Friday, January 26, 2007

Kicking Myself

Short on brains, and long on trust. Story of my life.

Remember when I spent my birthday at the Best Western Hotel in Gumi-shi? When I checked out the next day, I was another year older, but obviously not another year wiser.

I was all the way downtown at the bus stop when I realized that my bag was too light. Oops! That was because my current read, A Distant Mirror, was back at the hotel. I'd been reading after my bubble bath and before sleep the night before, and when I packed to leave the next morning, I missed seeing the book nestled deep in the puffy duvet.

Damn! I'd stopped reading ADM back in November when I came down with bronchitis and couldn't concentrate. I'd just gotten well enough to take it up again, and now I'd misplaced it! Double damn!

Here's where the fissures in my common sense yawn wide enough to drive a truck through: I know where the book is. I go to that hotel at least once every six weeks, when the desire to immerse myself in a bath becomes too intense. They know where I work. I'll try to get back there and fetch it, but if I don't, they'll hold it for me. They'll realize that I must've forgotten it.

Having executed such a brilliant piece of reasoning, I promptly put the book out of my mind for about six weeks. Then, the other day, Manfred, Jr. announced that one of his friends was coming for a visit. This friend had hosted Manfred, Jr. at his parents' home in Incheon, so I was eager for Manfred, Jr. to be able to return the favor.

Since my living space would be really cramped with 3 people, my always-present desire for a bubble bath at the Best Western Hotel seemed this time not selfish but pragmatic. And oh yeah, I could pick up my poor neglected copy of A Distant Mirror! Cool! I packed everything necessary for the ritual and off I went.

When I got to the hotel, I sort of expected the clerk to say something like: "Hi, [Bybee]! You left your book last time. We've been keeping it for you!" He didn't. It was a little puzzling, but I had reading material with me (a damn strange combo: Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte and The Stand by Stephen King!) so I didn't press the matter.

Today, 2 days and twice as many baths later, it was time to check out. This time, I reconned the room several times, even shaking the duvet vigorously.

As I paid the bill, I figured I'd jog the clerk's memory so I could finally get my book back. I asked if someone had turned in a large paperback book I'd left behind the last time I was there. The manager was at the desk then, and he telephoned up to housekeeping. Then he looked on the computer and saw which room I'd been in on December 11. Then he called housekeeping again and asked them if they'd check the room. (At this point, I was rolling my eyes mentally. There was no way it was going to be there after six weeks or more.)

Housekeeping called back with a negative. The manager said that he was sorry, they didn't have the book. "Maybe someone threw it away," I said, even hating to pronounce those words. He smiled and grimaced as he bowed goodbye.

I feel like damn Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz: "Oh, I keep forgetting that I'm not in Kansas any more!" What a simp! Why the hell did I so blasely assume that there was a lost-and-found department? Why did I assume that the hotel maid would see the large English-language paperback novel in the bed and take it down to the desk? Why didn't I hie my ass back over to the Best Western that very day? Because I was thinking like the small-town American hick that I so obviously am.

Not only am I a simp, I'm an unreasonable one: Although it was my fault that I left the book, the fact that they didn't rescue it for me makes me not want to stay there anymore.

My unreasonableness (is that a word?) even extended to my university -- Why the HELL can't the professors have apartments with bathtubs?! Then I wouldn't have to run all over Hell's half-acre dragging my books and my bubble bath and my bath bombs and my bath oil and my Italian towel and my pink chenille bathrobe endlessly searching for a decent place to marinate!

My friend Bronson would put it all down to Fate. He would say that being twice thwarted in my attempts to read ADM means that it's just not meant for me to read this book in this my lifetime.

I don't see it that way. Now it's a challenge that supersedes even the TBR or the Chunkster challenges. Now it's personal. I'm gonna "git 'er done." I'm going to finish A Distant Mirror, and I'm going to do it in 2007. Even if I'm going to have to buy another copy, the thought of which chaps me unmercifully.

Kick. Ow. Kick. Ow. Kick...


lazy cow said...

I'm sorry, I just had to laugh. I'd have done the same thing though.

Caitlin said...

You can probably rustle up another copy on

Isabella K said...

We recently also tried to retrieve a book left at a hotel. They didn't even have the decency to return our numerous email and voice messages. Fortunately the book finally turned up in our own bedroom under a pile of laundry.

Anonymous said...

Oh, that's painful! I'd have less trouble realizing I'd forgotten just about anything but my book. Well, okay, maybe not my credit card, or my camera. Or my children (usually). But just about anything else!

Lotus Reads said...

Oh, you poor thing, it's never fun losing a book, but you write so beautifully and with such a great sense of humour that I couldn't help but smile as I read your post.

Les said...

I agree. Your post was so well-written and funny that I couldn't help but laugh out loud. I hope you get another copy and get the book read. If not, maybe it just wasn't meant to be. Try not to beat yourself up too much. ;)

Bybee said...

Lazy Cow - I doubt anyone would have been so dumb and trusting. Thanks for laughing. I don't mind at all.

I might try to get another copy on I'll look at the shelves and see what I could tempt someone with for an exchange.

I'm glad your book turned up in your own room, but really, the hotel staff was a little rude not to write or call you back.

Bluestalking Reader,
Oh, yes, it was painful. Even now, when I close my eyes, I can still see that lovely shade of blue on the book cover. I'm just sweaty-grateful (if I can be grateful about anything regarding this incident) that it wasn't one of Pablo's books. He's a generous loaner, but he damn well wants to see his books again, especially the nonfiction/history books.

Les & Lotus,
Thanks for saying that I was funny. That's what I was aiming for, but not sure I was getting there because even while I was writing, I was still soooo pissed off with myself.

Les, I can't make my mind go with "maybe it wasn't meant to be". If Fate is playing with me literary-wise, it's not a good idea; I get a little pugnacious.

Will said...

thank you for your very excited about going to korea in a couple of weeks. maybe i will meet your son there at SU...take care..bye

Anonymous said...

Oh my. I hope you don't mind but I got great amusement from your misfortune - partly because of the humor in your post but also because I could see myself doing the exact same thing and reacting in the same way!

Omar Cruz said...
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