When I was a child, I remember asking my father what it meant when a hotel was ‘5 star’. He could have explained the concept of ratings, the different criteria used, the process a hotel would go through each year to gain or maintain their stars. Accurate information, but unnecessarily so, and incredibly dull to a 10 year old.
Instead he said:
“It means that if you want apple pie with ice-cream at 3 in the morning, they will bring it to you.”
As my eyes widened, so did my mind. That answer, to a child who was regularly lost in imaginings, was just magical.
It gave me another opportunity to imagine, to conjure up vivid mental pictures, to dream about all the luscious 3am desserts that were out there in the world, and to wonder about the people who were ordering them.
It got me thinking about all the things a hotel would have to do to be able to meet such a request: make sure they had enough supplies, never run out of ice-cream, have someone on kitchen duty all night.
It also (more recently) made me consider what, then, would make a 4 star hotel. Apple pie available until it runs out, perhaps? And then an alternative offering. What about 3 stars? Dessert of the day is peach cobbler and there is a room service charge after midnight. 2 stars? From midnight we have a limited menu. Sadly it does not include apple pie. Or any pie. We do have ice-cream but only strawberry. Take it or leave it. And finally, 1 star. The kitchen closes at 11 pm. Fend for yourselves.
It was (and still is) sweet, delicious food for thought.
So that became my definition of luxury for the past 3 decades. Apple pie with ice-cream at 3am. I never asked my father if he had ever ordered it but I don’t believe he would have. Whiskey, perhaps, but not dessert.
The fact is, I don’t want apple pie with ice-cream at 3am either. I don’t really care about the number of stars a hotel possesses. Don’t get me wrong, I love the finer things just as much as the next person. But the stars in the sky have always held more appeal to me than those on a hotel’s resume. You can’t write poetry about the latter. (Well, I suppose you could. There’s a challenge...)
I love my father’s answer for the simple way it encouraged contemplation. The concept of ratings by 3am dessert options is just another way to invoke my father’s mind into this life without him. To connect. To remember and smile.
I know, especially today on his birthday, that he is having a single malt at 3am or whenever he wants one. And I hope the number of stars are infinite up there.
©2018 Seetha Dodd