Country folks say that a full moon can make you act goofy.
But the Ancient Greeks had a more optimistic outlook on life: “A full moon means a happy marriage,” they said.
Well. Michael and I got married during a full moon. We weren’t superstitious, though. Not in the least.
At our Wedding Luncheon, we were given fortune cookies. We opened them with careless good humor. The first cookie said: “Your spirit of adventure is leading you down an exciting new path…” The second cookie was a bit more explicit: “Pleasure awaits you at the Seashore,” it said.
As planned, we spent our wedding night at the Inn of the Lost Coast—a place of wild beauty. Raging surf. A full moon. Blazing fireplace, and a private balcony. No—the bride did not fall off the balcony into the sea…Nor did she plunge through the big French windows.
Almost. But not quite.
In the morning, the groom bundled his silly, sleepy bride into the car and headed down Highway 101 toward San Francisco.
Eventually, we pulled into Michael’s old neighborhood—the Berkeley Hills. I gazed in awe at the ritzy mansions perched on the mountainside.
“Oh my!” I said, staring at the $3-million-dollar home where Michael had spent his childhood. “Oh my!”
We rounded a corner and came to a stop at the Hotel Claremont—a beautiful white castle overlooking the Bay. My mouth fell open. I really doubted that a country girl belonged here at the Claremont—even on her honeymoon.
“Michael! This place is outrageous,” I said. “The parking fee, alone, is 25 bucks! I bet these rooms are $1000 a night! Surely we’re not staying here…?”
But my groom was resolute. He parked the car and picked up our suitcases, heading for the elegant lobby. I grabbed some granola bars and a bag of fruit from the car and ran to catch up with Michael.
“A Claremont candy bar,” I warned him, “…will cost us 5 bucks!”
“Relax and enjoy this!” he said. “Just be sure when you see the concierge…”
“What’s a concierge—?” I started to say, but then my words trailed off.
We had entered the hotel. The lobby was enormous, as big as a ballroom. Ornate mirrors and sparkling chandeliers. Butlers and fancy-looking guests. Everyone conversed in hushed tones.
I felt overwhelmed and uneasy. I was in need of a restroom, but there was none in sight. Michael signed us in at the desk, then steered me down a corridor to the elevator. It was there at the elevator that things started to go wrong…Mostly because I didn’t know where we were going.
We rode up a few floors on the elevator, then it stopped and Michael got off. I started to follow, but my bag of fruit tumbled to the elevator floor, blocking my exit. The doors shut and Michael was gone. The elevator rose, bound for destinations unknown. I was trapped, at least momentarily…me and my renegade fruit.
Apples and oranges rolled about the floor…I was trying to corral them when the elevator hummed to a stop. Doors opened. Butlers and pompous folks stood looking at me…well-dressed guests who had never seen a gal chasing fruit, while clutching her bladder.
No one would get on the elevator with me. They just stood there, mute…expressionless. Staring at me. Then the doors slid shut, and I found myself rising up and up and up.
Folks always say: If you’re lost and don’t know where you’re going, you should just stay put ’til someone finds you.
So I did. I rode up and down the elevator—waiting for my groom to find me.
But Michael never did appear. Never did come to claim his hapless bride. Every time the doors opened, it was always someone else staring at me. Never my groom.
At last, I knew I had to get off.
Gathering my fruit and my last shreds of dignity, I stepped from the elevator. I found a staff member, and was busy explaining my predicament, when I looked up and saw my groom standing there in the corridor.
I hurried to him, the bag of fruit bouncing against my side. Michael didn’t say a word…Didn’t say that I’d embarrassed him, or that I’d made a buffoon of myself. He took my bag and led me gently, but firmly, to our honeymoon suite—high up in the castle.
Suddenly, I forgot all about my mortifications. The view from the window was stupendous. Dizzying. Breathtaking.
The earth stood still. Then slowly it began to revolve, again—revealing a panoramic scene that spanned the horizons. I saw stately palms….a sparkling Bay…the Golden Gate Bridge…San Francisco. I stared and stared. I was like a princess in a big white castle…But a rather discombobulated princess, at that.
It was the beginning of a strange evening for me—a time of learning and discovery. Learning to be stiff and stuffy. Learning to give the attendants a big fat tip every time they lifted a finger… Learning to eat fancy crackers and goat cheese. (I hate it. It stinks like goats. )
Strangest of all was the prospect of exploring the hundred-year-old hotel. We took a leisurely walk through the Claremont’s historical past—climbing the stairway toward the tower rooms where Generals and nobility had slept in splendor.
We looked past the finery into the mysterious shadows in the corners, and we wondered….
I never saw a ghost at the Claremont, but I heard one—I’m sure of it. Strange sounds late at night. At two-o’clock in the morning, I heard shuffling footsteps crossing the floor. I heard Venetian blinds being raised.
I had a hard time sleeping the rest of the night. I got up several times to check for intruders…even going so far as to take flash photos in the darkness. A number of white orbs appeared on the screen of my digital camera. But nothing else.
I asked Michael about it in the morning.
“Ghosts?” he said. “It wouldn’t surprise me.” He was silent a moment, then added: “Come to think of it, there was something in the room last night that woke me up.”
“Yes. Someone in a pale robe.” He looked somber. “I only got a glimpse of her, but she seemed to have a real nice figure…”
“Oh Michael!” I hit him with a pillow. He was too much! But I knew, then, that he’d forgiven me for my transgressions…for embarrassing him in the elevator.
We loaded up our suitcases after that—leaving the Claremont castle with its gorgeous view, its mysterious ghosts…and high-falutin’ people.
It had been an experience, to be sure. Michael and I had already learned several things as newlyweds. We learned not to take each other for granted, especially in an elevator. And we learned to never take the words of a fortune cookie lightly—especially during a full moon.
And as for the proverbial wisdom of the Ancient Greeks? Well. We decided that the Ancients must have known what they were talking about….
“A full moon means a happy marriage.”
We were quite sure of that.