is.”

After perusing the menu, we both settled on the pan-seared horseradish encrusted bright water salmon served over a bed of sweet potato leek cakes with caramelized shallot vinaigrette. He called in our order like an old hand, then headed to the shower to freshen up.

In the mean time, I wiped down Benn with a warm washcloth, wrestled him into his pajamas, and then slipped myself into something “more comfortable.” (Yes, I was wearing flannel pajamas…it was Canada, after all.) By the time Stephen stepped from the bathroom, all squeaky clean and wrapped in a showy Turkish robe with the hotel monogram on the front pocket, I was propped up on a large pile of pillows in the middle of the king-size bed, the covers pulled up to my chin, with a Pay-Per-View all picked out. With the tap, tap, tap on the door, I knew food was at hand. But little did I know something life changing was afoot.

The waiter rolled the cloth-covered cart in front of the window and pulled open the drapes a bit more so we could view the city as we enjoyed our dinner. I could hardly wait as he popped the cork on the wine, and offered Stephen the first sip. It was time to eat.

I drank wine from my water glass, used by salad fork for my entree, and spooned in the last scraps from my plate, all without a single sideways glance of disapproval from anyone. Licking the tips of my fingers for a lingering remnant of flavor, I felt like the Queen Mother at a medieval feast.

Completely full, I set my eyes on dessert…a ginger-studded puff pastry filled with crème brûlée, topped with fresh raspberries and a mango coulis. As I smacked my way through the final course, it occurred to me I had been missing out on one of the greatest innovations of the last century — room service. WOW!

Copyright © 2017 Patra Taylor

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It’s Time for a Family VACATION!

Excerpt from: Leading Men to Their Feelings

“I’ve been meaning to find myself,” my husband, Stephen, blurted out the other day as he flipped through my fresh issue of O, the Oprah magazine.

“Excuse me?” I stammered.

“You know, find myself. Get in touch with my feelings…discover who I really am…learn to love me for me…that kind of thing,” he continued. “The problem is that I don’t know what any of that means.”

Vacation

Vacation is the salve that soothes the savage soul.

I guess I was relieved to know an alien hadn’t invaded my husband’s body. Stephen is a Johnny-on-the-spot on a vast array of topics. Ask him about the law, history, literature, current events, or even the definition of “escutcheon” and he’s right there with the information. But ask him to stick a toe in the vast pool of human emotion, and he runs like a rabbit.

Being the “enlightened” one in the family, I decided to help him out. “Let me explain this to you,” I offered gently. “Remember when Benn was a baby and I used to sit and snuggle him so much? That’s because in those moments, I knew I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I was totally in touch with myself.”

“Totally in touch.” Stephen repeated slowly.

“Exactly,” I said. “It’s that feeling I get when I walk on the beach at sunset.  Despite the power and vastness of the ocean, I get this overwhelming sense that I count.”

“And when you’re hiking in the mountains,” he added in his most mystical-sounding voice, “and you reach that long-sought after summit…”

“Yes, yes,” I said, encouraging him. “You’re getting it.”

“No, I don’t get it. Now if you’ll excuse me I think I’ll head over to the office and file a RICO action against someone. Can I recycle your magazine on my way out?”

“No, but thanks anyway.”

With Peter Rabbit gone, I stood clutching O tightly to my chest, asking myself, ‘what would Oprah do?” Then it hit me. I knew exactly what to do…pack up the family and go on vacation.

I learned a long time ago that a vacation is the best salve for the cramped soul, even one as cramped as Stephen’s. Vacation is an attitude, the ultimate in finding oneself. Every time we take the road less traveled, we can’t help but connect with ourselves.

Copyright © 2015 Patra Taylor

The Funky What?

