Rendered Fat Content


Ary de Vois: Jacob’s Dream (1660 - 1680)

" … just as long as I don't have to make a steady habit …"

The Muse admits to being a hotel snob. After all those years spent working for the lab, through which she most months traveled at least a few days, she developed certain standards, certain expectations for what a hotel should and should not provide. Because she stayed at first class hotels when traveling on business (Why not? She received the government rate!), her previous minimum standards shifted upward. Believe me, we've stayed at some marginal digs, the kind author James Elroy referred to as HotPillow joints, implying that their primary business might not be providing places of rest but of salacious exercise. Few experiences prove quite as upsetting as discovering, typically at about three in the morning, that your sleeping room is adjacent to a brothel. This sort of thing rarely happens in your higher class lodgings, but probably only because they feature more effective soundproofing.

Now that The Muse has retired, she loses some of her previous perks, government lodging rates among them.
Geezer rates approximate those extended to the government, but there's no Big Daddy picking up the tab anymore, so she's experimenting to see what of the remaining lodging choices might prove acceptable. I argued that we really needed a new class of search engine that offers exclusively choices of available HotPillow motels, HotPillow.com. This one would guarantee a room with few frills and perhaps a hidden surreptitious thrill or two thrown in, and the possibility of witnessing the odd gangland killing, or at least the occasional drive-by shooting, the sorts of features Marriott points just never get you. Mom and pop motels where both mom and pop are closet criminals. Nothing actually approaching Norman Bates-class lodgings, but shall I suggest, interesting?

We try a Day's Inn, a Wyndham property, a chain I long ago rechristened Hyndwynd for a certain quality I sensed in its service. We both noticed our repulsion rising as we entered. Had we become snobs? We had not thought ourselves of precisely this class. The room seemed crowded before we entered it, and we found we could only navigate around the oversized bed by moving sideways, always in each other's way. The bathroom fan shook the entire floor when we turned it on, and the air conditioner deafened us. We quickly fled to bed, opened the window wide, and slept off our concerns. I wrote the following morning while sitting up in bed while The Muse fitfully slept beside me. She admitted as we pulled away the next morning that she'd slipped below her minimum tolerable standards with that choice.

She took to googling prices of motels we passed, trying to recalibrate our notion of value. Even HotPillow joints seemed to hover around a hundred bucks a night, more or less. Outside of Denver, Colfax Avenue stretches for perhaps thirty miles and it's lined with endless HotPillow choices. We were staying in the last of The Muse's employee-approved places, up on the hill overlooking the more lowly joints. Our room there had room, which I found useful but not essential. I remember a real HotPillow place we rented one night in Hardin, Montana. A coal train ran through that room at two in the morning and the sheets and pillowcases seemed to have been woven from the finest virgin polyester, which was like sleeping on plastic vegetable bags, hence the real meaning of HotPillow. We slept poorly but memorably. Who could forget such a night? I felt as though I should stay awake and play lookout in case some hitman mistook our room for his target's. We were sitting ducks, lying there on that broke back bed. We limped away from that experience.

I'd like to feel that we're the type who might appreciatively sleep anywhere. I'd like to believe that mom and pop motels still ring every city, but the chains and associations have moved in and replaced them. To stay almost anywhere these days means entering a system, one designed to elicit the values its "guests" either already hold or aspire to be mistaken for holding. The choices seem to range from phony humility to phony airs, each class best exhibited by the breakfast bar choices. The Day's Inn choices ranged from dry cereals to microwave omelets stacked unwrapped in a small refrigerator. At least I think they were omelets. I passed on the free breakfast and left that room to the three oil patch workers who looked as though they were long-term residents, taking only a cup of the bitterest decaf I'd ever tasted.

Gone are the days when The Muse would pay for a night's lodging with her burgeoning frequent snoozer points. Gone, too, are those times when she'd be warmly welcomed as a gold club member and upgraded to a room on a higher floor with executive breakfast bar privileges. I, for one, warmly anticipate down-grading to staying in a succession of HotPillow joints. The beds might be worse but the stories seem better. I can write just as well in the dark, sitting up in a lumpy bed, as I can at a well-lit and spacious desk. I sleep unaware of the danger surrounding me. I could probably use more drama in my life, anyway, just as long as I don't have to make a steady habit of drinking the bitterest decaf.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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