|By Chris Rodell
The Dallas Morning News
This is so simple I shouldn't have to bother to explain it, but here goes:
All you get at a B 'n' B, even the finest B 'n' B, is a B and B.
Every single night of my life when I'm at home, I go to sleep in my very own B. In the morning when I awaken -- each and every morning -- I have the option of eating B and I often do even though it is the most pedestrian of our three daily meals. It's not a splurge my wife grants me for mowing the lawn, cleaning the basement, or making it through another night with out fatally stabbing her with a jagged toenail.
Heck, even if my wife's not there to fix me some bacon and eggs, I'm a big boy and can get my very own breakfast. And here's a bonus: I can watch TV during breakfast. Just try getting any B 'n' B proprietor to roll out the TV so you can watch SportsCenter.
The purpose of travel is not to duplicate what we have. The purpose of travel is to revel in exotic cultures, strange lands and $700 ergonomically designed anti-slam bidet toilet seats that come with their own honest-to-goodness remote controls to program individual preferences for seat temperature, water temperature, location and pressure.
Yes, when I'm away from home, I seek a throne that truly makes me feel like a king.
Many B 'n' Bs make you suffer the indignity of having to share that third and, for me, essential B. You share a bathroom. Even if, hallelujah, you get your own toilet and shower, the walls are so thin, I wind up fearful of making any unwelcome noises that might disrupt the delicate surroundings.
And about those surroundings. Without fail, each and every B 'n' B owner has informed me, "My home is your home."
It would be closer to the truth if they told me their home is my grandmother's grandmother's home.
The places are chock-full of antique after antique, a creepy word that sounds like what a timid soul might scream after getting frightened by tiny insects: "Ant! Eeek! Ant! Eeek!"
They frighten me because even the lamps are so old and brittle that you can break one just trying to figure out how to turn it on without having the long dead inventor resurrected to show you the five steps required to achieve illumination.
Break one -- break anything -- and it'll be joke fodder for the rest of your stay as stilted strangers try awkwardly to make conversation.
Conversation is another problem about staying at a B 'n' B. You are forced to have it. With strangers. Because of its pointlessness, I've always been uncomfortable with small talk. We are on this earth such a short time, it's a shame to waste precious conversation on topics like the weather.
But small talk serves a necessary function in some situations -- like a 50-story elevator ride. But enforced familiarity is all part of the drill at a B 'n' B as strangers grope to find something interesting to gab about. The talk isn't small, it's microscopic.
"So where you folks from?"
"Brooklyn. I've driven through Indiana on the way to visit my Aunt Martha in Milwaukee. Saw a lot of corn. You folks like to eat corn?"
"Yes, we're farmers. I've been to Brooklyn . . . Didn't see any corn. Lot of people, but no corn."
"Well, you still saw a lot of ears then, dintcha!"
Stepping into a B 'n' B is like stepping into a time machine that takes you back to horse 'n' buggy days when homebound people had nothing better to do than sit around and listen to Uncle Bert reminisce about the potato famine.
That's back when everyone dreamed of a marvelous future when they could sit around a magic box that played picture shows, where life wasn't such a drudgery and that maybe, just maybe, they could find some darn fool to buy all their old antiques so they could get some nice, new stuff.
And while B 'n' B boosters say intimacy is one of the great things about these lodgings, it's a lie. Intimacy is one thing I've never experienced in a B 'n' B.
I'm a married man. Got a lovely wife. We know what married couples do. Got a kid to prove it. But never once have we enjoyed marital intimacy in a B 'n' B.
In a world full of tattooed, pierced and flamboyantly uninhibited people, my ink-free wife and I are still reluctant to express ourselves in any way that would invite zoo-like commentaries from the couple next door. I don't want anyone to hear me, and I certainly don't want to hear them.
None of that's an issue when I stay at places like The New York Palace. Even the name gives me giddy tingles. The New York . . . Palace.
You see, what the B 'n' B crowd fails to understand is that a place like the, ahhh, Palace, is a sort of B 'n' B. You check in and they show you to a sumptuous room with a really nice B. If you wake up hungry, room service will bring you anything you want. You have your own TV at the Palace -- and, hey, get a load of this -- you get a bathroom of your very own.
To me, the bathroom -- and the Motel 6 does this for all its guests, too -- says, "You're home. Go ahead, eat Mexican for dinner. No one will care."
As splendid as The Palace is, the nearby RIHGA Royal goes them one better in the bathroom department.
They have the $700 toilet seats and are proud enough to boast about them in glossy press releases that tout their "ergonomic design with anti-slam lids." Attempting to slam anything designated "anti-slam" is as much hooligan fun as anything offered in spank-happy Greenwich Village.
Plus, these grand hotels offer star-gazing opportunities you just can't get at a rustic B 'n' B. When I stayed at the Palace in 1994, I stayed 12 floors below the Rolling Stones.
During a visit to the RIHGA in 1998, I learned that Pete Townsend of The Who was an honored guest.
I guarantee none of these legendary rockers has ever set foot in a B 'n' B. Like me, if they want quaint surroundings and communal living, they can watch reruns of "The Waltons."
"Good night, Grandma. Good night, Grandpa. Good night, Mary Ellen. Good night, John Boy. And John Boy?
"Would you please tell Mr. Townsend to quit slamming the lid to the toilet? Where does he think he is, a hotel?"