Ooh, Such Nice Towels / Ooh, Toallas Tan Bonitas

La versión español está después de la versión inglés.

IF YOU READ YESTERDAY’S POST, you know I was born into a crime family. I couldn’t tell these stories while my Mother the Dowager Duchess was alive (she died in 2016). She wouldn’t have approved. And, who really knows, she might have been arrested.

Just before San Geraldo and I opened our bed and breakfast–style hotel in Palm Springs in 2001, The Dowager Duchess and one of her sisters, my Aunt Sylvie, came to visit. My Uncle Harry had died several years earlier and Sylvie immediately began to visit us with my mother every year. Sylvie had two severely disabled sons, one had been in care most of his life and the other had moved to a group home not long before his father died. So, sadly, after a lifetime of limitations, Sylvie had her freedom but not her husband to enjoy it with.

The two sisters were very similar in temperament and were always especially close. Although they themselves were easily offended, they excelled at saying things that should not have been said aloud. It’s a genetic problem. No filters. I’ve worked very hard to overcome that affliction. At minimum, I’m not as bad as they were.

They were also both financially comfortable in their widowhood. They could afford to live how they liked and didn’t have to worry about money. (This is of note given how they behaved.)

Anyway, we were doing a major renovation of our hotel, which was nearly finished, but none of the rooms were ready yet for use. So, we arranged with the owner of a motel across the street for the two sisters to stay there. On their first full day, we went to California Pizza Kitchen for lunch. Sylvie said — as she and The Duchess scooped packets of Sweet’N Low (sugar substitute) into plastic bags they kept in their purses — “Ooh, Mitchell, they have such nice towels in our room. So plush. I told your mother we should put a bath towel in each of our suitcases.”

I reached across the booth, squeezed her hand, looked directly into her eyes, and begged, “Please don’t.”

The Duchess, who was seated next to me, turned and demanded indignantly, “Well, why not?!?”

“Well,” I said, “For one thing, we know the owner.” She scoffed at that.

“And two,” I said, “it’s stealing!”

“Well,” she huffed, “fine!”

TO KEEP THEM ENTERTAINED, WE took The Duchess and Sylvie shopping with us every day as we selected accessories for the rooms. We would buy 7 or 14 of each item, depending on which type of room it would be used in. Every time we bought something, Sylvie would say, “Ooh, you’re buying such expensive things. Aren’t you afraid people will steal them?”

We kept answering with a simple “no,” which left her perplexed. The day after the towel conversation, we were again out for lunch after some more shopping. San Geraldo was back at the hotel. We had just purchased seven decorative dragonfly table lamps for the suites, at $14.99 each. Sylvie said, “They’re so beautiful. I was tempted to buy one. Aren’t you worried people will steal them?”

And then it came to me! “I’ve figured out how to keep our guests from stealing anything!”

She was intrigued, “How?!?”

“We won’t let any New Yorkers stay with us!” Again, The Dowager Duchess huffed.

THE BUSINESS WENT BELLY UP two years later for a variety of reasons, but I’m pleased to report that none of our guests ever stole anything. And, after we closed, I gave Sylvie one of those $14.99 dragonfly lamps (even though she already had an original, Tiffany dragonfly table lamp). She was elated. I also gave her a lifetime supply of Sweet’N Low.

I gave a lifetime supply of Sweet’N Low to The Dowager Duchess, as well. “Why did you give us so many?” she asked, a bit annoyed.

I replied, “So you’ll never have to steal again.”

“Well!” she huffed.

.

SI LEES LA ENTRADA DE ayer, sabes que nací en una familia criminal. No podía contar estas historias mientras mi madre, la duquesa viuda, estaba viva (murió en 2016). Ella no lo habría aprobado. Y, quién sabe realmente, ella podría haber sido arrestada.

Justo antes de que San Geraldo y yo abriéramos nuestro hotel de estilo cama y desayunao (bed & breakfast o B&B) en Palm Springs en 2001, La Duquesa Viuda y una de sus hermanas, mi tía Sylvie, vinieron a visitarnos. Mi tío Harry había muerto varios años antes y Sylvie inmediatamente comenzó a visitarnos con mi madre todos los años. Sylvie tenía dos hijos gravemente discapacitados, uno había estado bajo cuidado la mayor parte de su vida y el otro se había mudado a un hogar grupal unos años antes de que su padre muriera. Entonces, tristemente, después de toda una vida de limitaciones, Sylvie tenía su libertad pero no su esposo para disfrutarla.

Las dos hermanas tenían temperamentos muy similares y siempre estaban especialmente unidas. Aunque ellas mismas se ofenden fácilmente, se destacaron al decir cosas que no deberían haberse dicho en voz alta. Es un problema genético. Sin filtros. He trabajado muy duro para superar esa aflicción. Como mínimo, no soy tan malo como ellos.

También estaban financieramente cómodos en su viudez. Podían permitirse vivir como quisieran y no tenían que preocuparse por el dinero. (Esto es de notar dado cómo se comportaron.)

De todos modos, estábamos haciendo una renovación grande de nuestro hotel, que estaba casi terminado, pero ninguna de las habitaciones estaba lista para su uso. Entonces, acordamos con la dueña de un motel al otro lado de la calle que las dos hermanas se quedaran allí. En su primer día completo, fuimos a el restaurante California Pizza Kitchen para almorzar. Sylvie dijo, mientras ella y La Duquesa sacaban paquetes de Sweet’N Low (sacarina) en bolsas de plástico que guardaban en sus bolsos: “Oh, Mitchell, tienen toallas tan bonitas en nuestra habitación. Tan lujoso. Le dije a tu madre que deberíamos poner una toalla de baño en cada de nuestras maletas.”

