Monday, October 09, 2006

“When in Rome, one must be romantic.” – James Branch Cabell

I’m always hearing and reading complaints from women that their men aren’t romantic. I’m not sure what this means, exactly. For instance, I consider myself one of the most romantic men around – I once bought roses for my wife-to-be without anybody telling me I ought to.

Seriously, I do think I have a romantic nature. (See More Dance for supporting evidence.) The trouble is that it is almost always wasted by me ending up in very romantic situations either alone or with “just a friend.” (As in “More Dance”….) So that all this great romance doesn’t go to waste, however, I thought I’d share some of the exotic locations to which I’ve been in a series of blog entries. The places I mean to describe are guaranteed to kick-start the passion of any beer-guzzling, football-watching boyfriend, if only you can get him there. If one of my entries catches your fancy, print it out and tape it to the twelve-box in the refrigerator; he’s sure to catch on if you then explain it in short sentences using small words.

The first place I’m going to describe is near Brienz, Switzerland. The Hotel Wildbach (see also here for a description in English) is nestled in the Swiss Alps in the picturesque Interlaken area. The hotel is “on the shore of the blue-green Lake of Brienz, which gives you the chance to take a swim in the cleanest lake of Switzerland just in front of the house.” The hotel itself is a charming little A-frame chalet, with 2 “family rooms” and 7 double rooms.

I was at the Hotel Wildbach a number of years ago with Danielle “just as friends” (a different Danielle than the “More Dance” Danielle, FYI) and another couple, the male portion of which was my buddy Unca Don. Don was living in Basel at the time, and we had come over to visit him and stick him with Kelly, the female portion of which. The four of us went on a driving tour of the Swiss countryside and made a beeline for the Alps first thing. I made us go to Grindelwald because a friend of mine was working there and I wanted to pop in and surprise her (“Hi! It’s me, Mark!” “Who?”).

We arrived in Grindelwald as it began to grow dark. I went off looking for my friend while the others in the party checked into the lodging situation. I never could find my friend, and when I reconnected with the rest of my posse they were, to say the least, disgruntled with Grindelwald. Everything was horribly overpriced and it was full of American skiers. If that was what we had wanted, we would have gone to Aspen. So we got the hell out of town and drove off into the dark Swiss night to anyplace else.

Driving at night in the Alps in a tiny car with two cranky women is a powerful incentive to find lodgings ASAP. As we drove, we passed the little Hotel Wildbach, then, realizing that we had just seen the magic word “Hotel”, we turned around and went back and checked our asses in. The place at the time was run by a wonderful couple whose names I forget. The woman led us to the common room of the inn and plunked us down by the fireplace. We quickly uncrankified ourselves with some food and a cart of cordials and liqueurs (is there a difference?) that was brought to us by the proprietress. She turned out to be a very charming woman. She chatted with us for a while, then led us off to our bedrooms upstairs. Don and Kelly got dropped off at their room, and D and I were taken to ours. It was a rustic chalet kind of bedroom, imagine that, but it was well appointed. We ended up sharing a bed (platonically, of course) and went to sleep quickly after a long day and in spite of Danielle’s snoring.

When we awoke the next morning, Danielle and I stepped out onto the balcony that runs in front of the chalet. We were astounded to see the sun just rising over the tops of the mountains, painting the western peaks in a vivid rose color before reaching us down in the valley. The lake which the hotel fronted was covered in roiling fog, giving it an eerie but beautiful contrast to the bright pink peaks. Hell, I’d forgotten we were on a lake; it was dark when we got there the previous evening. At any rate, the whole scene was breathtakingly romantic. In fact, even Danielle and I cast an appraising eye at each other, caught up in the passion of the moment. Then we (read she) said “Naw, we’re just friends. Let’s leave it at that.” I am a guy, after all, but I ended up reluctantly agreeing with her after an icy cold shower.

Later that morning we left Interlaken and passed into my memories. The point of the story, of course, is that once again Hulles found himself in the most romantic of settings without any chance whatsoever to acquire an STD. But you can have that chance, if you grab a partner of whatever sex you prefer and drag them off to the Swiss Alps and the Hotel Wildbach. It will be romantic, guaranteed. And tell the doctor Hulles sent you.

- Hulles

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