Mobile, Alabama—a hotel. Early evening. I register at the front desk. Tonight, I am a pilgrim, looking for a room and a hot meal.
The hotel is overrun with folks in brightly colored West African attire. I’ve never seen so many ornate outfits in all my life—and I’ve been to Branson.
“What’s going on tonight?” I ask the clerk behind the desk.
“A Nigerian wedding,” he says. “Hotel’s almost completely booked.”
He hands me my room key and says: “Enjoy your stay.” He blows a bubble with his bubblegum.
I wait for the elevator beside three elegant black women wearing gold turbans. Their evening gowns are magnificent. Their heels are six inches tall.
I compliment their turbans.
They giggle. “These are not turbans,” one woman says. “We call them ‘geles.’”
My people do not go for elaborate headwear. I was raised evangelical. Our wedding attire consists of earth-tones, penny loafers, and SEC neckties.
I ride the elevator with my new friends. They fill the elevator with laughter, exotic words, and unique perfume.
One young woman asks me, “You are a cowboy, sir? No?”
“No ma’am. Baptist.”
“But your boots. Americans who wear boots are cowboys, no?”
I glance at my ugly kicks. “No, these are just plain-old redneck shoes.”
When I reach the fifth floor, I pass more Nigerians in the hall. These are happy people with big personalities. Suddenly I feel very sorry that I did not grow up somewhere exotic.
Because the weddings of my childhood were not exotic. They were dry affairs in chapels full of people whose idea of a “good time” was watching Lawrence Welk and eating leftover pear salad. My cousin, Alberta, would sing, “Morning Has Broken,” and we would eat fried chicken in the fellowship hall. The end.
I arrive at my room, located at the end of the hall. I set my bags on the floor. I dig a key from my pocket. I swipe it. I open the door.
I’m exhausted from a full day of working and driving. I could use a cold beverage, a hot shower, and maybe some Lawrence Welk.
I collapse on the bed. But there is something wrong. Something is hanging on my bedside lampshade.
“Now just what is that?” I am thinking.
It is a brassiere. A very large brassiere.
Then, I hear a toilet flush. I see unfamiliar luggage in the corner. I hear someone blow their nose. Help me Jesus.
A woman screams. I scream.
She is elderly. She is short. She is Nigerian. And she is—I’m not making this up—wearing her underwear.
“AAAAAHHHHH!” the elderly woman hollers.
“OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD!” I shout.
She flies into her bathroom and slams the door. I bolt down the hallway.
Back at the front desk, I find the clerk. I explain what happened. “There’s been a mistake,” I point out. “You gave me the wrong room.”
“You sure about that?”
“Well, let’s see, I just walked in on a sweet old lady who was wearing nothing but her dignity. Yes. I’m sure.”
He inspects his computer screen. He taps on a keyboard. And I hear the elevator ding behind me.
I see my accuser, coming toward me. Someone please shoot me.
She is white-haired, with a determined gait. She wears an African gown. She complains to the clerk in a foreign tongue. And even though I’m no world-traveler, I know cuss words when I hear them.
I fall all over myself. I try to explain how sorry I am. I don’t know how to say “sorry” in her her native tongue, so I give her a South Alabama curtsy.
But the woman’s eyes are hard. She is not amused. I don’t know what she’s thinking, but I have a feeling she’s going to chop my head off.
She stabs a finger at me and I brace myself.
“Young man,” she says. “You should at least buy me dinner before coming into my room.”
And she laughs.
So I laugh, too. And the clerk laughs. And the manager laughs. The maintenance man laughs. Three hotel maids laugh. Hallelujah. Pass the Pepto-Bismol.
And while the clerk sorts things out in the computer, the Nigerian woman and I have a nice conversation. She forgives me. We exchange hugs, even. And in her broken accent, she insists that she is very single.
She asks what I do for a living.
“I’m a writer,” I say.
“A writer?” she says. “Well, I hope you write about when you walked in on a beautiful Nigerian woman wearing her underwear.”
Write about it?
You bet your brassiere I will write about it, ma’am.
Pamela McEachern - November 3, 2018 5:44 am
Don’t you just love innocent accidents that are totally out of your control! It makes life so interesting sometimes!
Peace and Love from Birmingham
Sandi in FL. - November 3, 2018 6:24 am
Sean, you got yourself into a dilly of a pickle!!
Akkie Bardoel - November 3, 2018 6:24 am
I thank you at 2:22 am because you have already made my day. I think Africans likely have big personalities because Life is bigger there.
Gloria Bryan - November 3, 2018 6:47 am
I am working 6p-6a Hurricane Detail shift in Panama City, took a break and read your email
came back inside and I am just gigglin’, of course I have to read it, I can’t get past the OHMYGODOHMYGOD part without losing my breath and snotting tears from outright guffaw laughing….THANK YOU, Sir… For taking time to write, you are wonderful…
Pamela McEachern - November 3, 2018 7:26 am
Thank you for your help in Panama City, your service is appreciated ?
Nancy Rogers - November 3, 2018 9:05 am
I do hope you got an invite to the wedding after all that.
Camille - November 3, 2018 9:19 am
And….what did Jamie have to say about all of this? My guess is a very big laugh!
chatfield84 - November 3, 2018 10:50 am
Bwahahaha….oh my goodness. This story caused me to spit coffee this morning. Traveling mercies, friend.
Shelton Armour - November 3, 2018 10:50 am
Never know when you’ll run into a Nigerian with a great sense of humor!
Joann - November 3, 2018 11:20 am
I will lay money down that that was the closes you came to a heart attack!! Thanks for the Sunday morning chuckle!!!!
Connie Havard Ryland - November 3, 2018 11:39 am
Thank you for the early morning giggles. By the way, you apparently go to the wrong weddings. Weddings in my part of the south are fun and happy, with great food and dancing after. ?
