Great Expectations

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The ways our brains associate random tidbits of data always astounds and amazes me.

As I was getting out of the shower last night, I remembered with perfect clarify three instances when I had been an overnight guest in someone’s home. Most of my guest stays were pretty average, nothing hugely memorable about them – but these three?

The first was when I stayed with my friend Dan in his little rented half-house out in Eaton Rapids. This would have been back in 1993, maybe, back when staying at a friend’s place meant sleeping on the couch and being happy with left-over pizza for dinner. I remember distinctly Dan had laid out for me in the bathroom my own bath towel, hand towel and washcloth. I was completely impressed; floored, really. My exact thought was, “Wow – he’s, like, an adult.” Now, when I have friends staying overnight (which of course doesn’t happen very often,) I try to remember to leave them their own clean towels and whatnot.

The second instance was at my friend Duner’s house in Bozeman, Montana in 1999. I’d just spent 15 or so hours on the motorcycle, and while it was quite lovely riding through Yellowstone in the late afternoon and during sunset, once it grew dark, I became completely lost. Nothing is open in Yellowstone after dark, and there are no easily-located maps to be seen. The roads go in circles, and have useful signage for things like “Buffalo Overlook,” and “Bob’s House,” but nothing resembling useful exit information.

I rode around, increasingly pissed off, probably in circles, for four hours. Four hours going 25 miles per hour on a sport bike is not fun. Finally, I somehow stumbled upon the northern exit and blazed off down the highway, swearing a blue streak at Yellowstone and its stupid signs, vowing never to return. I haven’t.

When I arrived at Duner’s house, though, it was dark, I was grumpy and he had the most awful news for me at my arrival. It was a bad night. When he showed me to my quarters, though, I was fairly blown away. I had, essentially, my own wing of the house. I had a neatly-made-up bedroom, a sitting area, my own bathroom – all off the main house and quiet. Once I’d recovered from the day, I settled into the comfortable bed and fell into a deep, but troubled, sleep. I awoke fairly disoriented, head still humming from all the many days of solid riding, body sore in familiar but not unpleasant ways, eyes bleary from tears shed the night before. I slowly clawed my way to consciousness and opened my eyes.

Above me staring down intently, was a giant peacock. The only thing that registered in my primal/not-awake brain was, “huge bird over my head, going to peck my eyes out.” I think I actually shouted out loud in surprise and flung the covers off as I sprang out of bed. It wasn’t until a few moments later I realized the bird was actually outside, looking at me through a window over my bed. As it turns out, the guest wing is partially underground, leaving the peacocks roaming at about eye level. Awesome turn-down service, great accomodations… not so great a job with the wake-up crew!

Years later, when living in Rainier, Washington, feral peacocks (seriously) would occasionally visit my house and rive Zephyr and the cats absolutely bonkers. Try telling a herd dog not to chase a peacock, I dare you.

Lastly, my friend James’ house, here in Lansing in 1994. James is my age, and neither of us cared much about living in a nice place at that point. We didn’t have any money and had more interest in buying music than household items. So I get out of the shower at James’ house, and I look around for a towel. None to be had. I looked in the sink cabinet, in the drawers, nothing. I sure as heck wasn’t going to go out all nekkid and look for one, even though he was sleeping. I faced my only option – a dingy, crusty hand-towel hanging next to the sink. It had streaks of white toothpaste on it from where he’d wiped his mouth. It smelled faintly of mold. It had… “odd” stains on it. It was the size of a postage stamp, or so it seemed.

But I used that towel, silently shrieking the whole time.

Tonight, as I stepped out of the shower, I realized I’d put my bath towel down the laundry chute. The other towels were all probably in the basement, waiting to be brought upstairs. I regarded my hand towel.

At least this time, it was clean.

As I was looking for that photo amidst piles of Flickr photos just now, I came across another photo that reminded me of yet another memorable time I was at a friend’s house. This time, it was Young Greg, just a couple of years ago.

He went into the bathroom as I was minding my own business in his living room, and I kept hearing weird, half-muted random comments, sounds and “OW” noises coming from the bathroom. Given they were issued from the bathroom, I thought I’d just ignore them.

15 minutes later, after assorted other interesting noises, he came out sporting this – which he’d done himself.

Having sported various piercings myself over the years, all I could do was to shake my head and try to help him put the bead in, which took us another good half hour and a lot of swearing. Ah, good times!

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