In which Caroline discusses an interaction with a stranger in Maryland.

This weekend, after driving down to Maryland (read: sitting in the backseat of the car like a grandmother for over five hours), I was absolutely desperate for a cigarette. While we were checking into the hotel we were staying at, I noticed a little sign to the right of the front desk advertising a “smoking oasis” that was available to guests 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – so I excused myself and set out to find this magical place. I imagined it as a tropical paradise, replete with palm trees, frozen drinks and glistening, shirtless men just waiting to feed me grapes in between drags.

Of course, since I was in Maryland and not Kauai or Ancient Greece, the “smoking oasis” turned out to be a 10′ wide pen off of the lobby, and instead of being greeted by a glistening, shirtless man, I was greeted by a sunburnt slob from outside of Philly who looked like a blobfish (see: http://cheeseluvr14.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/blobfish1.jpg).

I wasn’t planning on initiating a conversation with him. I figured I’d just suck the cigarette down as fast as I could, not make eye contact, and then be on my merry way. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my lighter, and after watching me rummage desperately through my Mary Poppins bag for a solid two minutes, he finally asked me if I needed a light.

Once he’d spoken to me/loaned me his lighter, I couldn’t really ignore him anymore – so I initiated some trivial small talk with him…that is, until he decided to take control of the conversation and tell me that he’d ‘been out drinking all night’ and ‘didn’t know how [he] was even standing up.’

Now, I wouldn’t necessarily tell someone I’d just met that I was at the tail end of a bender, but clearly this guy was looking for a little companionship, so I figured I’d humor him. He then proceeded to tell me that he was about to go back upstairs to his dinky little hotel room and start pounding Jagerbombs because he was going to watch the UFC fight at the Hooters down the road that night and he wanted to be in the right “mindspace” for it.

What the what? Why on earth would someone schlep all the way down to Maryland, of all places, to get shitty in a business hotel room and watch a UFC fight at Hooters? Can someone please enlighten me? This guy was totally more depressing than I thought he was. And his face so red! And his chin so weak! I mean, DAMN. This guy was a hot mess.

Finally, at long last, I finished my cigarette and we parted ways – but for some weird reason, I can’t stop thinking about him.

The moral of this story is that I think it’s time for me to quit smoking.