The Favor

I spent an interesting weekend in Kansas City last weekend.

Jen, Derrick, Jesse, Baier and I left early Saturday morning to make it to Arrowhead Stadium in time for the Iowa State-Kansas State game.

Baier took this picture of Jen, Derrick and I with my phone so that we could send birthday wishes back to Sara.

I did not take my camera to this game, so I don’t have photos to remember this game, but that will hardly be necessary.

Iowa State thoroughly dominated the game, yet managed to be losing by 7 with 30 seconds left in the game. This was thanks to Kansas State pulling a couple of touchdowns out of their butt on two 3rd and longs.

Just when it seemed like their wasn’t any justice in this cruel world, Arnaud lofted a pass toward the back corner of the endzone. When he threw this pass, I was fairly certain it was going to be intercepted. He threw the pass to Jake Williams who was double covered and the pass looked like it was badly overthrown.

Yet, miracles happen! Some how and some way (I’m still not certain how) the pass made it through 2 Kansas State defenders and landed softly in the diving hands of Jake Williams.

Our section went crazy. We were going to overtime.

Then the unthinkable happened. Well, it would be the unthinkable for a fan of about any other team than Iowa State, but Iowa State fans know that they never get full miracles. They get a taste of glory and then have it snatched away from them in the cruelest way imaginable.

There was the game where the refs blew the call and robbed Seneca Wallace of a touchdown against Florida State. There was Tony Yelk’s missed field goal against Alabama. There was the not one, but the two missed field goals that cost us North Division titles against Missouri and Kansas. There was blowing a 20 point lead against Kansas last year. There was ending up 1 yard short of beating Colorado last year.

Now there is this… Kansas State blocking an extra point that would have tied the game and sent it into overtime.

We were stunned. It hurt, but I couldn’t help thinking that this is what it means to be a Cyclone fan. To have a collection of losses that defy ordinary explanation forever engraved into your memory.

I can remember everything about those losses that I just described and at least a dozen more. But I still wouldn’t trade those experiences for cheering for a team with a more “successful” history.

But the game was only the beginning of the weekend. In fact, perhaps the story of what happened after the game started well before we even left for Kansas City.

We had considerable discussion about where to stay that weekend. We gave some consideration about staying with some of our friends and relatives in Kansas City, but with 5 of us, we didn’t want to put anybody out that much.

But it was a busy weekend in Kansas City. The Chiefs were in town for a woodshed beating by the Giants. Plus a bunch of rednecks were driving around in a circle. Apparently this is considered entertainment by some people. Needless to say, getting a hotel for the weekend was going to be difficult.

Jesse volunteered to find us rooms because he still had some connections from his days in the hotel business. He called a guy that we are not going to refer to as a friend. We are going to refer to him as an acquaintance.

This acquaintance agreed to do us a favor. He got us in at a hotel, but we had to claim to be part of a wedding block. He told us that the hotel was a nice business hotel. It was called The Extended Stay and the rooms had both a fridge and a microwave in every room.

Sounded great. Until we pulled up to the hotel and saw it in person.

For starters, the hotel looked like it had been abandoned. There wasn’t a single car in the parking lot and there was clearly black mold on the curtains.

We got out of our vehicles and walked toward the hotel lobby. There was a guy hanging out in a van. He started it as we approached the vehicle. Then as we walked by, he shut it off.

I don’t want to be accused of judging people, but it is my firm belief that he shut off the van when he saw Jen. He got out of the van and followed us into the hotel.

There was a line of about 3 people at the front desk. The front desk employee was the angriest hotel employee I have ever seen and I worked at a hotel once.

Derrick and I sat down on a couch. Jen and Baier sat down in a sofa across from us. Jesse stood in line. Creepy Guy walked into the lobby and then leaned against a wall. He just looked at us.

Then a completely random guy walked into the hotel lobby. I write “random” when I feel that there wasn’t anything random about it. I feel that what this guy did was his job.

Random Guy announced to all the people in the lobby, “Hey, there is a Dominoes right across the street! You could just walk over and pick up your pizza and save the delivery costs!”

Only he said it with legitimate excitement and not an ounce of irony. Not at all like I would say it. In a way that was as demeaning to Dominoes and what they laughingly try to pass off as pizza as possible.

Then as suddenly as he appeared, Random Guy was gone.

It was then that Creepy Guy decided to speak. He made another general announcement to the lobby: “If you want some good food, there is an Outback about a mile up the road.”

Once again, this was said without the slightest bit of irony. I do enjoy the Outback, but if I am in Kansas City do you really think I’m looking for a chain steakhouse?

Shortly after the announcement Jesse was at the front of the line.

He told Angry Front Desk Guy that he was checking in for 2 rooms.

Angry Front Desk Guy asked him if he was paying for both rooms. Jesse indicated that he could leave both rooms on his card for now and they they would settle up in the morning.

Angry Front Desk Guy snarled, “That isn’t what I asked.”

At this point two Pretty Boys entered the lobby. They looked around and then they walked back outside.

I laughed quietly at the Pretty Boys. I knew that they were going outside to have the exact same conversation that Jen, Derrick, Baier and I were having with our eyes. “Do we really want to stay in this dump?”

Derrick had hopped up when Angry Front Desk Guy had snapped at Jesse and had put down a credit card for Derrick and Jen’s room.

