I quietly dig through my suitcase, trying not to wake him with shuffling and organizing. I glance over my shoulder and he is fast asleep, face down, arms splayed and peaceful. I am a little jealous of his masterful midday napping skills. I dozed off for a bit, but even with curtains drawn and only the tiniest sliver of light seeping in I could not sustain the late afternoon snooze for more than twenty minutes or so. Considering this was my third day in Italy with days one and two jam packed with activity, and the fact that I had managed to skip jet lag, I should have been exhausted. Fueled by adrenaline, the prospect of spending a few more days with him and anticipating a beautiful evening ahead, I stopped trying to sleep and took a long, relaxing, much needed shower instead.
While he continued to nap, I took my time applying moisturizers, body lotion and make up. With my face inches from the bathroom mirror I plucked every damn stray hair, I could find, white whiskers to black wispy strays, the ones that seem to grow at a rate faster than time-lapse photography. I know, I know I paint a pretty picture, but that’s life in my 50s. Thank God for good tweezers and excellent near vision. The lighting in the bathroom is perfection, honestly taking ten years off my face. I gaze at my handiwork, happy with the results, grateful for the flattering lighting, and the alone time needed to maintain the illusion of the easy breezy beautiful cover girl. I check the time, our dinner reservation isn’t for a couple hours, plenty of time to continue the fine tuning.
In between preening, I remember the clothes we left at the front desk this morning to be pressed for this evening. Turns out there isn’t an iron to found in this hotel. Not a problem, I am happy to have someone do the task for me. Now satisfied with with the results of my primping, I look for something to throw on before I run downstairs to get our freshly pressed items. I’m feeling accomplished and so, so organized. I pride myself in being the perfect travel companion. Just as I put my hands on my little red striped dress, my ear catches the click of the door knob, a tiny little sound . . . but I know what’s coming next. I am standing right in front of the door. In a split second I shout something completely incomprehensible, a combination of STOP, NO and SHIT all at once. Sounding something like the cry of a wounded animal, or someone who can’t speak English, I lunge at the door to push it closed, but it’s too late. The Hulk of a bellman is already in the our room.
Oh . . . and did I mention that I am completely naked . . . not one stitch of clothes, no towel, nothing. I don’t even have the good sense to cover myself with the dress that is in my hand!
Seems that while I was planning to get the clothing, the bellman had decided to bring the clothes to me. Service with a smile. Only he wasn’t smiling. He seemed to be knocked off balance at the sight of me. I can only describe his look as one of sheer terror with a dash of completely mortified. He lets out a small scream, a string of Italian apologies, and as quickly as he came, he vanishes. With the clothes! I have never seen anyone back out of a room so quickly. As I replay the sequence of events, I’m sure I appeared to be running at him, crazed and naked. The poor, poor man.
As soon as the door closed. I shouted, OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD!!!!! Without opening his eyes, the napper let’s out a very groggy, What? I recount the story, step by step and I keep repeating, BABE, I was NAKED, completely NAKED. Full frontal!! HE SAW EVERYTHING! WHY WOULD HE NOT KNOCK????!!! He chuckles a little and says, Oh, I forgot to put the key in the wall slot. That lets the staff know we are in the room. He had no idea we were here. Honest mistake.
I lay down next to him and repeat my story several times, emphasizing the words and my feelings of horror. He laughs a little, but doesn’t seem to grasp the magnitude of the situation, no big deal. He’s more concerned about getting the clothes and calls the front desk. Before he completes his first sentence, the frantic voice of a young woman comes through loud and clear. I cannot hear her exact words, but she is definitely apologizing and begging forgiveness. He cannot get a word in edgewise. He tries to console her, assuring her it’s okay, we are not mad, we have a sense of humor, etcetera, etcetera. I am sure she imagines a scathing online review that will lead to huge loss of business, surely the loss of her job, and humiliation for the entire village. Seems everyone has forgotten that I was caught one hundred percent naked.
When it becomes clear he cannot ease her mind (Did I mention I was the one caught naked?), he wraps up the call by telling her he will come down to pick up the clothing. He hangs up the phone, looks at me and says, It’s an international incident. And he cannot stop laughing, he laughs a little too long, but I let him. Funny thing is now I’m feeling bad for the staff. I start thinking out loud and wondering if maybe I should talk to the bellman personally and tell him no hard feelings, in the end it was really funny, now we’re laughing about it. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. The napper looks at me in all seriousness and says, absolutely not, we need to drop it and never talk about it again. Just let it go. We agree this is the best plan.
We lay there a few more minutes and he says, Would if make you feel better if I went downstairs naked and to pick up the clothes? I laugh and say, Why don’t you call them up and answer the door naked. And we keep laughing. I interrupt the laughter and say, I cannot believe this happened. He looks at me and says . . . Seriously? You are always naked. It’s bound to happen! This won’t be the last time. He’s right. I’m not an exhibitionist, truly. It was part of my upbringing, four girls and one bathroom to share. Maybe blame it on growing up in the 70s?
We leave for the evening, excited about our dinner plans, looking good, pressed, refreshed and smiling. As we exit the lobby, the manager sheepishly lifts her head as I pass and gives me a small smile and tiny wave. I smile as if nothing ever happened. As for the bellman, he is nowhere to be found, never saw him again for the rest of the trip. Poor guy.
I don’t see this incident changing my behavior. Other than the occasional mishap now and then, there are no lasting scars, no emotional trauma as a result, just a funny story or two.
I am well aware that I am actually more comfortable being naked than saying these words . . . You hurt my feelings . . . You treated me badly . . . I want to spend my life with you . . . Do you want to share your life with me? . . . .Do you think I am a good mom? . . . Do you love me? . . . I’m so sorry. . . Do you forgive me? . . . I love you, still.
Expressing the naked truth, asking the questions that reveal the truth, and allowing myself to be vulnerable . . . now THAT is the hard stuff, THAT is the naked that is hard for me.
So . . . I practice . . . I do it when I don’t want to hear the answers. And it still makes a great story, my story.