The Road to Beverly Hills

Hays, Kan.; Wednesday, Oct. 6, 1999

Last night was not the best.

As part of her ongoing I-am-not-a-princess campaign, E has been claiming she wants to stay at motels that cost $29.95. I have resisted so far. Last night we picked out a nice-looking $62.95 establishment that shall remain nameless (for reasons that will become obvious). We were heading up to our room when the pleasant, Midwestern clerk said, “Oh, one thing: If you turn on the heater, the smoke alarm will go off.” Since it was a cold night, this had a slight Monty Pythonesque quality–“Should a man come into your room and hit you over the head with a hammer, pay no mind!” We imprudently forged ahead and settled into our room (we’re sharing, though as part of my “hands-off’ “policy–see below–I always ask for two beds). After a couple of hours of sleep, E turned on the light, and announced “I’m not feeling well.” Indeed, she was feverish, and large red welts had appeared all over her body. I rushed her to the local emergency room. The doctor’s diagnosis: The sheets had poisoned her. The doctor explained this was not uncommon (apparently the detergent used by some motels can cause an allergic reaction) and sent her home with three different prescriptions, which returned her skin to its previous lustrous condition but rendered her semi-comatose.

This incident decisively ended the I-am-not-a-princess campaign, which quite frankly wasn’t working anyway. Note to E: I see where you have called me a hypochondriac in your earlier entry … But I don’t have to be taken to the hospital if my thread count falls below 250.

To be fair, E has (until last night) required less maintenance than expected. Her morning beauty routine is minimal to nonexistent. She just jumps into the shower and puts her wet hair back into a ponytail, which emphasizes her deceptively childlike appearance, and makes me feel slightly Humbertish at check-in time. (It doesn’t help when I ask for two beds.)

Some non-E-related points:

Trends noticed in America’s Heartland: 1) Skyline improvement. Postmodernism may have worn out its welcome, but it has certainly made cities look better from a distance. Louisville, St. Louis, Kansas City–all now have a fabulous, turreted, Oz-like appearance. 2) More hitchhikers than there were a few years ago. 3) The Lindy Hop (whatever that is). 4) Peter Frampton Revival!

Favorite Billboard: “Monks? Yes! 1-800-Me-a-Monk”

The Tipper Principle: By June 2000, I predict, we will all hate Tipper Gore. This is not because she is particularly unlikable. To the contrary–it’s precisely because she is likable that her husband’s handlers will stick her in our faces until we can’t stand the sight of her. This now appears to be an ineluctable law of modern politics: All first ladies become unpopular. If they’re unpopular to begin with, the law is satisfied ab initio. If they are popular to begin with, they will be overexposed until they aren’t. Ernestine Bradley is next.

Back to E: I do think I may have scored some points with my protective response during the Princess and the Pea episode. In general, my Darwinian strategy is to take no overt romantic actions, in keeping with the founding lie of this journey. Make her wonder why I’m not hitting on her.

She hasn’t made any moves on me either. Perhaps she’s trying the same approach.