I don’t know about you, but when I stay at a B&B, rustic lodge, or cozy cabin, I always hope there’s a guest book. Not because I want to write about my stay; nobody cares how many pileated chickadees I saw or where I hooked that big ol’ eelpout or how my chakras open up when I smell the pinewoodsy northern air or how I finally made my peace with the outhouse.
And with all due respect, I really don’t want to read about your stay, either—unless (a) you happen to be a famous person on the lam who somehow ended up in this off-the-beaten-track hostelry, and (b) you can no longer deny your need for self-expression, despite the risk to your personal freedom and security.
When I crack open a guest book, I’m looking for entries from people like Jimmy Hoffa, D. B. Cooper, and Amelia Earhart. Brad and Angelina, maybe. Dick Cheney, back in his “undisclosed location” days. People like that. You’d be surprised at how often I find them.
I stayed at one par-3 golf course/bait shop/spa where both Hoffa and Cheney took to the guest book to complain about the loofahs. (They were substandard.) At another place, Thomas Pynchon added 10,000 words to the guest book about a chipmunk that squeezed through a crack in the wall and ate one of his Twinkies. I know you think I’m a credulous dolt—that these entries are merely the sum of the equation [waggish vacationer] + [rainy day] + [early cocktail hour]. O ye of little faith, who refuse to believe that celebrities lurk among us!
Why, just last weekend I checked into a peeled-log pied-à-terre near Lake Pokegama and hit the jackpot. Paging through a well-thumbed spiral-bound notebook that was kept on top of the vintage Frigidaire, I came across the following entry:
Good golly, I have got to commend you on your upgrades since my last stay here 20 odd years ago. Especially the basic cable. People say I shot out a TV screen once upon a time, which might be true but I’d never do it now. It’s good comp’ny, as we say where I come from. I also like the George Foreman Grill you added to the kitchen appliances, and I apologize for the baked-on peanut butter. However, I don’t care for that whirlpool gadget in the bathtub. It made a weird vibration that left me all shook up, and my fingers got so slippery from the Green Tea RevivaFizz bubble crystals that I had a hard time feeding quarters into it.
Your lake is a humdinger! I caught a mess of crappies and fried them up in some panko crumbs I got at a fancy grocery store in the Twin Cities. Then I sat down to watch my boys on Fox News, and what do you know? There’s the President of the United States, taking time out in the middle of a war to go wandering around my old house with the Prime Minister of Japan. There they were in the Jungle Room, and this Mr. Koizumi was singing “Love Me Tender.” Neat! All in all, I had a most enjoyable stay, and I intend to write the AARP magazine and recommend that they check out your fine establishment.