true confessions with strangers


There’s no better place than a half-naked environment far from home to share your deepest, darkest secrets. Before you know it, people say things. Lots of things. Forbidden things. Take for example the hotel hot tub . . .  

With warm water to caress you, bubbles blocking your sight and the fact you’ll never see these people again, God willing, it’s the perfect environment for true confessions. And thankfully when your inner bubbly has been spilled -- maybe you hate your job or your mate or you wish you’d been born in Australia far from your wretched family -- everyone dries off and tiptoes far, far away.   

You hope.    

So here we are, five of us, two guys and three girls -- and one woman blurts, “I’ve never had any confidence in myself,” and she gets the ball rolling. Right in the middle of a fine hotel, steam rising, she admits she’s not seeing eye-to-eye with the boyfriend who’s now at the bar and pretty soon the tub is one giant burst of revelation: “I don’t think I’m such a good mother,” “I haven’t made a new friend in 20 years,” “I’m stressed out like a zebra in a pack of hyenas,” one personal stick of dynamite after another while the sun sets and the next thing you know, the five of us -- minus the weird boyfriend -- are bonded like plaque in an artery.  

Now is the chance to tiptoe away, leaving it all to fizzle like flies caught in a zapper. But then Suzanne, our self-proclaimed control freak, exclaims, “We’ll never see each other again. Come on, there are only hours to go.”  

So in the spirit of what happens at Motel 6 stays there, we obey. Masochists, every last one of us. 

We meet again at the hotel club. Janelle and her soon-to-be-dumped Jim, are smoking. In the thrill of the moment -- either that or she’s tipsy -- she announces, “This is my last cigarette.” The Marlboro man, waving his simmering stick, is trapped like a zebra . . . “whaaat??”    

We descend like hyenas: “Do it, do it, do it, do it . . . “ 

Meanwhile Suzanne, our control freak, wants to learn to jump in with both feet -- even into the hot tub -- because she’s an over-planner. Ryan is a loner, someone else is wishy-washy, someone else a perfectionist. Then there’s the lazy dude, the scared-y cat, the rationalizer, the one who lives perilously close to the edge.  

By 3 a.m. -- the latest I’ve stayed up in a decade -- we’ve left our layers of griminess all over the poor hotel. Janelle and Jim back away from the abyss of being smoke-free half a dozen times, “We were just joking, we didn’t mean it, we were getting into the spirit of the moment . . .” 

We threaten to send drones. We’re feisty and we want other people to do things we can’t do ourselves. 

By 4 a.m., we all admit we have work to do -- “I mean who doesn’t?” -- then we laugh and kiss and hug and inch toward our rooms but that’s not enough. Suzanne seems determined to round us up for the kill and keep us connected. 

“We have to hold ourselves accountable,” she demands. “Contact information, come on, right now.” She’s our hyena -- adorably young. We are caught. 

I’m not going to admit my true confessions of that long evening, because I know you and those people I don’t know. Except we didn’t count on media-obsessed Suzanne. She wants to form a true confessions WhatsApp group to keep us honest.  

People these days!  

Whatever happened to saying anything you want, calling a night a night, reveling in the comfort of strangers, then going on your merry, dysfunctional way?

May 27, 2017

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