by Janet Gilmore
“I bought one of the little glass ball things with the snow in it. You turn it upside down, then you turn it back and it starts snowing? I bought one. Except the one I have has a little plough in it that comes out and does the roads.” — Steven Wright, comedian
I’ve been watching the Olympics on TV. There’s snow over there; we have snow here. The athletes went there to play in the snow; we’re getting pretty sick of it here.
Especially when the power went out. That’s all people talked about: Do you have power? When did the power go out? How long was the power out? When did the power come back on? Power? Power?
The power in our house went out at 7 a.m. Almost everything we do other than our bodily functions depends on electricity. When the electricity went off, we could shovel the driveway or twiddle our thumbs.
We stuck around long enough to lose all of our body heat and wonder how long we could actually exist without the Internet. My husband, Hugh, called the plumber to find out if trying to manually light the pilot on the hot water heater would blow the house up.
“W-w-we could go sit in the car with the heat on,” my husband Hugh suggested. “Then we could sleep there.”
“You mean, sit in the car and make small talk until we run out of gas? Then we have a car with no gas and still no heat in the house. Let’s go to a hotel.”
We were lucky enough to get a room at the Chestnut Hill Hotel.
I love hotels.
We called our neighbors and asked them to let us know if the power came back on. They told us their contractor was coming that day to install a generator. Our plumber still hadn’t returned our call.
Meanwhile, back at the Olympic village there were reports of packs of stray dogs roaming around Sochi. Vladimir Putin gave orders to shoot them, but a famous-but-anonymous Russian billionaire/dog rescuer built a shelter and tried to round ‘em all up at least for the duration.
But the hotel glowed with heat and light. There was a long-ish line of people waiting to check in, some more patient than others. We waited for close to an hour; the hotel computers were working very slowly, but we were finally shown to our room.
My son, Andrew, realized he had forgotten his computer, which had all the makings of a disaster worse than snow. Luckily, the hotel isn’t far from our house, so Hugh and Andrew drove home to get the computer. Even though we were in a hotel, this was an emergency, and we didn’t want to be holed up with Junior if he didn’t have his computer.
I looked at the free magazines, the refrigerator and the microwave, working electric clock, and planned my evening. First, I wanted to watch “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune” with my family. Then I wanted a wonderful long hotel shower. Then I wanted to settle in for an evening of catching up on reading back issues of the New York Times and drift off to sleep on lovely clean hotel sheets.
I read the Russian government forbade the U.S. to send Chobani yogurt into Russia to feed to our athletes because someone didn’t get the paperwork to do so in on time. Is this a joke? No Chobani? Are they kidding? Chobani is an official sponsor of the Olympics, which ain’t cheap, and some doofus sent the paperwork in too late? What was he thinking?
Meanwhile, in the parking lot behind the hotel, lots of people were ice dancing. Not exactly Olympic compulsories, but a version thereof. A woman did a move I’d never seen before, at least not on TV: she lifted both feet at the same time, flew through the air, yelled a strong expletive in mid-air and landed on her rear end on the ice exactly where her feet had been a second earlier. Execution, 10; degree of difficulty, zero. With a little bad luck, anyone could do it.
But my family and I were safe, at least for the night.
We walked downstairs to the Chestnut Grill for a warm dinner.
We walked back upstairs for game shows.
I was very happy. I love hotels.
I laid out my pajamas and bunny slippers to put on after my shower and sipped sweet vermouth, which I rarely do.
At 7:12, Hugh’s cell phone rang.
And don’t you know, just as I was about to solve the phrase “Superhuman Strength and Speed” on “Wheel of Fortune,” our neighbors called — our power was back on at home.
“I don’t want to go home,” I said.
“I do,” said my husband.
“I do,” said my son.
They made adorable, pathetic, we’re-so-sad-here-and-want-to-go-home faces.
“I’m staying here,” I declared.
“You’ll miss us,” they said, smiling winsomely.
“I want my hotel shower.”
“The hotel Internet just stopped working.”
“Nope,” they said.
“Let’s go,” I said.
We packed our things and drove home.
It was OK to be home, but I kept the hotel room key overnight, just in case.
Someone on TV was trying to explain Curling.
That was the night I fell asleep twice.