named Shannon and Michaela
want me to write them love letters for their boyfriends.
Shannon lovingingly describes her boyfriend, Ryan, as
“a sarcastic ass always picking on me and my big head!”
She goes on to say she met him at…
A few months into my job at the Pfister I learned something very interesting:
If you want, the spa will give you a bowl of clay to go with a hot steam shower. Yes, with this spa offering, you can temporarily remake yourself as an exquisite porcine figure, steamed…
When I first discovered Coke’s name
to be Coke,
I admit, I was taken aback
with the fact that it is the unusual title
for this amiable human
I often see in the lobby.
But Coke is used to the awe
of people discovering his name,
and ups the…
My term as Pfister narrator is almost up, so yesterday I finally booked a room. My best friend Jessie drove in from Ann Arbor for the occasion. Jessie promptly plopped on the plush puff bed as soon as we had entered and perused our room, #332.
She then jumped to…
“My name is Charles Bentley.
I’m Native American,
My grandmother was Cherokee.
I worked for American Motors
at the corner of Capitol and Richards,
where Wal-Mart is now
I was a spray painter,
I was “The Door Jam Man.”
The Rambler was the first…
The shop window on Wisconsin Avenue is empty. Inside the glass room is a door that leads to the darkness. The combination of this darkness door, the street lights reflected in the glass and the promise that the blank space will be filled up one day again, instills in me…
Yeah, humans are social creatures
you know, we see faces
inside clouds, fungus and tea stains.
Children conduct full-length conversations
with “pet” rocks and plush dinosaurs,
then as adults, they still try to assign meaning
to their frighteningly mysterious days
through science, philosophy, religion,
art, astrology or psychology.
Barbara has been giving tours for the Milwaukee Art Museum over a half century.
“When I first came to the museum, there were eight employees.”
This January I started my fifty-second year.
I retired when I was 50,
but I’m still going in,
teaching and working
I was taking a picture of the roses in the lobby when Val, the bartender summoned me over to see something. I took a stool at the bar and waited for a moment as Val rustled around in her bag, elbow deep. At last she exclaimed “Ah!” and pulled out…
Anja: How long have you worked in room service?
Howard: Nine months.
Anja: What does that all entail?
Howard: Well… amenities, doing orders, and uh, being very uh… kind and gentle with guests hospitality wise. You make them feel wanted, and if they want anything, you do…
The whole hotel is my beat so I’ve got to drift.
I’ve got to find the swirled butter on the plate.
Regard this spiraled stack of paper napkins. This miniscule, considered bit of hospitality intrigues me.
I like to chase the shadows of bicyclists with my camera from…
I’m fifty-seven and one day old today.
I walk dogs.
Never mind all the bad PR that they’ve gotten
they only get nasty if you abuse them
if you train them to be killers,
to fight in the ring against other dogs
my friend and…
Concierge Peter suggests
we all need to practice
watching our surroundings
while wondering why,
or how is it like that?
To behave like the elated toddler
who discovers everything is dimensional:
it can be crawled over, pulled, pushed
bitten and unraveled to reveal
what is at the end,
We ate our last lunch together at the Pfister,
my Grandma and I
I wrote a story about it the other week,
except then I did not know it would be our last meal
when I sat next to Grandma
and we both ordered the salmon salad
Roving the lounge
I roll up to a family
with one of those dual seat strollers
and make my introduction,
“Are those two ‘youngins’ twins?”
“They are almost Irish twins,” says the mama.
I’ve never heard
of that one
what does that mean?
I am sitting at my Remington, clacking away at the lobby’s desk when a man approaches me. Chuck, a New York businessman, tells me about his mother, Anne Bernich, who served as Underwood’s Typewriter Girl of 1945. According to Chuck, “Although her typing skills were amazing, she was…
In the lounge by the fire I meet a clump of kids and their parents. There are six empty mugs of hot cocoas and the dad tells me they all came here to enjoy the holiday décor. The nearest décor (that I suddenly notice with fresh décor…
Two of my second cousins are in town
so my Grandma and Mom take us all out
to a Monday noon lunch at the Pfister café.
My cousin Courtney, lifelong Texas resident
introduces us to her new husband, Michael
who, to our collective delight is as Wisconsin as
A few weeks into December, a generous and innovative customer commissioned me to typewrite five short stories to give to their various family members on Christmas day. Being the purist that I am, I decided that all the drafts for these stories should also be crafted on a typewriter. After…
Katherine has been coming here for years
she was married for three decades
to a man who came to the Pfister to just to jog.
He died ten years ago
so, recently she asked the divine,
“could you please send me a boyfriend who does yoga?”
After she asked…
On a Friday night in December, there is man in a Santa hat having a drink with a bunch of his friends in the lounge. To make conversation I ask him why he’s got that hat on (though the reason is obvious) and one of his many friends says…
Jennifer is here. She just quit her job as the director of a troupe of tribal belly dancers. I learn that tribal belly dancing is more athletic than traditional. Apparently traditional belly dancing much more wiggly. I believe it, having taken belly dancing in college and finding it fairly impossible…
A guest in the lobby told the following story that took place over thirty years ago. He told me four other stories similar to this in the period of an hour.
I get a phone call from Short Man, he wants to see me. We were best friends in…
Debbie was working as a pastry chef when a customer came in wanting a cake like the one they saw in Martha Stewart Magazine. The customer said they’d been to every bakery in town, but no one would do it. Debbie was shocked to hear that, but the bakery…
There is a couple from Madison that comes here every year. They spend the week after thanksgiving sitting quietly side by side in the Pfister café, the wife with an unidentified electronic contraption, the husband with a book of games to solve. It is a docile, wintry afternoon, one in…