Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Fantasy Island Experience

I made pretty good progress on the latest round of revisions. No matter how many times I've read something, I still find things that need to be changed. On the other hand, I had some things in mind that I felt like I needed to fix, and when I got to those parts, I realized that what I thought I needed to add was already there.

Lately, I've been watching syndicated cable reruns of the original CSI. I'd never really watched it before -- it was one of those shows where it had been on for years, but I didn't believe there was more than one episode because every time I managed to catch even a part of an episode, it was always the same episode -- but there are only so many times you can watch the same reruns of NCIS, and crime procedurals make some of the best background noise for house cleaning and other unpleasant tasks that require some distraction to make them palatable, so now I have a decade of episodes I haven't seen of this show.

Anyway, a few days ago I caught an episode in which they were tracking down what a murder victim had done on the night leading up to his death. They found that his boss had given him a trip to Las Vegas as a reward, so he got a nice hotel room on the company credit card. Then when he was drinking in the hotel bar, a gorgeous blonde started talking to him. She spilled her drink on him and then insisted on buying him a new (expensive, designer) outfit. Then they went to another place in her Ferrari to go shoot some pool, he got into a game with another guy at the pool hall, and won ten grand. He got to drive the Ferrari on the way back to the hotel, and the guy he'd beat at pool tried to race him in his Corvette, but the Ferrari won. It was like the ultimate vacation fantasy come true -- and that's what it turned out to be. His boss had given him the additional gift of a carefully orchestrated fantasy based on his interests, and it had all been scripted and set up. He liked to play pool and thought he was pretty good, and he was into auto racing and fast cars, so a hot girl who played pool and drove a Ferrari would have been right out of his dreams, and then winning a high-stakes game of pool and a road race made it even better. Unfortunately, the guy didn't realize it was fake, really fell for the girl, and then got himself killed when he went to threaten the guy she'd claimed was her abusive ex that she needed to escape from (letting him feel protective and chivalrous was part of the fantasy). Oops.

But that got me started thinking that it would be really cool if you could actually get that Fantasy Island experience (without the murder, of course), though I suppose it would have to be a gift for it to really work, as arranging your own fantasy would mean you knew it wasn't real, and that would take all the fun out of it. Of course, that got me started thinking about what kind of perfect, "best vacation ever!" someone could arrange for me (and no, I'm not hinting here). I don't really have any dream or fantasy that's the sort of thing that someone could arrange for me in a way that I'd believe it. I want to be a bestselling author, but I wouldn't want a fake book tour with red carpet treatment and people paid to pretend to be fans. I'm not so self-deluded as to think I could somehow luck into being a ballerina, and I'm the slow-build type when it comes to relationships, so a vacation fling wouldn't work for me because I wouldn't have time to get into a comfort zone with a man before it was time to go home.

My vacation fantasies are pretty simple. It would be cool to show up at the airport and be told, "Oops, the flight's overbooked. I guess we'll have to put you in first class." And then to show up at the hotel and be told, "Oops, the hotel's overbooked, so we'll have to give you a concierge suite with a jacuzzi and a balcony with a scenic view, and we'll send up a bottle of champagne for the inconvenience." I like traveling alone, but the one thing I dislike about it is that I hate eating in restaurants alone, so I generally miss out on a lot of the culinary opportunities of travel. I'll often just get some takeout and go back to my hotel room. So it might be nice to run into someone interesting while touring something, strike up a conversation, and then suggest that we continue the conversation over dinner. If we're going farther into fantasy territory, I love ballroom dancing, but people tend to go to dancing-like venues as couples, so if you go alone, you don't get to dance, and it might be nice to find someone to go dancing with or to go someplace just to listen to the music and be asked to dance by someone who knew what he was doing. If we're going into real Fantasy Island territory, then it would be cool to end up singing with a jazz band.

But the funny thing is, I've done all those things, and they weren't arranged (as far as I know). I got the surprise first-class upgrade when a flight back from a conference in Chicago was canceled due to mechanical problems, and instead of standing at the gate and screaming at the agents, I called the reservations number to get rebooked and was friendly and polite and demonstrated a sense of humor with the agent. I didn't even realize that he'd rebooked me onto the next flight in first class until they started calling row numbers for boarding. Unfortunately, that's a really short flight, so I didn't get to take advantage of the full first-class experience. The hotel upgrade wasn't a surprise, since it happened because I had something bad happen on a previous stay, and they said when I came back they'd upgrade me, but I did get the suite with jacuzzi, and they did send a bottle of wine (no champagne, alas). As for meeting people while touring and continuing the conversation elsewhere, I do that all the time. That's one of the reasons I like traveling alone, that I'm more open to meeting new people that way. It's mostly been lunch we end up doing, and it's usually been groups of women I fall in with instead of handsome men, but to be honest, I think I'd be a little leery of going to dinner with a man I've only just met in a strange city. I've been asked to dance when I've been listening to music in a hotel bar, though they haven't been very good dancers. And I've even sung with a jazz band. On a trip to New Orleans, I was having lunch at a patio cafe with a jazz band, and I requested a song. I think the bandleader was picking on me when he said I had to sing it, and then when I did and he realized I could really sing, he made me sit in for a while, and the audience made requests. It was more of a Dixieland band than a swanky piano trio or big band, but still, I got to be the girl singer for a jazz band in the French Quarter.

I don't know if this means that my fantasies are way too modest or that I'm just good at making my own dreams happen. Most of these things come about because I'm nice and friendly and pay attention to people. I get good service because I try to be the kind of person people want to do nice things for, and I meet interesting people and get to do cool things because I act like those people are interesting and I appreciate what they do. So I guess I don't need some big-bucks fantasy concierge service to make good things happen to me, which should mean things are less likely to go wrong and end in murder.

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