Commentary: Not Watching, But Doing

Chapter: Is Doing a Favor for Someone Really Doing a Favor for Yourself?   

      “Which reminds me to ask you to remind me to tell you about Sour Suites.” He took out a pad out of his pocket and scribbled something. Cabot Finley, Fair's father, is a bit of an idea man. Fair's mom, March Finley, has to put those ideas into action. But Mr. Finley is forever thinking up things like snowtmeal and such, and always has a scribble pad nearby.
     “What’s a . . . sour sweet? Is that like, um, a new candy? A pillow candy?” I'm a big fan of pillow candies in hotels. It's such a small token but it makes an impact. Fair, being a food-loving lady, might think first of an edible when hearing Sour Suites. As we all might.
      “It’s an inn, not far from San Diego.” Not far from LA, either: map.
      “Is this the hover hotel? That Mom talked about buying?”
      “That’s a different place." He walked around his desk, took a stack of paperwork out of a drawer and signed the bottom of each document. "Let's see. Sour Suites is in the hills, closer to the desert than the ocean. Prospectors who thought they'd find gold built the place way back. They thought their new inn would boom with business. But they didn't find gold and neither did the inn. Its failure lent it a great nickname, though. Sour Suites. It’s a gorgeous property. It hangs over the edge of a chasm, near San Diego. Right. Started all of this with it being near San Diego. But I want it, and it’s available.” I'm a bit of a Gold Rush maven, but I like history in general. Still, the Gold Rush fascinates because it changed everything about California in under five years. And the world, really. Also, I like chasms. What's down there, anyway?
      “Why, um, did a mention of the Mathers family wanting Wilfair remind you to tell me about Sour Suites? Because unloading Wilfair would mean ready cash for this hotel in a chasm?” Fair Finley can teeter between things too often, but she's sharp.
      “Sour Suites is not in a chasm. It hangs over it,” he corrected. He didn’t dispute the rest.
      “Dad, I want to keep The Wilfair. I don't want to take the guys' motel. And I want everyone to win and no one to be sad. I want to invent a third side where that all can happen. That’s not really very executive, is it?” Ding ding ding! And one of the themes of the books has been sighted. :) Actually, two themes here: Everyone winning/no one being sad and Fair wanting to grow as an executive and own her power.
      “Maybe, maybe not. But it is human, and no one ever said executives were human.” He twinkled and put an arm around my head. “And the third side? It’s called compromise. I think the official definition of the word is everyone wins a little and everyone’s a little sad.” People "twinkle" a lot in The Wilfair books, but, then, I hope the books are kind of twinkly overall. Still, it is one of those words I have to watch myself with, like "grinned." I'll overstuff both into a book if I don't self-manage. Also, I agree with Mr. Finley: There's always a third side and it is definitely called compromise or meeting partway or everyone getting over their individual stuff and acting for the good of all.
     “It’s not compromise when the bad guy hurts the little guy. It’s not compromise when the bad guy puts her velvet vintage heel on the little guy’s throat and pummels him into submission. It’s just vicious. And horrible.”  Fair makes it personal real fast here with the inclusion of the very footwear she's rocking.
     “Share the victory and share the defeat, is what I’m getting at. You get the pool and let them go, and they can find better lives.” He signed one last document and put is in his outbox. His thumb, still greasy from the doorknob, left a mark near the top of the sheet. Something about the greasy thumbprint on the important piece of paper struck me. My father moved from doorknobs to documents with ease and panache, and I couldn't seem to lift my hand from the mint dish. The mint dish can go to hell! Also, I like doorknobs, and if I collected stuff, which I really don't, doorknobs might be something I'd keep. They're just so dang symbolic, maybe overly so.
      “It’s just. Dad.” I sighed a wet sigh. “I’m, like, programmed to say yes. To everything and everyone. You want a suite, sir? You want a free night, ma’am? You want a fruit basket, mean person who just shouted at me in full view of other guests and my employees? Yes, yes, and yes. And taking the cousins’ pool is like a giant, meaty, terrible no. It’s like I’m forming a big no ball from every unused no in my life and throwing it at them. Hard.” Transforming words into physical objects is something I'm rather fond of, and "no" is definitely a ball made for throwing.
      “You’d be doing them a favor.”
      “Funny how the person a favor is being done for is never the person to ask for it.” I bit my lip when I saw my dad’s sad face. “I’m sorry. I just have a yes problem. I just, like, give out so many I have none left for me. Or the people I care about. Kind of . . . care about.” That first bit -- that people who we do "favors" for are usually not the ones to ask for them, because the favor is often about what we really want for ourselves -- is a base for me in the books. I happen to think this is pretty true. Although that begs the question if I include things in the books that I personally don't think are true but a character might. Yes, is the short answer, because characters all believe different things and I don't always agree with them. But those things are not given quite the currency or stage that the ideas near and dear to my heart are given, to be totally honest. I don't shirk 'em, because it is important to have a mix, but I want to love on the ideas and themes and concepts I love most.
      “They’d love it in the end, I bet! They could do the normal things young guys do instead of working that front desk around the clock. I was their age. Granted, I came from a hotel family, so more of my time was my own. Still, it’s a grind, living by the night bell, catering to the well-rested when you yourself can’t seem to get enough sleep. Cleaning up the party cups from the rooms. I always hated that most! Seeing all the party cups. Montgomery and Montgomery would probably be happy to never see one again.” Mr. Finley calling Monty and Gomery "Montgomery and Montgomery" is his way of saying he likes them. He's being a bit formal and polite. As mentioned in "Wilfair," the Finleys don't dislike the motel people, they just want their swimming pool. Also, I always get a little melancholy during this part, when I think of Monty and Gomery tiredly cleaning up after parties they never attended. I don't think either cares a whit about not going to a stranger's party -- maybe Monty does, an iota -- but do they reflect upon their own lives as they walk around the motel room with a wastebasket in hand, tossing in cups? Oh yeah.
      “I’ve never seen one.”
      Dad raised an eyebrow.“Have you ever cleaned a hotel room? Honey, I want you with housekeeping. Next week. Making beds. And not watching, but doing.” Fair has never shirked work, but she's fretted over finding an authentic way in, because she basically started at the top. This is an issue for her.
      Not watching, but doing. Without knowing it, my father had hit upon the four words at the source of most of my problems. Ding ding ding! Not watching, but doing is another series theme. I want to stick rhinestones and sparkly fluff all over those four words and hang them large for Fair Finley to see each morning. Maybe over her window?

cr: j. ronald lee


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