Odd Woman Out
It didn’t bug me to be the olde Lady on the tour, the one who hates rap music, can’t hear half of what is being said, and only just learned what the affirmative “word!” meant.
What bugged me was not getting to know all the women on the ride.
There were two rooms shared by seven women. My room had four, the other room had three. Living two-per-bed on hotel nights is a challenge. Any quartet of people will disagree on things.
I thought I could get to know all six other ladies by taking up the one free spot in the other ‘dorm’, since three women had two beds.
I was wrong. Hadn’t planned on the unoccupied spot being a jealously guarded Asset, shared equally by the remaining trio. This would matter several weeks later . My only hope for getting to know the girls in the other room would be if Adrianna or Caroline shared a spot when the empty bed was theirs.
What idiot would give up the luxury of kick-free slumber?
Right: no one.
OK, so I didn’t get to switch rooms now and then.
My group consisted of Surly Temple with Indigestion, K.D. Lung, Mapster and me, the Ruler of All She Surveys.
The first two shared one bed (thank Goddess), and I got the nice kid.
On day one Surly announced, “The TV is to remain off!“
I cheered inwardly, dreading that background/foreground drone, and thanking her for being the entitlement princess.
Alas, within a couple of weeks, K.D. had on crappy sitcoms ( laugh tracks! EWWW!) as she a) talked on the phone b) took a shower, c) wrote in her journal. Best place yet: in the kitchenette’s dishwasher. I was found out (after we left, and I got a day of P & Q) and became a star on Facebook.
Thank goddess for Quies wax earplugs.
Then there’s air conditioning. The freeze-yr-ass-off type. Bad for your throat, keeps you awake, and oh, how poor ol’ Mother Earth groans under the energy burden!! So I sabotage the thermostat now and then.
Aroma shouldn’t have been one of the issues..yet for the first three weeks all Shirley and Athena bitterly complained about how smelly the room was (picture a bomb scattering fast food shrapnel, sweaty socks and shoes, damp jersies and shorts).
Then came a different kind of bomb.
On day four or so, fresh out of the shower, I crept under the covers where Amicable was already asleep.
The next day, Surly said “I can’t belive how insensitive you are to climb into bed naked with her…did you ever think it might make her uncomfortable?”
“Oh, God. You might be right!” I winced.
I told my amicable bed-mate Mapster how sorry I was to be so thoughtless the previous night.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Surly said you were put off by my sleeping naked…”
“What? We’re all women.”
The next morning I cornered Surly …”why did you make up that story about Maps being weirded out?”
Her eyes widened, her chin jutted out.
“Well, not everyone is OK with nudity.”
“Then you could have told it to me directly.”
“You were naked. I can’t talk to a person with no clothes on.“
“It seems so round-about.”
So, OK, I developed some sensitivity, and wore clothes to bed.
Fast forward to the Midwest, where Shirl takes her lover (The Traveler) to bed with her, int the bed across from me. I don’t a problem with this–after all, love is what makes the world go around.
Though I did wonder what my bed-mate thought. We each had sweethearts far, far away.
I said nothing. After all, they were wearing tee-shirts!
Then fast forward a few weeks. …I’d ridden about eighty miles, four summits across basin and range from Ely Nevada toward Eureka. The final climb, Alex Dismore told me about Gray Harrison’s Earn-a-Bike shop in Wooster Mass. We swooped into town, and I was the first woman arriving . An unheard-of treat to have the room with two double beds all to myself for a nap.
Alex, Georgie, Joe and I roamed town and loaded up on great food at the “Pony Expresso” deli, where menmonite (and womenmonites) bakers slave over a hot oven. Real food, even real home-butchered lamb and beef…Nary a word was spoken as we mowed across big plates of homemade bread and sliced meat.
More riders dribbled in, along with kids from Bike & Build, that cool non-profit that makes homes as they ride across the USA.
A casual party erupted in the parking lot of the Sundowner Hotel. I pulled out my banjo and sat on my good feather pillow to withstand the chill on the brick flower-planters . Beers appeared. I asked Surly for one.
“Then I’ll play my banjo”
The black asphalt courtyard grew livelier.
A P.T. Cruiser pulled into the scene–twenty people freezing and partying (bikers sit around and fix bikes,. If there’s beer, that ‘s a party). A pair of dogs jameed their heads out of the window behind the driver.
“We’re riding across the country” a couple of people said in his direction. I filled in some details, offered him one of the beers in Jo’s stash, and learned some of life story down (he’s second generation Nevada hay farmer), we took the discussion across the street to the Owl bar.
I could hear Surly shriek, ” Hava a nice NIGHT, JACKEEEE!!”
“Back in a couple! ” I replied.
At long last, a groan up I could sort of relate to (other than Phillippe Guillerm).
My exact age, but what a different perspective. Willing to listen as well as to share a few tales, the way people who can unburden to a stranger sometimes do…
Three hours in a darkish place punctuated by the slot machine’s staccatto jangle, and the murmur/guffaw/murmer of a dozen barflies. The smoke is thick, they don’t have California smoking laws. The kitchen crew finally pulls out the mop.
So it’s about one, I’m fried. Going next door to the karaoke place is not an option.
I crossed the street (U.S. Highway 50, the lonely one–remember?) to room #27 and rapped lightly on the door and wait. And rapped again.
Surly opened the door, and faded into the black. It had been frigid outside, and it was great to be back indoors…I groped toward my bed, and my face met a solid object. A hand at the end of a stiff arm.
“This bed’s taken”.
I tried to grasp the meaning as my eyes adjusted.
“We assumed you were going to spend the night with your friend…you had a pillow an’ all…and three people gave up their beds for Foster and David. You lost your place“.
“Well no one told me” I said.
A random thought entered my mind as it raced to grasp at a rational explanation, a reasonable solution. Just an hour ago it was Auguest eighth– Charlie and my twenty-first wedding anniversary.
“WE NEED OUR PERSONAL SPACE!” she hissed.
“Move over Dom…you’re cute” I said to her lover who wasn’t saying anything.
Then I looked hard at the other bed.
“Why are you looking at me?” asks Mallory irritably.
“Trying to understand, and to count bodies on your bed” I said, realizing that Kyla was there, too, perhaps asleep, perhaps not.
“Just give us some space!” Surly repeated.
All my luggage, my sleeping bag, and my bike were in that room. For some reason, rather than turn on the lights and raise hell, I just left.
It was thirty five degrees outside, and frost lay on the outdoor stairs.
The whole hotel was asleep (remember, all of us had ridden a longish day in the cold).
I had six hours to kill until daybreak.
Luckily the office was empty and unlocked. I flopped on the floor, grateful for my pillow, and huddled under the tweed coat.
Three hours later, when I left to pee in a planter, the door locked behind me.
I will let you imagine the rest.