A Letter to the Owners of Our Vacation Rental

Dear Home Owners,

Thank you for letting us stay in your home for only $175 a night for the past two nights. We’re glad we decided to scrimp. My family of six had an enjoyable time in your seashell-themed beach house. The seashell prints on the curtains, the placemats, and the throw pillows, along with the actual seashells displayed in jars around the home, reminded us that we were by the sea, so thanks for that! There were only a few minor incidents I should let you know about.

When we arrived after a long drive, all six of us needed to go to the bathroom, but there was no toilet paper. Dang! We ended up using the kitchen towels (the seashell-patterned ones to the left of the sink). They were the only things we could find besides the sheets in the linen closet. I hope that’s OK.

There was also no soap in any of the bathrooms, but my husband managed to find a small bar at the bottom of his toiletry bag from a hotel he stayed at a long time ago. We all took turns using it when we showered later, and by the time it was my mom’s turn — we made her go last because she has dementia and doesn’t care — the bar of soap was about the size of my fingernail. It was fine, though, because we told her it was bigger and she believed us.

Speaking of showers, you forgot to leave us bath towels. Oops! None of us knew what to do when we got out of the shower dripping wet, so one by one we went to the backyard and dried off in the sun. The cops showed up eventually and we told them the whole story. When they asked for our names, we thought it would be easier to just give them your name and contact info. I don’t think the fine for public nudity is that big. Oh, and my mom got confused about where she was because she was naked and peed on your back steps. The cops saw that and fined us (I mean you) again. Sorry about that.

Later in the evening, my husband and I thought we’d get a little romantic, but I didn’t realize that the many candles you have around your home aren’t meant for lighting. Silly me! I didn’t notice that they were still covered in a thin layer of plastic. We lit one and started a small fire. Boy, those are hard to put out by blowing on them! I singed a nearby curtain and broke the seashell-shaped candleholder, but at least I got out the fire!

Anyway, I wasn’t sure I wanted to get too romantic with my husband this weekend because I hadn’t yet decided if I was going to wash and dry the sheets in the morning like you asked me to. I was torn. Wash the sheets and I may get my deposit back. Not wash the sheets and it would feel more like a vacation. Now that I think of it, I’m wondering if you accidentally confused me with the cleaning lady we paid for as part of the rental agreement when you sent me the email asking me to do laundry, take out all trash, and do the dishes. Maybe that’s what happened!

In the wee morning hours of our second night here, a thunderous banging from a storm woke me. I remembered all the other houses on the street that were up on stilts — all except this one — and wondered if this was a trap.

I tossed and turned for a few hours until the storm stopped, and then I got up and found this pad of paper, which I guess you’ll deduct from my deposit.

I need to wake everyone up now so that I can go get their sheets. I hope I have time to do the two loads it will take to wash them all before your deadline that we “vacate by 11:00 sharp” arrives.

First, I’ll drink a cup of coffee. Sadly, you didn’t leave any sugar in the cupboard, only a big tub of garlic powder, some bay leaves in a jar, and some packets of ketchup from a take-out restaurant. Bummer.

As I’m drinking my bitter coffee at the dining room table with the seashell-themed placemats, I’m noticing a poster you have hanging on the wall. It shows a picture of a house on a tranquil beach and the caption reads, “Life is a journey not a destination.” I have a few more moments before beginning the laundry to contemplate the truth of that. Sometimes our journeys take us to seashell-themed vacation homes with cigarette butts lining the walkway and doorknobs that fall off. But that’s OK, because anyone who knows me well knows my motto in life — that other catchy phrase I’m surprised is not also hanging on your wall: “Life’s a bitch and then you die.”

Sincerely yours,

Beach Bummed