Katia Hotel Incident
years ago, I travelled to Italy to re-trace my path taken during
WWII. One of our rest spots for the night was the Katia Hotel
located right down on the beach two or three miles north of
Ortona. The others in our party most likely had no special reason
for remembering the Katia. But I did.
unnerving incident happened to me at the Katia that even now, whenever
I think of it, I break out into a nervous rash. It concerns a misadventure
in which I came into confrontation with the erratic behaviour of
the infamous Italian plumbing; in this case, the toilet. I think
everyone on the pilgrimage had our doubts about the design and reliability
of Italian plumbing after our first visit to one. And in subsequent
visits to the john, confidence in their performance sank even lower.
I also went with some considerable trepidation, afraid that a horrible
and embarrassing malfunction would occur. And at the Katia Hotel
that malfunction did occur.
happened something like this: Four days had passed since we arrived
in the country and in that time I hadnt been able to take
a bath or a shower for the simple reason that I cant stand
cold water. For those four days I had suffered through the inconvenience
of washcloth bathing, which everyone will agree is not exactly the
ideal way to take a bath. Oh, what I wouldnt have done for
a nice, deep, warm bath! But, not in a single hotel was I lucky
enough to draw hot water. Either it had been all used up by the
time I got around to preparing for one, or else the proprietor was
intent on saving money on his heating bills. When we checked into
the Katia I happened to be one of the first dozen to get my room
key, and as soon it was dropped into my eager palm I went up the
stairs two steps at a time, bags and all. I was damn certain that
if there was any hot water on tap that Id get my fair share.
As soon as I hit the room, my clothes fairly flew off. With great
anticipation I stepped into the shower. The spray pattern was just
right, but the water wasnt. To my dismay, it was ice-cold!
Even turning the knob all the way to the farthest notch of the hot
produced no results. I waited with my hand out, testing and I waited
and waited and waited until I finally gave up. Damn it all!
I muttered to myself, the damned thing cant be hooked
up to the hot water system yet!
And with that I decided I might as well have a shave. Be damned
again! No hot water in the basin either. Besides feeling more
than a little frustrated and perturbed I also felt disturbing pangs
which I could no longer ignore.
therefore decided to spend a few minutes of blissful time on the
throne instead. For some god awful reason Italian plumbing designers
locate the flush button in a shoulder paralyzing spot smack dab
center on the wall behind.
painfully reaching around to press it, I was rewarded by being catapulted
halfway to the shower under the impetus of the hottest damn water
this side of Dantes inferno. The water surged and hissed with
the power of Niagara Falls, great clouds of steam issuing from the
white porcelain bowl like it was Yellowstones famous geyser.
I think of how close I came to suffering one of the most agonizing
burns in the most embarrassing of places on the anatomy, it damn
near brings tears to my eyes even so long removed from the
incident. The confounded plumbers, for some inexplicable reason,
had gotten their pipes crossed. Their mistake, and it had to be
in my room.
dear wife Joyce always said, If theres any bizarre situation
thats going to happen Ill most likely be involved in
it. I was beginning to believe her!
Put a stack of bibles in front of me and Ill swear to it that
this incident I described isnt something I made up or exaggerated
in hopes it might elicit a laugh or two. It actually did happen.
good friend and roommate Cam Burrows will stand by my claim, even
though he didnt witness the near disaster. He simply tested
the faulty contrivance and it repeated its outrageous performance.
was good enough evidence for Cam to conclude that I hadnt
gone entirely round the bend.