The hotel receptionist stared at me with what seemed undue suspicion. “So … you want a room?” he asked, his tone of voice suggesting that he found the idea faintly absurd. “Yes,” I said, my eyes flitting about the tiny lobby to check that it was indeed a hotel reception. I’d hate to think I was requesting a room from some kind of avant-garde LA butchers. Reassured that my environment was radiating nothing but hotel-ness, I ploughed on.
“But not just one room. My colleague would like a room for the night also. We’d like a room each. Between us, we’d like two rooms.” I paused. “Please.” “Two rooms?” “Uh huh.” “And there are just two of you?” “That’s right.” “And when you’re in the rooms, the two of you are planning to … ?” He left the question mark there, just floating in the space between us.
I waited a short while, hoping he would add another word or two. He didn’t. My jet-lagged brain struggled to work out what he wanted to know. What did he think we might be planning to do? “Um … sleep. In them. I guess,” I guessed.
“So you’re not going to … ?” Again the question was left unfinished. Not going to … what? The list of things we were not going to do was long. Infinite, even. It always is. I mean, the list of things I’m doing right now is pretty short: I’m writing, I’m thinking, I’m compiling a list of the things I’m doing right now and … and, well, that’s about it. On the other hand, the list of things I’m not doing is huge. I’m not swimming the Channel, I’m not clipping my toenails, I’m not clipping your toenails and, well, you get the idea.
I looked this most cryptic of hoteliers in the eye in the hope that his true meaning would be revealed. He didn’t meet my gaze for long.
Instead his eyes darted away from mine, taking a giveaway glance just over my shoulder. Instinctively, I turned to see what it was that had caught his attention and at last I understood his suspicion.
Through the glass door, the hotel receptionist had found himself staring straight into the lens of a large video camera. Holding the camera was Stef, an attractive, thirtysomething blonde. The ring in her nose was glinting with each blink of the hotel’s neon sign.
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