The kids at St. Sebastian School had the day off. Simone and Rinn, friends, classmates, and volleyball teammates opted to explore the city on their vacation day, shepherded by Simone’s parents. The pair, who’d normally spend the day in Ms. Rauworth’s sixth grade class, instead spent the morning enjoying the many charms of The Pfister Hotel. Upon discovering the smiling duo was footloose and on the search for adventure, I offer the girls a tour of the hotel.
We strolled the halls, and I talked of the past: presidential visitors, Victorian-era art, and the many breathtaking weddings and galas that have occurred in the temporarily empty ballrooms we toured. As we walked, they shared pieces of their future: the excitement of an upcoming class trip, the spring breaks the girls are already anticipating, and their next Fortnite battles. The girls were as dazzled by hotel’s pool as they were by the gorgeous skyline that glinted in the golden October sunshine as we scanned the city from the 23rd floor. The two are balanced on that fragile and fleeting line between girlhood and adolescence, which allowed them to delight in the candies offered and to be silly with each other in ways that will be lost to them in a few years’ time.
Eager to extend my time with the giggling charmers, I invited them to join me for the most decadent drink of childhood: hot chocolate. I placed the order with the bartender and joined the city explorers on the deep leather sofa in the Lobby Lounge. On duty was stalwart Valerie, who has manned the Lobby Lounge for more than 40 years, and has become as much a part of the Lounge as the flickering flames in the fireplace, or the highly polished black wood of the room’s piano. She knowingly eyed the girls, instantly understanding extra whipped cream was in order for our young visitors. With the flourish of a magician, she revealed the rich, chocolaty concoctions to the girls, taking an extra moment to swirl the masterpieces with chocolate sauce at the tableside, for an additional bit of theater. The girls rewarded the extra effort with a look of joy and appreciation that Valerie has put on the faces of countless guests for more than a generation.
Thrilled with their treats, the girls turned all of their attention to their frothy concoctions, rapt by whipped-cream topped miracles placed before them. Today begins the book of memories these 12 year olds will create at The Pfister Hotel. In the future there will be weddings at which to dance, conventions to attend, and celebratory glasses to be raised, but it all begins here, with a day off of school and a little extra whipped cream. They won’t forget this day, and I won’t forget the magic Valerie brought into the Lobby Lounge, ushering in a new generation of devotees to the delights of the hotel.