I was supposed to check out today and go home so I could put new tires on my car tomorrow. I should be packing up and making arrangements to get my car and skedaddle back to Michigan.
Yesterday was such a fun day. I walked Ashok before it started snowing and settled in the lobby with her blanket and my coffee mug. A couple joined us from Toledo. They loved Ashok and talked about their dogs and their Christmas plans. I told them about Lou Mitchell’s diner where I ate the day before with my friend Gerry from Memphis. The food was good, but it was the atmosphere and fun that made breakfast a unique experience. After looking up the hours for them, they booked a cab and headed over.
Their chairs were quickly taken by a woman from Nashville and her daughter by love. This year she turned 60 and caught her husband of 31 years in an affair. She is in the midst of a divorce and all of the resulting grief, so she, her daughter and her daughter by love came to Chicago for a change of pace. We had lots in common, and Ashok lavished them with loads of attention. The hotel, in turn, offered us lots of coffee and a soft place to land.
Before my friend Nancy even got up, I had decided to stay another night. I can get tires anytime. What I was experiencing here was so much more fun, and I wasn’t anxious for it to end. The Hotel Monaco is much more than a lodging space. They have a Wine Hour from 5 – 7 PM, a Hot Cocoa Bar from 2 PM – 4 PM and coffee from 6 AM – 10 AM. The lobby is small because the hotel is fairly small, and it’s made for socializing. I like the spot in front of the fireplace, and I just wait for groups of people to join me. ‘Where are you guys from?’ I ask. And the conversation begins.
Right now I’m talking to a Mom and her two kids. One is dressed as Siberian Tiger, and the other as a Spotted Bunny. I was informed that their animals are extinct or almost extinct. They are visiting family in Chicago and will be returning to Milwaukee today. A couple last night from Carbondale was leaving for Thailand today. And another couple from St. Louis found out that they had mutual friends with the couple from Carbondale. My new friends from Nashville and I are heading to Chinatown today to eat Chinese food with the Jews. I can’t wait.
Stephanie and Gwen at the front desk have been at once helpful and friendly with me and Ashok. Gwen gets to have Christmas with her family today but is exhausted from all the cooking. Stephanie is working today but gets to go home at 2 PM. I won’t see either of them again before I leave. But I know there will be plenty of conversation between now and checkout tomorrow. And I know I will be back.
When I packed up Ashok last night before the end of the Wine Hour, she literally sat down and made me drag her across the lobby floor. The guests were laughing at her insistence that we stay. “Now that’s a party girl,” one of her new friends joked. She took off with my Nashville friends this morning while I had breakfast with Nancy and is asleep in the bed with one of them in their room. She, like me, likes meeting new people, I guess. We have always been a perfect match. I guess this shouldn’t surprise me in the least.