December 31st, 1990
Hilton Hotel, Perth, Australia
Ending 1990 on the other side of the world, in a hotel room, where I’m not alone.
Still fragile from the room party our gregarious Captain insisted upon, even although we arrived at eight this morning (!) I stayed in bed most of the day and didn’t get up ‘til I heard a knock on the door.
I peered through the peephole to see Perfect Penny and my initial reaction was to creep quietly away, until I spotted the plastic shopping bag in her hand, at which point I knew something was “off.” Perfect Penny isn’t the sort of girl to ever be seen in public in possession of a bag with any less status than one designed by a woman named Coco (whose real name, incidentally was Gabrielle.)
As soon as I opened the door, Perfect Penny strode into my room.
“Hey Penny, come on in, why don’t you!” I drawled, my tone snarky.
“Penelope. Please,” she hissed.
She looked pale. “I see you’re still suffering as well.”
“From the room party? You-”
“I must use your loo,” she blurted.
“Be my guest.”
I scanned the room service menu to see if they offered chocolate mousse (they did) and thought I’d order one not only for myself, but also for PP, mostly because I knew there was no way she’d eat it, which brought a smile to my face but that quickly changed when I heard her piercing scream.
“Are you alright, Penny?” I called out.
“It’s Penelope,” she shrieked.
She opened the door and held out her hand, in which she held a stick from a pregnancy test kit. I glanced at the solid pink line and a little sound, indicating shock, escaped my lips.
“It might be wrong,” I stated.
“I hope you’re correct. I shall try again,” she snipped, slamming the door shut.
I paced around the room, the appeal of chocolate mousse suddenly gone, then I heard the bathroom door creak open. “What does that one say?”
PP held out the stick. The result was the same.
“I’ll try another one,” she uttered, this time closing the door, slowly.
“How many do you have?”
“Four,” she whimpered, from the other side of the door.
“I’ll make us some tea,” I offered, because I really didn’t know what else to say.
PP came walking out of the bathroom as though she was in deportment class at finishing school but I could see she was shivering as she sat down.
“Here,” I said, pulling the blanket off my bed, draping it around her bony shoulders. “And I made you a nice cup of tea. Drink it up and I’ll turn up the heat.”
I sat on the bed across from her and noticed her hands were trembling. We didn’t speak for a while until PP broke the silence. “I don’t….I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
“They’re all-” I started to ask.
“Positive, yes,” she nodded. “All four of them.” Her voice sounded shaky.
“I’m sure you and Jeremy will figure everything out,” I said, in my most soothing tone.
She stared at the floor. “I can’t tell him. He’ll be furious.”
“Things don’t always go as planned,” I uttered, my mind wandering briefly to a momentous moment in a hotel room in LA just last month.
“I don’t think you understand,” she stated. “Jeremy and I have yet to…explore that side of our relationship.”
My questioning look prompted her to confess. “He thinks I’m still a virgin.”
“Oh,” is all I managed to get out.
“We planned on changing that on our wedding night, so you see, I…I can’t tell him.”
“Shit, Penny.” She glared at me. “Sorry, Penelope.”
“Thank you,” she sniffed, picking up the cup and saucer.
I didn’t know if she was thanking me for the tea, or for using her full name.
The evening arrangement was to meet in the First Class purser’s room at eight, then head to an Italian restaurant close by, where the Captain had reserved a private room. However, as the hours wore on, the reality of PP’s “condition” seemed to take hold of her and she went from being quiet and trembling, to crying hysterically.
She shared with me the entire sordid tale of the passionate affair she’s been having with the man who trains her horse (he’s twenty years her senior, married, with three kids.) He and Not So Perfect Penny have been having it off in the stables for the past six years!
After a few hours of trying to console her, I moved my suitcase off the spare bed and tucked her in. She was fully dressed and didn’t put up a fight, which is when I knew she’d gone over the edge. Within minutes, she was sound asleep, making murmuring sounds that led me to believe she was dreaming of her horse!
I can’t believe I feel sorry for her, but I really do. At some point, I’ll have to inform the Cabin Service Director, but it’ll have to wait, as I know he’s out celebrating with the crew.
Meanwhile, I’m 9,000 miles from home, trapped in a hotel room with sleeping beauty and her bun in the oven, thirty minutes away from 1991.