I used to think of hotel rooms as erotic places. But I was younger and less vulnerable then, more open to the athletic experience the room would contain than to accoutrements like shoehorns and shower caps.
In those days, I wanted a mini-bar, a wide bed, an armless chair and sheets maybe. Now I scream when my husband puts a coat on the bedspread. "Do you know what's been on that bedspread?"
Yeah, probably me in my casual younger days. Or the unsuitable fluids of strangers, and I don't mean ketchup and vinegar.
Just think of the naked people who've thoughtlessly seated themselves on that comforter over the years in a hotel where they don't steam-clean after every visit. The essayist David Sedaris quit smoking after smoking bans increasingly forced him into the kind of hotel where the bedspread "is slick to the touch and patterned in dark, stain-concealing colours."
They're the kind of hotels where former guests indignantly go on Trip Advisor to report that the lampshade "had blood on it" or that when the plumbing failed, "the front desk clerk gave me a plunger." They post pictures of the holes - now spackled - punched in the bathroom door, surely a wedding night to remember.
Sedaris could cope with making his own bath plug out of a balled-up plastic bag and having a three-minute bath before the bag failed, but the day he found semen on his remote control, he quit smoking because everyone has a limit.
My limit is hotel bathrobes. No. I understand it's no different from towels, but still, no.
So I stood vindicated when the CBC's Marketplace proved me right with Friday's investigation into the hidden filth of hotel rooms, starring TV remotes. Apparently a certain remote at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is the dirtiest one in Canada. If microbial contamination is below 300, you can cope. Under 999 means caution.
The Hotel Vancouver remote hit 22,292. Perhaps they were watching Sun News.
The CBC found clostridium difficile and drug-resistant bacteria in every hotel they visited and cleaning procedures that spread the stuff around the room.
I stay in good hotels when I vacation because the point of having a job is that you can afford to stay in places where people don't blow their nose on the curtains. But when I travel for work, I worry about the fate of the newspaper industry. I stay in dire places.
I have stayed in the Canadian version of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. I have bed-marched, meaning rooms so small I have to march across the bed to cross the room to open a window that was painted shut in 1942. I do this in boots to protect my feet from ordure.
I've slept on pillows filled with wedge sandals, I have showered in the dark with a wall soap dispenser that assures me the soap is "all-purpose," good for head, face, body, TV remote, really anything that requires sluicing.
The CBC tested 800 "high-touch" spots in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto hotels - so they can't be accused of regionalism - and the video of neon contamination hotspots is right out of Law and Order: SHVU or Special Hotel Victims Unit. Posh hotels are just as filthy as workaday ones.
And yet I still keep trying for the erotic hotel experience. Although you'd think I'd have learned by now, on our anniversary we go to expensive hotels for a night out. I shift my vision, seeing myself anew, not the homebody pestering him about the carbon deposit in the chimney but the woman he once knew.