“Continental Breakfast in the Era of Globalization: A look at what to expect when you’re expecting donuts and get all-you-can-eat eggs/muffins/biscuits/“hand fruit,” and a broad analysis of the age-old question, “If every waffle Rob eats in excess of three makes him both increasingly happy and increasingly sleepy, how many waffles should he eat if he hopes to stay both positive and conscious while driving through bleak stretches of I-90 Wisconsin that remind him of George Washington?”
Disclaimer: If this seems more scattered than usual (which, I know, is hard to imagine), it’s probably because you’re projecting onto this column your own latent dissatisfaction with your sex life/the price of baby spinach/the pace or outcome of ‘the war on terror’/what passes for customer service at Jamba Juice, and not because the author of this column was up until 3 a.m. last night drinking lychee Soju/Saporro/expired box-wine, and freestyling half-naked in a hard-hat for three hours with someone he’d just met while someone else he’d just met filmed the cypher in HD with the plans of posting a condescend edit on Youtube to be broadcast to millions of people he’s never met… (Link to come, link to come. Yes, yes…)
Something To Do With Breakfast:
I said I was going to wake up early and use the fancy-ass “business suite” nook-thing with the dark-stained desk and the dimmer-switch-controlled track lighting, just like the handsome John Edwards-look-alike (the senator/asshole, or really any of the white guys on JE’s Wiki disambiguation page) featured in the inlay of the Hampton Inn brochure: black suit, blue tie, smiling and arranging a PowerPoint for a company whose steadily-increasing profits are made evident by an upward-running red line on a graph with no other data (I mean, why even make a graph?). I was going to be him in the morning, smile and everything (save for a suit, because mine was in a plastic trunk in a car with everything else I owned). I was not going to again be the man I was the previous evening – the one that goes down to the front desk in an inside-out t-shirt (from which he removed the collar with safety scissors) to fax a cancellation request to his health care provider because he could no longer justify (or afford) paying $400-a-month for the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can go see your distracted doctor to assess symptoms you made up in your head… (How about a provision in this health care overhaul-thing that stipulates you have to pay out-of-pocket for treatment and diagnostic work for ailments that turn out to be psychosomatic illnesses you self-diagnosed after watching a “House” marathon… just a thought.) I also wasn’t going to be the same man who said he’d “come back for the confirmation,” just because he knew he’d want another free cookie later in the evening.
I was going to write and use the desk and all that… But did I write at the business nook?
Because the bed was too fucking comfortable, hugging my hips and whispering promises about Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter in my ear and pretending to be a boat on a sea of lava, so “if I get up to use the bathroom without hopping on the other bed and swinging onto the tile with the aid of the luggage cart – well, then I’ll burn my feet, of course.”
And the curtains were too thick, flowing red velvet the color of an old red velvet cupcake, making the room too cave-like, too easy to pretend you’re in the womb (gross!) or maybe just a Muppet in Fraggle Rock (yay!), or at least a Fraggle Rock set designer who fell asleep during filming.
And – can you tell? – my mind was (and is) too-fucked… road weary… cotton-stuffed… [and, yeah, confidence-shot after getting 10-straight rejections from grad. schools and getting the continuing silent treatment from lit. agents, a combo that leaves me writing bullshit exchanges like this:
“One-time, Timothy’s wife, Mary – who he once described as an unsuitable clod with a persuasive rack – phoned him while he was at a party hosted by mutual acquaintances:
Mary: Did you tell Al and Krants I said “Hello?”
Timothy: No, I told them your fanboat capsized while you touring the swamps of New Orleans and alligators ate your stupid body.
Timothy didn’t actually tell Al and Krants that. (In fact, he hadn’t even spoken to Krants yet, as she was drunk and busy writing a song on piano she called “Hairy Black Mamba” which she played by depressing only the black keys – as many as she could at once.)”]
And so, what’s more consoling for a scratched soul/ego eager to treat lava-burnt soles than free breakfast? (And, yes, it really is “free,” because the majority of my cross-country trip expenditures, from gas to accommodations were covered by various mid-western colleges at which my girlfriend/travel companion was contacted to perform sets of her cheerful folk-pop… And that’s also the reason I was in a Hampton Inn and not camping/sleeping in my VW/subjecting myself to one of the $29.99 spots that I normal crash and sleep on top of the bed in a sleeping bag like this – hi Kevin!)
Let’s talk about it, shall we?
