Do You Know the Way to Monterey?

My wife and I took a weekend vacation to Monterey.  Maybe vacation is the wrong word.  My wife was sent to Monterey by her boss to attend a work conference and I went with her because I was afraid to be left at home alone with the cats.  I don’t trust them.  Especially when their food bowl is empty.  They look at me like furry little mob bosses who have been greatly disappointed by an underling. 

I believe if they had opposable thumbs and could work a can opener by themselves, I would have disappeared years ago.

Anyway, the hotel room was paid for and I felt it was safer than staying home, so I went to Monterey.

The first day, I watched television in my room for about eight hours and ate a buffet lunch from the hotel restaurant.  Not the most exciting day, but still better than being home.  The second day, however, my wife had some free time and we decided to take a walk.

My wife wanted to visit a cemetery in the Pacific Grove area.  She told me that there were family members buried there and she wanted to see grave sites.  She assured me that the cemetery was “close by” and we could get there on foot.

She was technically correct about being able to get there by walking, but I must say that her estimation of “close by” could use some revision.  The cemetery was five miles away from our hotel, and we ended up walking for over two hours before we finally found it, and by the time we arrived I was more than ready to lie down in the grass and join the current residents around us.  I suggested to my wife that she should find a groundskeeper and ask him if there were any open holes available.

It isn’t as if five miles is exceptionally far to go, but there were some extenuating circumstances.  For example: I’m old and fat, and terribly out of shape. 

My wife seemed to enjoy the walk far more than I did.  She constantly pointed out sights along the way and made comments like:  “The water is beautiful,” Look at all the sealions,” and “If you’re going to throw up, please do it in the bushes.”

I did survive the walk to the cemetery, to my great surprise.  Obviously, as I am still here to write about it.  But as I soon discovered, the worst part of a five-mile hike comes only after you arrive at your destination.  You see, apparently, when you walk five miles in a straight line, if you wish to ever see home again you first have to walk the same five miles in the opposite direction.  For those of you slow at math like me, that makes the journey ten miles for the round trip.  The walk, plus bathroom breaks, pauses to rest and stare at the scenery, stops for food and drink, plus two short pauses for me to lie down and cry about the overall unfairness of life, took about five or six hours in total.

By the time I made it back to the hotel and poured the blood out of my shoes, I was done for the day.

And still, the death march (as I will forever refer to it) was not the worst part of the trip.  Oddly enough, the absolute worst part came when I thought the vacation was over and I was safely on my way home. 

Because we packed up and left the hotel right after waking up on Sunday morning, we did not eat before starting our trip home.  Therefore, we decided that we should stop and get some food while we were on the road.  We saw a sign and pulled over into the parking lot of a….

Well, to avoid any potential lawsuits in the future, let’s just call the place “Donny’s.” 

We parked our car and went inside Donny’s restaurant and were immediate seated by a friendly, smiling hostess.  Our waitress joined us and took our food and drink orders then disappeared into the back room.  It was at this time that I took my first good look around the restaurant.  It was about half full with customers, but there was absolutely no food on any of the tables.

Everyone in the restaurant had their heads turned toward the kitchen.  It was like a scene from a horror movie when all the zombies notice fresh brains for the first time.  Their hollow stares told me that they had been in this state of foodless limbo for quite a while.

Somewhere in the restaurant, I heard a small child begin to scream.  The noise continued for a very long time, and just when I thought it was going to stop, it would ratchet up another notch and get louder.  I couldn’t see what was happening, but I can assume from the nature of the scream that one of the families had given up on ever getting their pancakes and had started eating one of the children. 

In addition to the screaming, I heard an elderly woman in the booth next to mine begin to cough.  It was not the typical polite cough followed by a small clearing of the throat.  No.  This was the kind of wet, gagging cough that says, “One functioning lung is more than enough, so I will now try to remove the other one and spit it out onto this table.”

My appetite, much like the woman in the booth beside me, died a slow agonizing death.

By the time the food arrived about an hour later, I only had the energy to take a couple bites, pay the check, and get the hell out of Dodge.  I have never been happier to get into my car and drive away from a place.

Initially, I thought spending a week in Monterey with my wife sounded like a great idea.  How could a free hotel room and scenic ocean-front views ever be a bad thing?

In the future, however, if my wife is ever travelling for work and asks me to come along to keep her company, I think I may just stay home and take my chances with the cats.  At least when they try to kill me, it won’t be a surprise.

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