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  • Writer's pictureLiz Totton

My “Sleepy face”

"What's up, pussycat?"

“What’s new, pussycat?”

The other night was a Tom Jones’ concert here in Abu Dhabi at a venue next door called the Du Forum. We did not go. We did what is swiftly becoming “the usual” Thursday night routine, which is walking next door to Stills—the place that I wrote about last week. Tom Jones filled a 3,000ish capacity venue, so he must have a huge following here. There were few drunken teachers at Stills last night, so I gather these young teachers are Tom Jones’ fans.

My head kind of hurt the next morning. We had fun and stayed there a few hours longer than we knew better to do. After all around 6am every morning, we hear Skye buzzing around the hotel room waiting impatiently for some action. She has not changed in 12 years! She gets up with the sun determined to know the day’s itinerary before any alarm dares to go off. Today was, of course, no exception. The only difference was I barely able to open my eyes, and my head was pounding. I did not have that much to drink, but people smoke there and I did not get enough sleep—it was just recipe to make me feel bleary.

We stalled Skye as long as we could. I asked her go down to the kitchen to fetch me a latte, which she did dutifully as she loves to operate the hotel espresso machine. Eventually, she had to get the heck out of the room. She wanted to go to eat breakfast and see people—like we do every morning in this hotel. I forced myself awake, showered, dressed and made my way down to join the family at the communal dining breakfast buffet. Most mornings I enjoy the coffee chatting, but I was not feeling chatty this morning.

My morning salvation

My morning salvation

The first stop was the espresso station—again! It was an absolute necessity! I cannot tell you how much I love these machines. They make a decent espresso, and you can have one anytime day or night. I need one of these machines desperately. I also cannot tell you how much I love, love, love this hotel! It’s called the Staybridge Suites, and it’s a long-term stay hotel. We have met some families/people who stay here for years at a time. The management of the Staybridge does a fantastic job making it easy to build a longer than usual hotel life here because people stay here so long and because it is so hard to stay in a hotel room for longer than a week or two in a hotel room. They accommodate your every need in making your room more suitable for your stuff; they store things for you, and even facilitate friendships among the residents. Back in the US, I would probably find the latter kind of corny, but it’s really nice when you are not in your home country.

So, there I am making my coffee trying to not engage. Engagement with any hotel resident might, just might, lead to an extended conversation, which you have to honor as a fellow traveler in this sea of transient faces. You must because you have probably caught one of them, here in this cafe area, sometime when they were too tired, hurried, maybe just maybe a little (head hung low) hungover, or just not in the mood, and she* listened to you. I noticed that one of the very nice hotel breakfast staff members cleaning the machine next to me. I am not sure where he’s from. He has limited English, but he is SO nice. He is always smiling. He smiles when my kids drop cereal all over the floor. He smiles at babies. He smiles as he works. He is a happy dude. I have no idea how old he is. He might be 14 or 40—no idea—he looks young to me though. There he was beside me at the coffee machine—smiling of course, at me. I looked over and said “Good morning,” he giggled–a bit too smiley, more than usual. I returned the smile, though it was probably less than a smile and more like a lopsided, upward wrinkle. “Good morning,” I mustered. “You are wearing your ‘sleepy face’ this morning,” he laughed. I said “Ah yes! My ‘sleepy face’–that’s right. Ha! I am very sleepy this morning,” I answered with a small, fake laugh. “You stay out too long at Tom Jones’ concert, I know. All the girls love Tom Jones.” He snickered. “Oh no. No Tom Jones for me. I was just out late,” I replied. He shook his head laughingly and said “I see your ‘Tom Jones’ sleepy face.’ It’s okay–this is why you are tired,” he laughed knowingly. He waved and told me to have a good day as he shuffled away, probably off to taunt another hung over, middle-aged woman with a sleepy face.

My Sleepyface with some touchups. Would not be kind to show you a photo form Friday morning.

My Sleepy face served up with some touch-ups and a smile. Would not be kind to show you a photo from Friday morning.

I probably find the “sleepy face” thing so funny because a friend here told me just the other day that whenever she goes down to breakfast early with no make up on, this same guy comments on her sleepy face. Now I go down there every morning at 6:30 to help the girls get breakfast. I never wear makeup and talk to him everyday, and he has never said this to me before Friday morning. I just don’t know what to make of that. I have never noticed her sleepy face before, and I am sure that “sleepy face” was a polite euphemism for me that day: more like Godzilla face.  Chalk it up to one of those odd cultural things you may never understand.

*I say “she” here because most males learn the polite way [or sometimes impolit-ish way, Rob] to not engage in a long conversation when you are not in the mood. I think that I would like to learn this, but then I remember how many kind people have turned a patient, listening ear to me in a time of need. So long as one person stops and listens to me in a time of need, I will pay it forward forever to others.

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