Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The getaway

I called Erin the other day to find out how long a hickey takes to fade. She said she wouldn't know, which I find hard to believe since -- hello! -- she has four kids.

The sad thing is said blemish wasn't a result of marital congress. I was grooming and unintentionally pinched the skin on my neck. Sounds implausible, I know. But I have the kind of skin that will redden up for half-an-hour when I scratch it too hard. It makes mosquito season a cornucopia of joy. (Mosquito season in East Texas runs from February to December.)

Anyway, the next morning when I finally got around to looking at myself in the mirror -- well after I'd dropped Madeline off at school -- I saw the telltale mark of any saucy tart worth her salt. (Angry comments from offended saucy tarts will be forwarded to the John McCain for President website. I don't know why. It will just amuse me.)

Erin didn't even believe my story at first, which indicates my inner saucy tart might be showing. This is probably the result of a recent getaway weekend with my husband. About two years ago we pledged to make it a priority to get away by ourselves for a couple of nights about every four months. Oh, my. I still vividly recall about 12 hours into our first getaway thinking, Yes! I remember us being this way. ... why did we have kids? Oh, yeah. We love and want them. They're wonderful. That, uh, what's her name ... Madeline! Yes, Madeline. She's the smartest most precocious child and her brother ... uhm ... her brother ... two years younger, blond. Connor! Yep, Connor. He's so funny. Great kids. Great, great kids. Honey, could you get me another mojito?

Seriously, I cannot say enough about the importance of getting away with your spouse for some alone time on a regular basis -- even if it's just a standing date night. It's marvelous for boosting intimacy, energy and generosity in the most crucial relationship in your family.

But even as I preach this, we don't always find it easy to make arrangements to get away for a long weekend. In fact, this last occasion was the first time we'd done so in nine months. Nine. long. months. As is our custom, we stayed at the Hyatt Regency (think the giant, lit ball above the Dallas skyline). While Roy parked, I went ahead to check in, full of the joy that accompanies the beginning of a much-anticipated trip. I strode up to the counter before a young woman with a friendly face.

"Hello," I said. "I have reservations for two."

She pulled up my name. "Yes, Mrs. Clay. I see you've already paid. I'll just need your credit card for any additional charges."

I gave it to her and she clicked away on her keyboard, finally pulling out two card keys. "I have you in a non-smoking room on the fifth floor with two double beds." She extended the cards toward me.

I stood there a moment, not moving, letting the words "two double beds" echo through my mind. This is what happens when you book through Priceline. They put you in a room low enough to hear the noise from the usually-loud open-to-the-top lobby with TWO DOUBLE BEDS. I don't want TWO DOUBLE BEDS. I want a giganta bed. I want a bed that screams This Way to Marital Congress! Or something like that.

I glanced at her nametag. "Jaymee," I said, my deep voice taking on perhaps a hint of controlled hysteria, "I don't think that room will do. I don't think two double beds will do."

I leaned in a bit. "Jaymee, I have two young children. My husband and I are spending our first weekend together, away from them" -- I spoke slowly -- "in nine months." Another beat. "They are six and four."

She stared at me. I lifted an eyebrow.

"OK, Mrs. Clay," she clicked on her keyboard again, "I have you in a non-smoking room with a king-size bed on the 25th floor with a city view. Is there anything else I can do for you?"

I smiled. "Jaymee, you rock."

About an hour-and-a-half later someone knocked on our door. Roy and I looked at each other. The kind of looks that said, "Why is there someone knocking on our hotel door and can this be good?" After a bit of scrambling, Roy opened it. I could hear a woman's voice but not make out the words.

When the door closed, he walked around the corner, grinning, with a bottle of champagne, a cork and two wine glasses. There was also a note signed by every member of the desk crew. The message said, "We hope you enjoy your stay here."

And we did. Yes, we did.