Monday, June 23, 2003

Part Three: A Harrowing Journey

"Don't you love it, scallop?" Maureen asked me, two room keys and several elaborate lies later. "This is where I work. Isn't it dreamy? Over-designed and painfully hip."

"I feel like I'm not appreciating this to my $400-a-night fullest. What is that? Some kind of dance music? Where are we anyway?"

"This is the elevator, dear."

"Why is there dance music in the elevator? What's that green halo around everything? Why can't I see my feet?"

"That's the Ian Schrager difference."

"$400 a night so I can't see where I'm going?"

Maureen laughed. "Quit cryin', Rye-anne. You love it."

A wall receded before us and after several steps and some examination I satisfied the impression that we were no longer in the elevator. Maureen was advancing along a narrow corridor, interminable in length, her eyes no doubt better acclimated to the overpriced gloam. Despite my relative blindness I kept pace as best I could, rarely discerning a floor but rather a succession of lights suspended from either wall, not unlike the landing strip of a runway. These met me in clusters as I walked, and the intervals produced a familiar enough effect: we were in among a long arrangement of private rooms, proceeding to our own.

"Christ, will you slow down," I gasped, anxious lest I speak too loudly and disturb, well, whatever the hell might be molting down here in middle-earth. Maureen materialized and guided me by the hand, which is by far my best appendage to be led by, although I still held out hope this would not spoil the evening. "Hurry, hurry, your royal boyness," Maureen chided, "the last thing I need is for my boss to find me marshaling men into rooms at discount rates. My boss is an oompa loompa from the chocolate factory. He has one of the sourest temperaments known to man, even too sour to make their famous oompa loompa sour balls. He is a little man: Little hands, little nasally voice, little hair, little teeny feet, little closed mind--closed shut like a little mouse trap, it is!! Why, even his heart is little, but little does he care."