Sunday, October 25, 2009

How Green Was My Valley

In the summer between high school graduation and first year university, I took it upon myself to get a job. I was tired of begging for silly little things that I most certainly did not need, but most certainly did want.

Up until this point in time, my father flatly refused to allow me to have a job; with his lower-middle class income; come tax time, he needed all the dependants he could get. And since I was an only child, prematurely losing me to the work force would cut that crucial number by a whopping 50%.

I should point out that my life up until this point was bland. Suburban, over-protected, sheltered to the point of wondering if I had Stockholm Syndrome. Bland. Bland. Bland.

Any knowledge of life came from television sit-coms; any knowledge of sex and its intricacies were gleaned from general hearsay, countless library visits to the Science section, and the discovery of Erica Jong. I had a vague idea of the physics of it all, but in practical terms, with nary a boyfriend throughout my years in school, I was hopelessly naive.

Cut to my new, exciting, inner city job as a hotel chambermaid.

Enter Ruth.

Rough talkin’, hard drinkin’, fast livin’ Ruth. Ruth who liked to party with cowboys. Ruth who was known to get in a scuffle now and again. Ruth who had done time in the hoosegow. Ruth who didn’t always go right home from work. Ruth whose frantic husband would call the housekeeping office the next afternoon, trying to locate his wandering bride.

Ruth who taught me more about life and work ethic and how the world turns in those first two months than I had learned in the prior 17 years leading up to that July.

To weasel one’s way into Ruth’s good graces was to walk amongst the lofty upper echelon of the Housekeeping Department. If there is such a thing.

Whatever knowledge I may have lacked due to being pitifully sheltered? I more than made up for in my book smarts and wicked crazy research skills. I knew full and well how to win Ruth’s respect. All it would take would be good ol’fashioned hard work. And lots of it.

It did not take long before I had set myself apart from the rest of the motley crew. I was now the ‘go-to’ person upon whom Ruth would call if she needed to get the job done fast and efficient-like.

One morning, we were advised by the front desk that we would need to clear an entire floor to accommodate the impending arrival of a busload of tourists. After our pre-work coffee, Ruth barked in my general direction, “You’re with me on 4. Let’s move it.”

Here it was. My chance for greatness. My call up to the bigs.

For most of the morning, she and I just busted it out, working in silence; two ballerinas in an effortless, pine-scented choreography. I would scrub bathtub rings, she would dust. I would tuck in sheets, she would vacuum. I deluded myself into thinking that the Hotel Doyenne was slightly impressed with my perfect little hospital corners. It was when I eschewed our coffee break in the interest of time that she may have even fallen in love with me a little. Whatever. All I knew was at that point, her demeanour shifted ever so slightly, and I was privilege to witness a Ruth that few knew – thoughtful, smiling, playful.

This silliness all came to a head as we neared the end of the rooms. After stripping the bed, Ruth knelt down to check out if there were any goodies left behind underneath on the floor, as she had hundreds of times before. She emerged from just above the horizon of the mattress, holding what looked like a plain brown lunch bag. I glanced over to watch her peek inside and raise her eyebrows.

“Well, looky here”, she smirked.

I must admit, I was intrigued. What mystery could it be that could possibly evoke any reaction at all from seen-it-all Ruth? And in a lunch bag, no less? Was it someone’s stash? A ├╝ber-raunchy porno mag? Huge wads of cash?

As she passed me the bag across the expanse of the mattress, she lightly flicked the outside surface; the bag began to hum.

Still, I was blithely oblivious. Yeah, I know. Shut up.

I gingerly took the bag and snuck a peek.

“Ya-a-a-aah! Jeeeeesus, Ruth!”, I yelped.

As meteoric the speed as I dropped the vibrator was the speed at which Ruth dropped to her knees, laughing so violently as to start gasping for air. She cackled so hard I thought she was going to give herself an asthma attack.

“Just how stupid are you, anyway, girl?” she wondered between guffaws.

“Ummmm - pretty fucking stupid?”, I offered.

“Yeah, that’s about right.”

Wiping her eyes, her laughter slowly subsiding, Ruth shot me a rare dazzling smile. She had been the one to bust my green suburban naivete cherry, and she knew it. The master and her pupil, sequestered in Room 425 of the Holiday Inn.

In that moment, that bio-dome that my parents had so lovingly constructed began to get a fatal architectural flaw.

And life – real, true, funny, bizarre, humming life – began to trickle through.


Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Now that's good stuff. The story, not necessarily the vibrator, I wouldn't know about all that, not that anyone asked.

Everyone needs a Ruth to teach them about real life. It's no good being ruth-less.

well read hostess said...

Don't we all remember our first brush with someone else's vibrator? Such memories.

No? Just you and me then, OK.

I am totally amused by the word verification for me here, which sounds like something one does with a vibrator (perhaps if one isn't very experienced with it, but still)...upfhex.

baronessvonb said...

Countess CBW: Well said (about the post, not the vibrator - not that there's anything wrong with that...)

It is no good being Ruth-less.

Countess WRH: I think it might just be you - like James Frey, I may have embellished a little.

(I jest)

As for the word verif, I specifically asked for some onnomatopeiaic selections. They just lend such a lovely ending to the story. Like a langourous cigarette, non?

Sandi said...

Great story, embellished or not.

baronessvonb said...

Countess Sandi: Upon the reflection, the only thing I changed about the story was my sheer stupidity when Ruth first showed me the bag - 1)Why would someone have left their lunch under the bed, and 2)Why would Ruth take such interest in a manky, rotting lunch?

I didn't include this, as I am a loser enough already. Please don't think less of me...

stacy said...

great story - well told.

baronessvonb said...

Countess Stacy: Truth is definitely stranger than fiction...

foolery said...

You want naive? At 17 I still wouldn't have had any idea what it was even after it hummed.

Certain visual cues aside, I would have had to ask.


baronessvonb said...

Countess Foolery: Such a chaste l'il lassie! All the more a contribution to your overflowing charm.

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