Patty's Logo

It’s Great Idea Friday! So here’s one all us Baby Boomers should consider. Forget your age. That’s right, just forget it. The next time some rude idiot asks you your age, just look at him as if he asked you to recite Hubble’s Law of Cosmic Expansion.*

Doing the Funky Chicken Comes of Age

The truth is I haven’t spoken my age aloud since June 15, 2004. No big deal, really. I just decided that focusing on my rapid slide through middle age was distracting me from getting things done. Age is often nothing more than an excuse not to clean the garage, parachute out of an airplane or master the intricacies of social media. So I simply made the decision not to say that arbitrary number, whatever it is, aloud ever again.

Then one day I discovered that my age was no longer on the tip of my tongue…an out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of a thing.

“How old are you, Patty?” someone had the nerve to ask a lady.

After a moment of superficial thought, I replied, “I don’t recall.” It worked for Hillary.

More recently I realized that I had, in fact, constructed an enormous Rube Goldberg of self delusion regarding the exact number of years that have passed since my birth. I determined the concept of “older but wiser” wasn’t one that worked for me, not to mention the fact that I love believing the best days of my life are perpetually ahead of me rather than part of that dust cloud I see in my rearview mirror.

 Copyright © 2015 Patra Taylor

Science Alert!

Science Alert!

*Hubble’s Law of Cosmic Expansion, aka Hubble’s Law

In order to quantify the velocity of galactic movement, the law proposes an equation that states: velocity = H0 × distance with velocity representing the galaxy’s recessional velocity; H0 representing the Hubble constant, or parameter that indicates the rate at which the universe is expanding; and distance representing the galaxy’s distance from the one with which it’s being compared.

It’s National Go Barefoot Day!

Kick off your shoes, pull out your razors (especially you ladies), and let’s go barefoot. I was born barefoot, and that made quite an impression on me. In fact, I only wear shoes when social convention dictates. (Stupid restaurant health policies!) Here’s a little snippet from a previous column I wrote about my relationship with my feet:

Bare feetThe two big dogs attached to the ends of my legs are definitely weird. In the course of any given week, these two mercurial pests can and often do vary a complete shoe size and a half, depending on their moods. Wide, ill-tempered and completely incongruous with my perfectly proportioned hands, my feet have conspired to rule my world since birth. I knew I was in trouble at a young age when my sisters slipped into pairs of perky pumps or saucy knee-boots, while my feet refused to be stuffed into anything more confining than the shoe boxes themselves, always preferring to travel al fresco. When faced with a particularly cold winter or crossing a field filled with stickers, these two cranky appendages still want to debate me on the “culturally imposed ritual” of wearing shoes. (Where do they get this stuff?) And here’s the weird part…my feet are named Lefty and Mort, not exactly the most feminine monikers for the feet of a girly-girl like me.

Let’s all celebrate National Go Barefoot Day. This could be the best holiday ever.

 

School’s Out!

Schools out for summer! Hip hip hooray! I get as giddy anticipating summer vacation as I do anticipating Christmas…or even National Go Bare-Foot Day. Here’s a little excerpt from one of my Kitchen Sink Chronicles columns from a few years ago that will help explain my affection for summer vacation…

Rockets, Realizations and Resurrecting the Watusi

I slipped into the room where Stephen sat on the edge of our bed, his head in hands. After closing the door quietly behind me, I said in a hushed tone, “He’s done.”Rocket

Stephen looked up at me, expectation filling his eyes.

“He’s done,” I repeated, knowing that saying those two beautiful words once just wasn’t enough. “D-O-N-E.”

Suddenly, Stephen and I were high-fiving, hip-bumping, and in our jubilation became responsible for resurrecting the watusi craze. Our impromptu celebration on an otherwise uneventful Sunday afternoon occurred when our youngest son, Benn, finally completed that thing teachers across the nation refer to as the “science fair project,” but parents more accurately describe as, “Chinese water torture.”

After three tries, Stephen and I had lucked into a self-motivated progeny who worked through the steps of the project process pretty much on his own, and did so without causing our blood pressure to rise to the point where we wished we’d ordered the home defibrillator we saw demonstrated on QVC. Nevertheless, vivid memories of late night trips to the 24-hour Walmart during the science fair eras of our first two sons had heightened the sensations in our nerve endings to the point that the mere mention of the arduous science fair project makes us feel much the same way the lowly fox feels as he contemplates the arrival of a pack of howling hounds at his den door.

