In 1990, not long after Tom and I were married, we accompanied my best friend, her soon-to-be husband, her dad and his wife (Dad and Selette) to Napa to help them choose a site for their wedding.
(Surely they didn’t need our help, but who turns down a trip to Napa?)
One of us found a little unnamed Bed and Breakfast right on Main Street in Downtown Napa. It was highly rated for it’s “quaintness”, and for some unknown reason quaintness sounded good, so reservations were made for a 2 night stay.
From the moment we arrived we knew we were in trouble. Everywhere we looked, every possible spot in the room, there were dolls and stuffed animals and toys. Literally, there was no spot left unfilled. I cannot possibly describe it…..perhaps if you picture Godzilla puking out pure kitsch you might have an inkling. The creepily cheerful manager cheerfully (and creepily) checked us in, reminding us to look at all the wonderful dolls, and happily informing us that there was even more to see in our rooms.
We had paid for the first night’s reservation, so there was no turning back, and, as promised, there was more in our rooms.Except in a smaller space than the lobby. It was hideous, horrifying, and has absolutely ruined the idea of quaint for me; I run screaming from that word. We slept, but not well.
The next day we planned to check out and find someplace else to stay for our second night in town. But being the establishment that it was. the hotel had a journal in the hallway in which to leave your happy memories of this monstrosity.
And people had done just that so the 6 of us, of course, had to read some of the entries.
“The cutest place in the world”; “Oh, how we’ll miss that one adorable Teddy Bear in our room”; “The best honeymoon place ever”; “Sleeping amidst the dolls and animals was heavenly”….
a FULL page message:
“FUCK THIS SHIT!!!!!!!”
Well, that did it. The six of us fell out laughing so hard we were sobbing, and, quite naturally, our slogan for the trip became “FTS” and we used it to much laughter as often as we could during the trip and after. “FTS” was our secret, and we would bring it up any time we saw fit. Selette in particular loved to say it, and the laughter it brought was consistent through the years.
January 21, 2006, Tom suddenly, inexplicably, died. It was insane, and as the day wore on probably 75 people gathered at our home. I remember a lot of that day, but mostly in pieces, cloudy. One clear memory I have though, is when Dad and Selette arrived and Selette, holding me so hard and so close, and whispering in my ear “fuck this shit”.
And I laughed.
First time that day and last time for quite a while.
In September of 2009, after a long battle with cancer, Dad died. There were not a lot of people at the house that day with Selette, family, mostly, a few friends…important people. I knew that barging in was not a good idea, but I sent flowers.
And all that I wrote on the card was “FTS”.
And she knew. And she laughed, as did all who knew of or were let in on the joke.
That night I sobbed, for Selette, for my friends, for “Dad”,
and for Tom.