(Skipped in this analysis of free breakfasts were the trio of houses of relatives/friends along the way in NJ and OH and WI – the last of which is apparently the abbreviation for Wisconsin… Trying to keep this concise, so, key memories only: Filipino breakfast cakes while pretending to shop at a fictional store using a plastic shopping cart to stop a child from crying while mulling over some kind of wavy realization that kids’ toys always mimic items associated with parental chores like shopping/cooking/cleaning, and that sucks, because all kids should be freer than that and raised more like my friend Dylan’s son who thinks he’s a pirate/car/rockstar and woke me up recently by screaming “Dad, can we listen to Metalica and eat pancakes?” … French-pressed coffee with a waitress I met the previous night (not what you’re thinking), while she and I (and her boyfriend and my girlfriend) discussed 90’s music and why ThirdEye Blind might be the best band ever (but probably aren’t)… Waffles and juice with a precocious kid who made me quiz him on state capitals and dinosaurs, because there’s a broad misunderstanding of life which makes parents/teachers think kids are going to need to know US Cities and the gestation period of a brachiosaurus, when all they’ll really need to know is how to A) use MS Excel and kiss ass, or B) siphon gas and understand the politics and social hierarchy of boxcarfolk…
So, The Hampton Inn – Appleton, WI…
Motherfuckers set the bar high at the HI with freshly made eggs, a waffle station, legit oatmeal with a nice sampling of accoutrements, sealed yogurt packages and a fresh selection of oranges, apples, bananas (in a container marked “hand fruit,” which – for whatever reason – I find positively fall-down hilarious.) Did I double-down on plates, house two waffles, drink a liter of OJ and dribble a bit more out my nose while giggling at the name “hand fruit?” Yes, yes, yes, yes… Oh, hand fruit.
The Days’ Inn, Eau Claire, WI
Observations: pre-formed egg patties aren’t eggs, freshly-made hashbrowns aren’t the shape of a sponge, granola bars aren’t a good substitute for oatmeal, yogurt makes people uncomfortable when served from one big communal tub… As I explained in an argument w/ my girlfriend about the trouble with having breakfast in a “mid-grade” hotel from feasting the previous night at an “upper-mid-grade” hotel: “It gets the job done, but without the wow-factor… It’s like using a regular restroom hand-blower after becoming accustomed to the Xcelerator or that sweet Dyson joint – You go from being blown away to feeling like your hands are being dried below the gentle nostril-breaths of a sleeping infant.”
Wingate Hotel and Suites, somewhere else in WI (that I don’t feel like looking up on a map, because the western edge of Wisconsin looks like the profile of George Washington and that motherfucker was creepy.)
So – quick aside: We almost had a sweet Fairfield Inn b’fast, but there was some miscommunication w/ the hotel desk-guy and I wasn’t able to cut-through it on account of the fact that my charm was counteracted by a road-ragged appearance and my repeated utterance of the word “bullshit,” which I realized later may have made me look more like a homeless person than a real sincere dude who wasn’t trying to “bullhit anyone.” So, Wingate it was: soggy waffles, so-so scrambled eggs on biscuits and water (“Sorry, sir, the OJ machine is busted up”) were enjoyed while we watched an infomercial for a hair crimping thing, listened to a family talk about buck hunting and wondered what an OJ machine is and how one gets “busted up.” (Also, women still crimp their hair? Where?)
The Rodeside Inn next to a big pile of dirt in a part of Utah that I don’t think Google Maps knows about –
Considering we were the two of six people in the hotel, a count which includes the proprietor and his wife who slept behind the desk, (I mean they had a door - and apparently a kitchen, b/c it smelled like they were cooking a yellow Thai curry), it was a pretty good showing: Orange juice (from an OJ machine – and, shit, I’d love to have a peak in there… Is it like the Frostie machine at Wendy’s, where a dude has to fill it with goo once a day?), nicely-browned waffles, hand fruit, and off-brand cereals like healthy-o’s (Cheerios), chocolate poms (Cocoa Puffs), Tutti-fruities (Fruity Pebbles) and Extra Pluses (Your guess is as good as mine). We finished up our last free meal while listening to a kindly looking old man and his wife prepare notes for their podcast on S&M called “Chain me to the Mast.” Okay, that didn’t happen. They were actually talking about the weather, but it’s fun to pretend that old southerners are talking about S&M and weather-terms are all just euphemisms, where “warmfront” means “ball-gag,” “Eastern seaboard” means “mouth” and “El Nino,” well, that still means “child.” (Oh no! we shoulda called the cops!)
Anyway… I was going to talk more about breakfast, but I’ve kind of grossed myself out. So, back to writing:
“Scotch seared Timothy’s throat as he envisioned a fourth universe in which a man in full Soviet military regalia knocked on the door of his little yellow house and asked to use the bathroom, demanded when denied, marched to the half-bath on the ground floor, took an enormous shit that clogged the toilet and, upon exiting the bathroom, startled Mary, who was, for a reason unknown to the soldier and Timothy, laying out phylo dough on top of the front-loading washing machine in the sunroom abutting the half-bath.
“Sorry for intruding. I just really had to go number two.”
His English was broken.
“Who are you?”
She took a step back.
She was always stepping back.
He offered her hand fruit and she quickly gave-in to his advances, gently folding her small body into his high-pressure zone…”