Exhbit A: I don't like to make a fuss. Exhibity B: I am a Midwesterner who believes that you have to make the most of bad situations.
Exhibit C: I am my mother's daughter and my mother's favorite phrase when we faced something unpleasant was, "Suck it up."
Exhibit D: As a writer, my consolation in less than desirable situations is that I will at least come out of them with a story.
And the defense rests.
On Sunday, I went to Milwaukee with my friend Galit to see the Listen To Your Mother show. Luisa booked us a hotel the night before and we got up before the sun and drove without stopping so we'd have time to relax before the afternoon show.
When we arrived at the hotel, the first thing I noticed was the hotel restaurant's sign advertising "Fri cey perch." Then, I saw that the blue paint was peeling from the roof, exposing orange paint beneath--our hotel was molting. It looked nothing like the picture on the website but I squared my shoulders, tilted my chin to the sky and said, "I'm sure it's going to be fine!" (See Exhibit B)
We parked and went inside to check in and there was a smell that I knew well from my days as a social worker--cigarette smoke and Febreeze. The woman behind the counter was very friendly and chatted with us about her favorite reality shows while processing my credit card. She then handed us our keys. You know how hotels put keys in those cute little branded sleeves? Well, these were placed in the end of a business envelope that had been cut to size and taped. She gave us directions to our room, "Take two rights and then a left and go through a portal to an alternate dimension in which it is not becoming clear to you that you are staying in a hotel that usually charges by the hour."
On the way to our room, we encountered many other patrons of the hotel, a surprising number of which were only half-clothed and wrapped in animal print blankets. They looked like extras from the Walking Dead. I could sense that Galit was becoming uneasy so I began to overcompensate primarily through the use of Exhibits B and D. We finally found our room and quickly ducked inside. It was quiet and did not smell so I figured things were looking up. I placed my suitcase on a hard surface and told Galit to do the same and said, "Now, I'm going to check for bedbugs."
I stripped the corners of both beds looking for the signs and found none. This was good! Galit noticed some non-bedbug things on the mattresses like grape juice and dirt and some unidentifiable substances but that's why there are sheets! To cover the mattresses! I did wish the box springs had been covered because I couldn't help wondering if that one stain across the side was blood spatter.
The sheets appeared to be clean...because we didn't actually look at them. To raise our spirits, I went to the window and said, "Let's check out the view!" I whipped the curtains to the side and found this:
I burst out laughing, "This is like a scene from a road trip comedy!" I turned to find Galit pondering the wallpaper peeling from the wall. On the upside, some of it had been stapled back to the wall in an uneven seam.
I quickly shut the curtains and we decided to grab lunch. We exited through the unlocked side door right into the parking lot but there was no reason to worry about that because there was a sign on the door that said no one could bring weapons into the hotel. We sat in the car looking for restaurants when a lovely woman without teeth passed by and hocked a big loogie into the bushes. Things started to feel a little bleak but I hoped lunch would cure that.
And lunch did make us feel better. We went to a nice little Mexican place and everyone there was wearing clothes and no one appeared to be part of a prostitution ring. As we drove back, however, Galit started to build a case for switching hotels while I remained resistant (See Exhibits B, C and D). "We only need a bed. A place to sleep."
We got back and went to our room so that we could rest and change for the show only to find that our keys no longer worked. We marched back to the front desk and no one was there. Great chicken tinga and fresh salsa will only carry you so far and my patience evaporated on the spot. I turned to Galit, "If we drove all this way and miss the show because of this stupid* hotel, I will be so mad!" Fortunately for all involved, the front desk person came back and I explained that our keys didn't work. She said, "Oh my! You've only been here an hour!" All I could think was, "Has it only been an hour?" It was becoming clear we were living dog years.
We got back to the room and pulled back the bedspreads and they were stained. We pulled the bedspreads off and shoved them in a corner. Galit turned down her bed and then lay perfectly still...like she was in a coffin. I wanted to switch hotels but I was afraid to tell the woman at the front desk (See Exhibit A) so I flipped my pillow to fluff it and there was some black stuff on it. I quickly flipped it back over and was like, "That's it! We're leaving!" I called the hotel we'd passed, made a reservation and then changed my clothes We had 45 minutes to check out of the Hotel of Horror, check into the new hotel and get to the venue. We returned to the front desk with all our stuff and the woman said, "What can I do for you ladies now?" I was so nervous and stressed that I was shaking. I leaned against the counter, slid the keys to her and said, "We can't stay here...because the beds are filthy." This news did not seem to surprise or offend her. She nodded, "Ok."
We did manage to check into the new hotel and make it to the show on time and when it was over, we returned to this:
Though I was sad that I did not have the opportunity to try heroin and have some Fri cey perch with my friends at the first hotel, I was thrilled that there was no black stuff on my pillow. I said to Galit, "Maybe we wouldn't appreciate this hotel as much if we hadn't had the experience at the first hotel." She said, "I don't need that to appreciate cleanliness and comfort."
We slept in comfortable, clean beds and enjoyed the complimentary breakfast bar the next morning and we got a story after all. (See Exhibit D)
*I may have said "fucking." The rage has made my memory fuzzy.