The Mysteries of Peoria
Tonight we’ll find out if Dan Savage will play in Peoria.
I’m in Peoria, Illinois, to speak at Bradley University. This is the second time Bradley’s brought me in to speak, so I must play pretty well. I got to the hotel—a huge, old hotel called Pere Marquette—in downtown Peoria, desperate to get up to my room so I could email off a couple of pieces. (One for the Stranger, one for a paper to be named later.) When I told the receptionist I wanted to check in, she pointed at this sign on the counter:
I found it hard to believe that a huge hotel in Peoria—Peoria!—didn’t have even one room that I could check into at 3 PM. The lobby was deserted, the hotel bar was empty, there wasn’t a soul on the sidewalk in front of the hotel. “Are you telling me that a single room in this hotel is empty and clean?ā€¯ I asked. “I have to check with housekeeping,ā€¯ the receptionist said. She disappeared for a while, and eventually she discovered one room—Room 538—that was empty and clean.
When I got in the elevator, I noticed that about a third of the buttons didn’t list floor numbers. They just said “CATERPILLER.ā€¯
This place is giving me the creeps.