Monday, March 21, 2011


(Chicago Interior, J. Theodore Johnson, 1933, American Picture Gallery, Washington, D.C.)

Suddenly, a golden glow springs to life on the left wall.

I see two figures walking toward me in the near darkness.

My eyes focus just enough to see that those figures belong to Heidi and John.

Heidi greets me and says: "Welcome to the Hallway of Horrors!"

"These walls are painted BLACK!!!" I say, stating the obvious.

"I can't believe this!" I exclaim, adding, "what are the owners of this hotel thinking?"

John chimes in, "Who's thinking? Enjoy the ambiance!"

"Ambiance?" I ask.

Heidi says, "That glow is coming from motion sensors that light up every time someone walks by."

"I know it's good to conserve electricity but motion sensor lights in a hotel hallway?" I ask.

"COME ON!" I hiss dramatically.

The elevator brings Bob to our conversation.

"Can't somebody turn on a light?" he asks.

This - from a man who holds the world record for "fastest light turner off-er."

John says, " Forget the hallway. I'd like to know why everything in our room is black. You've got to see this."

Something tells me I'd rather not.

Seconds later, we are standing in the most depressing hotel room I have ever seen.

And I've seen more than a few depressing hotel rooms.

The ratty carpet is stained with white spots the size of golf balls.

Hygienic and attractive.

The walls are painted a lovely designer's hue called: " Pitch Black."

The bedspread is a deep charcoal gray.

Tiny specks of orange are sprinkled all over the bedspread.

Dyed fabric threads?


cheese doodle droppings?

You'd need a microscope to seriously determine that.

Everything in this room is either dank, dark, depressing or disgusting.

Trust me......

"disgusting" holds the trump card.

Surveying the decorating damage, I decide that the last time this room was updated Marie Antoinette was serving cake at Versailles.

John appears anxious as his eyes scurry across the room.

He looks at Heidi and says, "I can't sleep in that bed tonight. We're going to have to look for a room in a different hotel."

The three of us hurry to his rescue because we all know exactly how he feels.

Bob, The Sensible, begins:

"We don't have time to search for another hotel tonight. We're going to miss seeing a lot of the city if we do that."

I add:

"Let's face it. This place needs a total gut job. But it's just for one night. There's even a good chance we'll live through it."

Heidi smiles brightly at John and wins him over with these encouraging words:

"Honey, think about all the funny stories you're going to get out of this!"


John is a great storyteller and he knows good material when he sees it.

He stares at one of the carpet's golf balls.

It's busy mutating into a baseball as we speak.

He looks at us and says, "I guess I can stick it out for one night. But I'm sleeping in my clothes. On top of the bed. And I'm not touching anything."

Heading toward the door - which Bob kindly opens for him - John turns and says, "Let's get out of here."

Then he pauses and adds, "Do you think there's a restaurant around here that serves dinner?"

He doesn't have to ask twice.

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