22 May 2009

Scenes from Wild and Wonderful West Virginia

I'd clipped a piece of the state on one of my cross country travels, but now I can properly say I've been to West Virginia.

After hours of enduring miles upon miles of construction, targeted enforcement areas, and safety zones in Pennsylvania, all with reduced speed limits and double the fines, I was thrilled to see the 70 MPH signs when I crossed the border into West Virginia. Wild and wonderful, indeed.

I parked under the carport of the hotel and called my Dad to let him know I'd arrived. He said he'd meet me in the lobby in case there were any problems.

Two guys--mid twenties to early thirties?--were working behind the counter. One handed a middle-aged male guest some extra towels, and then the lobby was empty except for the three of us.

I gave the clerk on the left my name and told him I had a reservation.

"I just need to see some ID and your credit card."

My gaydar popped hard even though I can't really articulate why, something in his demeanor. It made me smile and think more favorably of West Virginia. "Sure," I said as I pulled out my license and handed it to him. "It should be under my Dad's credit card. Do you need to see that?"

"Yes, I'm sorry, I do."

"That's all right. He said he was on his way down."

I heard someone coming down the hall, but it wasn't him. I shrugged and stepped back to scan the pamphlets.

The younger clerk started relating an interaction he'd had to the possibly gay clerk. I caught the end. "...Virginian. I told him, 'That's a whole other state, dude.'"

"Yeah," the other clerk agreed.

"When I was growing up, they always called it, 'By God, West Virginia.'"

I smiled, greatly amused; within five minutes of arriving, I encountered West Virginia/Virginia rivalry.

I could have told them,
To be a Virginian, either by birth, marriage, adoption, or even on one's mother's side, is an introduction to any state in the Union, a passport to any foreign country, and a benediction from the almighty God.
because my entire extended family, including my parents, is Virginian, but I had more fun keeping that to myself.

On Monday, I stopped in the lounge with Mom while she got herself some coffee. It was a large room with tables, chairs, the breakfast setup on one side, a sofa, some comfy chairs and a TV. Fox News was on and I immediately thought of changing the channel to CNN but didn't know the number off-hand.

"We're in Fox News country," Mom said, "I changed it to CNN the other night."

"I was just thinking of doing that. What channel is it?"


I walked over to the remote and punched it in.

"You've done your public service for the day."

My room was quite nice with a king-size bed, a mini fridge, a desk, and a comfy chair with a footrest. The possibly gay clerk--I don't like making assumptions about people so my gaydar doesn't go off much--hooked me up with a room three doors down from my parents which was awesome really. The hotel was mostly empty so that gave us both a nice sound cushion.

My only quibble would be with the well-lit bathroom mirror. At home, I only use two out of eight bulbs above my mirror because otherwise, it's like looking at the sun. At the hotel, every skin flaw was accentuated and all my grey hairs highlighted. I've had a small streak of grey by my temple since I was 16, but it's getting harder to deny the growing number of stray greys I've acquired.

Despite some street-less directions like "You will pass a Comfort Inn and Suites on the right hand side and continue on until you come to a traffic signal with a Sheetz Gas Station on the left side. Take a right at the traffic signal and continue until you come to an overpass," I did not get lost. Just irritated that I had to reformat a huge paragraph of prose directions into something I could read while driving. Clearly it's been a helluva long time since my dad had to drive without a navigator, aka Mom.

My brother looks awful. "Lost thirty pounds" didn't really sink in until I saw him. He has my father's father's bone structure which is also to say he looks at least ten years older than when I saw him in December. On the upside, he says he feels OK. He's just weak from the pneumonia and weeks he spent in the hospital, so it will take a long time for him to build up his strength again. Though this situation is ongoing, I don't think I'm going to write much more about it. I do appreciate all the kind thoughts that have been expressed on his behalf.

Before I hit the road, I stopped in for a quick last visit with my bro and his wife. I thought for sure they'd take the chance to hit me with the guardian question, but they didn't so I didn't bring it up. In any case, I want him to focus on getting and staying well right now, and that conversation would be a distraction.

On Monday, I went over to the hospital with my dad and brother so he could get his infusion. Dad pulled up in front of the doors and asked me to get a wheelchair. My bro said, "Don't try to take it through the revolving doors. There's a wheelchair entrance on the side."

I was glad he mentioned it because the automatic revolving doors were large enough, I might've tried it.

I walked in and looked around but didn't see any wheelchairs and wasn't sure where I was supposed to get one from. Several white-haired women were seated behind an information/check-in desk.

"What can we do for ya, honey?"

I'm in The South again. "Do you have a wheelchair?"

The woman kindly stole one for me from down a hallway somewhere. "I didn't see any patients waiting for it," she said as she handed it to me. I took it outside and offered to park the car while my dad took my bro inside.

For the first time since my dad got his hybrid a year ago, I slid behind the wheel, put my foot on the brake and pressed the on button. The car started, I shifted into Drive, but the car didn't move. He set the freakin' emergency brake. I looked around for the release between the seats, under the dash, and could not find it. I shut the car off, locked it, and jogged through the massive rotating doors hoping to catch them at the elevator. They were already gone.

I pressed the up button but the elevator was sitting on the fourth floor, unmoving. I was worried the car would get towed if I left it too long, so when I spotted the stairwell, I went for it even though it looked like it might be under construction. Two stairs at a time, I jogged up to the second floor.

I was grateful Dad and my bro were still within sight.

"That was fast," my bro said.

"No, it wasn't," I said and turned to my dad. "Howdoyoureleasetheemergencybrake?"

Dad looked confused and said, "It's OK if you didn't set it."

"No," I took a breath and began again, enunciating slowly, "How do you release the emergency brake?"

"You just step on it with your foot."

"Your foot?"

"Yes. It's on the left side. You step on it to set the brake and to release it."

"OK, thanks," I said as I took off back down the stairs through the lobby and out the revolving doors.

I'd looked for a hand release under the dash but a pedal hadn't occurred to me and was too far back to see at the time.

I parked the car, grabbed a couple of books, and hit the lock button. I tried the doors to double-check that they were locked but when I got around to the front passenger seat, the key in my pocket unlocked the door. Right. That's not going to work. I pressed the lock button again and walked away.

A year ago on TTaT: Green Porno, Again with the passive-aggressive?

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