I'VE DISLIKED staying in bed and breakfast inns ever since they were imported from England in the late 1960s. In England they're fine, because it's a foreign country and weird, uncomfortable things are expected. But in America, they combine the lonely feeling of a hotel with the walking-on-eggs of being in a private home. Worst of both worlds. Nothing is where it belongs, and nothing belongs to you, but you also don't feel like you can stumble in drunk at three in the morning with a hooker on your arm, because your mother's waiting up. Plus you don't get your own bathroom usually. As far as I can tell the only reason people open a bed and breakfast is because they have an overflow of low-quality antiques and somebody once told them that they could cook.

Of course, people always put you up in them because they think it's where you want to be. They're trying to be hospitable, so you dast not complain. There was this new bed and breakfast opened in Sacramento by two willowy young men who had spent too many hours poring over Gourmet and Architectural Digest. They knew the words but not the music. For breakfast they served refrigerator-cold slices of Oscar Meyer bologna draped over wedges of under-ripe honeydew melon. I suppose they'd gotten the idea from a photograph in a magazine, but hadn't read the article on how it was supposed to be paper-thin prosciutto, not flattened out hot-dogs. The other diners thought it was delicious. I felt like an alien from another planet.

May 8, 1994