If you happen to be a guest at an actual castle in a small town outside Verona, and the check-out time is noon, and it happens to be New Year’s Day when you are leaving, and you have perhaps engaged in revelry the night before, no one will be so crass as to knock on your door at five minutes after noon to inquire as when you might be expected to vacate the premises.
No, what will happen is that at two p.m. you will get a gentle phone call from the front desk asking if perhaps you would like the chef to prepare an omelet for your breakfast and perhaps some coffee as well, and the question will so alarm you that you will croak, “What time is it?” and the desk clerk will tell you, and you will shriek, “Oh my god! We will be right down,” and she will say, “Ah, madam, it is no problem at all” and she will sound a little distressed that you could think they would be so boorish as to imply that you are inconveniencing them.
So you will scurry around the room packing while Jessica demands to know how you could have slept so late, leaving out her own culpability insofar as she’s never slept past nine a.m. in her life, and why would she pick today of all days to act like a teenager?
Then when you go to reception to settle the bill, you will say, “I am so sorry! That jet lag!” and the clerk will say, “Really, it is no problem” and kindly will not point out that the jet landed four days ago, so apparently you have delayed-onset jet lag. And you really want to tell her you only had two glasses of wine and a sip of champagne, but you decide to just rest your case.
She will say, “If you go to the bar, my colleague can make some coffee for you,” and you do and he does and also provides orange juice for Jessica, who is trailing behind you saying, “I cannot believe you slept so late,” like an external conscience, and when you go to pay the tab the colleague will look on you with pity and say, “Breakfast is included,” with only the barest glance at the clock, now reading three-thirty or, actually, and somehow more awful: 15:30.
Then as you make your way to the lobby to meet the driver, the clerk will hurry after you and hand you a small package wrapped in plastic, and she will say, “Madam left this behind,” and you really really hope it’s the Murano glass necklace from Venice but no, it is your underwear because your mortification would not be complete without that, and you say “Grazie,” even though you really wish the maid would just have discreetly thrown your undies away.
Since your luggage is already packed, you stuff the underwear in your coat pocket, which action you will promptly forget until you pull out your gloves on a packed train platform on the way to Rome and you will try desperately not to notice that you have dropped your underwear but this is not possible because you have your oh-so-helpful daughter along and she will point out the offending package by your feet and announce, “You have forgotten your underwear again!” and while you hope that no one on this platform speaks English, everyone turns to stare at you, and you gracefully pick up your underwear.
This time having learned your lesson, you put it in your shoulder bag, where it will, of course, how could it not, fall out onto the reception desk of your hotel in Rome as you pull out your wallet, and an extremely distinguished and now appalled Roman gentleman will look at it with mingled revulsion and curiosity, and you will say the only thing there is to say under the circumstances, and that is, “Oh, good lord. I forgot my underwear again.”