But it’s not a new life.
No, my life is as it as ever been: lived in relative obscurity but far from uneventful. In fact, I have reached an epiphany of sorts; I have to stop kidding myself when it comes to my quest to be published by a literary company.
I’m a hack.
And I always swill be.
So be it.
To that point; I have decided to remove my second book from Wattpad. To be clear, while Wattpad may be the the world’s largest community for readers and writers, it just isn’t working for me. I’ve spent far too many sleepless nights of late, confounded by feelings of failure, lost in my own personal hell as I wrestle with the right path to choose.
A good friend, Romi Moondi, gave me some invaluable advice recently. She told me to write for the sheer pleasure of it – and nothing more.
And so I shall. I’ll be transferring material from one site to another over the next few weeks. Here now, is a piece I first published on Wattpad, transferred now to this corner of cyberverse for your reading pleasure.
The Hook: Year One
I became a bellman over seventeen years ago. Now, I could try to bamboozle you with a load of hooey and tell you, “The world was a different place back then. People were different back then.” But the truth is, the world never really changes and people have always been crazy. Granted, people used to do a better job hiding their insanity. These days, though, we seem to revel in our eccentricities to the point we publicize them proudly on “the Facebook”, Twitter and a million other social media sites.
Seventeen years ago I had no idea just how seedy the underbelly of the hospitality industry really was, or that I wouldn’t have to travel to the underbelly to find that seed.
(Yes, I realize I just said I was looking for seed. Shut up.)
Seventeen years ago my wife, my newborn daughter and I were living in my in-laws’ back room, a decision motivated purely by harsh economic reality. The Good Lord, in his infinite wisdom and ball-busting humor, saw fit to bestow upon me the gift that keeps on giving with every orgasm: A ridiculously low sperm count.
Of course, that little fact didn’t make itself known until my wife, Jackie, and I realized that our rigorous lovemaking, while joyous in every aspect, was not going to result in the creation of a Junior Hook. Since the fault lay strictly at my infertile feet (actually, it wasn’t my feet that were the problem, but you get my point, right?), it was beholden to me to find a solution that would allow us to afford fertility treatments, regardless of whether or not that solution landed me smack dab in the middle of what every son-in-law would consider the lion’s den.
Taking matters from worse to “Are you fucking kidding me?”, was my search for gainful employment. In a one newspaper town like Niagara Falls, my journalism degree was as useful as Stephen Hawking at a a barn raising, so I pumped gas and slugged produce before landing a job that became the adventure of my life.
(Besides marriage and parenting, of course.)
Not that I knew it at the time. And of course, where I started was nothing like where I wound up, to say the least.
In fact, the first hotel I served at was hardly a modern-day Mount Olympus, delivering travelers to the heavens while lightening their wallets.
Oh sure, in its heyday it was big deal; hundreds of rooms spread out in various directions across two properties on Clifton Hill (The Street of Fun by the Falls!).
In most cases you could drive right up to your room! (And in some cases, you could drive right into your room!)
There were indoor rooms, too!
And a continental breakfast!
And a bar with more than one TV!
And a chain restaurant!
But by the time I started my hospitality career at the Comfort/Quality Inns, those days were long gone. The properties were showing their age and the owners, two brothers, were reluctant to dole out the cash to update their inheritance. Among the more antiquated features at my first home away from home:
* Regular metal keys – which we replaced on a regular, costly basis.
* A “luxury” wing with three floors (and no elevator), that sat alongside one Niagara’s “urban forests” – this, of course, made it easier for the raccoons to dive onto the balconies and raid unsuspecting guests’ coolers.
* No room service!
* Crumbling masonry on the second level of the outdoor wings!
* An outdoor pool with dinosaur statues and a “sea serpent” in the pool so the younger kids can pee themselves – in the pool.
* Bellmen on golf carts! You could follow them right to your outdoor room!
Actually, that last feature was pretty cool. I was the first guy to drive a golf cart on two wheels – for six seconds.
Which reminds me, one of our senior bellmen, an old school Italian gentleman/character named Louie, once tested the limits of a bellman’s hold over his guests in a most unexpected way. At our properties, the formula was simple: The bellman would greet guests at the Front Desk and wait for them to check in. The guest would then follow the bellman on his zippy golf cart to their room.
