Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Finding My P’s and Q’s
Where can I find a little peace and quiet? While you’re at it, I’ll take a lot of peace and quiet!
I’d like real, honest-to-God peace where no offensive noises peal past my canal, strike my eardrum, vibrate my ossicles, fill my cochlea with fluid, tickle my organ of Corti, and land in my temporal lobe.
I want to hear sweet sounds, birds chirping, water flowing, a handsome young studmuffin asking, “May I bring you another drink, honey? How about a massage?”
No cars speeding on highways, no blaring train horns, no detestable television, no yipping or barking dogs, no people talking loudly, no men snoring or emitting flammable substances—nor women doing the same, for that matter.
My home should be my sanctuary. Lately it’s been more of an animal refuge at high-occupancy season. I don’t understand how people can allow their dogs to bark incessantly.
I need to feel safe and comfortable, so if you’re thinking, I know of a wonderful, peaceful campsite near a stream, I’ll take the stream, but you can keep the outdoors.
Sleeping outside is for animals. When I tinkle, I want to hear the whoosh of water afterward. When I arise, I want to smell fresh coffee brewing, feel a hot shower, see clean, fluffy towels. I love being in warm water, a tub or springs—it’s better than the hot water I used to be in.
When school ended in May, my daughter and I decided that Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs was the answer. Guests are asked to whisper, and we walk around in swimsuits and robes. First, we drove to Santa Fe to amble around in shops and galleries. Though shopping’s not my bag, nor am I an art aficionado, I love to meet people and dine in new atmospheres.
The first night, after swimming in the hotel pool, my daughter and I felt relaxed. We had packed some food that we enjoyed while playing chess. Suddenly at 9:00 p.m., like a bull charging into a plaza de toros, a hotel guest rushed in above us. For the next two hours, this 900-pound beefsteak stampeded back and forth as if dodging a matador. I politely knocked on the ceiling, as if petting the bull.
By 11:00 p.m., long after we’d turned out the lights, I was prepared to enter this bovine’s toril (entrance) with my little picador by my side and introduce the moose to my vara (lance). I came here for a little peace, and I was ready to give him a bit of mine. There would be no paseo tonight! My final, threatening ceiling knock took him down—and at last I slept.
The next morning we headed to Ojo Caliente, a place my girlfriend and I used to visit annually till work overtook our lives. Driving through an Indian reservation, curving on back roads, we arrived at the oasis! Too early to check in, we aimed at the bathhouse and slid into our swimsuits.
This is the life. Little to no conversation, a slow-moving environment, and pools of arsenic, soda, iron, and lithia—there’s even a mud pool. Pigs never had it this good, though several were spotted on location in swimsuits. A couple of wet hours later, we checked into our cabin and had a bite to eat before slipping back into the pools.
That eve, my daughter treated me to a delightful dinner at Ojo Caliente’s quaint Artesian restaurant with a gracious wait staff, where we observed a more-than-usual number of heterosexual guests. I like this place for a variety of reasons, and one is that I never have to worry about the men making passes at me.
Back in the cabin we again relaxed over a game of chess when, at 9:10 p.m., a member of the Harlem Globetrotters moved into the cabin next door. The floor in our cabin shook as the ball bounced repeatedly on boards that stretched through a string of cabins. We knocked politely on the bathroom wall.
Once Mom, Dad, and their little Globetrotter had carried all their things in and slammed the front door for the last time, we smelled cigarette smoke coming through the air conditioner next to us. I turned on the back porch light, opened the door, and asked Mr. Fumé Cloud, “Did you hear someone playing basketball out here?”
“No,” he said, “but I heard someone knocking on our bathroom wall.”
I decided I didn’t like this guy. He was polluting my air, so I kept the porch light on, hoping bugs would bite him and make him swell up like a balloon, and he’d float away.
The next day we drove back to the neighborhood noises, and I’m still trying to find my p’s and q’s. Maybe I should have stayed in town and gone to the local pub. After a few pints and quarts, I’d forget about peace and quiet and join the rest of the noisemakers.
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