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Hooray, we were on our way to Newport to stay at our favorite condo.

The unit was dog-friendly and as comfortable as a grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of chowder. It was the perfect place to sit, wrapped in a blanket, the fire blazing, sipping a nice merlot and watching the busy marina below. I couldn’t wait to get there. This was going to be the best getaway ever!

When we arrived, the desk clerk informed us that our usual condo was occupied, but they had a bright and airy unit for us on the first floor.

“Sounds great,” we said.

We opened the door to the unit and I gasped. What I saw was a long hallway painted a stark white enamel. I felt like I was walking toward a sterile operating room or through a high-security prison cellblock.

The long white hall ended in the living room-dining room-kitchen area. The walls, carpet and furniture were a non-color that can only be described as tepid taupe. There was even a tepid taupe recliner, that certainly didn’t meet the lofty standards set by my beloved Barcalounger.

There were a couple pieces of really bad art: an anemic rose on a tepid taupe background; a geometric tile, looking vaguely Aztec-y. A kind person might say it was an interesting pairing. I would not have said that.

And then there were the mirrors. Eighteen, to be exact. Many of them were framed with faux gold plaster-of-Paris. Very 1980s. I hated them then. Still hate them. Every time I turned and found myself in a mirror, I let out a scream. It was creepy. Gary and the Gabby, the diva chihuahua, didn’t know what to do with me. By the way, I’m not making it up about the mirrors. There really were 18.

To avoid looking at myself, I turned on the television, but nothing came on. After pushing every button on both remotes, I called the front desk clerk and told her about the non-functioning TV. She came immediately. The first thing she said was, “Please tell me you didn’t push any buttons.”

“Of course I pushed buttons. How else would I know the TV wasn’t working?” I said.

She picked up both the remotes and hit buttons. “You’ve deleted the TV’s programming,” she accused. She hit more buttons and eventually got a picture and sound. She proclaimed it fixed. As she was leaving, she whispered the instructions for operating the TV into my ear. I’d share these with you, but I think they’re top secret. When I turned around, I spied myself in another mirror. Naturally I screamed. I was beginning to feel a little dizzy, a little nauseous.

“You don’t have to scream every time you see yourself in the mirror,” Gary said.

“I can’t help it. Those mirrors are evil. They’re probably filming us and recording our conversations.”

“We’re not that interesting,” Gary said. “Your imagination is working at hyper-speed again.”

The next morning, squeezing my eyes shut, I felt my way along the wall to the kitchen. I made coffee and set the mugs out. I looked up and there I was again. I screamed. Gary and the diva dog came running in to comfort me. Or maybe to shut me up. Then I noticed there were four mirrors in the kitchen. Who has four mirrors in a kitchen? I retrieved four towels from the bathroom and covered the kitchen mirrors.

The diva dog indicated it was way past her feeding time. As I poured the kibble into her dish, the bottom of the bag broke open and kibble flew everywhere. I grabbed the wastebasket from under the sink and put it on the bar where Gary and I could toss the spilled kibble from either the kitchen or the living room.

After we tidied up that mess, Gary suggested we get out of this house of mirrors. Maybe do some tide-pooling and have a proper lunch.

When we returned, we found a note from the housekeeper. It said that we had left a wastebasket on the bar! It did not belong there! She emptied the wastebasket and returned it to under the sink, where it belonged! She washed, wiped and put away our cups! She removed the towels covering four mirrors and returned them to their proper place in the bathroom! She hoped we were having a pleasant stay. Although she included a happy face, it was obvious she was not impressed with our housekeeping skills.

On the way home on our final day, I looked up “fear of mirrors” on my smarty pants phone. Turns out it is a real thing. It simply means a fear of mirrors. Its medical names include Spectrophobia and Catophobia.

So, I left with not only memories but a bona fide mental disorder. I’ll email the condo managers and warn them not to rent out that unit to anyone suffering Spectrophobia. I’ll also mention some of our issues. Or maybe I’ll just send them this column.

Linda Hamner is a published author and former soap opera writer who won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1991 as part of the "Santa Barbara" writing team. She has lived in Philomath since 2006.


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