Estiré la mano sobre la mesa, apreté su mano, la miré directamente a los ojos, y le supliqué: “Por favor, no”.

La Duquesa, que estaba sentada a mi lado, se volvió y exigió indignada: “Bueno, ¿por qué no?”

“Bueno”, le dije, “por una cosa, conocemos a la propietaria”. Ella se burló de eso.

“Y dos”, continué, “¡está robando!”

“Caramba”, resopló, “¡bien!”

PARA MANTENERLAS ENTRETENIDAS, LLEVAMOS a La Duquesa y Sylvie de compras con nosotros todos los días mientras seleccionábamos los accesorios para las habitaciones. Compraríamos 7 o 14 de cada artículo, dependiendo del tipo de habitación en la que se usaría. Cada vez que compramos algo, Sylvie decía: “Ooh, estás comprando cosas tan caras. ¿No temes que la gente los robe?”

Seguimos respondiendo con un simple “no”, que la dejó perpleja. El día después de la conversación sobre las toallas, volvimos a almorzar después de algunas compras. San Geraldo había vuelto al hotel. Acabábamos de comprar siete lámparas decorativas de mesa de libélula, a $ 14.99 cada una, para las suites. Sylvie dijo: “Son tan hermosas. Estuve tentado de comprar uno. ¿No te preocupa que la gente los robe?”

Y luego vino a mí! Le dije, “¡He descubierto cómo evitar que nuestros invitados roben algo!”

Ella estaba intrigada, “¿Cómo?”

“¡No permitiremos que ningún neoyorquino se quede con nosotros!” De nuevo, La Duquesa Viuda resopló.

EL NEGOCIO SE ARRUINÓ DOS años después por una variedad de razones, pero me complace informar que ninguno de nuestros invitados robó nada. Y, después de que cerramos, le di a Sylvie una de esas lámparas de libélula de $14.99 (a pesar de que ella ya tenía una lámpara de libélula original de Tiffany). Ella estaba eufórica. También le di un suministro de por vida de Sweet’N Low (sacarina).

Además, le di un suministro de por vida a La Duquesa Viuda. Ella se sorprendió, “¿Por qué nos diste tantos?” preguntó ella, un poco molesta.

Le respondí: “Así que nunca más tendrás que robar”.

¡Caramba!” ella resopló.

With The Duchess and Aunt Sylvie on a drive to Palm Springs from San Diego, a few years before the hotel.
Con La Duquesa y Tía Sylvie en un viaje a Palm Springs desde San Diego, unos años antes del hotel.

Your Spanish Friend

A few weeks ago, I told you about my long weekend in Madrid staying with Guadalupe (click here for the last of several posts on that trip).

Guadalupe and a few of her friends can communicate fairly well in English. Other of her friends are fluent — and probably have a much better academic knowledge of English grammar than I do… than do I… than I… In addition, some are also fluent in French, German, and Italian. One friend is even fluent in Hebrew. All I could remember how to say in Hebrew was, “What’s this?,” “I go to Hebrew school,” and “Koopy is a good monkey.” Phonetically, that’s “Koopy cove tove,” if it ever comes up in conversation.

Putting Koopy aside… The core group of five professional women started a business together called “Your Spanish Friend.” They host people in their homes and offer a few days or more of immersion in Spanish conversation while sharing the city of Madrid from an insider’s view.

This all sounds like an advertisement and I don’t mean it to be that. I just thought I’d let you know about it in case you’re interested. Although Guadalupe and I had recently become friendly, we weren’t close friends and really didn’t know each other very well. I agreed to go up for a visit and was kind of nervous about staying in someone else’s home (not my favorite way to travel) and spending so much time in such close proximity to a fairly new acquaintance. I also love to travel independently, so didn’t know how I felt about being taken around Madrid by someone else.

The entire visit was a revelation. First, the homes are large and elegant. I had my own beautiful room and private bath. I know people with apartments smaller than that. So, staying in Guadalupe’s house was like staying in an elegant B&B — with the added benefit of feeling part of a family (and being able to eat whenever I wanted). We spent the entire weekend speaking only Spanish. At times, my Spanish was comical, but I can’t believe how much I improved, and how relaxed I was the entire time.

YOUR SPANISH FRIEND(s).

You may remember the photo I shared of Guadalupe and her friends. They are all gracious, fascinating, classy, relaxed, warm, kind, funny, knowledgable. I could go on an on. I fell in love. I told San Geraldo even he (yes, even he) would have had a great time.

This is not a shameless plug since it’s not about me. Check them out at www.YourSpanishFriend.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YourSpanishFriend. (You may recognize some of the photos. I sent all of mine to Guadalupe.)

AND JUST THINK, AFTER YOUR TIME IN MADRID,
YOU CAN VISIT THE COSTA DEL SOL AND WAKE UP TO THIS.
CLICK THE IMAGES TO FILL THE SCREEN WITH SUNRISE (AND FRIENDS).

Koopy
During your next trip to Spain I know you’ll be asked about Koopy the monkey (he comes up all the time, as you can imagine): When asked, all you need to say is:“Koopy es un buen mono,” because Koopy is a good monkey.