A Tour of The House: Part Three
I wonder how many rooms there actually are…
If you’ll remember, in part one, I explained that I had traveled from my job in Saudi Arabia, visited family, and was now one day away from returning to work. Just before leaving I accepted the assistance of the hotel concierge to arrange for a therapeutic massage after dinner and a show. Somehow, thanks in no small part to language difficulties and the concierge having some ideas of his own, I ended up riding down a long dark road outside of Frankfurt, Germany in a limousine with several male strangers headed to, ostensibly, a massage and a show.
I ultimately ended up on a tour of a massive and beautiful Bavarian house while trying to avoid some of the steamier aspects of “the show”.
The hostess was a beautiful and demure woman who, after sensing my discomfort with the theatrics, led me into a hallway that was somewhat narrow but deep and painted in a lush and lavish dark oxblood hue. The ceiling was so high that I could feel my neck muscles straining as I looked up. I caught myself – not wanting to look like the unsophisticated small town girl that I was.
The ornately carved wainscoting on the walls was serving its purpose. There was no draft or dampness. However, if I am being honest, I couldn’t tell if it was the wainscoting or my personal furnace. I had begun to feel a bit feverish and I could not tell if it was the temperature of the building or my own frantic attempts to understand and rationalize what was going on around me.
Being as kind and attentive as ever, the hostess led me into the kitchen and offered me a glass of water. I hoped that my perspiration was not as noticeable as it seemed. However, I thought I could feel my bangs sticking to my forehead.
As she reached into the beautiful mahogany cabinet for the crystal tumbler, I took a moment to get my bearings. The kitchen, like the house, was massive. A fire warmed the room and provided a kaleidoscope of colors reflecting off the elegant crystal chandelier. The coolness of the marble-topped island was a welcome respite to the heat emanating from the palms of my hands. I waited for her to pour the water.
Everything was so impressive to my eyes. And I was once more back to feeling like a princess. The hostess selected a few cubes from the Georg Jensen silver ice bucket and placed them into the water. As she handed the glass to me I thanked her kindly and anticipated the feeling of the cold liquid traveling throughout my body. Once I finished, we stepped back into the hallway and started towards a door on the left.
Behind the door was a beautifully decorated office. There was a large and handsome mahogany and leather executive desk and everything else you would imagine in a corporate office. The hostess, still trying to relieve me of my anxiety, motioned for me to sit in the masculine looking emerald green tufted leather chair. I spun around slowly taking in the sights of the paneled room. The walls were covered with floor to ceiling bookcases completely filled with leather bound books. Many, she said, were first editions.
The smell of cedar from the desk drawers took me back to memories of my grandmother’s bedroom and the cedar chest that held so many precious family heirlooms. I felt myself begin to relax even more. I chided myself for letting my imagination run wild. Granted, there were some things that I did not expect but, really, there was apparently no reason for my apprehension. Here I sat, in a chair worth more than my annual earnings no doubt. What could go wrong? Maybe I was much more of a prude than I had imagined.
Several minutes later she asked if I would like to see more of the house. Curious to see just how the other half (well – maybe the one percent) live, I readily agreed. Having grown up in very modest circumstances, I was excited to see how the mistress of the house had decorated the other rooms.
I was quite aware that I was in my early twenties, from the southern region of the United States and somewhat naive. I was trying to look and act sophisticated but I was still just a little country girl at heart.
The next room was a bathroom that truly fit its name. The bath was Grecian style. It was more like a small pool than a tub but it was beautiful. The entire room was marble. The veins streaked through at random intervals. I ran my hands along the elegantly hollowed surface and wanted desperately to pick up the scented soaps lying in an ornate but delicately carved wooden dish but I restrained myself, to a certain extent. My hostess was obviously delighted in seeing me so excited. She waved me forward, giving me permission to roam the enormous space.
Amazingly, there was a sauna! The smell of cedar and eucalyptus wafted through the air. The hostess offered me slippers as I moved further in because the surface had become a bit slippery. The source of the moisture became evident after a moment as I could hear the gentle hiss of steam. At that very moment the door to the steam room opened and there stood, in all of her natural glory, a woman of my approximate age.
To say I was shocked and embarrassed, obviously in a private part of the house and even more obviously fully dressed and facing someone who was fully nude, is a total understatement. As I attempted to apologize the young woman simply smiled and continued to stand there. She did not seem to understand what I was saying. When she began to speak the German flowed from her mouth but I could not understand a word.
Finally, she slowed her speech and said the same word over and over. When I had caught my breath and stilled my rapidly beating heart I understood that she was saying “there”. When I turned “there” I noticed that the hostess was gone. But “there” was a robe and towels.
I moved to hand her the robe and as I turned back she had wordlessly appeared at my side, not even three feet separated us. I could hear the click of a door in the distance but I could not tell if someone was going out or coming in.
There were so many thoughts going through my mind but . . .
After what happened in there, I am totally confused. Is this some kind of convoluted dream. Should I leave. Should I stay. What is wrong with me. Am I who I thought I was. Has this side of me been in there all along. If so, why haven’t I known. Once again I’m walking down this long hallway on my way to another room. What will I do. At some point will I give in to my inner demons. Have I been drugged.
“Come this way,” she says as she opens another door into another room. And as I started to turn and run back down the hall, my eyes stopped me. I was looking at the most beautiful bedroom filled with the most sensually designed French furniture that I’d ever seen. There was this beautifully carved Bergere chair with a gold gilt frame upholstered in this cream and gold bargello patterned fabric. And draped on the arm of the chair was this magnificent chinchilla with golden brown stripes.
There was this creamy white painted Louis VI dresser with Ormolu openwork gold filigree decorated hardware. The dresser was outlined with 24 carat gold leaf. I may be a country girl from the southern region of the United States. But I know beautiful and expensive furniture. My grandmother worked for the Tomlinson family. They were considered furniture manufacturing royalty in my home town. My grandmother would meet me at the end of their long steep driveway once the school bus dropped me off after school. I remember walking around their home running my hands along the furniture and reading the tabletop design books. I would be in my own wonderful dream world until the door bell rang at 4:30 when mom came to pick me up.
Suddenly, I get snapped back into reality as I gaze in the gold leaf double beveled mirror at the bed behind me. It was the most exquisitely hand carved wooden frame with an eggshell colored velvet upholstered headboard and caned footboard. The bedspread was the most gorgeous pile of natural palomino cross mink hides! And as I turned around, from under the furs climbs the most handsome blonde and blue eyed devil that I’ve ever seen. He was absolutely delectable.