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Jewish World Review August 19, 2002 / 11 Elul, 5762

Bob Greene

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Consumer Reports

The uncoolest guest at a cool hotel | DENVER One of the many disadvantages of being the uncoolest person in the world is that coolness is always blind-siding you, even when you have done nothing to seek it out.

Such a moment occurred as I pulled up to my hotel after arriving in Denver. It was a hotel at which someone else had made a reservation for me.

I knew immediately that I was in for a cool hotel when I noticed that the doormen and the guys who park the cars were all dressed more fashionably than most people you will encounter in the snootiest restaurants in America.

("We went for the Armani look," a hotel executive would tell me later, when I was lamenting my own uncoolness and thus my unworthiness to be a guest at such a determinedly cool place.)

The next thing I noticed was that these same doormen, and the guys who carry the guests' bags, all seemed to be equipped with sleek little telephone headsets of the kind that air-traffic controllers and Beverly Hills talent agents wear.

("We prefer to think of them as CIA headsets," the hotel executive would tell me later. "The wire runs up through the sleeve [of the Armani-style shirt]. Walkie-talkies are so stale and sterile.")

The next thing I noticed to confirm my uncoolness, and unsuitability (Armani or otherwise) for this place, was the dog that lives in the lobby.

("Her name is Lily," the hotel executive would later tell me. "She has her own igloo. The guests love her. She sleeps behind the front desk.")

The person needing the igloo was me -- it would seem to be the only antidote for my uncoolness -- because the next thing I encountered (I thought I must be mishearing) was this question, from the front-desk clerk, as I checked in:

"Would you like a goldfish for your room?"

("In this day and age, when people spend so much time traveling, it's nice to have a touch of home," the hotel executive would later tell me. "We always offer our guests a goldfish to stay with them. Most nights about 40 to 80 guests accept the goldfish.")

Later still, in the mini-bar in my room, I would discover something alongside the beer and soft drinks and candy, something I had never seen in a mini-bar:

A yo-yo.

("You'd be surprised," the hotel executive would later tell me. "Anyone and everyone chooses to purchase the yo-yo from the mini-bar.")

But that is not why I am telling you this story. If it were just the doormen in the fancy duds, and the CIA headsets, and the dog in the lobby, and the goldfish, and the yo-yo, I would keep it to myself. But something else happened at this hotel -- the hotel is called the Monaco -- that . . .

Well, as uncool as I am, I can't chalk this one up merely to my own uncoolness.

When I checked in -- as is the case when every guest checks in -- I was told:

"We have a complimentary wine reception for our guests in the lobby each evening, with complimentary chair massages."

"Pardon me?" I said.

"The chair massages and the wine are both complimentary," the desk clerk said.

"What is a chair massage?" I inquired.

"A massage," I was told. "In a chair."

"You get rubbed," I said.

"Massaged," the clerk said.

"In the lobby," I said. "While you drink wine."

"Most people put the wine down," the clerk said.

"But at this hotel, you're telling me that everyone is so cool that they drink wine and get rubbed in the lobby," I said.

"Many of our guests appreciate it," the clerk said.

I went to my room, triple-bolted the door, and contemplated the many gradations of my uncoolness.

At sundown, I ventured to the lobby. There was a cool-looking man in a padded chair, leaning forward, a glass of wine by his hand. A woman standing behind him rubbed his neck.

I went back upstairs and triple-locked the door again. I knew I had no choice.

I took out the yo-yo.

And walked the dog.

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JWR contributor Bob Greene is a novelist and columnist. His latest book is Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen. (Sales help fund JWR). Comment by clicking here.

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