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Ask Tog, November, 1999

My Night in the Cathouse

It started innocently enough. My jumbo jet in Madrid, Spain suffered a mechanical delay, holding back take-off for a couple hours. This was enough time that, by the time we reached New York, the last flight had already departed for the West Coast.

The airline was most apologetic and gracious, offering us tired and hungry passengers lodging in a "hotel in New York City." Visions of good food and perhaps the chance of a Broadway play filled our fatigued imaginations and, without further rational thought, we climbed aboard the well-worn bus.

Now, most of us who do not live in New York City consider its borders to be contiguous with the shoreline of Manhattan Island. This is an error that can lead to some pretty amazing accommodations. In our case, the accommodations were at a low-class, high-rise motel right square in the middle of Queens.

Even as we drew close, we could see that Management cared about the safety and security of its guests: rising above the three-story edifice was a three-and-a-half story cyclone fence, topped with a floppy row of concertina wire, whose loose, razor-encrusted coils guaranteed an unpleasant welcome for the would-be climber.

Said climber, we soon learned, would not be attempting to steal the food. Served soup-kitchen style, it lacked both style and substance. It would keep us alive until morning, baring any unfortunate food poisoning incidents, but offered little to sooth our souls.

After staring at the various beige-colored glops on our plates (they appeared, after a while, to be staring back), a remarkably high percentage of us decided to begin that diet we'd been putting off. We rose from the table and staggered toward our rooms to see what fresh horrors might lay in wait.

How could we have known such a delightful sight lay just around the corner.

You can well imagine, having walked through airports, the general appearance of this wrung-out group of weary travelers. Not only were we old, fat, and ugly, but we were weary and downtrodden as well. Imagine my surprise, upon hitting the stairs, to discover that fully half of us had somehow been transformed into attractive young women. (I had suspected the butterscotch pudding had been a bit off, but not that far off.)

As it turned out, my faculties were all in order. As were the permanent faculty of this Queens motel. It seems we had been transported not to your average ghetto dormitory, but to a multi-use facility, catering to two distinct groups: passengers and whores.

And these were not your standard-issue street hookers with knowing look, slouched gait, and lopsided lipstick. These girls had gorgeous-long shapely legs that stretched all the way to the ground, high, firm...

But perhaps I am delving into too much detail. Suffice it to those halls were alive with red silk and black leather.

When confronted with such a sight while incarcerated behind a curtain of concertina wire, one only has three possible courses of action:

  1. Close your door and ignore what is going on around you.
  2. Leave the door open a crack and watch the festivities.
  3. When in Rome...

I want you to know that I chose option number one. After only a few short moments of absorbing this marvelous local color, I firmly closed that door, took to my bed, and listened for only a few short hours to the electric click of high heels sparking up and down the hallways, along with the oh-so-graceful snick-snick of silk stockings...

But again I digress.

My reasons for staying in my room were clear. It was not that I am immune to the siren call of a shapely young thing sporting a credit-card imprinter. Rather, three factors, all emerging from the strength of my marriage, kept me on the straight-and-narrow that evening:

  1. I love my wife dearly.
  2. I would never do anything that would in any way threaten the sanctity of our blessed union.
  3. My wife was with me in the room.

Should you find yourself in similar straits at a New York airport, beware your airline's sly promise of a "New York Hotel." Unless, of course, you are traveling alone.

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