Friday, May 25, 2007

There's no place like home, there's no place like home

In their day, rotating restaurants were the architectural cutting edge of fine establishments for discriminating diners. People would book reservations weeks in advance for a spot on the rotating floor of these restaurants, most of which were located somewhere near the top of (what were then) very tall buildings. In terms of todays wind-generated swaying towers in Dubai and roller coasters that careen off the top of hotels in Vegas, a rotating restaurant on the 15th floor of a modest hotel isn't architecturally remarkable, but they are a delicious little taste of seasons past. The Top of the Tower Restaurant at the Holiday Inn just off the freeway in my hometown was no exception. In it's day, the Top of the Tower was the hot-spot of choice for prom dates, anniversary dinners and (I've heard) clandestine romantic liasons.

How handy....great restaurant, hotel rooms just a short ride up the elevator. You get the picture. Of course I am referring to anniversary dates and romantic liasons, NOT of the prom-kind. It was a kinder, gentler era...remember??
No all night parties and girls who did it on prom night were naughty.

I digress.
Let's get back to the Top of the Tower at the Holiday Inn. No longer a restaurant, the place is now a lovely banquet ballroom, rented out for parties and such. Children of my friends held a beautiful wedding reception there recently, the first time I'd been in the place in many, many years. The bride and the groom were friends of my son, so he and his girlfriend were at the party too, their first visit.

Does it REALLY rotate? They wanted to know. I wasn't sure. The place first opened more than 40 years ago. That's alot of years for a restaurant/ballroom to keep spinning. When we arrived the large elevated circular floor was still in place, just as I remembered, but it was stationary. Maybe the floor didn't move anymore. We toasted the bride and groom, enjoyed our dinner and didn't give it much more thought.

After the cake, I got up from my chair to mingle and visit friends at other tables until the music started and the newlyweds stepped out on the floor for their first dance.

Time for a picture! I walked over to my table to retrieve my purse and camera from under it, where I'd tucked it. Did I consider it a little odd that a man and a woman had decided to take my seat after I'd gotten up? Not really. It was a good spot, right in front of the room by the bridal table and overlooking the dance floor. They probably wanted to move closer to be able to see what was going on.

"Excuse me," I interrupted the couple as they chatted. "I'm sorry to bother you, but if you'll excuse me, could I get my purse out from under the table. I left it under there, right down by your legs."

As I explained to them, I lifted up the draping of the tablecloth and tried reaching past them, under the table.

They looked a little perplexed. "We've been sitting here all night." they explained. "We don't have your purse."

I chuckled to myself. Ok, these folks probably have been enjoying the champagne, trust me people, I'm not trying to play with your legs. "If you wouldn't mind, it's just down under the table by your legs. If I could just get my purse, I don't mind if you sit here. I'll move. It's no problem. Really." I reached for the tablecloth near their legs again, determined to get my purse. Visions of identify theft ran through my head. Is that my drivers license I see hiding under her crumpled napkin on the table.....

"Lady. We got here early." the man said. "We've been sitting here ALL NIGHT. We DON'T have your purse." He got up from the table and with a little more disgust than gentlmanly flourish, pulled back the draping of the cloth. "SEE?? Like we said. NO PURSE."

I thought I was going to cry. Something wasn't right. Have I fallen and can't get up? The room was funny. I felt funny. Who has stolen my purse. Am I still in Kansas? Oh Auntie Em, Auntie Em, where are my ruby slippers.....


I recognize the voice of my son, somewhere in the distance. It has a vague ring of familiarity combined with subtle (?) overtones of impatience. He's rolling his eyes. No, I don't have my glasses on so no, I can't see them. But they're rolling. I FEEL it.

"MA!!! OVER HERE." My own eyes, not unlike those of some startled doe blinded by the surprise of headlights, dart around in the direction of his summons. I'm further confused to find him sitting with all our friends on the other side of the room. When did they move? Why did they move? How was I supposed to know they moved? Are they playing tricks on me? Is it my imagination or is the wind coming up?? Toto!!!??? Toto!!!!!!!!!!???? Find the cellar door......!!!!!

I can see his eyes rolling now as my son walks straight towards me and takes my arm. "It's moving, Mom. The restaurant is rotating. Come here and leave those nice people alone. This is your table over here."

Rotating. Well yes, of course. That's it. The room is rotating.
Fussing with the edge of the tablecloth, trying to smooth it back into place, the nice man shoos me on my merry way like some sort of annoying summer bug as I try to explain my behavior in as few sentences as possible.

"It moves, you see. Well, what I mean funny this is, you're going to think this is the funniest thing, I'm sure of it! You see, I was here before, actually. Well, apparently actually not, but......well my goodness it seems you are right. This is your table. And that is mine! How funny is that........I mean about my purse! Of course that's not my license under your napkin, we don't even look alike, what good would it do you.........."

"Mom, tell the nice people goodbye." My son insists, pulling me off in the direction of familar faces and the comforting sight of my own wine glass.

Now I know what Grandma feels like when she wanders off from the nursing home during the attendants afternoon smoke break.

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