Rerun from He Wrote She Wrote: The B&B That Hates Us, October 12, 2006

So last night we stayed in a B&B, which was lovely, but a B&B is probably not the best place to put us because, not unnaturally, the proprietors want to know when we’ll arrive and when we’ll eat breakfast, and writers on tour don’t know those things. There’s a reason we’re booked into hotels with twenty-four hour room service. Planes arrive when they want to, traffic goes bad, and we work strange hours. We get there when we get there, we wake up when we wake up, and we eat when we’re hungry and we can find food. So the B&B experience, while fabulous for vacationers who love history, is not for writers who are on the tenth month of Living the Dream and are, as a result, a little testy. Well, one of us is. As Bob said last night when we got out of the car, “You be charming.”

We were standing in front of the Victorian B&B, and Bob looked up and down the deserted street—it was seven o’clock on a Wednesday night and there wasn’t a soul anywhere—and said, “My Cousin Vinnie.”

I said, “Oh, yeah, you blend.”

Then we went up to the doors which were beautiful, tiny square panes of glass in massive gorgeous wood, and met the proprietress, who said she hadn’t known when we’d be getting in and so she’d just run out to the grocery and then run back—she was breathless—and her husband had just gotten on the treadmill—we could hear the treadmill—because she hadn’t known when we were arriving, and then she looked at me as if I was supposed to explain (hotels never ask you to explain, they just say, “Give me your credit card, thank you”) and I said, “I’m sorry, we didn’t know, either,” because there was the plane and then I was supposed to pick up my new car which did not come in, which was made even more annoying because Bob had said in New York, “It won’t come in, they never come in when they say they will,” and I’d said, “But the salesman swore to me it would be in for this trip” and Bob had looked at me like “You poor, trusting dimwit,” and then it didn’t come in, and of course he didn’t say a word, but he didn’t have to, plus it’s a five hour drive from Cincinnati to Cleveland but Bob drove it in three, so even if I’d told her when, it would have been wrong . . .

Where was I?

Right. I did not need to hear, “We didn’t know when you’d be in,” on top of the new car debacle, so when she said she needed to know what time we wanted breakfast, I said, “Oh, don’t bother, we’ll just go to Denny’s whenever we wake up.”

Okay, wrong answer, I realize that now, she had probably run out to the store for breakfast stuff, but you know, I didn’t know when we’d be up and if she wanted people who were going to eat on a schedule, she shouldn’t have said, “Sure, send in the writers.” So she sort of gasped, and I would have said I was sorry but I was in so deep by then, that I just smiled apologetically. Well, what are you going to do?

Then she took us upstairs and showed Bob his room at the front of the hall, and there was a Roy Rogers bedspread and a teddy bear on the bed. I looked at Bob’s face and bit my lip. You should have been there. Then she took me to the back of the hall and said, “This is your room,” and she looked back at Bob, standing innocently at the other end, and pulled out a screen with lace panels and put it across the hall and said, “And this will keep him out.” Bob looked at the screen and it fell over. I said, “Really, he’s a perfect gentleman,” and she picked up the screen and set it up, and said, “I’ll have my husband bolt it to the wall.” It must have been the way he looked at the bear. Bob shook his head, and the screen fell over again, and I opened the door to my room and saw a huge white stuffed rabbit sitting on the bed and thought about saying, “I really don’t need the screen, if I put the stuffed rabbit in front of the door, he’ll run away screaming into the night,” but I’d already been so rude about breakfast, that I just shut up because I could tell she was already fed up with both of us. Well, I would have been, too. It’s a hellish job running a B&B, and then you get two jerks like us in there who just want a bed and wireless internet and have no interest in history or stuffed animals or breakfast, and it probably just makes you want to weep. But the important thing was that Kym aka romancyclist had already been there and left a HUGE bag of M&M peanuts on the bed next to the rabbit, so I got my M&Ms, closer be damned.

