The day I made reservations at Le Sofitel, I had no idea I would be making them in a foreign language.When she answered the telephone I was caught off guard. But not a problem. I did study French in high school after all. And since graduating nearly a hundred years ago, I've even made up some of my own words. So after the madame rattled on about, I have 'non' idea what she was rattling on about, I managed to hang up the phone with a confirmation number. The hotel was located in Rosemont Illinois, a suburb of Chicago and my sister Louisa and I were heading there for a weekend, to help my son Rene with a video game tournament. And or, also, to P-A-R-T-Y. Now, unless you already know me, you don't know about my driving skills. They suck. So it was a big deal that I was driving the two of us to Chicago. Okay, Rosemont. We took off in a hurry that Friday after work and just as we departed it began to sprinkle. Soon I was clenching the wheel because it was pouring. Along the way we did our usual sister shit, talking about ... I don't know, just stuff sisters talk about. And then the wind picked up and then sheets of rain were coming at us sideways. And then, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, a toll booth popped up out of nowhere through the rapidly slapping windshield wipers. "Millie, get in the right lane," screamed Louisa. "I can't," I screamed back. Louisa is amazing. She can drive anything, a car, a golf cart a go cart, a minivan, a truck, a bus or a boat. If it has a motor she can drive it. Even if it has a clutch, she can drive it. But Louisa wasn't driving now, was she? No. So, we blew right through the toll booth in the I-Pass lane. Regardless of being added to America's most wanted list, compliments of the toll booth photo pictured above and being stuck in a Chicago style traffic jam for what seemed like days, we eventually pulled into the parking lot at Le Sofitel. We got our luggage out of the trunk. I had a cool airport kind of a duffle bag on wheels and Louisa had a carry on like bag with her crap stuffed in it. Plus we had another canvas bag full of booze. The rain had diminished to a light drizzle as we made our way to the door listening to the sweet sound of luggage wheels on pavement. We went directly to a busy front desk. I was chewing a piece of gum. We were both chewing gum, which is weird because we don't chew gum. Anyway when we get to the front of the line the mademoiselle immediately starts speaking to us in French. Louisa is standing next to me and we are both wide eyed. We don't talk. I just hand the woman a paper with the confirmation number on it. She looks at the paper, she types some stuff into her computer, she looks at me, she looks at Louisa and she says quite loudly and in perfect English, "One king size bed. No smoking. Two nights." That is what happens when you make your reservations in a foreign language. Louisa and I are sisters, so it was no big deal. And BESIDES, it was a king. I nod to the lady and hand her my credit card. Louisa smacks her gum. I sign something. The lady scans our room keys and we and our luggage stroll to the elevator. Once inside and the doors shut we burst out laughing. "They think we're gay." "I know," says Louisa. "One king. No smoking. Two nights." "Haahahahhahahhaahahhhaaa," we laugh our way to our floor and step out of the elevator, fully poised. Let me set things straight. Just because we're straight, we have nothing against people who are not. But if I were a lesbian, I would not have sex with my sister. I suppose assumptions are made in reverse all the time to same sex couples, unless they have tell tale stereo-typical signs, like, say a guy sitting with his legs crossed a certain way, wearing sparkly shoes, might be gay. Or perhaps a woman with a mustache, teaching a gym class, could possibly be gay. Or in this case of Millie and Louisa signing a paper for a, one king, no smoking, two night stay in a luxury hotel, hands down, GAY. The good news, is the hotel people were very nice to us regardless of our sexual preference. Once in our room, I turned on the T.V., while Louisa went in search of ice. Well, son of a bitch, it wouldn't come on. It was deader than dead. Morte, is the word I believe the French would use. So I called the front desk and told the woman that le televisionne was morte. Louisa returned with a bucket of ice and went about making a cocktail. Then I hear her say, "Millie, what's this?" "Seagrams," I answer. "You said to pick up Seagrams." There's a knock on the door and I let the repair guy in the room andI say, "Le televisionne es morte and we want to watch le game du les basket balles." Louisa says, "Well Millie, I meant Seagrams Gin." "What did I buy?" "Whiskey." "Oh. Well, I didn't even know they made Seagrams Gin." I said. "Um, I've been drinking gin for like, EVER. You dork." The repair guy, plugged the T.V. in and left quickly, not wanting to be in the middle of two women about to have a lover's quarrel. "Merci beaucoup, monsieur!" I yelled after him. "And how do you feel about whiskey?" Louisa cracks up laughing and mixes a whiskey and seven. And I opened a can of warm beer. And then................... we sat down on what we thought was a bed. OH MY GOD. It was no ordinary bed. Sitting on it explained the magazines on the table full of pictures of Sofitel beds and order forms for every part and why the pillow cases alone cost a thousand dollars each. After the Badgers won their game, we went across the street to the convention center to find Rene. As we passed the front desk they all smiled and waved. Rene was in the middle of the room wearing a beige shirt and a beige knit beanie, surrounded by dozens of tween and teenage gamers, rows and rows of tables with box T.V. s back to back. (this was just prior to flat screens) cords every-fucking-where and a registration table where Therese sat filling out paperwork and clicking away on her keyboard. "What should we do?" I ask Rene. "Nothing at the moment. Tomorrow you can help." So we left. Guess it was time to P-A-R-T-Y. Louisa and I have never been accused of being worldly or refined, but it also had never occurred to us until that weekend that we weren't either one. We were dressed in our Wisconsin Badger finest. You see, our team was closing in on, The Sweet Sixteen. And if there is one thing that we are guilty of is that we are die hard, hop on the band wagon, fair weathered, fans. We would never pass up an opportunity to jump up and down, hoot and holler and act like fools in a gaggle of partiers