As Jesse and Derrick concluded their transaction (we got a 10 dollar discount because the rooms didn’t have phones) with Angry Front Desk Guy, the two Pretty Boys re-entered the hotel lobby. Apparently they had decided to “sack-up” and give the Bates Motel a chance.

We left the lobby and returned to our vehicles. We drove past the abandoned section of the hotel and parked next to our rooms.

Our rooms were on the 2nd floor of the hotel. It was a hotel where the doors face the outside world. Just like God meant for cheap, sleazy hotels to be.

As we packed up our stuff, the two Pretty Boys caught up with us.

We walked up to the 2nd floor on steps that felt that they could conceivably collapse at any moment while making small talk about Cyclone athletics with the Pretty Boys.

The balcony of the 2nd floor did not feel much sturdier than the stairs.

Jen and Derrick entered room 206.

We entered room 212.

The Pretty Boys entered room 214.

There was a rather obvious problem with room 212. The heater had been taken apart and was strewn across the floor.

We walked back out to the balcony. Jesse called the front desk to report our dilemma. The 2 Pretty Boys exited their room at about the same time. They indicated that they weren’t staying at this place and one of them muttered something about cobwebs.

Cobwebs? Whatever Nancy.

The Angry Front Desk Guy told Jesse that if he came down to the front desk he would get us another room. Jesse started the walk to the front desk, when out of nowhere (not literally, he wasn’t a magician) Creepy Guy appeared.

He asked us if we wanted room 214. I didn’t quite understand how he knew that the 2 Pretty Boys weren’t going to stay when they had made that decision literally minutes ago, but we looked around 214 and decided that we could handle a few cobwebs if it meant that we had heat.

Creepy Guy told us that he would run down and get us a key for 214. While we waited for his return, we dumped our stuff in 214.

Jen emerged from 206 and came down to our room. She made a beeline for our bathroom. She looked around in there and then made the announcement that she would be showering there in the morning.

“Your bathroom is that bad?” I inquired.

“There is blood on the door.” She replied.

She took me down to 206. First she pointed out the hole that had been punched in the bathroom door. Then she pointed out about 7 or 8 blood splatters that dotted the bathroom door and the doorway.

Then she opened the door to reveal the bathroom. I’m not sure what the best word to describe their bathroom would be, but “clean” was not it.

“I wouldn’t shower here either.”

As I came out into the clean air of the balcony, Creepy Guy had returned with our key. We locked up our hotel rooms (as if it mattered) and loaded into the Forester for the trip to my Aunt’s house in Easton.

The drive to Easton consisted mostly of Jesse doing an impression of Creepy Guy hitting on Jen that sounded like a mixture of Hannibal Lecter and Forrest Gump and a discussion of what was the strangest text message I had received on this day.

For the record, it went something like this:

Awesome! 4got that was this weekend! Give Derrick and Jen my love. Thanks 4 the pic! Looks like UR all having a blast! My toilet just overflowed 4 no apparent reason. Back 2 trying 2 dry the bathroom floor.

We had a wonderful time at my Aunt’s house. I got to re-connect with my cousins Adam and Jordan and Sarah. My Uncle Mike regaled us with stories of the 20 years he spent working with the “scum of the Earth” in Leavenworth’s prison system. Including a touching story about how he received a Christmas card from a prisoner named “Cold Cuts”. Of course, Cold Cuts earned that nickname for cannibalizing two women when he was a member of polite society.

We returned to the Kansas City version of the Bates Motel. Jen and Derrick to 206. Baier, Jesse and I to 214.

We turned on ESPN to catch up on the rest of the college football scores of the day. After a few minutes there was a knock on the door.

By the looks of the place, I knew it wasn’t housekeeping. I figured there was a decent chance that it was the “live hooker” that Derrick had postulated earlier in the evening might come free with every room. I figured there was also a decent chance that it was a drug dealer making a cold call. If it was, it would not be the first time on this day that I had politely declined drugs. I figured there was also a decent chance that it was Random Guy stopping by to urge us to not pass up the chance to cash in on Dominoes, just across the street. I figured that there was a decent chance that it was Creepy Guy thinking that Jen was staying in this room. He would be wearing his dress bowie, with his hair slicked back and sporting a half bottle of Drakkar Noir coming to woo Jen.

But in the end, it was Jen and Derrick. They came in and sat down.

“Umm…” they began, “We found blood on our sheets.” Then they added, “We are going to find a different hotel.”

“Good decision.” I told them.

They moved slowly toward the door and then Jen turned back and said, “I hope you don’t think this makes us uppity.”

I will NEVER forget her saying that. It was funny and peculiar on so many levels.

They ended up at a hotel in Kearney. At about 1:24 in the morning my phone beeped.

I picked it up and saw that I had a new text message from Jen. It read:

They have a few rms left if u get 2 creepd.

I rolled over and tried to catch some sleep.

When the light started to trickle into the room in the morning I got up. I looked outside. There was a cop car prowling the parking lot checking the license plates of every car in the lot.

I thought to myself, “I’m still alive and what’s more, I’m ready for some Waffle House!!”


Creepy Guy (Surprise! Drinking Mountain Dew)








Padded Headboards? Swanky!


You can save yourself the delivery charge!!

I’m considering making a return trip to Kansas City in November. I hope it is adventurous in a different manner.