Friday, July 28, 2006
Soulessness (and stadium pricing) at a JW Marriott somewhere in Florida.
A young waiter originally from Iowa, by way of time living in Denver, and now working at one of the restaurants at the very bottom of the 23-story JW Marriott, itself one-half (with a Ritz-Carlton) of the three-year old Grande Lakes Resort, all of it built to resemble any number of grandiose orange-pink exurban strip malls in neo-Mussolini-esque, and located somewhere to the south of downtown Orlando – the presumed existence of which could not be confirmed by ubiquitous, glossy tourist literature hawking petting zoos, Australian steak houses and Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede – said of course: Guinness was available.
He continued: “You have to have Guinness to be a real bar, and I can send someone to get you one … and we serve it right, so it’ll take a few minutes.”
Outside the window of the Citron American Brasserie, there is a swimming pool built to resemble a meandering tropical waterway, not coincidentally precisely the type of natural design feature obliterated in the course of building the sanitized humanoid version.
One hundred yards further along, a championship golf course designed by Greg Norman between catastrophic tour collapses beckons to those of like mind, who later were to be found congregating in the main hotel lounge on barstools near ours, making it difficult to hear the man as he explained that there were no genuine Irish pint glasses for the Guinness, which instead would be served in a pilsner glass or footed stemware appropriate for a Belgian Trappist ale, of which (of course) there were none … and no beer selection, bottle or draft, comparable to the expensive decanters of single malt Scotch and $220 room service Dom Perignons.
Well, you get used to that sort of thing, and since I’d already taken the Iowa-Colorado-Florida waiter’s suggestion earlier, during dinner, and properly paired my “fruit de mer” pasta with the $6, half-pint Guinness in the wrong glass (but, indeed, poured correctly otherwise), my first after-dinner beer was a Yuengling Lager. At the opposite end of the horseshoe bar, in front of the sushi station, sat two Japanese tourists.
In route from the Orlando airport to the hotel, the first cluster of housing units viewed were off the highway but in the middle of a large expanse of undeveloped land. The concrete block and balsa wood structures were protected by walls and gates – and, presumably, the solemn word of the Republican National Committee that diversity would be ruthlessly vetted before being allowed through the gates.
But we’re planning on making a break … perhaps later tomorrow morning. When the garbage trucks pass through, we’ll hop on the back of one and ask that we be deposited somewhere near “real” Orlando or environs.
And they’ll glance back incredulously and murmur, “Real? Here? Crazy damned tourists!”
Looks like the world-famous petting zoo, after all.