Our Visit with the (Hooker) Ghost of Christmas Past…

I told you these posts would be teensy weensy, right?

Well, how’s this:

We were NOT visited by a hooker on our Thanksgiving trip – dead or otherwise.

The end.

————————————————————————-

Nah, I joke! Here’s the story:

I had reserved a room on the fifth floor of the allegedly haunted Mizpah Hotel in the gold-rush town of Tonopah – given Boyfriend Brett’s fascination with all things that go bump in the night (or eat the flesh from your face to access your brain…what the actual fuck is up with you people and your zombie fixation?!?!).

You see, “The Lady in Red” was supposedly killed on the fifth floor – strangled (or stabbed…or strangled and then stabbed, depending on the version) by a jealous lover when she was found – ahem – cooking up a lil sumpin-sumpin with another happy client in the hotel.

The story goes that during recent renovations, in fact, the remodel team laid down new carpeting in the hallway just outside Room 502. And within days, a large blood-red stain appeared on the new carpet.

OOOH.

Super spooooooky.

If you believe in that shit. (Which I don’t.)

But these guys do:

(Recognize them? That's Zak, Nick and Aaron from that silly Ghost Adventures show on the Travel Channel. They're, like, way obsessed with the Mizpah...and with wearing black shirts while striking a pose, clearly...)

So of course, Brett was stoked about our fifth-floor room. Knowing this, I called ahead to make sure everything was on track at the Mizpah. The happy (and flighty – and perhaps seemingly high) lady on the phone told me that sadly, the room they had reserved for us on the fifth floor was “undergoing maintenance.”

I almost cried.

“But we do have the Lady in Red room available,” she offered.

I almost peed.

So I reserved it over the phone, and we proceeded toward our destination. However, keep in mind my children were in the car, so all of our talking about the hotel, the ghosts, the dead whore, etc., all had to be done in code.

“The ady-lay in-ay ed-ray oom-ray is available-ay,” I told Brett.

“Uck-fay yeah-yay!” he exclaimed.

(We’re so ooth-smay.)

Yes, you may have guessed (based on your knowledge of me and my tendencies): My children may be a wee-bit dramatic. And there was NO WAY I was letting them know we were visiting a haunted hotel for the night.

In the middle of nowhere.

So as we walked through the doors to the place, within five seconds my 12-year-old son started up.

“I hate it here,” he said.

“Why?” I asked.

“It’s creepy. And old. And did I mention, it’s creepy?”

At this point, it occurred to me: He’s never really stayed in a place this rife with history and character; Embassy Suites, Crowne Plazas and Radissons don’t exactly prepare a child for the Mizpah in Tonopah, Nevada.

According to my son, everything in this place was creepy:

  1. The lobby.
  2. The copious “M”s throughout the hotel.
  3. The man attached to this arm (appropriately,  the arm here appears to be disembodied).
  4. The elevator.

But the creepiest of the creepy: The Lady in Red room.

It really is a simple room — small in size, large iron bed, rich accents like moulding and embossed wallpaper.

And this picture hanging over the bed.

Now, you and I both know the owners probably picked up the print at a yard sale or flea market. But even though he DIDN’T EVEN KNOW the story, my son was devastated by that picture.

It was his version of my Creepy Egg Man.

So since we had yet to eat (besides a pack of TicTacs per child and a half bag of sesame blue chips per grown up), we proceeded to the restaurant, where my son continued to lament our creepy hotel, the creepy restaurant — and the creepy Lady in Red “portrait” over our bed.

He was hysterical. And tired. And totally creeped the fuck out!

That salad? Totally creeped him out...

Yet because we all returned to our room exhausted, bed time rituals were short, and both kids fell fast asleep — undoubtedly with visions of ladies in red dancing in their heads.

