A Night in the Museum




We’ve all had bad vacations. We’ve experienced bad hotels, bad food, and bad weather. Growing up I was lucky because every vacation was golden. We would stay at the Redefer Court Cottages at Dewey Beach, Delaware and live like kings. Listening to the surf every night was pure magic. The cottages did not have television, internet, or air conditioning and we loved it. Everyday we’d go to the beach and enjoy the Beach Boys’ warmth of the sun.

We experienced  none of that on my recent trip to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. My friend offered the free use of her Mom’s condo. If it seems too good to be true, it is. There is no such thing as free. Everything in life comes with strings. Strings can be emotional, financial, or metaphysical. My friend Thomas, my son, and I met my friend’s Mother, Beverly at the Crazy Crab. Crazy Crab was an omen of things to come like seeing a white owl. Beverly gave us a tour of the condominium. It was a crowded one bedroom condo decorated in a plethora of Easter figurines, pianos, and narcissism. Beverly was a former famous musician who never got over being famous. Beverly was married to husband number five living in Bluffton, but she said she kept the condo for the memories. I did not think at the time that she literally meant the condo was her time capsule of her stuff.

Every wall in the place was covered in photos of the musician shaking hands with famous people, framed copies of records, and memorabilia of every kind. The entire place felt like a museum for a former star nobody heard of. I kept looking for a guide, a brochure, or velvet ropes. There was a full sized white baby grand piano, a full size second piano, and three smaller pianos. The entire place felt like a collection gone out of control with the eclectic mix of figurines, musical instruments, and mixed décor. The décor was a disconcerting blend of bright beach colors, musical instruments, non-Christian Easter symbols and wild animals. Non-Christian meaning lots of rabbits sculptures and glass eggs. I was scared to death my son or I would knock over one of the many figurines. The figurines were so numerous it was like being on the Wizard of Oz with thousands of stuffed munchkins watching your every move.

There was wild animal prints and figurines of zebra, giraffe, and tigers. The wild animal figures ranged in size from miniature to life size. There were little Easter rabbits in every room including the pink and purple bathrooms. There were instruments on the floors, the walls, and some were made into lamps. The lamps were made out of brass instruments. The sheer crowded nature of the place made me made me fear the walls were going to fall down and crush us to death in our sleep. I suddenly remembered the movie, “Night in the Museum.” There was no night in the museum for us. You could barely move in the small dwelling without bumping into one of the pianos, photographs, or statues. I kept thinking of episodes of hoarders as I tried to get comfortable among the trappings of a lifetime of musical performances.   

Neither my son nor I could use the purple bathroom on the second floor. The pink bathroom was serviceable, but the purple bathroom was so bright it hurt my aesthetic value. My son said the purple bathroom made him never want to complain about utilitarian public bathrooms again. The blend of purple, mauve, and lavender colors were like a Doctor Seuss cartoon or a Peter Max painting gone out of control. The colors assaulted my eyes and central nervous system like watching a Japanese anime that made you go into convulsions. My son and I kept laughing every time we would look at each other the way people do when in an uncomfortable situation. We were in a tight setting surrounded by enough clutter to fill three museums, not decorate a one bedroom condominium. We did not stay at the museum, but chose to return home to our safe environment of clear walkways, uncluttered walls, and open space. It’s like Quint said in Jaws, “I’ll never go back in the water again.” My mantra is I’ll never accept a free condo again. The trip did influence me in a positive way. We’ll be cleaning out our garage this weekend looking to eliminate some of our excess clutter.