I must have done something very bad in a previous life, because I’ve ended up in hell. It’s called the Caesars Brookdale Resort. It is “the land of family fun”.
On the drive up here yesterday we passed a church somewhere in Pennsylvania with the sign “Act today like you’ll be meeting God tomorrow.” They should add: “Otherwise we’ll make you sit through the Maisie Hills Band at dinner-time.”
Maisie (not her real name) is in her 50s, and while we digested the sub-ordinary stodge that the resort is passing off as nutrition (it’s an ‘all-inclusive deal’, otherwise known as No Escape), we were subjected to her mid-life interpretations of songs old and new, plus banter in between numbers. Come on dad, get up and dance! Oh look, there’s a bloke in the audience looks like Justin Timberlake! As my ten-year-old daughter, who recently discovered The Joys of Sarcasm, would say: Ha. Ha. Ha.
We must be the only family in America insane enough to leave Washington DC on a mild and sunny day, after a month of freezing, ball-biting weather, and consciously drive northwards for four hours, back to the cold and the snow, and all for the pleasure of freezing cross winds, Formica décor, getting elbowed away from the salad buffet by alternatively sized natives, and tortuous small talk with the family from Long Island placed at our table to foster exciting new friendships.
Our apartment was designed with the swinging playboy demographic in mind rather than the suburban family of four. In the master bedroom there’s a jacuzzi, and a ceiling mirror over the bed. The wife and I could stick the kids in front of the tv, close the door, run a bath, crack open the bubbly, put on some James Last, and party like it’s 1972. In theory. In practice we all four lie on the bed and stare up at our reflections, making faces. Would I really like to watch myself fucking? I’ll keep you posted (maybe).
There is an actual reason we’re here, rather than staying at home and burning a pile of hundred dollar notes: the rest of the family is skiing, a sport I reluctantly took up and gave up ten years ago after falling down a Swiss mountainside and ramming my knee into my head during a beginner’s course I’d been coerced into taking.
The wife booked that, as she booked this. When I heard the price we were paying, I imagined a ‘resort’ in the sense of something luxury, where you’re pampered a little, and the quietly devoted waiters bring you complementary cocktails by the side of a vast and peaceful indoor pool. Perhaps a pianist plays Bach in the marbled foyer, and all kids except my own are banned.
If I act today in such a way that I get to meet God tomorrow, I’ll ask him if that’s the kind of set-up you get for good behaviour.