Barry Smith: Irrelativity
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado
All the signs are there. I know what I’m here to do, what’s expected of me, what my mission is:
I am supposed to trash this hotel room.
Here’s the scene: I’m in Edmonton, Canada, where I’ve been invited to perform my “Jesus in Montana” show as part of the “Best of the Fringe” series. “Fringe,” as in Fringe Theatre, on the edge, out there on the periphery.
The place where hotel rooms don’t stand a chance.
This was not a casual invitation ” my travel has been arranged and paid for. This hotel room ” paid for. Inside my dressing room on opening night was a bottle of wine and four small bottles of water; one, presumable, for each performance I am to do. The implication is that I’m to take a bottle of water on stage with me, and when I’m done with the show, throw the bottle away and use a fresh one for the next show. Generally I’d just refill the same bottle with tap water until I eventually lose it, but hey … this is the big time.
And, between shows, I’m to drink the entire bottle of wine and trash my hotel room. Right? I don’t think I’m off base here. I mean, that’s what’s expected of me, right? I’ve spent my last two summers on Fringe tours sleeping in my van or on the couches of strangers, and now I’m a Fringe artist in an actual hotel room that someone else is paying for! I must behave accordingly. If I leave town without the authorities having been summoned, then I’ll have disappointed those who invited me, and will probably not be asked back anytime soon. They’ll invite someone who’s more “fringe” than me. Must. Trash. Now.
OK … uh … I’m kinda new at this hotel trashing thing, so … hmmm … ah, the bed! I start my trashing by bouncing on the bed a little bit. Kinda fun, actually. Yeah, take that, hotel room! Hey, I could get used to this trashing thing. Oh! Better take my shoes off ” don’t want to mess up the bedspread. Next I turn the bedside lamp on. It’s a three-way lamp, and I put it all the way up to the middle setting, even though there’s plenty of light coming from the window! I’m totally out of control now. One of the pillows falls on the floor. Hardcore.
OK, that’s probably enough trashing in this room for now. On to the bathroom ” lost of anarchy to be unleashed in there.
I unwrap the box of soap ” French Milled Oatmeal Scrub ” and put in on the counter top … NOT in the soap dish. I tear open the package of swabs, dropping the packaging on the floor (where it stayed for a very long time before I picked it up and put it in the trash can). I put the swab deep in my ear, despite the fact that swabs are only intended for use on the outside of the ear, not to be introduced into the ear canal.
Punk rock. It felt good ” the trashing and the swabbing. I sit down on the closed toilet lid for a few minutes while I Q-Tip each ear. My worries about there being someone more “fringe” than me start to dissipate as I decide to draw a bath, then sit in the NEXT ROOM watching VH1 while the bathwater runs, totally unattended! I’m practically the love child of Johnny Depp and Keith Moon. While waiting for the tub to fill I grab the comment card and complimentary pen. I write “Jablomi, Heywood” on the “Guest’s Name (Optional)” line. For the “Did you enjoy the continental breakfast” question, I answer, “It made me incontinental.” Yes! I put the pen back in the drawer. After my bath I clip my toenails. Some of the clippings shoot across the room, and I just leave them there!
I go back to trashing the bed, but must have dozed off mid-trashing, because I wake up three hours later. I survey the damage I’ve wrought ” bed unmade, towel in the middle of the floor, lamp on … this place is toast. And it’s only Day 1.
Are those sirens I hear? Probably.
(Next time: Barry eats an entire packet of almonds from the mini bar … and you are there!)
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