Thursday, March 28, 2013

the last book I ever read (Bill Bradley's Life on the Run, excerpt three)

from Life on the Run by Bill Bradley:

Back at the hotel, the beauticians are partying. I notice that the door across from mine is open. There are people inside laughing. I drape my uniform across chairs to dry and wander across the hall. Three men and three women sit on the beds drinking and talking of sex, clothes, make-up and what they used to do in high school “up at Van Buren.” One of the men, a Georgia Congressman who spoke at the beautician’s dinner, makes a hasty exit after no one listens to his discussion of taxation and political integrity. With the departure of the Congressman, I am the third male. A man pours more bourbon. The talk decreases. I hesitate briefly, but what the hell I’m only young and single once.

After so many nights on the road in so many different hotels encountering so many different situations, everything takes on an ephemeral quality; everything ends with the payment at the cashier’s desk the next morning. What would normally be out of the question for me becomes acceptable in the self-contained world of Mt. Marriott or Holiday Valley. Normal shyness would prevent me from entering a stranger’s hotel room, but on the road there seems to be nothing to lose. Everyone in the hotel sleeps under the same roof for one night and moves on. Loneliness can be overcome only be reaching out for contact: a conversation in the bar, a sharing of dinner, a question in the elevator, a direct invitation, a telephone call to a room, or a helping hand with doors, windows, TVs, locks, or ice machines. The percentages are that if a man spends enough nights in hotels he will meet a woman with whom for that night he will share a bed, giving each a brief escape from boredom and loneliness. Make no mistake: Life in hotels is no continuous orgy. There are months of nights in one’s room, alone. And it is rare than an encounter develops beyond the verbal level. It is very unusual when everything feels right and the loneliness of the road oppresses two strangers equally at the same time.

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