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, health the wife with an unidentified electronic contraption, the husband with a book of games to solve. It is a docile, wintry afternoon, one in which everyone notices everyone else, but mostly keep to themselves. “He has the face for a story,” one woman murmurs to me. She has ordered mocha, medicine and has noticed the couple as she waits for her drink to be prepared. I agree, he does. But they also appear to be in a state of introverted meditation bliss like everyone else this afternoon. Like the rock of the day.
Meet the rock:
Brittany, the barista has started to bring in a different rock to work with her every day. As Brittany puts it, “I have so many rocks, I might as well put ‘em out for show and tell.” I ask how many rocks she thinks she owns and she estimates “over a couple hundred.” As with most collections, Brittany owned one or two rocks that she liked and then two years ago everyone assumed that she was really into rocks and started giving her a lumpen geode every holiday and birthday.
Today’s rock is of an unknown variety. Yesterday, the rock was a bismuth, I’m told that is the kind of rock that is usually grown in a lab so that it develops “crazy crystals.” The day before that Brittany brought in a jasper. When she first held her jasper she lost her grip and it cracked in half on the floor. It turned out to be fortuitous, since the inside of the jasper is “super crystally.” She has also brought in a green tourmaline that is cross-hatched with quartz. Thursday’s rock is scheduled to be a six pound agate. Soon to come will be red citrine, green citrine and “a rock that looks like a peacock.”
Most people do not notice the rock of the day, but the taxi drivers who come in for their coffees almost always do. They tell Brittany, “We have these in my home country.”
The Madison couple that sat side by side in a booth have now moved to the leather easy chairs. The wife tells the husband, “That’s the only sweater you own that would match that chair.” The husband looks up from his crossword and replies, “I clad myself accordingly.”
It is 2:21 p.m. and here’s what is going down: a recording of violin music saturates the air. Someone walks past hauling a 2.88 (or so) foot long camcorder. The fronds of a palm tree sensuously caress the south column. A security guard carefully explains how to get to the Metro Market to a hotel guest. I estimate the guest to be about thirty years old by the way he has trimmed his beard. Another man in a baseball cap asks me if I am typing a letter to my mother, cialis I am not. I am writing a letter to the hotel lobby, or rather what is happening inside it, since the lobby itself might not be sentient in the way that you and I are. If it were though, I’d feel sorry for the rug. Here is this exquisite rug placed on top of the ornate wall-to-wall carpeting and people just walk right over it without respectfully acknowledging the brief yet fantastic change of terrain.
This is a place where no matter where you look there is something that you can get lost dazing into. I am going to stop typing now so that I may enter reverie as I consider the spatial delights experienced by the light emanating from all the electrical fixtures. I consider the spatial tension that exists between the empty chairs at the top of the stairs. If you stick around in this place long enough you will hear each quarter of the hour marked by the dingdong chime of a grandfather clock. Today I’ve typed here long enough to see a ball bearing pop off my typewriter and roll down the marble steps. The steps here remind me of salami. How delicious!
A man descends the stairs and I notice that he has clipped his sunglasses to the backside of his turtleneck collar. I have never seen anyone keep their sunglasses snug against their neck vertebrae like that before. Someone loudly asks, “Anymore gifts?” Their companion loudly replies, “We are up to $1500,000 now.” People wheel their baggage through. It is funny to think about how 20 years ago all this luggage would have been lugged in without wheels. When I was a kid it still had not occurred to society to put wheels on suitcases. We have come a long way. I leave my typewriter to go sit by the fire for a while. My eyes close. Val, the bartender asks if I want anything, but no, I just want to sit by the fire. “That’s fine, people have been doing that since 1893,” says Val. As I sit I hear a pair of middle-aged women in the midst of some profuse giggling. I walk over to them. Pam & Kate explain how they just got back from a Photoshop conference and are now feeling giddy. The Happy Hour has descended. Roc at the desk has told me that the lobby bar is where Marilyn Monroe liked to sip her drinks. The stairwell is where Elvis Presley stood to graciously wave at everyone. Roc himself spent an hour and a half discussing international politics with Margaret Thatcher. Roc also said, “The hotel never used to allow dogs in here like they do now. Dogs love the elevator here! Each floor has it’s own bouquet of smells that the dog catches whiff of as they go past in the elevator. I wish you could interview a dog and get them to tell you what it is that they smell on each floor.” Hmm, good idea.