The story starts at a creepy motel in a small town in Texas. The kind of motel that had foil on the windows and the room numbers were written in black permanent marker. When I first saw him, he was naked except a small pair of short shorts hugging the trunk of his large 6’7″ frame. He was also dinking with a 1980s TV and holding a Whataburger bag. But first I should talk about how we got here.
Before the short shorts
It was October 1998 and I lived in San Antonio. My friend Leslie and I had tickets to see a few bands play at a concert venue about an hour or so away. Despite the weather predictions and warnings of severe rain and flooding, we set out in my old Honda for an adventure.
Though it was raining pretty hard on the way to the concert, the skies cleared just before we got there. We were able to listen to some good music for an hour or two before the storms hit. Unfortunately, the weatherman was right and the storms came strong and fast. The concert goers (including us) tried to wait it out, some hid in the port-a-potties, others under blankets. Eventually the concert was cancelled and the concert operators told everyone to go home.
On our way home through a small city named Gonzales, we saw state troopers in their rain gear standing in the middle of the street. They were standing in knee deep water. They told us that I-10 was flooded and we couldn’t get back home to San Antonio.
No place to stay
Since the only interstate back home was flooded, my friend and I were stuck in that small town. Unfortunately, everyone else from the concert was stuck in Gonzales as well.
We drove all around the little town in the pouring rain searching for a hotel. Unfortunately, the hundreds of people at the same concert were doing the same thing. Every hotel we went to was booked.
One of the hotels referred us to a place called the Apache Inn. When we pulled into the driveway of the motel, we almost cried.
(photo: Apache Inn, Gonzales, TX)
The presumed hotel manager opened the office door in her white nightie and very few teeth. We told her our desperate situation. She said that she had one last room available but she thought some guys were going to take it. She asked us to come back in an hour.
Burgers and tears
My friend Leslie was hysterical, and I don’t mean in a hilarious-ha-ha kind of way. She was freaking out that we had no place to stay and no cell phone to call home. I should mention that in 1998, cell phones were no where near as prevalent as they are today.
To calm Leslie down, I drove her to Whataburger (a Texas fast-food burger chain) to eat. While Leslie was drowning her tears in burgers and fries, I was strangely approached by the Whataburger drive- thru employee while she was wearing her headset. She said that the owner of the Apache Inn called there looking for us and wanted to tell us that she had a room for us.
I will never understand how the white nightie-wearing woman at the Apache Inn knew we were eating at Whataburger. While Gonzales was a small town, there were several fast food restaurants we could have chosen.
A pick-axe, six-pack and soap nuggets
When we arrived back at the Apache Inn, we were extremely scared. We were two young college girls alone at a creepy motel without cell phones. My friend Leslie’s hysterics didn’t exactly calm me down either.
When we opened the door to our room, it was like walking onto a horror movie set.
(photo: Apache Inn room)
Our side of the room was okay, I suppose. There were stains on the carpet, no phone, and no TV. The bathroom had no towels or toilet paper, and the soap dish had old used soap nuggets from the previous motel guests. If memory serves me correctly, I think there were also mouse droppings on the floor. But that wasn’t the worst of it.
The room was under construction. They had knocked down the wall in between two rooms and there was a large sheet hanging in between.
When I carefully pulled back the sheet to see what was on the other side, there was a pick-axe and a six-pack of beer on the floor. I’m pretty sure I screamed bloody murder which caused Leslie to go into hysterics all over again.
Leslie wanted to call her parents to let her know where we were staying in case this was the end of the world as we knew it. We remembered seeing a group of young people a few rooms over, so we hoped to find someone with a cell phone.
The search for a phone
I thought about bringing the pick-axe with me as Leslie and I left our room in the pursuit of a cell phone. I thought that might be a bit dramatic, though, so I refrained. On our walk around the motel, we saw all of the towels hanging on the clothesline outside. In the pouring rain. Awesome.
We hesitantly approached a group of young guys who were sitting outside of their hotel room. Leslie asked if any of them had a cell phone. One of them did and he let us borrow it to call our parents. While we were still stuck in the creepy motel alone with a pick-axe and complete strangers, at least our parents knew where we were.
After we called home, the group of guys (and one girl) asked us if we wanted to stay and chat for awhile. We didn’t want to go back to our scary room so we had nothing to lose.
The guy with the short shorts
As I sat down outside of their room on a wet cooler, I caught my first glimpse of him. There he was, totally naked except a pair of really short shorts. He was very tall and had a large frame, so those short shorts hugged his trunk like a wetsuit. I was totally intrigued. He was also holding a Whataburger bag and messing with the old-school TV in their motel room. He was the epitome of awesomeness and I hadn’t even exchanged a word with him yet.
I was so intrigued by him as I watched him chase field mice in his short shorts. He was adorable in every way. So, I did what any normal 21 year old would do. I asked him to sit down next to me on the cooler.
We talked non-stop for probably 12 hours until the sun came up. Then after a quick stop for breakfast tacos that morning, he gave me his business card and a hug.
The interstate was open again so Leslie and I headed back to San Antonio, and he and his friends drove back to Dallas.
The end of the story
Thankfully for me, the story didn’t end there. That rain-soaked adventure was almost 18 years ago.
I guess I should explain how he came to wear those now-infamous short shorts. He and his friends were actually at the same concert that I was. Just like everyone there, he was super soaked. His best friend lent Eric his extra pair of dry shorts. His best friend is 5’2″ and Eric is 6’7″. Voila- short shorts.
And although you couldn’t pay me to stay at a motel like that again, I wouldn’t change my fate that day for anything. If I could do it all over again, I would still ask him to sit next to me on that wet cooler, half-naked and all.