Roswell, New Mexico, broke-ass heart of the Land of Enchantment.
As we came into town from the west, we were greeted by a string of seedy motels identical enough to simulate a looped background in a Hanna-Barberra cartoon. We were looking for a place to stay, and decided that a creepy place would be in fitting with the whole idea of Roswell. Maybe the fourth motel we passed had a sign below the main sign showing a green alien with his head on a pillow, saying, “I feel at home here.” I said, “Yes! Let’s stay there, that’s sweet!” But when we went back, no one would come to the window. It was about 10:30 PM. After I pushed the buzzer a third time, my wife, still in the car, said, “Let’s get out of here, it’s creepy. Someone’s getting sodomized against their will here.” As we drove away, a guy in a wifebeater was finally coming to the window. Maybe he’d just been on the toilet.
So we went to the Crane Motel. It had a sweet, fifties-style neon sign. I checked in at a barred window with a plump guy who looked Pakistani, and I think maybe his son was back there with him. There were little spiritual items around the window, in Arabic, but some of them seemed more new-agey than strictly Islamic, especially a big poster of a unicorn running in a dark void. Our room was fifty bucks. As I left the check-in lobby, I saw that the pool had been filled in with dirt and a half-grown vegetable garden was popping up. My favorite touch, which I found while searching for a pop machine (there wasn’t one) was the five-gallon buckets used as planters for tomato plants, placed around by some of the doors to the rooms.
Our room had dark red carpet, a velvet landscape painting of a sylvan river valley, lots of cracks and maintenance errors—mainly a door-sized rectangle that had been crudely spackled over and painted without a good match in color or texture—a crusty black-brown stain debatably either blood-based or feces-based (Heather said poop, I said blood) on the edge of the box-spring, and dresser-top mirror with a magical, speculation-sparking sticker on it. It was the size of an 8-inch strip of masking tape, made with the silvery, reflective prism backing that makes me think of stickers you might have pulled out of the Skill Cranes at the fairground in the 1980s—stickers you’d expect to say DOKKEN or WHITESNAKE or maybe HARLEY DAVIDSON, but in this case it said something in Arabic, so it had to come from management. One corner was peeling off badly. Maybe the peel just started when the cleaning ladies wiped off the mirror, but we imagined a post-9-11 Real American checking in, setting his cowboy hat on the dresser, looking in the mirror, seeing the sticker and declaring, “Not on my watch!” before picking the corner of the sticker off two inches and then getting distracted by some other threat. There was, after all, an S-10 pickup parked next door with 2 mini American flags flying off the back of the bed.
Heather stayed in her clothes to sleep in the bed. Before falling asleep, we watched what appeared to be a special pedophilia episode of Land of the Lost: A lone ship’s captain corralled the young girl (Holly?) into domestic chores on his galleon, then drugged her unconscious, stroked her hair, and bemoaned how lonely it gets sailing alone. Then our heroes accomplished the tripping of many Sleestaks with a bolo that a toddler could have dodged.
We kicked off the next morning with a stop at McDonald’s, eating some kind of Cinni-Mini rolls. When I took the tray to the trash, a retarded employee stopped his chore—wiping a table, I think—and reached in to help me. His finger touched my hand under the swinging “THANK YOU” flap on the trash at the same moment that I thought, “this guy smells like poop.” As if reading the trash door, I said, “Thank you.”
Of course the most important stop in Roswell, for anyone who ever watched TV or lived in America, will be the UFO Museum. It's not a great museum when compared to the likes of the Smithsonian, or The British Museum, or The Field Museum. All in all, it's rather half-ass, with production values similar to the Ozark Empire Fair crafts pavilion. But if you have to get the skinny on aliens, illustrated by some decent models, some ok samples, some semi-legit-looking documentation, and some lousy artists' conceptions, this is the place. The gift shop is disappointingly golden. Most of all and better than I could have ever hoped for, somewhere in the building was this sheet of paper, greatest of all alien summaries:
|"HUMANIOD" (sic) may be the strangest of all...|