The Bed and Estrogen Experience

There is no question but that women and men want different things out of life.

If you need proof, just spend a night with your wife at any bed-and-breakfast and watch her coo.

They’re all over the country now, old houses that have been gussied up and turned into estrogen fantasies for weary travelers to spend the night. There are bunnies on the wallpaper, hearts on the bathroom mirrors, antique family photographs — bought at thrift stores — on the hallway walls. Every corner of every room is taken over by doilies.

The four-poster beds are so soft they engulf your sleeping body the way a bowl of whipped cream swallows a stone dropped into it. Under your head is a goose-down pillow with frilled edges and over your torso is a flowered quilt. None of this seems to have any weight at all.

And beside the bed is a comment book with a pen so you can enter your own purred murmurings of contentment.

A whole magazine industry is supported by the retro-Victorian tastes of middle-class women; Country Living, Victoria and Martha Stewart Living are the samizdat that spreads the word.

It’s the kind of thing women — my wife included — seem to enjoy, but I squirm when I see it. I feel like Jiggs at the opera.

It’s just like the fragrance-larded soap gel in the shower. It left me feeling like I was covered in fish slime.

“It moisturizes,” my wife assures me.

“It grease-turizes,” I reply. I needed a bar of soap to rinse myself clean, but there is none.

I spent a very pleasant night at the Goose and Turrets, a bed-and-breakfast in Montara, Calif., south of San Francisco. It was run by a quirky, quiet, little woman named Emily and her never-to-be-seen husband.

The parlor was drenched in crystal and oak-framed art. Mozart played subliminally, perfuming the air with sweet harmony.

The front yard was crowded shut with flowers, which Miss Emily watered every morning after breakfast as the geese ran free. It was a scene from a Tasha Tudor book, only Miss Emily was no longer a little girl.

The building was built in 1908 as a post office. It later became a guildhall for the local Sons of the Spanish-American War. It also served for a time for illegal things although Miss Emily wasn’t specific. I inferred she meant it had been a bawdyhouse.

Breakfast was a four-course vegetarian affair, with a fruit course of perfectly ripe cantaloupe, a second course of Scottish oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon, a third course of Yorkshire pudding topped with banana slices and strawberries and a final cheese course, with homemade mozzarella and Cheddar served with toast and crackers. Earl Grey tea and cranberry juice filled out the menu.

Such breakfasts thrill most of the women I know. But it is not a man’s breakfast: Where’s the sausage? Where’s the gravy?

So what would a man’s bed-and-breakfast be? What would it take to make the husband happy?

A bed, some breakfast — that about covers it. Everything else is indulgence.

Except possibly for a fridge full of beer.

If we have to have decor, let’s put a moose head over the fireplace and some dark pine paneling on the walls and a stainless-steel basin in the bathroom.

And forget the push-nozzle cleansing gel and drop down a square of Lava soap next to it.

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