Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond
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An Open Letter to Floors 16-22 of the Sheraton Hotel.
BY NANCY SLAGLE
Dear Floors 16-22 of the Sheraton Hotel,
I used to resent you for filling the entirety of the boardroom window. You deny me patches of blue and classic games involving clouds that give idle moments a reflective dignity. You scarcely reflect anything. It’s worse when the drapes are open, showing the same Renoir-ish print in every room. And to think, you’re my best hope of entertainment.
I’ve been sitting in this boardroom on the adjacent block for two hours and forty-seven minutes, eyeballing the lot of you across 8th Avenue. This meeting was supposed to last one hour. But now we’ve been looking at the same slide for thirty-two minutes. The slide shows a photo of an Egyptian sphinx, one of Devon’s metaphors for achievement culled from his trip last year to Egypt. In far more interesting situations (intercontinental plane flights, 67-story elevator commutes) some alternative entertainment is usually provided. I don’t mean to sound entitled, but the least you could do is ham it up a bit.
A murder seems like a lot to ask. I don’t need to see a murder, or anything racy. Anyway, you don’t strike me as a Hitchcock fan. But something to amuse the eye from time to time wouldn’t hurt.
We’ve had some good times:
Floor 21: In March I noticed a tangerine ensconced on your low sill behind the curtains, next to the potted silk palm tree. Its day-glo sphere, like a speck of prescription-strength ibuprofen, sustained me through seventeen of Devon’s pyramid slides. Why would someone abandon perfectly good citrus fruit? Did the guest intend to ripen it in the sun during his stay? No—for most of the day my building overshadows you and any disappointed sunbathers in your fifth-floor pool. Did some kid hide the fruit to avoid eating produce? Unlikely—tangerines are one of the candy fruits, holding trade value in an elementary school lunchroom slightly below that of a packet of yogurt pretzels. Tangerines aren’t the kind of superfluous fruit to arrive unrequested (or unpeeled) with room service to be set disdainfully aside. I’ve stayed with a few Sheratons, and most lean toward the standard half-grapefruit that yields three real bites before your fork starts combing the fibers. After an hour of quality musing, I sketched on my legal pad the overburdened cancan hat from which, I deduced, the fruit must have precipitated.
Floor 19: Two months ago that man suspended from your curtain rod a hanger laden with a single damp sock. No hackneyed argyle nonsense, just solid crimson. I sidestepped the obvious sock questions and asked: Who brings his own hangers to a hotel? Most hotels have hangers bound to the closet rod by an encircling wire loop, but this one was obviously freelance. Fine, maybe a businessman with a garment bag brings his own hangers. I guess I’ve even packed a hanger or two in my travels. Maybe the sock wasn’t your most original work after all.
To be frank, things have been stale for a while now. Your taupe canvas drapes haven’t unveiled so much as a phone bill dispute for over a month. One of 21’s drapes has a slight discoloration shaped like a pigeon (the ghost of some fatal impact?) that may be visible only from my side, so I can’t really blame the maids for missing it. I guess I owe it to you to call the front desk about that. I would, you know, except that I can’t tell the room number from where I’m sitting. Besides, I have no guarantee that you would provide a new point of interest after I’ve sacrificed Ghost Pigeon.
It’s not too late for redemption, though. What do you say, 17? 22? Lights flickering in one of the rooms would be good. I’d take a still life involving an actual-sized model of a personal submarine developed in Dubai. Maybe a silhouetted interchange through the curtains, possibly involving a room-service cart concealing a swarm of educated Luna Moths. No? I’d settle for a classic altercation: a pillow bludgeoning, a chardonnay to the face, nothing to stain the carpets.
Two hours and fifty-six minutes, and the sun is long gone. Hmm. It looks as though you can reflect one thing: Devon’s laser pointer, with its target range exceeding the breadth of your common sphinx. Several sphinxes, I think Devon mentioned.
Forget what I said earlier. I’d take a murder.
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