It was three am. Another sleepless night in front of the television, the bluelight doing its best to lull me into a trance like state. I knew lying there, vulnerable to the persuasive infomercials was a bad idea, but I was at my wits end. It was as if my body only required 20 minutes of sleep, and my 20 minutes are long over.
There was a shelf in my basement dedicated solely to all the As Seen On TV items I had purchased over the years from watching late night television. Yellow tinted glasses to help me see better at night, a portable sanitizing light, and a butter genie (I don’t even like butter) were some of the random items I had purchased while in a very compromised state of mind.
Tonight, apparently, was no different.
“Do you have the winter blues? Are you tired of long, dark nights and cold, dreary days? Well, worry no longer! Do we have the cure for you!”
My interest was piqued. Sunsets at 5:00pm and temperatures so low my nose hairs froze the instant I stepped outside was almost more than I could bear.
“Call within the next fifteen minutes and you’ll be whisked away to the sunny shores of the Florida Keys where the warm sand between your toes and the cool ocean air await your arrival!
“Your all inclusive package includes delicious meals prepared fresh daily and free access to the private beach where you can soak up the sun or rest in our well-appointed cabanas.
“But wait! There’s more! If you are one of the first 100 callers, you’ll receive unlimited access to your own, personal motor scooter while in town! Shops, restaurants, and entertaining nightlife will be at your fingertips for the low, low price of $500!
“You heard that right! $500 for five nights at an all inclusive resort, meals, private beach access and your own scooter! Don’t wait! Call now to get this deal of a lifetime!”
Of course I didn’t wait. I was on the phone before the infomercial was over, and the best part, I was one of the first 100 callers. My dream of leaving the cold behind, even if only for five days, was coming true. And, I even got my own personal scooter!
After a few days of packing and arranging my work schedule, I was off to sunny Florida, ready to bask and relax on a private beach and eat free food. There was a taxi arranged to pick me up from the airport and drive me to the resort. I felt like a superstar as I sat back and let the driver take me to my final destination.
“You gonna enjoy yo vacation, ma’am,” the driver said as we pulled into the resort parking lot. I had to admit, I was slightly underwhelmed as I looked at the pale yellow resort, in desperate need of a paint job. Thinking back, there were no real pictures of the actual resort itself, but I guess it didn’t matter. The beach looked great from the pictures and again, there was free food and a free scooter involved so I knew it wasn’t going to be that bad. Besides, the warm sun sure felt good on my pasty pale Ohio skin.
“I’m checking in,” I smiled at the friendly young attendant at the front desk. She must take advantage of the beach as well. Her perfectly bronzed skin was evidence.
“Sure thing,” she replied with a smile. “Your name please.”
“Charlotte Bristol. I purchased this vacation through MMT travel.”
“Ahhh,” she responded, bobbing her head ever so slightly.
Ahhh? What was that supposed to mean? I cocked my head to the side, trying to read her facial features. The young lady looked around the lobby and then back to her computer. I, too, glanced around the lobby, trying to figure out what she was searching for. I saw nothing or no one.
“Ok, Ms. Bristol. Your room is all ready for you. You will be on the first floor. Here is the key,” she said, handing me an old school key attached to a heart key fob. “You will find your room straight down this hall and to your left. Dinner is at 6pm in our Florida Room,” she pointed to her right, “and there are complimentary snacks and drinks 24/7 over at our refreshment station.”
Complimentary snacks all night long. Those would be well utilized. Maybe this vacation would finally get me the good night sleep I so desperately needed.
“Thank you,” I responded. “Um, do you know where I get my scooter rental?”
“Oh, of course,” she smiled again. “The key to your scooter is already in your room. Just take it to our rental hut outside and they will get you all set up. They also have maps of all the local attractions.”
Wow, that was some service. Everything was set in place and waiting for me. This was going to be the most relaxing, effortless vacation yet.
I followed the directions to my room and quickly unlocked my oasis of happiness, breathing in...the smell of cologne? The smile quickly left my face as I looked around the room for the source of the strong scent. The heart-shaped bed and matching jacuzzi tub in the corner of the room sent red flags waving frantically in my brain. There was a duffle bag on the bed, unzipped, indicating this room was already in use.
Clearly, this was an honest mistake. The front desk girl must have given me the keys to the honeymoon suite, one in which was currently occupied. I quickly shut the door and headed back to the front desk.
“Excuse me,” I forced a smile. The young girl blushed and fiddled with a pen in her hand. She looked nervous.
“I think there was a mix up with the keys. You gave me the keys to the honeymoon suite and there is already a couple in there.”
“I’m so sorry, Ms. Bristol,” she started to say. “But there is no mistake.”
“Um, well, you see, when you booked the vacation the small print said ‘based on double occupancy’. All of our rooms are booked for double occupancy so they require two people.” I could tell she was just as uncomfortable telling me this information as I was hearing it from her.
“But I can’t stay in a room with a perfect stranger. Who knows what kind of lunatic I could be sleeping with...I mean next to...I mean,” I slapped my forehead, confusion and frustration taking over.
“I understand,” she tried to comfort, but it was of no use. I was going to have to cut my losses and head back to the airport. This wasn’t going to work.
“Hey, Belle,” a man’s voice came from nowhere. The front desk girl lit up and smiled. She must be Belle.
“Hi, Mr. Moser,” she replied and waved.
Moser. I rolled the name around in my head. Moser. I knew a Moser once back in middle school. He was one of those boys that all the girls dreamed of dating one day…
Back to reality. I still had an issue on my hands and I didn’t know what to do.
“So,” the man continued to speak. “Is my roommate here yet?”
My heart dropped. Was I possibly the roommate? Belle’s face answered my unasked question.
I was Mr. Moser’s roommate.
I turned to face my roomy, my mission to inform him that he would not have to worry about sharing the room with a stranger, but then gasped as I took in his features.
I was standing face to face with Matt Moser, my middle school crush.
“Charlotte?” he asked.
Shocked he even remembered my name, I nodded and smiled.
“Oh my gosh!” I laughed. “It’s been, what, 11 or 12 years?”
“Thirteen to be exact.” His smile was just as warm as I had remembered. “Are you my roommate?” he laughed.
We both turned to Belle who was smiling from ear to ear. She just smiled and said,
“Welcome to our version of Fantasy Island.”