My friend Debbye told me a story recently.
In the early 1980s, she and her partner Birdie went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with 11 friends. They had rented a house that fit all of them except they were unable to rent it for the last night they were there. So, the 13 friends went to a large hotel for their last night, splitting up into separate rooms. Debbye and Birdie decided to have dinner in the hotel restaurant.
After dinner, about 10 p.m., they headed back through the mostly-vacant atrium lobby area to the elevators. Chatting, they punched the button for their floor, 7. The doors closed and the elevator started up. Then, the doors opened and a 60ish, overweight naked woman was standing there. Bleary-eyed and unfocused, the woman wobbled into the elevator with them. Then the doors closed.
Well, never having encountered this situation, (Let’s face it, no one else I know ever has), they didn’t know what to do. Startled, they looked at each other sideways and, forcing a smile, Debbye meekly asked, “Hello? Ma’am, is there something wrong? Do you need help?”
Not acknowledging them with her eyes, the woman mumbled something that sounded like the slurring of, “Mischla.”. She was making sounds that were like moans, not really words. Whatever the woman was saying wasn’t making sense and sounded like a foreign language. Debbye and Birdie quietly conferred and decided to help the woman. Debbye suggested they go back to the lobby floor and ask the concierge for a robe to cover the woman. They agreed and pressed the ground floor button. Leaving Birdie to keep the woman on the elevator and anyone else out, apparently by waving her arms, Debbye approached the concierge, who was helping another couple. Waiting her turn, she then quietly told the young man, who wore a badge identifying himself as “Omar”, that there was a problem. He leaned forward and asked how he could help. Debbye moved closer and, almost whispering, said, “Excuse me, but there’s a naked lady on the elevator. Do you have a robe?”
“What???” Omar’s eyes were bulging. Ignoring the robe request, he started toward the elevators with Debbye following. Taking several deep breaths, Omar entered the elevator with Debbye, Birdie and the woman. Nervously, he gently asked the naked woman what her name was. She just mumbled the odd, non-sensical words.
He asked Debbye and Birdie which floor she had gotten on. They thought it was 4. Omar punched the button and when the doors opened the woman lurched past them out of the elevator, past the garden railing and towards a room. Ah, this must be her room. Omar produced a pass key card and opened the door. Inside, a woman wearing only a nightgown and spoolies in her hair looked startled. “What are you people doing???” she asked in a British accent. (Indeed, it must be very startling to see three strangers and a very strange naked woman at your door…really.)
Omar asked the woman inside, “Pardon me, madam, but is this lady part of your party?”
Stretching her arms out and waving them, the lady in the nightgown said, “I’ve never seen any of you in my life.”
Omar apologized profusely and they hustled out and closed the door. The door opened again and the lady in spoolies stuck her head out and asked, “Excuse me, but what’s going on?” Birdie briefly explained. (After all, she was owed some explanation.) The lady cooed, “Oooo…how very interesting.”
The naked woman lurched down the hall to another door. Ah, they thought, this must be her room. Omar gently knocked at the room door. No answer. He again used his pass key card and opened the door. Inside was another woman in a nightgown with her hair in curlers and her mouth open in shock. The naked woman pushed past them and stumbled into the room and sat down on the woman’s bed. Backing away into a corner, the room’s occupant said, “Who are you?” Suddenly, the phone rang in the room. The naked lady reached out and calmly picked up the receiver and muttered, “Heelloo. What d’ ya want?”
The lady in the rollers grabbed at the phone, took it away and yelled, “That’s my son on the phone.”
The naked lady seemed insulted and blearily said, “Do you know who my husband is?” (No, we don’t even know who you are.) “Arcee-empe.” RCMP? Royal Canadian Mounted Police? What??? Then, she slurringly said, “Why are you doing this to me?”
Omar again apologized and asked the lady in rollers if she knew the naked woman. “No, I’ve never seen this woman, in or out of her clothes.”
While Omar softly spoke to the naked lady sitting on the bed, the other lady was busy on the phone telling her son, who was in another hotel room, what was happening. She hung up and her son appeared a few minutes later coming through the door holding up a bedspread to cover the naked lady. Omar wrapped the spread around the naked lady’s shoulders then gently took her hand and led her out of the room. Debbye and Birdie were already in the hall, asking how they could help. Omar told them he believed he had now gotten enough information from the naked lady to locate her room. He thanked them over and over and told them they need not stay to help.
So, Debbye and Birdie went back to the elevator, entered and pressed the number for their floor. The doors closed. Utter silence, save for the whispers of the elevator mechanism. Then they looked at each other and, in unison, asked, “What just happened?” After that they couldn’t stop laughing.
The next morning Omar was still working at the lobby desk and told Debbye and Birdie that he had comped their breakfast. Well, there was that. Then, as the group was checking out in the lobby, Debbye and Birdie still sharing laughs about the adventure, the naked woman appeared. Now wearing clothes, she spied Debbye and Birdie and jabbed an arm out, pointing at them, yelling, “You!! Those are the women who helped me!” Debbye and Birdie were now backing into the small spaces between their friends and watched as the woman’s friends hustled her out of the hotel.
As an epilogue, some years later, friends went to Puerto Vallarta and were attending a bonfire on the beach one night. They told the folks there about Debbye and Birdie and what happened to them in the hotel. A voice spoke up and said, “That was me. I’m Omar. All that really happened.”
My friend Debbye told me a story recently.