All we wanted was one last Australian road trip. We never meant to deceive anyone. Is it even possible to lie to an inanimate object anyway? A website has no soul. It knows not the difference between a lie and an omission. The book now button doesn’t care if we exceed occupancy requirements? So, the Tree Motel only accepts parties of 5 or less. Babies can’t party. Nor should they. And should babies even be considered occupants? At four months, Kiama doesn’t occupy more than a onesie. She is more like a growth than an occupant. And so it was decided. We would book the Tree Motel and declare our most diminutive family member at check in.
We arrived under the cover of darkness and realized quickly that the Tree Motel may have occupancy requirements for a reason. It was a linear rambler with no more then 10 small units surrounded by gum trees and a subsequently compromised pool.
Mike lost a round of scissor, paper, stone and headed into the lobby to pick up the key. I gladly stayed in the car with the ladies, grateful that I would not have to be the one to break the news about the size of our party.
Mike looked bewildered as he reentered the vehicle after check in.
“What happened?” I asked. “Did you tell them about the baby?”
He laughed nervously and shrugged.
‘It never came up.”
We parked in front of our humble unit and quietly came to terms with our dilemma. We would either need to come clean right away or hide the baby for the duration of our stay. Ethel and Stevo, the motel managers sat in rocking chairs outside the lobby which doubled as their living quarters. And since the lobby itself was a central and unavoidable feature of the motel they had a birds eye view of our comings and goings. It was as if the hotel itself was designed for surveillance. This would make camouflaging the babe decidedly more difficult. But just as we decided to live in the light and confess our omission, management called it a night and headed indoors. Our decision was made. Kiama would remain undeclared for the night.
The room was narrow and filled to capacity with deteriorating furniture, leaving little room for free movement…or luggage. Three beds were juxtaposed against the walls like Tetris pieces. I could practically hear the catchy electronica theme song as we snuggled into bed. In fact, the Slavic rhythms plagued me all night, reminding me of our deception. There are five of us! Tetris.
I was haunted. What if Ki woke up and was inconsolable? Would our cover be blown? Would we get a knock on the door? Would Stevo get cross? Would Ethel never trust Americans again? It was unlikely that they would send us packing but dirty looks were a real possibility, as was a “you lied about the infant” tax.
I knew my anxiety was a bit excessive but, I live to avoid awkward moments and I could feel one coming. Also, I had recently lived through a bad experience with a disgruntled property manager (See When Harry Met Pasley) and did not wish to create anymore ill will amongst the villagers. It was still a goal of mine to add America to Australia’s Most Favored Nation list. Not that we could ever beat out the Canadians. (They absolutely LOVE Canadians in this country. What is that all aboot?)
The next day, we decided to get an early start. We wanted to see as much of Narooma as possible, whilst avoiding any unplanned run ins with management. But, our efforts were thwarted by the unbearable kindness of our hosts. They came out to meet the family when they heard us preparing to leave. I stayed inside the room with the baby, unsure of what had been revealed.
Ten minutes…20 minutes…it seemed like an eternity. It was almost as if they were toying with us. Trying to break us down. Finally, they gave up and headed back to their porch… or as I liked to call it….the observatory.
Mike stood in the doorway.
“Did you mention the baby?” I asked. He looked at me somberly.
“It never came up.”
And thus, our mission became clear. We would hide the baby for the duration of our stay.
It was like the Born Identity. Our entries and exits had to be carefully executed. One of us would create a diversion, while the other rushed the car seat to and from the Pajero. Coughing fits accompanied crying spells. And since Ethel doubled as the cleaning lady, we had to carefully conceal our cache of infant paraphernalia. The baby capsule was obscured by “personal items”. The box of diapers became a suitcase stand. The suspense was constant–palpable. We could never be certain of what they knew or did not know.
As our stay at the Tree Motel came to a close we were tempted to reveal the child in some regal display as if it were all just a grand illusion intended to entertain the motel guests. But, there would be be no climactic end to this sordid tale. Instead, the kindly couple we double crossed came out to wish us well. They never mentioned the clearly visible baby sleeping in the back seat. Neither did we. I felt like we had been playing spy games with innocent civilians.
Should a baby be considered an “occupant”?
We also visited the nation’s capitol, Canberra (pronounced Can-bra) . We did not mention the baby on that leg of the trip either, but the size of the hotel we stayed in made that omission less controversial. Canberra is absolutely beautiful. A bit contrived, but glorious nonetheless. I even got to have my picture taken in front of Parliament House with the SIGNED John Howard book Mike got me for Christmas. (Picture coming soon)
Family Factoids Continued…
We spent Easter in an RSL Club (think local casino meets Dennys). Might be time to come home.
It is next to impossible to find white eggs in an Aussie grocery store. Hence, dying eggs is not an Aussie tradition. Instead, Australians eat OBSCENE amounts of chocolate eggs, chicks and bunnies. Not sure how the chocolate ties into the resurrection–or bunnies and chicks for that matter. Your thoughts?