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Weekend At The Ritz

It was five years ago when my two closest friends, Vern, Viola and I, headed out for what we thought was going to be a relaxing spa weekend. We were pumped because it was supposed to be my birthday celebration. I was turning 22 after all 🙂

It was on a whim, the three of us all meeting up.  It had been a bad year for all of us, we told ourselves that we deserved those $200.00 facials and $400.00 massages!  All week long we texted back and forth amongst each other; the three of us imagining a luxurious haven at the magnificent Lake Oconee Ritz Carlton ~ with its lip smacking five star dining, scrumptious cosmopolitan induced evenings ~ all in front of a roaring outdoor fire overlooking the lake.

It was the perfect setting for the birthday girl.  Yes?

Bull.  Actually, it was total mayhem.

It all started on a Friday afternoon. Vern, Viola and I met up at this fine world renowned spa; all in desperate need of deep cleansing facials and hot stone massages to rub out all those lumpy stress knots in our backs.  I was kicking back, listening to that insane Chinese spa music; pretending like I was Ivana Trump in the faded plush chairs when a lovely lady walks in and summons me for my sea weed mud mask.

“What about Viola?”  I asked.  “She a had facial too.”

Errrr ummmm, no such record.

Boy howdy were we surprised to find one of the three of us were ‘not listed on the books’ and therefore had no appointment whatsoever. Since the spa was already booked, Viola had let go of her dreams of aromatherapy to read worn out of date Better Homes and Gardens magazines while Vern and I enjoyed facials and massages.  Viola tried to be a good sport about it by taking a dip in the spa’s hot tub.

Imagine Viola’s dismay at seeing human skin particles shoot from the hot tubs jets, not to mention some unfortunate souls Sponge Bob Square Pants band aid floating past her. No worries, we console Viola, we will treat our friend to a five star meal.

Five stars my fanny.  Let’s put it this way, for every single meal, there was at least one catastrophe.  For instance, we were there to celebrate my birthday, but it makes for a sad birthday girl who is never ever brought out their food!  There was no star gazing that night by the hotels beautiful Lake Oconee because somebody in the group whose name I won’t mention (but it wasn’t me and it wasn’t Viola) drank too many cosmopolitans while waiting on my ‘never to be seen dinner’ and nearly fell into to that roaring outdoor fire.


We drug the Cosmo girl back to our room and surprise surprise! Was it chocolate covered strawberries lying on the pillow with a bottle of champagne saying “so sorry we were complete clauds for forgetting to bring the birthday girl dinner…enjoy this treat on us??!”

Errr ummmmmm no.  The stinking toilet had overflowed and there was water all over the floor.  We musta called housekeeping three times but and after many foiled promises, nobody ever showed to help with the mess.    Breakfast consisted of slimy un-cooked eggs, lunch a very raw hamburger. (I could SO hear a mooooooo, I’m sure I did!)

Sunday morning, I woke up before anyone else did and ordered coffee so I could sit outside and relish in a beautiful but nippy morning.  I was all dressed, high heeled boots and rabbit coat so when I finished my coffee, I placed my the coffee tray outside our hotel door. To my alarm, the stinking door shut behind me, locking me out.  Uggg!  Between Vern’s snoring and the noise maker  that Viola never leaves home without, they couldn’t hear my rapping on the door. After 15 minutes, I went on a walk and sat on a beach chair looking over the water.  I started thinking about my less than perfect birthday weekend; the nasty food, the over flowing toilet, the lack of towels because the maid never came to clean our room, the botched spa treatments and skin particles complete with the Sponge Bob band aid… (That one turns my stomach even today.)

And you know what I did?

I laughed.  I laughed at the food, the toilet, the dirty room, I laughed at getting locked outta my room.

Now I’m seriously hoping I can’t get in some kind of trouble for blogging about my experience at the Lake Oconee Ritz Carlton because all of this true and even though it wasn’t a pretty situation, I will say It taught me a lesson and a new way of looking at my life.  In a sense, this one weekend was life changing….

Oddly enough, this is also the very weekend my Point System was spawned:

After my friends woke up, we sat around a table outside for our last ‘yummy’ meal together.  (I had a blueberry muffin, I ain’t stupid!) We talked about what we would want to accomplish if we had just one year to live. Vern wanted to loose weight. Viola wanted to meet a wonderful man, get married and have babies. I wanted to send my book off to be published.

To Vern and Viola, my problem seemed like a no brainer. “Well why don’t you just send your book off?” They both wanted to know.

“I’m scared.” I told my friends. “I’m so scared of rejection.”

“You’re scared a lot.” Viola said. “Why are you such a fraidy cat? What else are you afraid of? Let’s take out some paper, here.”

Oh my aching fanny, can you tell Viola is an attorney? So cut and dry, straight to the point…


“I ummmm, I want to loose some weight.” I tell my friends. “I need something to jump start my weight loss. I go to the gym but it’s like I’m not getting anywhere.  I have no set goal, I’m just floating through life. It almost seems hopeless.”

“Ahh bull. There’s the Cooper River Run in Charleston in six weeks, lets all commit to going home to start training for it and meet back up in Charleston. Agreed?”

Agreed?  Viola wants us both to agree? Such the attorney she is….

“Errrr ummmmmmmmmm, Viola, I sure would love to head to Charleston and do that run but ummmmmm……the only time Sissie Dale runs is to get out of the rain. You do realize this, don’t you?”

“Nah, it’s only 10k which is a little over six miles, you’ll be fine. Just hit the gym right when we get home.”  Viola tells me.

I watch in horror as Viola writes at the top of my list :

1. River Run. Then she scribbled down 2. Send book off. Then, 3. Loose weight.

Like I could just snap off these easy things like they are 1. Brush your teeth.  2.  Apply mascara etc.

I went home that weekend with a ratted out napkin with my three points scribbled out in front of me.  I was skert.  I was unsure I could even finish that run.  Suddenly, white ambulances with their red flashing lights and loud sirens echoed in my head.  Images of frantic paramedics with their oxygen tanks racing over the Cooper River Bridge to save the idiot who only knows how to run to get out of the rain danced through my head…..

Coming home that weekend, I had nothing but a crumpled napkin and a mind full of unresolved dreams. So, basically, I had a choice.  I could stay stuck and sad… or I could run this race we call life.

I choose the latter….

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