Three Layer Motel
When it comes to rating hotels and motels, we generally use the number of stars as a guide: Five stars being the best, one star being the worst. That’s an okay system, but I find that my system is a better indicator of good or bad accommodations. My system is called the Caulk System. Instead of stars, I use the number of layers of caulk around the bathroom fixtures as my barometer.
If a certain hotel has only one layer of caulk, that is a very fine hotel indeed. With only one layer of caulk, one can be assured that this hotel will have fluffy towels that will have only been used by a select few and washed thoroughly between uses. The coffee machine will come equipped with herbal teas, hot chocolate, and the finest Columbian coffee in decaf and extra bold. Someone will bring your suitcases to the room, and extra blankets can be had with a single call to housekeeping. You may even be delightfully surprised by one of those little mints on your pillow each night.
Two layers of caulk is still a nice hotel that might be falling on hard times. Two layers means you can still get a free continental breakfast served cafeteria-style, but forget about those little wipes with which to polish your shoes or an iron to press your shirt. The towels are still fluffy, but you have to pull someone’s teeth to get an extra one. The shower caps are still on the bathroom vanity, but that’s only because no one has used a shower cap since Jimmy Carter was president. They usually have a surplus of shower caps and are just hoping someone will wrap their wet swimsuit in one and take it home with them.
Three layers of caulk means that the hair dryer might short out on “high” and at least one light switch won’t turn on a light. The shower has two temperatures: ice cold and hotter than Hades, and in order to operate at full capacity, no one else in the motel can take a shower at the same time. The three-layer motel has a pool, but there may be unidentifiable foreign objects floating in it. The towels are low on the fluffy scale and they are only about the size of a postage stamp. When wrapped around you, it wouldn’t completely cover your behind if you are larger than a size 4.
Four layers of caulk is getting pretty dicey. The TV has only one channel, the Playboy channel. The air conditioner coughs to the rhythm of Beethoven’s 5th and bed bugs have built condominiums in the mattress. The bathroom vanity is made of plywood and covered with contact paper and the fluorescent light bulb, flashing like a strobe light, makes one feel like putting on platform shoes and doing the Electric Slide. Towels are scarce and threadbare.
Five layers of caulk means that there may not be any towels, or drywall. The first thing you experience is the overwhelming aroma of stale beer and vomit. It means that the five layers of caulk are obviously not working because the faucets drip out of sync and the shower has one subpar stream of water that shoots at a ninety degree angle directly at the shower curtain. If you move the showerhead so that you might use the stream to wash your body, the stream changes direction and shoots directly at the ceiling. Five layers of caulk also means that you will be unwillingly introduced to the sexual habits of the amorous couple in the next room.
I find myself writing this column on the back of a breakfast menu for a three-layer motel in the middle of Nowhere. I would much rather stay in a one- or two-layer hotel, but sometimes a girl’s got to take what she can get. For one thing, Nowhere doesn’t have any oneor two-layer hotels because there is nothing in Nowhere that anyone with some spare change would want to see.
We came here because my husband is part of a rocket club. If you are going to launch rockets, there is some kind of rule that you need to do this in the middle of Nowhere, just in case a rogue rocket should decide to take a side trip through some one-layer hotel’s lobby. No need to worry about that small detail, though.
If a rocket decided to fly horizontally from one end of Nowhere to the other, there would be nothing in its way except this three-layer motel. I think, perhaps, that a rocket careening through this particular room could only improve it.