One day though, at 2:45 pm, Louie greeted a family of four at the desk as usual. He then returned to his post while they completed the check-in process and received their keys. It was all downhill from there.
The desk was running slow that day and I don’t know if Louie was thinking of Sophia Loren or replaying Goodfellas in his head, but he forgot all about his family from Pittsburgh. He clocked out, hopped in his car and drove home. Fifteen minutes later Louie hopped out of his car, took two steps up his driveway and turned around when an exasperated voice rang out behind him.
“Hey! We followed you like you said to and you took us all over this godforsaken city! Where the Hell are we?”
As you can see, I’ve been swimming with nut jobs for my entire career. Now back to one of my earliest adventures. It was a blazing, barely-polluted day in August some seventeen years ago. I had the great fortune of being present when a newlywed couple approached the Front Desk. I knew they were going to be worthy of my time from the get-go; he was a middle-aged, completely generic George Costanza clone, while she was a towering, definitely not middle-aged strawberry blonde with ginormous strawberries that clearly came form a factory rather than the original packaging. He took one look at the elongated check-in line and lost it.
“All these morons are checking in right now?” Captain Congeniality was twitching with contempt. “We’ve already checked into this dump… and somebody messed up my new car last night! Who’s going to help me out?”
Irate travelers have a specific type of Spidey Sense when it comes to lodging complaints; they know just when to appear and stage a scene worthy of a pop idol. The last thing a Guest Services Agent wants to see when they have a human log jam to deal with is a goofball with an axe to grind. Fortunately, Eric, the manager-on-duty knew just what to do.
“Robert, can you have Security meet you at this gentleman’s car? You don’t mind handling this situation, right?”
Yeah, Eric was a five-star Douchecycle.
And of course I didn’t want to handle the situation. There were dozens of guest to be fleeced, I mean served. Not to mention the fact I was a bellman – and a newbie, at that – not a scratching post/complaint handler. Then again, Captain Congeniality’s spanking-new bride had a butt like Kim Kardashian’s (but without its own zip code), which was quite impressive considering no one had heard of the Kardashians yet. I had no choice, did I?
“Certainly not. Follow me, folks.”
And so off we went, an angry husband, a magnificent trophy wife… and a green-behind-the-ears bellman. His discontent radiated off him in waves, but she seemed to enjoy the golf cart ride immensely; she made siren sounds the entire time. After the most surreal journey of my life, we met up with two of the hotel’s security officers at the automobile in question.
Hubby jumped off the cart, zipped over to his car – some overpriced, foreign piece of crap – and pointed to an unusual, fair-sized dent. And that’s when the fun really started.
“You see? Look at this! Check this out! Look what some son of a bitch did to my Christine!”
Yes, he named his car after the Stephen King novel (I assume), but no, it wasn’t a red-and-white 1958 Plymouth Fury. And yes, it gets better.
A minuscule, stout man, he began to resemble a swine on a platter as his fury boiled over. I was tempted to get him an apple but I hadn’t quite found my footing as a bellman yet so I stood quietly on the sidelines and as “Little Piggy” raged on about his precious Christine, I studied the hood.
As he accused Security of being asleep at the switch, I studied his wife’s facial reactions.
As he threatened to sue, I cast my glance to a secluded corner of the closest wing of the hotel where a new hire (the nephew of another manager), was examining the proceedings with great concern.
Our newest bellman was a real piece of work; completely unoriginal in every way. Über-blonde, tall (not me tall, mind you, but taller than most), vacant blue eyes, a highly original name (“Greg” screams D-bag), and a penis with rabbit-like tendencies: It wanted to dig its way into every “garden” in sight.
He had only been with us for a few short weeks but it was already time for Greg to get himself a new belt.
Among his conquests were a Guest Services Agent with the chest that wouldn’t quit, four housekeepers, and an older, twice-divorced Rez agent. (That’s a reservations agent for those of you who aren’t as cool as me.)
Greg thought he was playing Pokémon; he had banged ’em all. he watched closely as Little Piggy spewed venom at our Security personnel, whose collective patience was fraying ever thinner by the second.