Then she gave us keys and we went to dinner at the restaurant next door which was very good and our waitress was excellent, and we talked about the end of Agnes, and then we went back to our rooms and I powered up the laptop to go online because the B&B had wireless internet (see, it’s a very good B&B). Except I couldn’t get online. And I had this sudden vision of Bob with the bear in one hand and his Glock in the other, backing that poor proprietress into one of the needlepoint samplers on the wall, saying, “Wireless internet or the bear gets it,” so I went down to see, and the bastard had it in his room, so I got online in there. No, that is not a euphemism. Then I told him thank you very much and that I was going back to my room and to forget about trying anything later because I had my screen, and then I went back and worked on Agnes, and the room really was lovely and very peaceful, and I had an excellent night’s sleep.

The next morning, we went to Denny’s as planned and had breakfast and Bob had told me to take my key because we had to go back to the B&B to meet Kym there, so when we got back and found Kym, I took the key back in and scared the proprietress into fits because she thought we’d left and she’d already cleaned our rooms. I said, “No, no, it’s fine, I’m just bringing back the key, and I’m so sorry we’ve been so horrible, really, it’s all right, I swear, we’ll never come back.” Then I went out to the car to meet Bob and Kym.

Bob: Did you give her the key?

Jenny: Yes. And I apologized for how awful we were and I told her she didn’t have to worry because we were never coming back.

Bob: You told her WHAT?

Jenny: I told her we were never . . . oh. Probably the wrong thing to say, huh?

Bob: To somebody running a B&B, YES.

Jenny: I was trying to make her feel better.

Bob: Okay, for the rest of the day, I’LL be charming.

Jenny: What will I be?

Bob: Quiet.

Then we went to the Medina Country Club and met the nicest people at lunch, and Debbie introduced us for our talk and read my bio and all the way through it, Bob kept looking at me saying, “Really?” Really, you married your college sweetheart? Yes, Bob, I was married. Really, you have a masters in writing? Yes, Bob, in business and technical writing. Really, you have an MFA in Fiction? Yes, Bob, from Ohio State. Then Debbie read his bio and I knew all of it. He said, “See, I don’t keep any secrets from you.” I said, “She got it off my website, Bob.” And then we gave a talk that neither one of us can remember although of course we remember the things we did wrong, the post mortems are always fun, but the people were so lovely they applauded anyway. And then we did a cable TV interview with Tina who was terrific although I don’t remember much of the interview except for the part where Bob pushed me too far and I hit him with a copy of Don’t Look Down, so all of you in the Cleveland cable area, be sure to look for that one. Afterwards, Bob said, “You do that one more time, I’m going to hit you back,” which is fair, although I don’t think it would play well, so I’m going to stop smacking him. I suggested they cut that out of the final show, but somebody at the station said she thought it was charming, so evidently my charm has returned, although Bob and the lady at the B&B would probably like a vote on that call.

And my cold is better although I’m still blowing my nose at regular intervals, and we’re in Columbus where I gave Bob the wrong directions and landed us in rush hour traffic, and he never said a cross word to me which just goes to show you that he really is the perfect gentleman. Which is good because this hotel has no screens. But I did not tell the guy at the desk that we’re never coming back so, all in all, I think we’re ahead of the game.

Living the Dream, folks. It never ends.

2020 Note: More He Wrote She Wrote Reruns are here.

Rerun from He Wrote She Wrote: Bob Drives to Boston, April 5, 2006:

Wednesday, April 05, 2006



I am trapped on the highway in a rental car with an insane person. No internet last night because my apartment was in the basement, none this AM because we had to go see Meg again and then pick up the rental car, at which point my rational partner, Bob, went insane. I’m now safe in a Panera on Rt. 90, but sooner or later I’m gonna have to get back in that car, and I’m telling you, it’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Bob. Continue reading

Rerun: He Wrote She Wrote: On the Road with Bob and Moot, January 20, 2006

So you want to know how the drive to the Space Coast Writers Conference went? I think it’s best illustrated by an exchange we had close to the end. (As God is my witness, I made up none of the dialogue in this blog). Three hundred and fifty miles from Hilton Head, we were in Cocoa, and we saw a man walking along the intracoastal, muttering.

