Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Gaslighted in Gulfport

You may recall the movie "Gaslight" starring Ingrid Bergman as a woman whose husband tries to drive her crazy. (And I mean literally mad, not the type of crazy found in normal relationships.)  While the movie is a classic, I've never felt any sympathy for Bergman's character -- until now. 

The day started off innocently enough.  The Isles Yacht Club biking group had organized an overnight outing in Gulfport.  Twenty-four bikers arrived at the Historic Peninsula Inn & Spa and headed out for a 16+ mile ride before lunch.  The ride itself was unremarkable except for the "Pinellas Hills."  As I was riding along the wide paved trail, a concrete structure loomed up ahead.  Florida, of course, is a state whose flatness rivals that of my home state of Kansas.  My obvious assumption was that it must be a drawbridge lifted to allow boats to pass under.  But no, it was the first of a series of overpasses that got my heart pumping and legs burning.  From there it was lunch and back to the hotel to settle in. And that's when it started to get weird.

In the lobby, there was a handy itinerary of the evening's activities for our group.  It was the typical stuff -- 5:00 Happy Hour, 6:00 Dinner.  And then I noticed the Midnight activity: "Nanette & her spa girls host strip poker for the guys."  What???!!!  The joke had Bruce written all over it, but I couldn't figure out how he could have been involved.  And it also didn't seem like it was put together by anyone familiar with the concept of Punta Gorda midnight (i.e., when the clock strikes nine). Weird, and slightly embarrassing as the only single woman in the crowd, but whatever. 

Fast forward to dinner in our private dining room. I paid with cash and waited for the waiter to bring my change.  Instead, when he returned, he said, "How did you know my name?" "What?" I asked.  "How did you know my name?" he repeated.  He then showed me the five dollar bill that had been included with my payment.  On the front of the bill, a message had been written to "Blakey Poo" from his "secret admirer."  What???!!!  This was starting to get out of hand. 

When we went upstairs, Bruce freaked me out a bit as he reminded me that the hotel had changed my room at the last minute (probably, he suggested, to move me to a room with surveillance equipment).  "Never fear, though," he said.  "Dorrit will be right across the hall."  I wondered aloud if I would be able to scream if something actually happened or if I would lose my voice as if in a dream.  

But it was the music that really put me over the edge. First it was guitar music, soothing yet irritating at the same time. Then the harpsichord.  When I ventured out into the hall, I couldn't hear it, so I assumed it was music the guests above me played in order to get to sleep.  With a pillow over my head, I finally went to sleep, only to be awakened several times during the night as the door to the adjoining room rattled as if someone was trying to get in. 

When I awoke for the final time at 5:45, the music was still playing -- arghhhh.  I went downstairs to the lobby in search of a refuge only to find the music blaring from speakers with no one in attendance to turn it off.  And so I took the only logical course of action.  I wrote this blog while looking forward to being back home tonight in the peace and quiet of my own little piece of the world.

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