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  • Writer's pictureRick Copp


Bambi Didn’t Make It After All

Some years ago I had the romantic notion of renting a car and driving across country. I would start by dipping my toes in the Pacific Ocean off Malibu Beach in California and finish up by wading into the Atlantic off the rocky coast of Maine. In between, I would drive a Northern route and hit as many landmarks and interesting things to see and do that were on my Bucket List and needed to be crossed off. Siegfried and Roy’s campy show in Vegas (this was before a tiger redesigned poor Roy’s face). The Tetons in Wyoming. The house used in the Mary Tyler Moore Show in Minneapolis. The Rock and Roll Museum in Cleveland. The Liberty Bell in Philly. Niagara Falls. It was a pretty long list. But the tourist spot I was most excited about was Mount Rushmore. And believe me, it didn’t disappoint. So grand and spectacular. The giant sculpted faces of four of our most enduring Presidents. Very impressive.

Anyway, I wanted to spend as much time there as I possibly could so I decided to stay overnight. I did some research online and stumbled across a charming ad for a bed and breakfast “nestled in the scenic Black Forest Hills of South Dakota.” Charming. The ad also mentioned the B&B was “gay owned.” Perfect! At least it will be nicely decorated and probably be stocked with high end soaps and moisterizers. I shot off an e-mail to the owner, and within minutes, I got a nice reponse saying they were looking forward to my arrival. Well, after a long day exploring Mount Rushmore and snapping hundreds of pictures, I was ready for a good night’s sleep before setting off towards my next destination. I had jotted down the directions (this was before iPads and GPS) and followed them off the main highway onto a dirt road that kept going and going with no end in sight. Deeper and deeper into the woods I went. It was getting dark and I was starting to wonder if this place even existed.

Finally, I turned a corner and came upon a lovely storybook home gorgeously landscaped with a beautiful flower garden out front. I checked the address. Nope. Not it. So I kept going. I was just about to give up and turn around and find other accomodations when off in the distance, I saw a dilapidated farm house that looked as if it was falling to one side like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The house was in desperate need of a paint job. The grass was overgrown. There was a stray rubber tire lying on the ground out front. As I pulled up to it, I thought, “No, this can’t be it!” But then I saw a chalk board propped up on the front porch railing and on it, someone had scribbled “Welcome, Rick!”

Before I could jam the car in reverse, two portly men in checkered shirts and scruffy jeans came bounding out the front door, a barking dog on their heels, waving at me like the Beverly Hillbillies. One went for my suitcase in the backseat while the other welcomed me with open arms (the dog was focused on my crotch). They escorted me inside where I met the only other guest they were hosting that night… a gay toothless truck driver passing through. Suddenly I felt like Ned Beatty in that movie Deliverance. Except some weird gay porn version. Scratch that. The original movie was a weird gay porn version.

Lucky for me, I was just in time for dinner and I was served a stew. Some unappetizing brown slop with mystery meat, which I assumed was a previous guest who got on their bad side. I was not about to insult them so I dutifully choked some down before faking a yawn and saying I was tired and looking forward to getting some sleep. They led me up to my room. The first thing I saw when I entered was a bedside lamp. Its stand was made out of an actual deer hoof. I couldn’t take my eyes off it I was so horrified. Is this what Bambi had to look forward to?

One of the owners said, “What time would you like breakfast tomorrow morning?”

There was no way I was going to eat anything else here after the stew so I smiled and said, “Oh, don’t you worry about breakfast. I have to be up really, really early. I’ll be on my way around five a.m.”

“Perfect! We’re up at four!”

That was settled. I was having breakfast.

He left me alone and I sat down on the bed and went over my options. This cross country drive was supposed to be fun. If I’m not happy, then I should just go. But I didn’t want to be rude or hurt anyone’s feelings. I made a decision. I was going to stay. I would get some shut eye, pop up early, and hit the road and all of this would be just a bad memory. I unzipped my suitcase and began removing some toiletries when there was a knock on the door.

“We’re hot tubbing!”

I couldn’t tell if it was an invitation or an order. I immediately put my toiletries back into the suitcase, zipped it up, and waited until I heard the jets of the jacuzzi come on before racing downstairs, tossing sixty dollars on the kitchen counter, and barreling out the front door to my car. I peeled away in a cloud of dust and didn’t stop until I crossed a time zone.

I finally pulled off the highway hours later when my fear that the B&B owners were not far behind in a pick up truck chasing me down had subsided. I checked into a Comfort Inn, but on that day, it was like a night at the Four Seasons.

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