Shelly Douglas
My co-writer, Doug, and his wife, Joanne, agreed to spend a summer birthday weekend with me and my husband, Mike, at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort in Bedford, Pennsylvania. None of us stayed there before, but the reports were glowing from our friends that did. The only advice we received was to reserve rooms next to each other that would enable us to share an old-fashioned porch with rocking chairs. Honestly, my parents turned their nose up at our vacation choice, suggesting that only ‘old’ people would want to stay there. But we were excited to go … the guys immediately signed up to play golf and Joanne and I reserved a private guided tour for a hike around the historical grounds to learn about their famous ‘mineral springs’. We also planned on bringing enough vodka and wine to last for a week!

Both days were perfect in almost every way. The food was spectacular in all three restaurants we dined in, our golfers were happy with the challenging course, the grounds were a tad adventurous for someone who had never gone hiking (yes, you can stop laughing now, I did hike for three hours and took a spill at the end requiring me to sign a release that I wouldn’t sue the resort), and the hours of lazy porch time we spent relaxing on the rocking chairs was priceless. Did I say almost perfect? Stay with me …

If you’ve never heard of the Bedford Springs Resort, I’ll briefly try to sum up the atmosphere. The hotel, which started with buildings in the early 1800’s was remodeled in the 1950’s, closed in the 1980’s due to a flash flood, was restored in 1998 and then it was finally purchased by the Omni Hotels to be totally renovated in 2009. Although the upscale renovations continue, and the accommodations are beautiful, they still try to keep the ‘old-time charm’ alive. From everything I’d heard, it sounded like such a rustic and quaint setting, and I couldn’t wait to have a cocktail on our ‘shared porch’ relaxing with my husband and good friends … or so I thought. Hence the title of this story, as I submit the following recipe for disaster:

Start with the personality of my friend, Doug, who loves to cause trouble
Slowly mix in his wife, Joanne, ‘a classic pot-stirrer’
Carefully add my husband, Mike, who pours a strong drink
Steep on a porch during a warm summer night for about fifteen minutes
Garnish with my big mouth that never seems to close

It was late in the afternoon on Saturday. We all showered after coming back from the pool and decided to meet on the porch in our robes for cocktails. My first mistake was asking Mike to pour me a glass of Ketel One with the juice of a small cranberry. 

Doug and I were the first ones outside and started gabbing about different characters we’d cooked up and possible future book ideas. We generally try to meet once a month at Panera, but this seemed like a good opportunity for us to chat. So, there we were in our robes, rocking on the porch casually exchanging ideas with a drink in our hands, when the subject of sleeping came up… or lack of sleep. Doug has insomnia and was trying to wean himself off of the sleep-aid he was taking. I feel bad for people who can’t sleep (I don’t always sleep like a rock) and decided to make a suggestion. For those of you keeping track, my second mistake is on its way...  

The heroine in our book, “The Author”, had a remedy for putting herself to sleep and I suggested that Doug do the same. Naturally, that was when he baited me and asked if I was personally familiar with her particular ‘type of remedy’. Draining the remainder of what was a triple shot of vodka in the glass, I made my third and final mistake … I admitted to the act of ‘self-pleasuring’ in the middle of the night once in a while to put myself back to sleep.


In seconds, Joanne stepped out onto the porch gasping noisily and with such ‘tongue-clucking animation’ that Mike came running out of our room to see what all the commotion was about. With a sparkle in his eye and enough drama to win him an Oscar, our good friend Doug retold the entire story,  carefully enunciating every word …

“She does what?” Mike’s jaw unhinged as his face contorted with horror.

I saw no reason to look anyone in the eye.

“Her fingers are doing some walking when she can’t sleep,” Doug answered proudly as though he had just extracted information from an international spy.

“Jesus. We sleep in the same bed. When is this going on, Shell?” Dark blue eyes stared at me in disbelief, and I knew a clenched jaw was not far behind.

“Obviously, this party is in full-swing while you’re sleeping. It would never happen in my house,” Doug responded as he crossed his arms to mirror Joanne’s. The two of them looked happier than a tornado in a trailer park.

“That’s because you don’t sleep,” I retorted while flipping him the bird.

“This would not be a good time for an attitude, Shell.” Mike closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. A storm was definitely brewing and it suddenly occurred to me that there was no cellar to hide in. We were on a second floor balcony in Bedford, PA.

“Oh my God, I fell on the trails today, doesn’t anyone care?”

“She slipped on gravel coming into the parking lot. I’m sure the staff has been laughing about it all day,” Joanne advised Mike with a major eye-roll.

“Were you injured?” Mike asked softly as he tilted his head.

“Not really,” I said, narrowing my eyes at Judas and his wife.

“That’s the best news I’ve heard all day … please excuse us.” Mike politely held up one hand as he gently led me into our room with his other.

“You’re going to spank me now? ARE YOU INSANE?”  My hands were placed on my hips as I stood in front of the large four poster king-size bed.

“This is a one hundred and twenty million dollar renovation with paper-thin walls,” Doug reminded Mike from the porch.

“I’m sure Shelly will be paying much more attention to structure details the next time we travel together.” Mike shook his head slowly as he closed both the screen and outside door to our room.