09 September 2007

...but it wasn't a HAMPTON bed!

Good morning and aloha from the Hampton Inn of Cordele, Georgia (pron: core-DEAL JAW-jah).

We stayed here after spending a day full of fun and surprises in Albany, Georgia (pron: all-BENNY JAW-jah). Here's the lowdown, from Action Central News Cruiser Number 3:

Seraphim's parents are marking 40 years of marriage. And my wife wanted to surprise them with a gathering of all their friends and family. We planned a Saturday night get-together at Putney United Methodist Church [I'll spare you the 'trademark' gag -- besides, one can't do that on a laptop without the numberpad attachment]. The barbecue 'n' fixins came from White's, an Albany institution. The cake was from Seraphim's Loving Bakery (don't act so surprised).

Okay. My in-laws THOUGHT their oldest daughter and quirky SIL were comin' to take them out to dinner for their anniversary. We worked with Sera's sister and aunt ... who all did their share of the covert preparations. We came into town about 2:00 yesterday, and went first to White's to pay for the spread. Then from there it was to the church, to set up the cake, put up the streamers, arrange the tables, chairs, etc. And while we got the 'rents, Sera's aunt would go to White's and get the food.

The in-laws were expecting us about 5:00. We arrived, and the FIL and I were admiring each others' new rides (he just bought a pickup ... something he hasn't had in a few years). We told them the 'restaurant' venue was going to be a surprise. So we put them in our backseat, then Seraphim put blindfolds on them. ("John Charles Daly, my blindfold doesn't fit properly. And why is Kirk Douglas disguising his voice like Ethel Merman?" "Shut UP, Dorothy Kilgallen, or else I'll have to spike your nightcap.")

We were going to drive them around the neighborhood, aimlessly, in an attempt to disorient them. Then make a beeline for the church, where everyone would be outside waiting to do the whole "surprise!" bit.

Small problem -- and I knew this going in -- it was going to be difficult to get my father-in-law all turned around. He knows his area like the proverbial back of his hand. My MIL will be much easier to trick. Although they were a bit suspicious at the onset -- this isn't going to be another surprise thing where we go to the church and have h'ors d'ouvres (as we did for MIL's birthday in 2006). "We ARE going out to eat, right?" I assured her that, indeed, we WILL be eating out.

Well, we DID. Just not in a restaurant setting. Hah!

The railroad crossings on the other side of highway 19 didn't help. One time, my FIL said out loud just what road we were on. Well, shit.

We finally pulled into the church. Then MIL said, "I think we're at the church." The crowd was quiet. Seraphim got out and escorted MIL from the vehicle while I did same with FIL. We guided them to a center spot -- again, while everyone is quiet as can be -- and then removed their blindfolds. * SURPRISE!!!!! *

Well, they were both surprised and happy. We had something like 40 people in the fellowship hall .... and everyone ate well.

It went off beautifully. But it'll be the last time we'll ever be able to do anything like this. They're on to our games, I'm afraid. Next time it'll have to really be Outback.

Several thoughts:
  • White's barbecue is good, I must say ... for that tomato-based stuff. Damn South Carolina totally warped my BBQ sensibilities. I was doing fine until I discovered MUSTARD! Anyway...

  • My nephew just started 6th grade, and is now playing the violin. He performed an impromptu recital as we were taking down and cleaning up. Not bad at all for only having played for two weeks. Honest. But I couldn't get out of my mind the sound of Mel Blanc as "Professor LeBlanc", Jack Benny's tortured violin teacher.

  • We booked a room in Cordele at Hampton Inn. After all that activity, I wanted my wife's head to rest on the "Hampton Bed." And, being Cordele, we'd be nearly 1/4 of the way home. It's just three short hours back to Effingham County.

  • This wasn't a Hampton bed. But it was still comfy.

  • I just finished my motel breakfast. I've previously commented about my feelings re 'freebie breakfasts' at motels. Hampton's are typically a cut above other chains' offerings. This one was middling. The OJ was weak. The biscuit tasted like it'd been zapped in the microwave about 30 minutes ago. The cereal came from a dispenser, but I took my chances, telling myself "It hasn't been there too long ... certainly it wasn't kept out all the previous day!" I helped myself to some Frosted Flakes -- "THEY'RE GRRRRRRRROSS!!!" -- no, not really. I ate 'em, but they were on the verge of going stale.

  • The banana looks good. I'll be eating it in a minute.

  • The bathroom told the story. This Hampton Inn is a renovated and refurbished older property. But the bathroom retained much of its original fixtures. The light globe (big, round, almost coin-like) gave it all away: this puppy started out life as a Holiday Inn. I'll have to check my old '60s & '70s HI directories to verify dates.

  • As Hampton Inns go, it's a little disappointing. Overall, it was a good room. Certainly better than the old HI rooms we had in Bainbridge, Ga. earlier this Summer, or the still Holiday Inn in Troy last Christmas.

  • But we now have over 7,500 Hilton Honors points. Enough for a free room at the Hampton Inn of Selma, Ala. I'll be sure to borrow a few of Dad's guns before we redeem.

  • Or else we'll stay at a few more and keep racking up points.

  • Seraphim just finished her breakfast. As she said "I just warmed my bagel on the world's slowest toaster." It's time to pack it in and head out. Check-out time is 11:00. It's now 10:17.

  • Buh-bye, and ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "ROAD TRIP!" Gleck

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