The sheets are electric pink, sweaty, a little sandy; there's a snoring, warm body to your left. Half awake and unwilling to think straight, you untangle yourself from the musty mess of covers, tiptoe to the next room, and then
And then you see it.
You see the trail of shit.
I'm not from around here so when I find that all the obvious destinations are taken (save Frankenmuth, but lampooning kitsch is way passé) I coax my friends Brandi and Lindsey to join and just, well, hit the road. With scarcely more than a map, some dubious travel advice and a handful of twenties, we hop into my station wagon with plans to explore the Thumb.
At first, we just look for "cool stuff" to do. Driving up the waterfront M-29, we adopt a "stop anywhere, do anything" attitude. After a screeching U-turn, we linger at a roadside taxidermy joint, ogling the menagerie of dead-as-doornails fauna. We ride a mechanical bull at a county fair, eat funnel cake and snobbishly laugh at teenage townies in cut-offs drinking booze out of Nalgene bottles. We go hiking in a gravel yard, and cause a mini-landslide when climbing a 200-ft. pile of pebbles.
It's fun. We pass through Algonac, through East China, through Port Huron and by the time we've killed half a tank of gas, the wind's picking up and we still don't know where we're going.
"Let's just drive up to Lexington," says Lindsey, who has friends with friends with cabins there. "It's only another 20 miles away."
So we arrive in Lexington, and the effect is instantly soporific there's no one on the street, and most of the stores are closed. We need a place to stay, so we ask around and are directed to the Harbourfront Motel.
It's easy to miss the Harbourfront, as it's hidden in a residential neighborhood and is thoroughly dilapidated. The paint's chipping, the place is shrouded by trees, and there's only one car parked in the lot.
The lights are dark in the PRIVATE! office, so we timorously tap the door. Silence. Then, a woman croaks, "Just a moment! Let me put on my housecoat."
She's old. She moves toward us, leaving a small enclave with a bed and a door where she seems to live. The rate is $59.99; she accepts only cash. Handing us two rough, gray-purple towels, she smiles sweetly, and points us to our room.
It's very quaint and for the price we've paid, palatial. Though it smells like 40-year-old cobwebs and unwashed sheets, we have a sofa, a rocking chair, and a kitchen. We have a separate bedroom with two double beds, one with hot pink sheets and the other with faded flowers.
And we have company a family of daddy longlegs under the toilet.
We head "downtown" and eat at one of two possible restaurants that have a purported "night life." Our plan at the moment is to pick up some playing cards and libations and spend a cozy night with our eight-legged friends.
But our waiter at Steis' Village Inn, Tyson, is the life of the party.
"You're staying at the Harbourfront?" Tyson asks, incredulously. "Everyone calls it the Bates Motel."
Tyson's gay and Texan, with a sleeve full of crazy one-liners ("When I came out, she said she'd buy me a whore to set me right!") and an open, garrulous manner. He knows the whole town, and takes it upon himself to introduce us to some locals. So after dinner we head over to the bar, where he sits us next to a table full of strapping young fellows.
One dude's particularly adorable we'll call him Willy. Willy's the best friend of a best friend.
After several rounds of Jameson and Patron, which are on the house (and which I politely decline, oof), by midnight we're done with the bar scene. So we go to the beach, because the Harbourfront is on an amazing patch of land. A cobblestone path winds down from the bluffs to a beach, so the three of us strip to our skivvies and wade neck-deep into Lake Huron. It's freezing, of course, but we float around still, and oddly without inhibition. The lake stretches endlessly, there's a chill fog resting on the water, and with minds numbed from an evening out, the beauty's really indescribable. We tell each other how amazing this trip's been.
Then, out of the blue, Willy joins us.
Willy's drunk. Willy's very drunk. Willy giggles a lot, a "Hnyah, hnyah, hnyah," kinda laugh. Willy bounds into the water, shoes and all, and after splashing around for a few minutes, starts stumbling back to the beach. He's lost his glasses, can't find his cell phone, needs a place to crash.
So we head back to the motel, and pass out, the girls in the bedroom, the boy on the sofa.
You shriek. You gag. The piles in the living room look all hazelnutty like Nutella; but they smell like feces. Wait. They are feces. Splotches of it lead from the kitchen sink to the sofa to the door, Hansel and Gretel-style. You stare for a moment, baffled, praying that it could be mud.
It's not. Another quick scan around the room, and you see that a blanket's missing. There's a good amount of vomit crusted in the kitchen sink. There's a mystery wet patch on the sofa. A pair of lighthouse boxers in the corner. Khaki shorts, and Chuck Taylors.
What the fuck?
There's been an "accident." After several minutes of fecal forensics, you come to the conclusion that dual projectiles were launched: While hurling in the sink, poor Willy shat himself.
You collapse in a fit of raucous laughter. You come up with inappropriate puns. The most popular: "It was a 'shit and run!'" You collapse with even more raucous laughter.
You amble down to the gas station, pick up some baking soda and Lysol, and ask the attendant for a pair of gloves. She gives you cellophane food service gloves; you tell her that'll suffice. You tell her someone shat in your room. She also shrieks, and gives you four more pairs.
You head back to the motel, and you attack the spots. You scoop up the creamy waste matter with plastic spoons; you spray the spots with Lysol; you cover them with baking soda.
You wait 10 minutes, then scoop up the mess by using plastic knives and nudging the caked, newly brown powder into plastic cups. You clean the area with water and a sponge. It looks as good as new.
You collapse, again, in possibly the most violent fit of raucous laughter in your life.
A few days later, you get this e-mail:
Thanks for dropping off all my stuff. ... I was able to get it all later in the day. Sorry for ditching you all Sunday morning. I had a rough night and ended up puking all over that damn blanket! I woke up really embarrassed, so I tried to wash it ... that morning. Needless to say, it's ruined. Sorry to put you all on the spot like that. I imagine it was pretty difficult to explain why a blanket was missing from your room :) I was pretty incapacitated all day on Sunday damn Tequila shots!
Let me know how I can repay you all for the blanket. I imagine you were charged for it. I could mail you money or something. Anywho, despite the craziness, it was awesome hanging out with you all! I'm glad you had a good time in little old Lexington. Hopefully they'll include the blanket story in the article ;)
Come back and visit soon!
Then you feel a little bad about writing this. Maybe Willy didn't know about the "accident." Willy certainly knows now.Meghana Keshavan is Metro Times listing editor. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org