Ours was an arranged marriage . We were prodded out of our comfortable, but untidy living arrangements by my parents, who gently but inexorably nudged us towards the altar; eventually hosting the nuptials to ensure the job got done.
The event was planned for December 27th, to coordinate with the annual gathering of the widely dispersed clan for the Christmas festivities.
I awoke to my first as a married man to discover that my bride was deathly ill – probably the flu, but just possibly a delayed shock reaction to my impulsive decision (for the first and only time in our married life) to shave my beard for the wedding ceremony.
Our honeymoon was to be a free-form driving excursion down the coast to Tijuana, (which, being young, I thought seemed like a suitably romantic destination) so I bundled my ailing and feverish bride into my aging VW Rabbit and pointed it south. Not wanting to detract from the spontaneity of the event, I had eschewed all forms of advance planning. We would be gypsies, free as birds and responding only to the siren song of the open road.
By the time we hit the Oregon border it was pitch dark, and my gypsy bride lay swaddled in blankets in the passengers seat, moaning softly every now and then just to let me know that she hadn’t actually expired. When the fog rolled in, I knew it was time to get off the Inter-State and park the gypsy caravan for the night.
I took the next exit, hoping that it might lead to into a town with accommodation, only to discover that the fog was even thicker off the highway. I could see nothing beyond the circle of light cast by my headlights, and no signs of habitation anywhere. Slowing to a crawl, I strained to see through the gloom, for what seemed an eternity, and rejoiced when finally, a neon motel sign appeared out of the darkness. The sign was somewhat dilapidated, and not all its letters were alight but it announced both a motel and a vacancy. I couldn’t discern the motel proper, just a dimly lit office, so, with some trepidation I turned in.
My first clue should have been the wire cage that protected the receptionist seated beneath faded signs declaring “CASH ONLY” and “NO REFUNDS“. I glanced out the grimy office window in search of an alternative, but saw none. Exhausted, and with the heavy weight of my new found responsibility as a husband of finding shelter for my sick bride descending upon me, I ponied up the cash.
Our entry to our ‘no refund’ room, lacked entirely the panache and romance traditionally associated with a newlywed couple’s entry to the bridal suite, but in fairness, the Timberland Motel’s finest wasn’t quite up to bridal suite standards (dubious that it was up to local health or building code standards for that matter)
Surveying the grubby room, which reeked of stale cigarette smoke, and worse, my gypsy bride stared hard at the yellowed sheets and frayed blanket covering the thin mattress, and croaked, “I’m not sleeping in that” before wrapping herself in her coat, and curling up on top of the bed.
The horror of the room was surpassed only by the condition of the bathroom, a detailed description of which I will omit, lest it offend more sensitive readers. I too elected to sleep in my clothes, on top of the bed, and rationalized that gypsies probably didn’t shower every day, so there was no need to attempt the rusted shower enclosure.
The second day of our married life dawned clear and sunny, to reveal, a scant 400 yards down the road, a sparkling new and shiny Howard Johnson motel with quality accommodation fit for a young gypsy King and his Queen, had only we persevered not two minutes more.
Perseverance is one of the hallmarks of a successful marriage, and we must have acquired some somewhere along the way, since today marks out 37th wedding anniversary !
Now, reluctant as a fellow is to ask for advice or directions, does anyone know of a first class hotel that caters to geriatric gypsies ?