Motel Hell by night, Vanna White for a day

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.

dscn6062.JPGThe closet, 16″ wide and six feet deep, a vertical gravesite

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.

dscn6065.JPGGet me outta here, it’s worse than the pound

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.

The dress and garden hat had been left by a weekend guest, DeTour cabin, August, 2007dscn0146.JPG


  1. cintifax says

    The pizzarappi offers the following credits.

    Apparel provided by:

    Hat, Martha Stewart ® Living
    Dress, Liz Claiborne ® petites (courtesy, J. Bopp collection)
    Socks, Smart Wool
    Shoes, G.H. Bass © Casuals

    Floral arrangement: Petersen’s Country Store
    Raber Bay, MI

  2. says

    You KNOW that I am going to save that photo for, um, “future use.” Here’s a hint: if I outlast you, you’d better tell your kids to bar me from your memorial service.

  3. says

    Stunning… Prose, Poetry… and The Photo.

    You exceeded all expectations.

    Maybe it’s my aging eyes or side effects of steroids, but you seem to be budding in more ways than one!

  4. Gary Estep says

    Stunning! You, not the room. When I moved Julie back from Michigan she came with four, not one, dogs. Her job was to go on the Internet each day and find a motel that would accept said animals, and also me. It was tough, but happily, we never found ourselves in the land of Patel! I think that perhaps you and I should get together soon to share wardrobe thoughts. I am the one on the long skirt..!/photo.php?fbid=10150271107235331&set=a.10150306681025331.556799.853760330&pid=14725741&id=853760330

    Goodness, that is a long thing. It probably won’t work. Go to Facebook and enter Gary Estep.

  5. Flash says

    I think what goes in deTour should stay in deTour — Oh well, on second thought, show us what you got doc!
    Such a lovely country summer combo – those shoes are just darling. I guess this is what happens when you deprive ‘Mercedes the Man’ of his Airstream?

  6. Jim Kidder says

    Just a couple of observations;

    1) Your tan lines give away your Yooper – required longish sleeves.

    2) Your Yooper 12 months-of-year leg warmers are sagging. Or is that skin?

    3) Other than that you really turn me on.

  7. jbopp collection says

    You are crazy!! My consensus when I went to your website. I truthfully like my dress better on me. No……MUCH better.
    Enjoyed the re-cap of an interesting part of your travels, though. OK– so just a little crazy.

  8. GOPIO says

    Consider the following, or would you rather hear from our lawyers, Ruchi Sharma, Sanjay Mittal,

    The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) welcomes you to GOPIO’s international network of people of Indian origin (PIO). GOPIO was founded at the First Global Convention of People of Indian Origin in New York in 1989. The initial thrust of GOPIO was fighting human rights violation of people of Indian origin. Although this has been improved in the last one decade, human rights violations continue to be a major issue for PIOs living outside India. GOPIO has now set its priorities in pooling our resources, both financial and professional, for the benefit of PIOs, the countries they come from and India. Toward this goal we welcome you to join in this international effort.

  9. Betty & Howard J. says

    Wish I had been one of your drug store customers!…or known you in high school! Don’t stop writing as the country needs some humor, you are on to a book!…