Trophy Wife couldn’t bring herself to cast her gaze in her husband’s direction, preferring instead to study her own ridiculously-overpriced footwear rather than lock eyes with anyone. Finally, she lifted her head and spotted me staring off into the distance. Following my line of sight brought her into contact with Greg – and not for the first time, I wagered. Their lyin’ eyes locked. He smiled. She shook her head and mouthed “GO AWAY. PLEASE!”, as loudly as she could without uttering a sound.
Bingo. Sexual bingo, to be precise. After a few moments of scrutiny, a sticky, sorted tale began to form in my consciousness.
* Young Greg, horny as Charlie Sheen at any given moment, greets the newlyweds at the Front Desk.
* Little Piggy is busy yammering on about room rates, Christine, and Dog knows what else, thus ignoring his newly-purchased bride and leaving the field wide open for Greg.
* Greg delivers their bags and while LP parks his precious mid-life-crisis-on-wheels, the horny bellman chats up the neglected spouse.
* Despite the risk, or perhaps inspired by it, they make plans to meet that evening.
* TW slips out to meet her hospitality suitor.
* They drink. And make small talk. And drink. And size each other up. And drink. She’s careful not to reveal any details of her daily life; after all, this is an illicit vacation hook-up, nothing more. This pleases him, since his interest in her is purely carnal – and thinking thoughts hurts anyway. Did I mention they drink?
* The niceties out of the way, they head out to the parking lot, and spotting hubby’s new car, decide to take naughty to a new, subterranean low.
* Hubby examines Christine the next day; no doubt in a icky, sultry manner that even your far-too-friendly-uncle (every family has one), would find creepy and storms off to the Front Desk.
* And now we’ve come full circle back to Little Piggy’s rampage.
“Okay, sir, I think we have everything we need. Why don’t you go with my associate and head back to the Front Desk now?” Matthew, the deputy chief of security was no fool; he knew LP would rant perpetually unless he shut him down. Of course in this case, Matthew was simply redirecting Hurricane Piggy. Not that one can blame him; even hotel security aren’t paid enough to deal with people like Piggy and Trophy Wife.
“Fine.” Piggy took as deep a breath as he could get into his tiny lungs. “I’ll go rip them a new one! Either way, someone’s paying for this! I’ve been wronged!”
He had no idea.
Off he went, blazing an angry trail across the property under his own power this time, determined to initiate round two with the manager-on-duty. But wifey had other plans.
“Honey?” she cooed, gently shaking her ginormous breasts all the while, “I’m going to stay here and get something from the car, okay?”
“Yeah, yeah,” he mumbled. Ironically, that type of indifference precipitated the mess he found himself in, but as we’ve already established, he had no idea.
Her dense hubby still in the dark, Trophy Wife started to jiggle in Greg’s direction… but I headed her off after motioning for Matthew to join us.
“Miss?” I gently began my interrogation. Remember, my Hook persona was still in the Beta Testing stage. “If you have a moment, I think we can put this matter to rest before your husband bursts a vein or two.”
“Oh, it’s too late for that, honey! He’s pissed!” she giggled, turning back in Greg’s direction. “I’m just going to let him go! He’ll wear himself out eventually!”
(I have a feeling she employed that strategy every night, to be honest.) In spite of her reluctance I felt compelled to press on. Fortunately, Matthew backed me up.
“What’s on your mind, Robert?”
TW continued to move away.
I had to step up my efforts. “I think I know exactly how this happened, miss.” She kept moving, shaking that money maker by instinct. “And so do you, miss.”
“Excuse me? Whatever do you mean, sweetie?” She activated her Flirtanator 2000, no doubt hoping to shut me down. In the meantime, Matthew spotted Greg drooling in the shadows and things began to click.
“Does he know something about this, miss?” Matthew pointed a stern, judgmental finger at TW’s bellman lover. Greg looked rattled but to his credit, he stood his ground.
“Uh, I… uh…” It was more fun than it should have been to watch her choke. Almost.
It was time for me to jump in. “He definitely knows about this but we don’t need him right now. I just want to explain what I think happened here.” And with that, I walked over here to the Pigmobile and patted the dented section.