Copyright © 2015 Patra Taylor

Excerpt from: The World According to Ovid, da Vinci and Mae West

“This is interesting,” I said to my husband. “It says here that Mae West faithfully observed a day of rest every week throughout her Hollywood career.”

“Really?” Stephen queried sardonically. My husband can pack a pound of sarcasm into one word when he tries…although that’s definitely not one of the reasons I married him. “We’re now crediting a five-star trollop–who famously said, ‘Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before’–with coming up with the whole ‘day of rest’ concept?”

“I think ‘trollop’ is a bit harsh,” I interject, trying to keep the conversation light, and going in the direction I intended for a change. Before I could add, “Mae West sounds like your kind of gal,”

Stephen nattered onward.

“…for in six days the Lord created heaven and earth, and on the seventh He…” Stephen prompted me like a frustrated priest with a delinquent Catechism student.

“…caught up on his paperwork?” I suggested, smiling. That’s when it occurred to me that Stephen can also pack a pound of sarcasm into a well-executed scowl. “Deuteronomy?” I offered pathetically, trying to save face after my little joke bombed. Stephen just shook his head sadly, my cue to leave the room and take my developing admiration for Mae West with me.

 Copyright © 2015 Patra Taylor

Excerpt from: “A Game of Beat the Clock and a Kiss Goodnight”

Cartoon red alarm clockBy Patra Taylor

As the dog days of summer overtake me, I like to reflect on the pleasant, yet unusual way my summer began–at a kindergarten graduation. Participating in the pomp and circumstance of five- and six-year-olds engaged in their last hurray of innocence is an activity enjoyed mainly by young, enthusiastic parents, and wise, seasoned grandparents.

Unfortunately for my husband and me, who had our final (and this time I mean it) son when we were 40-something, we’ve found we no longer identify with most of the parents of our son’s peers. Yet we are still a bit skittish about the unfolding revelation that we have a lot in common with their grandparents. Stuck here in no-man’s land, we’re sort of hanging out in the great abyss between not fitting in with one group, and not wanting to fit in with the other.

As is the way with such social outcasts, we slipped silently into the excited crowd, taking our seats in the rows lining the playground-turned-auditorium. We sat down amidst parents tugging and prodding their other children and wondering aloud if they’d remembered to do this or that for the big party they had planned afterwards. I wondered silently if I’d remembered to take my Metamucil that morning, and if McDonald’s would do for our graduation dinner.

 Copyright © 2015 by Patra Taylor

Special note: Our little six-year-old kindergarten will graduate from high school on Friday, June 2, 2017, his father’s 65th birthday. Benn continues to bring great joy to his aging parents.

Excerpt from “Dead of Night Shines Light of Reason on Class Reunion Ritual”

 OMG ScaleI recently began my “I-have-to-lose-20-pounds-before-my-high-school-class- reunion” diet. Admittedly, I sneaked my latest diet regime into the daily lives of my unsuspecting family, purging our household of empty carbs and fat-filled goodies in the bright light of day when they were at work and school.

The family knew something was up the first night I served broiled fish and steamed broccoli, and cheerfully pronouncing it “dinner.” The boys immediately came down with virulent cases of the flu and fled the table, no doubt clinging to their recent memories of pepperoni pizza, cheeseburgers and ice cream.

My husband, on the other hand, silently contemplated his situation while unenthusiastically shuffling the healthful veggies about his plate with his fork. Then, wearing his most convincing trial lawyer cross-examination face, he began, “You are going to lose weight just so your classmates will think you maintained your girlish figure all these years, isn’t that true?”

The question felt a little like he was leading the witness, but with no one in sight to object to his harsh line of questioning, I decided to meet Stephen’s inquiry head-on. “Yes…exactly,” I replied matter-of-factly.

He paused, picking at his herbed and lemoned tilapia. “I can’t say that I blame you,” he finally admitted.

Copyright © 2017 Patra Taylor