Bob: There’s a story there and we don’t want to know it.
(Short Silence)
Jenny: I might want to know it.
(Bob leans forward, fumbles with something on the dashboard.)
Bob: How do you turn this thing off?”
Jenny: What thing?
Bob: The passenger side airbag.

Okay, but up until then, we’d been doing pretty good. Right after we left Savannah, Meg called to say we had a deal with SMP for Agnes (a great deal) and Jen called to say how excited she was about Agnes (and we’re excited, too, although you can’t tell it by Bob’s face) and then we saw a big orange sign that said “Thirteen Foot Alligator, Souvenirs.”

Jenny: We have to see that! It’s Moot!
(We have a one-eyed alligator in DLD called Moot, about which more later).
Bob: What?
(Exit goes by.)
Jenny: Never mind.

About thirty miles down the road, there was the same sign: “Thirteen Foot Alligator, Souvenirs.”
Bob: It’s probably the same gator. They just truck it back and forth.
Jenny: Turn here. Turn here!
Bob: It’s really only an eight-foot gator. It’s trapped in the pen going, “I’m only eight foot!”
Jenny: Turn here! TURN HERE!
Bob: Except it’s a male gator so it’s okay with being called thirteen foot.
(Exit goes by.)
Jenny: Never mind.

Another thirty miles down tbe road, there was a sign: “Thirteen Foot Alligator, Souvenirs, Dog Track.”

Bob: There’s our exit.

So we pulled up and it was a gas station with the souvenir shop from hell, which is just my cup of tea. I LOVE souvenir shops. We got out and Bob started to fill the rental car with the gas.

Jenny: Where’s the gator?
Bob: Probably around in back. If I don’t see you again, it’s been great.
Jenny: I’ll check inside.

Inside was a dream. Big shell mobiles, a shelf of comic gators one of which was sitting under a palm tree with sunglasses and a coconut drink (of which more later), a shelf of mermaids (which is necessary because Meg collects mermaids and we owe her for negotiating the great contract), and a shelf of shell sculptures of clams playing poker.

Then I saw it. The thirteen foot gator.


I wanted to take its picture with Bob but he refused. I did, however find Alligator Bob’s Smoked Alligator Jerky. No, I’m not kidding:

So I bought the jerky for my dad and a mermaid for Meg and the alligator under the palm tree that looked like Moot (about which more later) and I really hesitated over the clams playing poker but Bob was looking at his watch so we paid and left.

About ten miles, down the road, I couldn’t stand it.

Jenny: Turn around and go back. I have to have those clams playing poker.
(Silence for a couple of miles.)
Jenny: It’s not going to happen, is it?
Bob: Nope.

Then Bob got sick from talking so much yesterday (he’ll write about that, I think he’s trying to forget the drive) and we stopped at a CVS in Cocoa where a great guy named Dwight helped me find the throat lozenges. And I took them out to Bob, who was suffering.

Jenny: I got honey lemon Cepacol, black cherry Sucrets, and some of those cherry strips you put on your tongue.
Bob: What?
Jenny: They’re thin sheets of medication and you put them on your tongue and they melt so you don’t choke on the lozenge.
Bob: What?
Jenny: You put them on your tongue.
Bob: What?
Jenny: They’re suppositories. Bend over.

But the big creative discovery of the day was the Moot-under-the-palm-tree I bought. I put him on the dashboard of the rental car and got the Great Idea:

Jenny: You know what we can do with this? We can take him with us everywhere and he can be like those gnomes that travel all over, we’ll take his picture wherever we are on the road, won’t that be great?
Bob: (Thinks: A million romance writers in the world and I had to pick her.) Great.

And now I have to go read the latest draft of Agnes because Bob has finally realized that I haven’t read anything he did last week. And he’s taking me to the airport on Sunday and I need that airbag.

But I shoulda bought the poker-playing clams.

Note: About two days after I got home to Ohio, I got the poker-playing clams in the mail from Bob.

2020 Note: More He Wrote She Wrote Reruns are here.