We’re in Missoula for Her Royal Highness’s freshman orientation at University of Montana. We are clearly part of a generation of New Age Parenting, because I, too, am attending Families of Freshmen Orientation for 2.5 f—ing days. Here was my parents’ orientation: “Here is where your kid lives now, and here is a bill you can pay. Any questions? No? Well, consider yourself oriented.” Now, not so much. But that’s not what I’m really reporting. Fortunately, the college has the good sense to separate Families of Freshmen from the real incoming Freshmen themselves. So, we check HRH into the dorm room that will serve as her lodging for a few days and her primary dwelling for the upcoming school year. “It’s like the cells in Orange is the New Black!” HRH recoiled upon seeing the cinder block enclosure.
I concurred that the accommodations were, in fact, austere. I went to check myself in to the Missoula downtown Holiday Inn. It is a complete wonder that I am not sponsored by Holiday Inn because thanks to Iron Chef, I am completely a Preferred Member. This is very meaningful because when I check in, I get asked if because of my loyalty (which involves paying a home mortgage worth of visits), I would like a) water, b) $2 off a $10 drink, or c) a bejillion points for a point system I don’t understand. I always choose points because I understand the other two choices and they are not that preferential. But sometimes, at least theoretically, Preferred Members get insider perks. I experienced this one time in Billings, Montana, when the front desk randomly gave me salt and vinegar potato chips, which happen to be my favorite. That was cool. In Missoula on this stay, my Preferred Member status earned me a wink and an upgrade to the mega king suite.
To be clear, when I’m traveling with the rest of my family and/or half of the girls and/or boys’ hockey team, we do not get the upgrade. But when I am a solo unit, Holiday Inn cannot provide me with enough square footage. Is it a coincidence that HRH is sleeping in the equivalent of a packrat trap? Only if you are godless.