Blonde was in Beijing in 2004, we’re talking pre-Olympics and not a place where Western women tended to travel on their own. Sadly, Brunette was not a part of this adventure and, in fact, was in Ireland at the time with her then 90 year old mother-in-law.
A frenemy of Blonde’s who lived in Hong Kong joined Blonde at various parts of a three week sojourn to Hong Kong, China and Thailand. The frenemy was very disdainful that Blonde, via the magic of the Starwood (SPG) loyalty points program, was going to be staying at “inauthentic Western hotels”. Well if you’re going to be disdained then own it! Blonde stayed at the fabulous St. Regis in Beijing for free, in luxury, cleanliness and safety. Wow, what a bummer.
One of Blonde’s biggest thrills at the St. Regis was being assigned her own butler. As there had been a threat of Frenemy being present for the entire Beijing portion of the trip, Blonde had splurged points for a suite and was living a wonderful faux-rich person life. The butler and Blonde lacked a common language but both smiled at each other a lot. The butler would appear so promptly when summoned that it seemed as if he was lurking with his ear to the keyhole.
One evening Blonde felt the need to iron her clothes for the next day. Blonde is an obsessive ironer and was undeterred by the fact that she was in a city of roughly 7 billion people most of whom were apparently still under the mistaken assumption that the peasant look was in style. That had been in the late ’70s for God’s sake!. Come to think of it though, Mao Zedong had also implemented a peasant look in the ’70s. He was a tad strict about it so maybe they were waiting for an “all clear” signal.
In any event, Blonde thought a crisp linen dress (in 145 degree, 200% July humidity) was an excellent fashion choice, forgetting that she would melt into Blonde goo before going two blocks. No one was interested in her fashion but they were openly mystified by a blonde wandering alone in Beijing. That was of much more interest than her attire, beautifully ironed though it may have been at the start of the day.
Previously, Blonde had not ironed her own clothes at the St. Regis but they provided an iron and ironing board and she was as happy as a Secret Service agent with free hookers included in the room rate. (To date this does not appear to be a spending option for SPG points. Note to self: Need to alert them of need to update spending options.)
However, a rose may be a rose, may be a rose, etc. but an iron isn’t necessarily, well, a regular iron. (It’s unlikely that Gertrude Stein was much of an ironer so it was time to end the tortured analogy.) Blonde managed to get the ironing board set up without any damage to herself or the room but the iron wouldn’t turn on no matter what she tried. After trying many options she noticed that beside the wall electrical outlet was a small gold button. Blonde decided that the button needed to be pushed to turn on the electricity for the iron. So she pushed the button.
Within moments the doorbell rang (yes, suites have doorbells, how cool is that?) and the butler appeared with a tray of tea. Blonde mimed her thanks although it seemed odd that he would just drop by, unbidden, to bring tea.
The iron still still wasn’t working after Blonde drank the tea. She pushed the button again. The smiling butler reappeared with a new tray of tea and removed the old. Why did these people have to drink tea night and day?! She didn’t want to be rude but this dropping by with tea at 10:00 o’clock at night thing was getting annoying.
Back to the iron and the mystery button that was so clearly to turn on the electrical outlet. Doorbell again. Butler with tray of tea again. Butler now looking stressed and slightly sweaty but still smiling and polite.
Blonde had stopped drinking the pots of tea after the first one and was getting annoyed at all of these interruptions combined with the fact that the damned outlet didn’t work. She went to the button once again and then noticed a very discrete sign that said something along the lines of “service button”.
Each time she had been pressing the button the butler was being alerted that she had ordered a tray of tea.
The dress never did get ironed but the butler got a very nice tip – the only way to apologize when you don’t speak his language and can’t read your own language on a sign in front of you.
He’s probably somewhere in China right now blogging about how American women expect to get pots of tea delivered to their rooms every two minutes. What is it with them? He probably wishes China never bought America.