Friday, October 20, 2006

Culture v. Culture

There's not just a whole lot that I will miss about working in the "hospitality" industry (seems almost a euphemism for "working in a hotel," doesn't it?) For one thing, it seems that almost no one's jobs require a college degree which results in lots of employees' being in high school or simply exhibiting high school-ish behavior.

However, one of the more interesting aspects of working in this particular hotel is the clientele. It is not unusual to have several celebrities in-house on a given night. For instance, right now we have had both a legendary rock band and a famous folk/pop singer staying here since I have been here. They both have aliases, and great care is taken to check them in inconspicuously and to keep their identities and rooms a secret. M calls me at work every day to see who is staying that is famous and whose bus that is outside, but she's usually more in the know than I am.

That having been said, I generally have no interaction with our VIP guests--or any other guests for that matter. I hide back in my hidey-hole/cave (pictured here) and answer phones during most of my shift. I also go through our VIP packets and make sure that VIPs are marked as such in our computer system.

This is what I was doing last night when the Universe did grin upon me and taunt me with a great waggling of its infinite fanny in my general direction.

I discovered that John Updike will be arriving at the hotel the day I arrive back at school. He is staying with his wife under his own name and will be signing books in his hotel room. Oh. My. Gosh. I love his Rabbit books. Basically, Updike's prose has all the delicate beauty of poetry. The man could write about a compost heap and he'd make you want to roll in one. The kind of roll that's sensual. I know, I know, but just trust me on this one.

When I came home last night, I was bursting to tell M my exciting news until I realized that I was pretty sure I knew exactly where that conversation would go:

Oso: Did you hear? John Updike is coming to the hotel!
M: Who?
Oso: John Updike.
M: I don't know who that is.
Oso: Only, like, my favorite author of all time! Okay, he's at least in my top three. He wrote the Rabbit tetrology.
M: The what?
Oso: You know, Rabbit, Run, Rabbit Redux. You know, the Rabbit books.
M: You are so weird. Such a geek.
Oso(hanging head): I know. I know.
M (brightly): So did you find out whose bus that was?
Oso: No.
M(deflating slightly): Oh. You never find out anything important, do you?

I find it fascinating that what our culture as a whole seems to place the most value on is not what we designate as "culture." That is, the great marketplace of ideas is bifurcated into the loud hubbub of the popular yet ephemeral market of celebrity and catchy tunes and the quiet but diligent ongoing exchange of ideas conveyed through the written word, research, and visual arts; and we as a culture clamor for the music and the celebrities to the point that they must hide their whereabouts to avoid the mob while some of our most brilliant artists quietly check into their hotel room, unload their own luggage, enjoy a cup of tea, and then welcome whoever will come to hear their quiet wisdom and pearly words.


Ann said...

John Updike is very, very cool. And probably America's greatest living writer. Having said that, I have to admit I've never really enjoyed reading him very much but, then, I'm not that crazy about fiction!

OsoDelSol said...

I do have to say that some of his other stuff I haven't enjoyed quite so much, such as the Bech series. I don't think I have even gotten through one Bech book.

Angela said...

i've only read some short stories. i'm a gonna have to go out and try those rabbit ones.

OsoDelSol said...

Don't be though. I won't still be here. :(

Yes, the Rabbit ones are great!