When it comes to creature comforts, room service is right up there on my list. It combines the pleasures of eating out, with–well, not actually having to go out. I’m a staunch proponent of food delivery of all kinds, including the traditional pizza and Chinese, grocery delivery services, and friends who drop by with soup when one is sick.
For us regular folks, us “servantless American cooks” if you will, having someone cook for us and wait on us is a treat, not a daily occurrence. And ordering room service is a rare pleasure, one to be savored once every year or two, wallowing in decadence without shame.
Some people might disagree with me. “But Rowdy,” I can hear them protesting, “It’s ridiculously overpriced. Uninspired food. And lukewarm!” To those skeptics, I say this: You’ve missed the point of room service. It’s not about value, nor about excellent food.
Consider the following scenario: you are travelling alone. It’s your first night in a new town. You get to your hotel room. It’s late and you are tired. You settle in, maybe take a shower. That ubiquitous binder calls to you, and you flip to the room service tab. Yes, the food is dreadfully expensive and may be lukewarm when it appears. Still…you pile up all of the pillows behind you, and recline on the bed perusing your options in a leisurely manner. You make a phone call, and 20 minutes later, there is a knock on the door. You put the tray on the end of the bed, turn on the TV, and sprawl out full length to eat your two shrimp cocktails in peace.
But where room service really shines is at breakfast. There’s nothing like a leisurely weekend breakfast, right? Well, nothing except a leisurely weekend breakfast that I don’t even have to get out of bed to eat. And let’s be realistic. All good breakfast restaurants have interminable waits on weekends—certainly long enough for my blood sugar to reach dangerously homicidal lows. That’s what Starbucks is for, on longer vacations. We get our muffins and coffee and move on with our day of sightseeing. But for those occasional weekend getaways…
I renewed my friendship with room service breakfast on our recent weekend trip to Portland. Soon after waking, I ordered up some food. Very shortly, I was wrapped in the plush cheetah-print robe thoughtfully provided by the hotel, and ushering in the room service guy, who politely didn’t stare at my crazy sleep hair. He did a big reveal, taking the lids off of the dishes and allowing fragrant steam to rise. Then he departed, and I settled back into bed with the best French toast ever to be fried in about a stick of butter, sausage, jam, more butter, a bagel with cream cheese, smoked salmon and capers, and a few cups of coffee. All piping hot.
There are so many good things about this kind of breakfast. I like tucking the white cloth napkin up to my chin and leaning on a pile of pillows like a rajah. I like eating breakfast that someone else cooked, while still unshowered and in my pajamas. I like the adorable, doll-sized salt and pepper shakers and the teensy bowl of butter and the glasses with their hats of saran wrap. I like pushing the tray of empty dishes away and falling back into a stupor–to just lie there digesting, or read a bit, or maybe go fill up the Japanese soaking tub for another bubble bath.
Room service breakfast is a trifle in the big scheme of things–nothing compared with the major joys and sorrows of life. But daily life is made up of a lot of little things, so many of them stressful and tiring and beyond our control. Why not tip the balance the other way just a bit, whenever we get the chance?
In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile it might pass you by.”