As a kid, we used to take 1 family vacation a year. We always stayed at some motel, often stopping late at night so my Dad could try to talk the night clerk into a discounted price. (Talk about a dude that should have invented Priceline.com) Notice that I said MOTEL, not hotel. My father was a major cheap-ass. I’m surprised that he didn’t raise us in the Christian Science church, just so he wouldn’t have to pay for our health insurance.
As strange as this might sound, the motel we stayed at was probably the highlight for me of the trip. This was as long as it had a pool. Growing up in Iowa, a place where a jacuzzi can be classified as a major body of water, any place with a swimming pool seemed exotic. We could be in Green Bay in December and if the motel sign said outdoor pool it sounded enchanting to my tastes.
The best part of motel swimming pools in the 70’s was that they always had diving boards. During these glory days, you bounce 20 feet in the air and land headfirst into a 5 foot deep pool. Despite living the rest of your life in a neckbrace, you would never sue the motel over this incident because that was just the breaks. Such was life in the Midwest during the 70’s. Lawyers’ main job then were to draw up wills and be the local president of the Rotary Club. Today in the litigious society we occupy you have a better chance of seeing a Chevy Beretta with its original paint job than you do finding a diving board at your favorite lodging destination.
NOTE: The Motel Whores are coming soon.
When I started traveling the country trying to both amuse and agitate the masses, I still had an idealized notion of modern lodging. One of the questions I get most from people who know I’m a comedian is do you pay for your own room? Almost always the lodging is provided by the client. And let me offer that this lodging has run the gamut from 4-star hotels to rooms someone living under a highway overpass would think twice about taking. When I started I was happy with just getting the gig, but now I am more particular. I don’t expect the Four Seasons, but I don’t want to be in such a flea-bag dump that I wake up with so bedbug bites it looked like I should be quarantined in a leper colony. (Bedbug incident happened in Central Illinois.)
I fortunately am not a germaphobe, so besides doing the 2 finger grip and slip of the comforter off my bed, I’m pretty cool. What happened in Columbia, Missouri circa 2000 has caused me some to be a little more freaked by my home away from home. I was doing a week at the Deja Vu comedy club in this great college town and I have nothing but positive feelings about the club itself. Before I go any farther let me also offer up that the Deja Vu comedy club is on the second floor, as they have a night club on the first floor and it is filled with the hottest college girls I have ever seen in my travels. Fortunately college girls gone wild do nothing for me, but I’m sure other comics have enjoyed the scenery.
Now, the place they put me up at was not quite as high of quality as the club. I have discovered in my travels that no Hotel chain has a bigger variance in quality than the Days Inn. The 2000 Columbia, Missouri Days Inn was one of the worst, as the wallpaper was more dated than an episode of Miami Vice and it had a mixture of smells somewhere between Lysol and bongwater. Now is when the fun really gets started. Yes, MOTEL WHORES.
Since it was a nice day and I figured a little ventilation couldn’t hurt, I propped the door open and sat by the window reading a book. Soon after, I heard the motel room door next to me shut and a guy leave. 10 minutes later, I saw another dude walk by and knock on the same door. 30 minutes went by and I saw him leave and by the top of the hour, some old man dressed in overalls and a John Deere cap was there to replace him.
At this point I had my suspicions, so I stuck my ear up against the adjoining door and despite the sound of rap music in the background, I could hear a woman talking to Farmer Beige. Unfortunately it wasn’t exactly Henry Miller-like dialogue, but within 5 minutes, I could hear bodies slappin’ and the old man saying something to the effect that Big Daddy was bringing it on home. During the post-coitus pillow talk, Grandpa Perv seemed to be in love with his vending machine-like girlfriend. At that point I didn’t know which was sadder; the old man’s delusional emotions or a me sitting with his ear up against the door listening in.
Well, I took a break and went to grab an early dinner. When I was pulling my car back to my parking space after eating, I saw the woman leave her room. She was what I call a 20-footer. Good to look at from a distance. As I saw her more close-up, I noticed she had hair that must have come from a peroxide bottle endorsed by Rik Flair. As I got out of my car, she asked me if the music she was playing was too loud? I told her no, it was fine, and definitely preferable to listening to a senior citizen mooing like the barndoor of a Playskool barn.
For the weekend I pretty much ignored the sexual assembly line next door, but I did listen in enough to learn that the woman had set up a classified ad in the paper (oh, the more innocent times before Craigslist) and she made $120 dollars per session. I figured that just counting the 18 guys I had heard go in and out through her red-light district had made her enough to afford her the kind of high-quality self-medication needed to forget her 3 days of debauchery. (When I think about it, I would have done a lot better during SAT’s if the math questions would have been more like how much would a hooker make if she turned 18 tricks and was paid $120 dollars per trick?)
This story originally appeared in my book Dysfunctional Thoughts of a 21st Century Man. I thought it would be a good starter piece for this blog. I doubt many of my future posts will be as long, but I hope it reflects the tone I’m looking to offer up. Let me finish by mentioning that I have not had an incident where I heard a hooker in the next room in the decade since I wrote this. I promise to share it here, though, if it does happen again.