The ABCs of B and Bs: New definitions of room and board
City folk are moving to small towns in ever greater numbers. More than 95 percent plan to open a bed-and-breakfast inn as soon as the paint dries on their new gazebo.
What possesses otherwise intelligent middle-aged folks to renovate decaying Victorians at great expense and decorate every restored nook and cranny with rare, irreplaceable antiques?
AND then throw open their beautifully refurbished doors to the public (which includes its share of serial killers, life insurance agents or worse)?
And more important, why do they want to change these people’s soiled sheets and soggy god-knows-what-else, and then cheerfully serve them a gourmet breakfast on heirloom china while keeping a watchful eye on that klepto filching the crystal prisms hanging on the Tiffany lamps?
Why indeed? As a B&B frequenter myself, I am equally unsure of my motivation. It is difficult for this traveler to be pleasant during the complicated morning meal to a roomful of strangers impeccably dressed like models in a Nordstrom/Coldwater Creek catalog. Particularly when I spent half the previous night queued up in the quaint and drafty hallway waiting to use the communal water closet.
But the hallway was better than spending the night rolling toward the center of the pita-pocket notch in our overly soft antique feather bed. While my wife and I like to be close, neither of us found much romance in the bruises and bloody noses that resulted.
And those sepia-toned photographs on the walls, with stern, bug-eyed folk from Abe Lincoln’s day – I swear their eyes followed me around the room. Which I didn’t move around in much, being afraid to jostle the mounds of antiques that cluttered every available surface.
“You are as nervous as a cat in a roomful of rocking chairs,” said my wife, who pointed out there were eight fragile chairs of that design in the room.
Which is why, rather than go off my rocker completely, I am opening “Ye Olde Clear Creek Ranch B & B & Ba for the Totally Relaxed Traveller.” Every effort has been made to eliminate the “problems” we have encountered over the years.
That “Ba” stands for bath, of which each guest has a private one. Individually numbered tubs are in the open air on the uphill side of our garden. The resulting gray water will be recycled to irrigate our vast weed collection.
Beds are good old box springs and mattresses, easily adjusted for firmness by inserting or removing the complimentary sheet of plywood provided to each room. Well, room may be a misnomer; rustic shack is closer to it.
Each shack is equipped with an variety of comfortable, egg yolk-spattered bathrobes, complete with petrified Kleenex in the pockets. There are no Tiffany lamps to knock over, just that bare bulb dangling from the ceiling.
Breakfast is available 24 hours a day from your private refrigerator, which, just like home, is stocked with an assortment of stale pizza slices, partially eaten donuts and a carton of milk well on its way to yogurt-hood. Dine privately in your room by placing the plywood ON TOP of the mattress to form a table, giving new meaning to the term “bed and board.”
One problem has been promotion. I hired a neighbor kid to attach quaint wooden bumper stickers to our inn-mates’ cars in hopes of generating some low-cost advertising. But he thought they would attract more attention if they were nailed to the tires instead.
Talk about letting the air out of a bright idea quick!
Mike Drummond is a Nevada County writer whose column appears on Tuesday. You can write him in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; or e-mail him at
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