From a prior entry promising pornography, be prepared for disappointment. There are no gentleman clubs in western Kansas, not that I was looking. We’d be more likely to catch a glimpse of Judy Garland, Toto, or Elvis. What we did not find, as the compass honed in on Liberal, KS, was a single motel with a ‘pet-friendly’ policy. After several rebuffs, (even though Jack is a service dog) we were directed to
The Kansan, a cheap, dilapidated motel that was first class in 1957 when it offered “air conditioning”, TV in every room, and a swimming pool the size of a pregnant thimble.
Alas, after five decades, the pool is filled with concrete, the clientele is construction workers on per diem driving utility trucks, locals on a two hour romantic tryst, and one idiot with his twenty pound dog.
Entering the office I am overwhelmed by the pungent aroma of curry, I ring the counter bell, and the maharajah appears. “Eeese your dog housebroken ?” Desperate to find a room, the hour is late, I answer like Dr Seuss,
“he does not bark, he does not bite,
no need for a scoop, he will not poop,
he is not armed, he does not shed,
he does not smoke in bed”.
I request a non-smoking room, which, as my friend Rich observed, only means the room will not be on fire when you arrive. Sri ‘no problem’ Patel assigns us room 14 (between 12 and 15, as there is no room 13 to avoid angst among the superstitious). “Paying in cash ?”, he smiles broadly, “forty dollahs puleeze”.
As many as 60% of mid-sized motels and hotel properties, all over the US, are owned by the people of Indian origin. Of this nearly one-third have the surname Patel – a popular one among Indian Guajaratis. To sidestep suspicion or racial bias, many adopt names like “America’s Best Value Inn”, or “Lodge USA”, or proclaim, American-owned (a truism as most are naturalized citizens). I did not make this up; information provided by the American Hospitality Association.
The room is dank, stale, miniscule, and home to all the common variants of mildew.
If I were to light up a King Edward Imperial and let it smolder all night, the air quality index would improve. Without a black light, I am unable to detect any bed bugs, although I assumed they left here years ago. I recalled back in 1954, my mother found a Playboy magazine under my mattress and shrieked, “pornographic filth”. The words rolled off her tongue like shards of broken glass, ground by a mortar and pestle. The abyss of eternal damnation. My father, the ex-Marine, demanded, “let me see that, I want to read the articles”.
My mattress check on this night revealed no contemporary literature, pulp-grade or otherwise, only stains of anonymous DNA and a few dust bunnies.
Unsettled, we carried in fast food, angus burgers proclaimed to be a tastier grade of meat, rather than the standard fare of lesser quality. Mark this down, I’m not “lovin’ it”. Jack and I share fries and a Michelob Original from our stash in anticipation of our favorite TV program, Wheel of Fortune.
They are announcing a viewer contest vying to “Become Vanna for a Day”. The temptation to submit an entry creates an inner turmoil. I can visualize myself gliding across the podium, deftly touching the letters, resplendent in a couture chiffon cocktail gown, smiling with perfect white teeth, displaying ample cleavage.
This could be the chance of a lifetime, alas, I no longer fit into a size 6. Would they accept an entry from a 70 y/o male, unshaven legs, in a spaghetti strap dress, shaped like a jar of Ragu sauce covering an inadequate bosom ? Now that, pasta lovers, that would be pornographic.
We are off to Albuquerque at 5 AM, anxious to leave town before sunrise in search of the nearest laundromat to wash the odor out of my size twelves.
Below, a rare, unauthorized photo taken by papparazzi.