Cheryl Clem - November 3, 2018 11:53 am
OMYGODOMYGODOMYGOD…..I am laughing so hard .Loved this one, Sean. Keep’em coming.
Cathi - November 3, 2018 12:01 pm
Ok, lots of giggles! I’m thinking about what that looked like from “a fly on the wall” perspective and now I’ve waked up my Hound Posse. Happy Saturday and don’t be walking in on people without buying them dinner beforehand!!!
Penn Wells - November 3, 2018 12:05 pm
I love starting the day off with a grin that you only realize is there after the fact. Thank you Sean!!!
Susan Swiderski - November 3, 2018 12:15 pm
This is a fantabulous story. It sooooo could’ve gone in a different direction. No matter what country they’re from, thank God for people with a sense of humor.
Melissa Claunch - November 3, 2018 12:23 pm
This is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read!
Jean - November 3, 2018 12:28 pm
I had to re-read this one. It is still funny!! Life certainly does get interesting in times doesn’t it?
traviswilburnblog - November 3, 2018 12:31 pm
“You are a cowboy?”
“No ma’am. Baptist.”
Hahaha. Appreciate the early morning laughs, my friend.
Susie - November 3, 2018 12:39 pm
Nix - November 3, 2018 12:45 pm
Hilarious!!!!! Hahahahahahaha! Funny stories are some of the best. Laughter is necessary. Thank you Sean!
Jeanie C. - November 3, 2018 12:56 pm
My laugh for the day. Loved it.
Mary Burns - November 3, 2018 1:02 pm
Poor guy! What a way to start a night in a hotel. Glad it was a good laugh at the end!
Rebecca McKenzie - November 3, 2018 1:14 pm
You lift my spirits, brighten my day and make me lol. Thanks Sean
Sandra Smith - November 3, 2018 1:29 pm
Rockin chair memory !
Gotta share with my son & his wife.
She’s from Kenya
She will love this one !
(I think I’d make it a practice to knock first, from now on…just in case) ?❤
Carol - November 3, 2018 1:47 pm
Hope you got a free room and breakfast!!???
Heidi - November 3, 2018 1:55 pm
Sun coming up…laughing myself sick!! Great way to start the day!
Deena - November 3, 2018 2:03 pm
You needed this experience to add to your Southern repitoir of stories! Well done, my favorite writer!
Janet Mary Lee - November 5, 2018 9:28 pm
I so agree Deena! Add this one!! Could have been worse- you in your all together with only a baseball cap, lol…
Caleb Halstead - November 3, 2018 2:09 pm
Regarding “Mobile”: Sean, my friend, that one is a HOOT!
Eiizabeth - November 3, 2018 2:21 pm
Excellent laugh-out-loud story!!
Dee - November 3, 2018 2:25 pm
Jack Darnell - November 3, 2018 2:27 pm
Surely you are into fiction now, SURELY! What a great experience, RIGHT? I’m still laughing because I thought those famous card keys were fool proof!!!!!!!! Now I B skeered to use one! 😉
Liz Watkins - November 3, 2018 2:32 pm
Jane H Bowman - November 3, 2018 2:41 pm
I am sitting in the Atlanta Airport laughing myself silly. Don’t care who is looking at me because I cannot hold back my laughter!!!!
Jacque Avant - November 3, 2018 2:47 pm
I loved this post. It made my morning reading this. Thank you.
Charlu Kent - November 3, 2018 2:50 pm
What wonderful n beautiful laugh this chilly Saturday morning!! Thankyou!??❤️??
P D Nix - November 3, 2018 2:51 pm
I think this is my new favorite
Carol-Ann DearnaleyCarol-Ann Dearnaley - November 3, 2018 3:38 pm
One of the best! Thank you!
Gaynell Lumsden - November 3, 2018 5:54 pm
I can’t stop laughing at this one!!!
Gaynell Lumsden - November 3, 2018 5:58 pm
I love all the people who love you Sean. That’s my kind of people. BTW – I’m from New Orleans.
Edna B. - November 3, 2018 6:40 pm
Oh my gosh, this is sooooo funny! You’ve made my day. I hope your day is awesome, hugs, Edna B.
Jane Vaught - November 3, 2018 7:47 pm
Made my day! Hahahahaha ????
I can only imagine the surprise and red face ???
Pam - November 3, 2018 7:48 pm
I love this story – partly because your storytelling ability makes it SO funny! But also because it happened to me one time. I was at an education conference in Savannah, checked in the hotel , went up to my room, opened the door, and there stood a man in his boxers! It’s been a fun story to share over the years!
Susan Kennedy - November 3, 2018 9:21 pm
I love everything about this story!!! ??
Larry Smith - November 3, 2018 11:16 pm
Thanks,we all need a little positively in our lives
Sally Jo - November 4, 2018 2:12 am
Kelly - November 4, 2018 10:55 am
One of the best stories ever! I am always tentative opening a hotel door at first – you just never know what might be on the other side?. You made my day, Sir!
Marcia MacLean - November 4, 2018 2:58 pm
I totally laughed out loud reading this the first time, and again reading it to my husband.
Noelle Stevens - November 18, 2018 2:59 pm
You always lift my mood. Thanks for the great reads this morning. This one got me going .
Debbie Shiflett - December 27, 2018 1:29 pm
“And give been to Branson”, and “I know cuss words when I hear them”, you are a writer indeed! One of the best ever.
Michele Sandstead - December 27, 2018 2:35 pm
Oh My!!! What a great story!! Your enthusiastic details have me still chuckling!! Everyone in this waiting room are staring at me….! You have made my day, Sean!!
Sharon J - December 28, 2018 2:23 am
I needed that good, laugh-out-loud laugh!! Thanks Sean!