all dressed alike, who, not only accept that type of behavior, they condone it, ever. But Louisa and I weren't in Wisconsin anymore. We were in the land of the F.I.B.s. We set out on foot looking for a place that wasn't too fancy for our red sweatshirts. And then it started to rain. Hard. We made a run for a restaurant that we had in our sights. It was a block and a half away and right across the side street from Le Sofitel. We came crashing in the door on a run, hair plastered, sweatshirts soaked, tennis shoes squeaking and mascara running. The hostess looked at us without hiding her disdain and directed us to a table in the middle of the hopping bar. She plopped menus down and walked away. "What a B.I. Must not be a Badger Fan," I said. "Holy Shit," said Louisa. "What?" "This place is expensive." We ordered a drink but declined any appetizers, which must have been dipped in gold before they were deep fried. I excused myself to use the restroom and was shocked at my after the rain appearance. But it was impossible to fix because there was a black woman pacing back and forth in front of the sinks and the mirrors. She had a beautiful voice and was belting out Aretha Franklin tunes, while handing out paper towels to the restroom patrons. We don't have that at home. At home we have to get our own paper towels. So, I didn't know what was expected. Are you supposed to tip paper towel people? Was she really even a paper towel person? Maybe she was just a happy-go-lucky lady, who liked to hang out in fancy bathrooms and sing. Maybe she just figured that as long as she was there singing anyway, she might as well hand out paper towels. I took the paper towel and said, "Thank you." I wiped my hands, threw it in the trash and squeezed out the door at the sound of the next flush. Next, Louisa and I went back to Le Sofitel to check out the lobby bar and restaurant, where we could charge our transgressions to our room. We only had so much cash along with us. This was 2006, pre ATM machines on every corner and pre everything is done with plastic. At least it was pre that time for the two of us. If that's the way it was in 2006, which it probably was, we didn't know it, because we weren't worldly or refined. I'd barely ever used a credit card for anything more than ordering concert tickets or making hotel reservations prior to that weekend. The lobby bar was dead, except for a middle aged balding guy and a bedazzled woman. They were busy humping each other on the bar stools next to us. Damn horny heterosexuals. Get a room, we thought. We tried not to look at them and not to look like we were a couple. But we looked like we were married and they looked like they were not married or at least not to each other. After they came, we left and got a table at the restaurant. "Bonjour," said the garcon, with a white towel hanging over his arm. "And how are you lovely mademoiselles ce soir?" Pierre was a bonified flirting Frenchman and he didn't mind having two, tipsy, lesbians seated in his section, even if they both ordered the cheapest thing on the menu, being, le soup, le salade, and but of course, le WINE, which Pierre kept a pouring, which kept us at the table beyond dinner, which gave us enough time to become good friends, which meant Peirre got a very generous tip. Here is a picture that another waiter took of Louisa, Pierre and I. Crap. I couldn't find it. I've had that snapshot safely tucked away for years and now when I need it, it's nowhere. , I've made a mess digging through the drawers and rifling through the photo albums to no avail. And I know I didn't throw it away because it was taken on the best weekend ever and you don't throw that kind of shit away. So, the picture above is only a replica. Anyway, with our stomachs full and a warm wine buzz, Louisa and I went for a sky walk, all the way to Chicago, where we sat down at a really cool bar with huge windows that overlooked the city lights. The internet failed to provide a picture of the Rosemont Skywalk. But it was just like this one, except it was enclosed. It went from building to building. And the grand canyon was not beneath it. The bartender at this particular cool bar with a cool view, seemed to be fascinated by the two hillbillies who'd landed there. We had a great conversation, but I'm not sure what it was about. And then Louisa and I sky walked our way back to our room at Le Sofitel, hopped into our king sized slice of heaven and fell fast asleep. Good thing too, because the next day proved to be a brutal one. I got up around ten, showered, found fresh coffee and giant bagels downstairs and brought everything back to Louisa, who refused to get out of the bed. Then I made my way to the gamers' tournament and my spoiled little wife just waved good by to me with pillows stuffed behind her and a jeweled crown sitting on her head. The convention room was jam packed. There were around sixty teams and their families pouring in through the doors. I located Rene by his beanie above the sea of black T-shirts. He sent me over to the registration table to help sign people in. Then the queen bee strolled in and hung out at the table with us. Yeah, Louisa. Registration finally began to dwindle and then the tournament began to begin. I thought we were about to be set free. And then Rene said, "One more thing." He led the two of us to a piece of poster board that was six feet by six feet, handed me a fine point black Sharpie Pen and a print out of several pages that were all scotch taped together, connecting a picture of tournament tiers and he said, "Draw this picture, onto this poster board." Okay. I don't understand tournament tiers. And you can't erase a Sharpie pen. Louisa and I clunk our way through the hall with the giant poster board and find a spot next to a set of double doors that are locked and out of the main traffic area. We plop it down on the thinly carpeted floor and I begin the most terrifying art project of my life on my hands and knees. This finished piece is going to be hung on the wall, with pertinent information for all the gamers and their families, who have flown in from all over the country, to use. Which means I can't just add lib the thing. With the help of Louisa saying things like, "Now, make a straight line off of that square, NO, no, not that one, that one," my shaky hand, that Sharpie pen, my sweaty pits and two and a half hours of our lives, the masterpiece was finally complete. And then it was snatched away before I could even sign it or get my knees to work. It looked something like this.