It was a day trip – we were going to gather at the Don CeSar Hotel on St. Pete’s Beach and have a workshop. Not quite the Algonquin Roundtable, but a chance to check out something new, see the beach (Tampa’s the bay, but there’s no beach near the campus), and then see the new Dali museum that open in January of 2011. My travel wife (let’s change her name for this one – we’ll go ahead and call her “Sandy”) came along, and we headed out early to get coffee and in case we got lost since neither of us knew where we were going.
Apparently, we were better at finding it than we thought, and we made it to the hotel about half an hour too early. So after discovering that while UT’s MFA program was printed on the schedule board, the place where we were supposed to meet didn’t actually exist on the map. We wandered off to explore. We found a gift shop, and that’s when I spotted a book on haunted hotels that included a chapter on the Don CeSar. Somehow, we both already knew that. (My travel wife hadn’t noticed the book, and when I told her about it, she said, “Wow, that explains it. It just had a creepy vibe, but I thought it was just me.”)
The hotel was pretty, and the beach was pretty, but the place was somehow still odd and off, and when it came time for lunch, we snagged the car as quickly as we could and headed back up the highway and to St. Petersburg.
St. Petersburg is what Galveston wants to be. A thriving harbor, tons of tourists, and upscale shops by the dozen. But parking sucked. Sandy found a tapas place, and after finally finding a place to leave the car at a meter, we got to the restaurant. Great food, but slow service, and Sandy discovered that all the public drinking water had an unpleasant undertone to it. I couldn’t taste it, so she was probably just imaging it (joking). The most important part of the meal, though, was the plate situation.
For those who don’t know me, my travel wife, my husband, and my travel wife’s husband (who is also my husband’s hetero life mate), we all play games. Specifically, Steve Jackson games. Even more specifically, Munchkin and Munchkin Quest. And when we play these games, we’re all OCD enough to have assigned seats and assigned colors. I’m blue. She’s red. My husband’s green. Her husband’s yellow. So you can imagine my discomfort when we were seated at the tapas restaurant, and she got a red plate and I got a yellow plate. Yellow
The waitress came to get our orders, and Sandy spoke up. “Can my friend have a blue plate instead?”
The server looked like she expected the situation to turn into a candid camera moment. She froze. Then she said only one word. “Why?”
We both giggled. “It’s a thing.”
She shrugged, nodded, shook her head, and brought back a blue plate. Score one for crazy people!
The Dali Museum was awesome and inspiring, but completely packed! We ignored the rules – very Dali, right? – and made ourselves pipe cleaner mustaches in the “children’s area” (cause aren’t we all children at heart? Right?). Then it was back to the hotel in Tampa, and a hop, skip, and jump into the pool to recover from the day of semi-relaxation.