Our tour guide, Susie, is clearly not of the age of consent.

           She wears suntan hose, navy flats, a corduroy jumper, and the unflappable air of a girl for whom the commerce of kinkiness represents little more than gas money. About 30 of us are taking Susie's tour of romantic fantasy, as offered by Burnsville's Quality Inn & Suites Hotel's. The "FantaSuites" are large, theme-decorated rooms with theme-related whirlpools; a sort of creamy, Disney theme park of latent and blatant sexuality, a postmodern temple of love, or, as the narrator of the "Suite Suite Magic Video Tour" puts it, the suites are "unique, out of the ordinary, novel, and singular works of the imagination."

           Susie describes our first stop, Suite Romance, as "the most like a regular hotel room." This fantasy features an oval coffee table, a four-poster bed, two wing-back arm chairs, and two televisions. "Yeah right," snorts one of three young beauties on the tour. "If I wanted to have sex in my parent's bedroom I would," she says turning heel, and exiting. At The Castle she seems more appreciative. "This is more like it," she says, admiring the long, arched tunnels, stencilled on charcoal gray walls. Peering from the tunnels are a few leering monsters: an erect-nippled, Elvira-like vampire, and a yellow-eyed Frankenstein. The windows are draped with crinkled red velvet, the chairs appear hewn from half barrels with protruding screws, and the bed is medieval-seeming, despite the water mattress. Contemplating the carnal possibilities, the beauty announces, "I could get into this," and peers into the yellow tiled, cement-stalactite bordered whirlpool.

           Down the industrial carpeted hall lies Wild, Wild West, billed as a room for families, since it features two beds, the first of which--a ten-sided waterbed inside a tipi--has a flexible, unbreakable mirror over the waterbed, which gives a fun-house effects due to its flexibility. The other bed is in a covered wagon, and features Nintendo. We ask if a lot of families rented the Wild, Wild West. Susie, narrowing her eyes, snaps "We're not allowed to give out that information." (This, in fact, becomes her standard response to all our queries. She is expert in her denials. In fact, no information in this article is gotten from tour guides. It is simply not possible.)

           Mildly more communicative than Susie is the Suite Suite Magic Video Tour. One "of our most popular suites is Le Cave, or 'The Cave,'" advises the video. "This prehistoric fantasy also features the custom made ten-sided waterbed and many other exclusive amenities found only in a FantaSuite hotel." There is the painted Pterodactyls on the ceiling; giant, yellow leaved plastic plants; and molded cement rocks. (Incidentally, the 10-sided waterbed is now a ten-sided ordinary bed. This was made clear by the many women who walked in and slapped a palm on the bed, like a wily car buyer kicking a tire.)

           Concealed behind another ordinary door lies The Grecian. Fluted columns trail vinyl ivy, plush green carpet tufts from bed to bath, and the overpowering smell of sweat unites it all. In The Grecian our talkative beauty loudly announces "This is the best one. What is that horrible smell?" Whereupon she whispered in her companion's ear and leaves, mysteriously.

           "If your fantasy is a drive-in movie or a secluded lover's leap," advises the video, you had best rent Lover's Leap"--a room with a bed inside a maroon 1973 Oldsmobile Delta '88 Royale convertible. A cement wall rings the room; painted above is a crude cityscape--a vain attempt to create the effect of being at the local hilltop make-out spot. (Asked if Lover's Leap seemed to connote suicide, and wouldn't Lover's Lane be more apt, the tour-guide feigned deafness.) An actual picnic bench with actual carvings of love--"JS & LN 4EVR"--serves as the table, and the entryway boasts photo-print wallpaper of yellow birches, to create the sense of woods. A television lounge is papered in the same print, and offers for viewing comfort, oddly enough, a '70s colonial lounge chair and love seat set on one side, incongruous to all but satyr couch potatoes. A woman with red curly hair and the bluish skin of an office job has been clinically evaluating each love nest. She stands in Lover's Leap, arms akimbo, and says: "This does it for me." Her mustachioed companion nods.

           Exhaustion is already setting in; and the FantaSuites are too copious to see on one tour. Rooms we miss include the Log Cabin, which the brochure says includes a screen-door, Moby Dick which has a "whaling boat queen sized waterbed, TV built into a captain's treasure chest, and tiled whirlpool inside a whale's mouth," Pharaoh's Chambers with a "sarcophagus waterbed," Space Odyssey with "Re-creation [sic] of a Gemini Space Capsule... [and] 'moon crater' whirlpool," and, crowning them all, Cinderella wherein, the Suite Suite Magic Video Tour, assures us "Fairy tales do come true, in a FantaSuite." We finish the tour and leave through the generic, fantasy-free lobby assured of this fact. Fairy tales do come true. It could happen to you... *

--Dara Moskowitz


           When the Great American Novel died, so did the clear path of the Great American Writer: the first novel (a thinly disguised autobiography) written in blood, the second novel scribbled on envelopes during a tour of duty, the third typed in a bowery flop-house--all that is gone. These days, authors are more prone to grant writing than anything else. Once again, we turn to the Minnesota State Arts Board for our examples. The following, word for word, are rejected applications for money to finish what probably won't be the next GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL:

           "During the fellowship period, I plan on completing a novel about man's search for God."

           "In 1984, at age 42, I embarked on a project which has been consuming me ever since: the writing of a bilingual memoir in French and English, chronicling some of the zigs and zags of my jagged itinerary through radically diverse social milieus... So far, this writing project has cost me my marriage and also quite likely my health... Next to go will probably be my sanity, unless I bring this monstrous endeavor to a close, hopefully during summer '95. This double book is my life's work. It has exhausted me. When I am finished, I will take a long, perhaps permanent, break from writing."


           I am a writer.

           And I reflect that my life is a little like Pooh Bear (A.A. Milne) whose foot Christopher Robin clutches at the top of the stairs."

           "Fellowship plans are always very hard to do because six thousand dollars does not go very far these days. I had a big, elaborate idea for this this afternoon, but my kids, who I have to parent all day while my wife works, were screaming and jumping all over me and I realized that I am never going to get this book finished unless they are both in daycare in the afternoons. Some of the money at least will have to go for that. The rest will have to be assigned to loss of income while I take off time to complete this monster of a novel that has been begging to get finished for years. I just want some time to work in peace. Six thousand dollars would help considerably. Thank you."

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