Trophy Wife really began to sweat. Not as much as she did with Greg, no doubt, but it was clear she was coming unglued. It was time for damage control.
“Don’t be alarmed. miss.” I extended a reassuring hand to her sculpted, Amazonian shoulder – and quickly retracted it when the fire returned to her eyes, signalling a return to flirting mode. “I’m not accusing you of anything.”
“You see, when we examine the dented area closely, we notice two things.: I beckoned TW and Matthew to move in and when we were gathered around the scene of the carnal crime I revealed my findings. “Firstly, this single dent is actually two smaller dents, which I believe were formed when someone placed their… shall we say, backside, on the hood?”
Trophy Wife froze, much like an actual trophy, and turned to shoot Greg a look that SCREAMED:
“While I appreciate the multiple orgasms, pal… they certainly weren’t worth all this trouble!”
Greg responded by executing a tactical retreat, most likely the wisest move he ever made.
Matthew took advantage of TW’s preoccupation with her predicament to lean back and study her butt – the “smoking gun”, as it were. A grin worthy of the Cheshire Cat overtook his entire face when her gaze finally met his. I continued, reveling in my cleverness. I remember it felt as though the sun had gone super-nova that day and yet I felt cool as an Antarctic cucumber.
(No, I don’t know if they actually grow cucumbers in Antarctica, but go with it.)
“Secondly, if we follow the contours of the damaged area we notice they run the length of the hood rather than the width. This suggests the person whose backside formed the dents was lying back rather than sitting.”
Trophy Wife went into lock-down mode; the entire situation was obviously too much for someone whose biggest decision on any other day consisted of whether or not to swallow. Ironically, she was clever enough to sneak around on her brand-spanking new husband and bold enough to allow herself to be penetrated on the hood of said spouse’s new car, but when confronted by a complete stranger – specifically, a Columbo-chanelling bellman – she shut down. Fortunately, the “heroine” of this sorted tale was made of strong stuff. She wasn’t about to allow herself to be undone by a mere hospitality worker.
“Guys,” she purred like a woman who knew how to play the opposite sex like the proverbial fiddle, “couldn’t we work something out?”
“NO!” Matthew and I frantically answered in perfect unison. Our would-be seductress reeled in shock. This was a woman who was unaccustomed to rejection. Matthew and I looked at one another, no doubt envisioning the scenario TW was proposing… one that would have involved seeing each other naked.
Even now, years later, I still shudder.
Once more, damage control was called for. But this time however, I stayed silent and allowed an expert to take the lead.
“All we need, miss, is for you to persuade your husband to drop this matter. If you can do that – “
Trophy Wife cut Matthew off. “How an I supposed to do that?”
We both stared at her with a collective look that said:
A) “Shake your tatas – that he probably paid for anyway – at him.”
B) Whisper something sweaty in his pig’s ears. Something like, “Time to make the bacon, baby.”
C) Ask him nicely… while gently brushing up against his… ‘little piggy”
D) All of the above. Simultaneously, if possible.
It took a minute but she took a lingering look at her sculpted chest and finally tuned into our libidinous wavelength. “OH! Okay! I got it now!”
“So do we have a deal, miss?” Matthew was as eager as I was to put this to bed, so to speak. Well, admittedly, I was having more fun than he was.
To her credit, Trophy Wife knew when to regroup and adopt a new tactic. She jiggled her way across the parking lot, caught up to Little Piggy, and talked him down from the ledge. Kids, the usual suspects, became the scapegoats. TW convinced her hot-headed hubby (probably with “D”), that he could easily afford to repair the dents. They then returned to their room to engage in carnal acts that even barnyard animals would consider off-limits. How could I possibly know this, you ask?
[HOOK’S TRAVELING TIPS: When staying in an older hotel, never accept a room next to a linen closet. To hospitality employees, those old vents are better than pay-per-view porn.]
Greg’s career as a bellman was cut short by his extracurricular activities.
(Shocking, isn’t it?)
As for me, Matthew summed it up best when he considered my role in this convoluted tale. “You handled this in a… rather unique manner. You’ve got an interesting career ahead of you, Robert.”
See you in the lobby, kids…