August 26, 2009

the ongoing adventures of Nub the hedgehog

where to start?

three weeks ago a group of us went out to Departure, a restaurant on top of The Nines Hotel in downtown Portland. Departure has two decks that overlook the city, and because it's known as one of the swankier places in town, we had planned on a fancy ladies' cocktail hour and dressed accordingly.

Of course, I brought Nub.


Three of us got there right as happy hour started, and ordered a bottle of prosecco, which was their happy hour bubbly special. By 5 PM another friend had joined us and we had ordered two more bottles. Then the whole group arrived, and -- well, it was downhill from there.

our first mistake

Our numbers swelled. More prosecco arrived. We ordered food in great quantities. It was a great time. Nub got to visit with everybody.

a serious discussion

Nub's group photo

It got dark, and grew chilly. It was already an overcast day, and not terribly warm. The waiter generously brought out blankets for us to cozy into. Glasses were continuously refilled. We drunkenly called a colleague and talked him into joining us. Kids, this is how accidents happen.

Somewhere in those blankets, Nub got lost.

It was a long night. I won't get into the details. The weekend that followed was rough. When I awoke the next day, my clothes from the previous night were either missing or soaked, someone else's dress was on my floor, and I had mysterious bruises. And Nub was missing.

I figured right away that either he had been forgotten at the bar, or someone else had taken him home. Neither Cristina nor I had our cars at the apartment -- we had both gotten a ride home. So we walked to pick up our cars, and then we went back to Departure for a rescue mission.

Let me tell you: there's nothing like saying, "I was here for happy hour last night, and I think I may have left my hedgehog."

After having to repeat "plush hedgehog" several times, they went on a search. Cristina and I stood at the desk for several minutes, and the hostess told us how she had a friend who liked to walk around with an actual human skeleton named Mr. D. Bones. After that, I didn't feel so strange. A lot of staff came and went, but no talk of the hedgehog. Finally, a guy came out and strolled over.

"Are you girls here for the hedgehog?" he asked. We nodded. "Well, we found him last night, but we didn't know what to do with him, so we gave him to security and he's locked up downstairs. We don't have a key and nobody will be in to open it until Monday. Can we mail him to you?"

I was so relieved that he'd been found -- and so amused by the idea that Nub was in lockdown -- that I didn't volunteer to come pick him up. I wrote down the opera's address, my cell phone number, and then scribbled "Nub the Hedgehog" on top.

"Do you take him places, like a traveling gnome?" the guy asked.
"Yup," I replied. "He even has his own Facebook page. And Twitter account."
"No kidding!" He scribbled something on the paper. "That's hilarious! OK -- we'll send him out on Monday."

We left and I was incredibly relieved. I was afraid I was in very real danger of bursting into tears if he hadn't been found. We went home and I looked forward to Tuesday or Wednesday, when he'd arrive at the opera.

Then, a week passed. No Nub.

The following Monday I drove back to the bar, figuring that he'd just been forgotten in the daily hubbub of running a restaurant. I was dismayed to discover that Departure is not open on Mondays, but the guys working the front desk of The Nines told me that since security was actually on the 8th floor, I could go talk to them. I made my way upstairs and once again had to explain that yes, I'd left a toy hedgehog at the bar a week ago. They phoned security but got no response. Will you be here for awhile? the girl asked. I said no, but left my name and phone number, and the word "hedgehog" at the top of the note. I went home and kept my phone on me all night. No word.

A few days later, I called The Nines. It was mid-day, and Departure hadn't opened yet. The girl at the desk didn't know anything about a hedgehog, but did let me know that actually, the bar had its own lost and found, so the hedgehog wouldn't be in security anyway. Then she suggested I leave a message at the restaurant, but I didn't, since they hadn't called me back before anyway.

Then, last Friday, unbeknownst to me, our friend Bob made an attempt at hostage retrieval. He showed up at Departure and demanded the return of the hedgehog. He was mailed yesterday, they told him, and he reported that he had reason to believe there may be photos included in his return box. I was bolstered. He was really on his way home! And the hotel staff had played along!

Monday morning I anxiously awaited the mail. I mean, it was really like a kid on Christmas. But no Nub. The same on Tuesday. And yesterday. When I left work yesterday afternoon, I went back to Departure. I arrived to discover that there was a private party being hosted in the restaurant, and it was closed to the public for the entire night. When I told the girl working the elevator that actually, I just needed to retrieve a lost hedgehog, she didn't bat an eye. "Oh!" she said. "I thought we mailed him!"
"It's been a week," I said, "and I'm a half-mile from here, and I haven't gotten him yet."
She frowned, and suggested I ask the guys at the front desk to call up and let me speak to the staff in the bar. It took several minutes of wrangling them -- well, you can't go up there, there's a private party .... well, security's on the eighth floor ... well ma'am, I don't know of any lost and found in Departure ... we only work down here, we don't know what goes on up there -- before I got someone on the phone.

Then the guy on the phone was a royal bitch. I explained that, though it was starting to feel like a joke line, I was calling about my lost hedgehog. He immediately put me on hold, and when he returned a minute or so later, he said he couldn't find the hedgehog, and he believed it had been mailed.
I was losing my cool. "Okay, see, here's the thing. I either want to speak to the person who put the hedgehog in the box, or I want to walk out of here with the hedgehog in my hand."
"Well, the person who mailed him isn't here, and I don't know where the hedgehog is." Long pause. "You can leave a message."
"See, here's the thing," I said. "I've left my phone number like four times, and nobody ever calls me. So no thanks."

And that was how I had to leave it. I wanted to be able to stand at the desk until somebody gave me a direct answer. A direct answer like HE WAS MAILED ON THURSDAY, or WE ARE VERY SORRY WE'VE BRUSHED YOU OFF FOR THREE WEEKS or best of all, WHOOPS, HERE'S YOUR HEDGEHOG. Instead I had to turn around and storm back to my car, angry that because my lost item was a stuffed hedgehog rather than a purse, nobody cares to give me a straight answer. Angry enough that when some passing panhandler asked me for money, I replied NO SORRY like a fire-breathing dragon, and when the stupid clipboard nazis on the street corner accosted me I yelled I AM NOT INTERESTED! Because that's about as rude as I can get.

Today I had to tell my sister that actually, I would not be bringing Nub to my cousin's wedding this weekend, despite the fact that I have been threatening for weeks to find some way to stash him on the altar. She was audibly disappointed -- after all, she gave him to me. But I can't lie to her, and I'm not sure what else to do.

we miss you, buddy.

Nub's happy hour

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