Date:         Sat, 26 Aug 1995 22:09:04 -0500
From: Anne Harwell 
Subject:      WHTMATEH 1/4
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L 

In 1959, the year of my birth, this little town built itself a big hotel,
lavish by 50's standards. Big wide terrazo-floored lobby and large meeting
rooms. It was built with the money of a handful of civic-minded investors,
one of whom was my uncle. It was named The ECHO Hotel, ECHO being an
acronym for Edinburg Community Hotel Organization.

In the 70's, my sister and I joined lots of our friends every summer day at
the ECHO's pool, which was within walking distance of our home. Some of the
best memories I have of any time in my life come from those carefree days.
In the ensuing years, I have attended conferences in the hotel's meeting
rooms, voted for Bush and Perot in same, had lunch in its dining room about
twice a month, been to wedding receptions, reserved tables for the Mother's
Day Buffet, and had drinks in its bar. When friends have visited, I've told
them to stay there because it is so close to my house. On a few occasions,
its hospitality was even extended to a paternal visitor in town for a week.

But I had personally never stayed there.

Friday morning before I went off to work, Graham said, "Don't plan anything
for this evening because I've arranged a little surprise." All day I
thought about it and wondered what on earth it could be. By five o'clock I
had decided it was going to be dinner in an expensive restaurant. What else
could a girl want after having received such a beautiful floral
arrangement. So I sent mail to Graham asking if I should remain dressed for
the office or what. He called soon thereafter and equivocated, but left me
with the general impression I should not be in shorts and a T-shirt.

Date:         Sat, 26 Aug 1995 22:09:11 -0500
From: Anne Harwell 
Subject:      WHTMATEH 2/4
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L 

I got out the ironing board and pressed a blouse and got all spiffified and
ready for a good meal out on the town. Graham came driving up soon
thereafter. He held out a tiny key, like the kind used to lock a file
cabinet, and said "Guess where we're going tonight?" I suggested some sort
of office supply store. "No, somewhere exotic," he said. I began to be
afraid he'd arranged something in Reynosa somewhere, thinking maybe in
Mexico they used tiny little keys to lock exotic doors.

"It's the ECHO!" he said. All the air went out of my lungs. Some sort of
gestalt-y experience. So many things in my life had orbited around this
place, and now I was about to spend the night there.

So I packed a bag and we drove the two minutes' drive to the place. Graham
tried to open the door with the tiny key and naturally it wouldn't even fit
in the keyhole. Then he noticed a big hotel-style key with the room number
stamped on it and gave it a try. We went in and dropped our bags, and like
people do in all hotel rooms, I immediately walked across to see the view
out the window. It was that same swimming pool where I had spent so many
summer days.

Graham wanted to have a walk out around the pool, so we went out the back
door and had a quick stroll around. Half of me was thinking how great it
was to be walking around this pool two years to the night after we crossed
the English Channel into Holland right after our elopement, and the other
half was thinking how ludicrous it was to be walking around this pool all
mooney-eyed a few blocks from our house, making like we were crossing the
English Channel or something.

Date:         Sat, 26 Aug 1995 22:09:16 -0500
From: Anne Harwell 
Subject:      WHTMATEH 3/4
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L 

Of course the front door key didn't fit into the back door, so we were
locked out, necessitating the first of two trips to the front desk. The
second came this morning, when we wanted to order room service but the
phones hadn't been turned on. I got dressed and asked the man at the desk
if he would enable the phones in our room.

"I can't do that."

"Why not, don't you enable the phones in all the rooms when you have people
in them?

"I just never had to do that."

"You mean to tell me you can not enable the phone in our room?"

"Can't you just...take it off the hook or something?"

"Well why would I do that, when there's no dialtone?"

He looked at me for a minute, and then light washed over his face.
"Ohhh...you want me to *EN*-able the phone."

Date:         Sat, 26 Aug 1995 22:09:22 -0500
From: Anne Harwell 
Subject:      WHTMATEH 4/4
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L 

He pressed a couple of buttons and said it was done. I asked him to call
the number to test it. He sneered at me and said, "It's ringing, but you
can't answer it because you're here." I told him my husband would answer it
if he could hear it ringing, but evidently he could not, which meant he
hadn't succeeded in doing anything.

That moral victory in place, I walked over to the dining room, where I know
all the waitresses, and ordered breakfast off the dining room menu, and
because I explained the phone situation, she charged me at dining room
prices as opposed to room service prices. The meal arrived a few minutes
after I got back to the room, carried on a tray by the cook since they
don't actually *have* room service at the ECHO. Instead of waiting in the
doorway while I signed the ticket, she came right in and Graham smiled
sweetly and waved at her, clothed as he was in only a bedsheet.

Then he decided he wanted a swim, but since he didn't bring his trunks, I
drove home and fetched them and fed the animals while I was at it. Then
Graham went in the water at the selfsame pool where I spent the happiest
years of my life, and I sat in the shade and read the morning paper brought
from our front yard, and a cool breeze fanned my back, and it came to me
that this is one of the happiest years of my life too, and here I was back
at the ECHO pool, enjoying the morning, just as I had when I was fifteen,
except better now because I was watching my husband in the water instead of
my fifteen-year-old friends.

That about ends the story of what happened to me at the ECHO Hotel.

-abh