A few anomalies, however, did occur during the night:

  1. I slept. Through the night. And that is strange, trust me.
  2. Brett barely slept a wink. And that is strange, trust me.
  3. According to Brett, I talked in my sleep. Muttered, really. A lot. And I never talk in my sleep. Sadly, Brett couldn’t make out a single word.
  4. One time upon awakening, Brett sat up after “claiming” (yeah…right, babe) he heard whispering. The truly odd part of this story: My daughter was also sitting up in bed. She has no recollection of what awoke her, nor of the exchanged glances between her and Brett. She simply laid back down and fell back into peaceful slumber.

So the next morning after check out, we stopped at a restaurant for a happy grits-less breakfast and a Diet Coke (for me. The kids drank orange juice, in case you’re still contemplating my “Mom of the Year” nomination).

And we told them the story. The entire story.

(As an aside: Surprisingly, I did not have to explain the concept of a “prostitute” to my children, because coincidentally, we had just had this very discussion at the dinner table the week prior. I shit you not. And not because we live in Nevada, home of legalized prostitution in eight of our 16 counties. Nope, my son returned from school one day after proudly answering a question in his seventh grade social studies class. When his teacher asked, “What religious group arrived on the Mayflower? his response? You guessed it: prostitutes. So, yeah, we had a fun convo that night about the critical differences between a prostitute and a Protestant. Turns out, there might be quite a few.)

Anyhow, once we revealed the ghostly nature of the hotel, my son’s face became a convoluted, complex display of betrayal, angst, chickenheartedness and suspicion. With a dash of terror thrown in.

“I knew it! I told ya it was creepy!” he shouted disdainfully.

And since that day, he hasn’t stopped talking about the haunted hotel that we “forced” him to stay in. I can tell: There will be therapy in his future for this transgression, friends…

So: Your thoughts? Isn’t the Mizpah charming? Wouldn’t you TOTALLY say “Uck-fay yeah-yay!” to a night’s stay in the Lady in Red room? Why do you think I was talking in my sleep?

Perhaps I was possessed?

Red is my favorite color, after all. You’ve seen my home. And car. And blog. And clothes…

About Mikalee Byerman

How can a sometimes bitter, definitely jaded, no longer trusting blindsided ex-wife still believe in happy endings? (not that kind of happy endings...sheesh, people...) By channeling her scary internal dialogue through a controversial blog/future book, swearing like a drunken sailor and spending all her spare time focused on helping others people heal. Oh, and wine...lots of good, red wine. Join me as I embrace my next best self (and help you discover yours) with Me 2.0!
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56 Responses to Our Visit with the (Hooker) Ghost of Christmas Past…

  1. I love that you tortured your kids by not telling them until after, where you were going. I love that you drank diet Coke for breakfast as I often do. But I especially love how your son said prostitutes arrived on the Mayflower. If I stayed at this hotel, I wouldn’t want to stay on the fifth floor. I’m curious but not that curious. If boyfriend Brett likes scary, you should come out here and stay at the Hotel Del Coronado. It’s beautiful, majestic, on the ocean and about 100 years old. There are some scary legends off people being murdered in some of the rooms. You’d all love it!

    • Oh Monica, it was one of those moments: I just about spit peas through my nose as he told me this at the dinner table, yet I could see he was truly embarrassed by the experience! Once we talked it through, he started laughing, too — so I think he gained some valuable perspective. It’s also important to note that both of my children are in the Gifted and Talented program in the school district…thus making this even more poignant. Apparently, when he doesn’t know something, he really doesn’t know something. But ask him the atomic number for Praseodymium, and he’s your guy!

      I’ve heard of the Coronado — I think that silly Ghost Adventures crew did an investigation once there, too. We’re definitely going to have to check it out! I’ve been meaning to drag Brett to San Diego anyhow. If I can get him drunk enough to fly there, that is… ;)

  2. Heheh! He’ll LOVE telling his buddies about that! It may take a while for it to sink in that nothing really Awful happened, though.

    • So true — that’s what we kept saying: “Hey, nothing really happened, right?”

      But then he just looked at us and said, “But it could have. Then what?”

      Good point. But it didn’t, right? ;)

  3. Lori dyan says:

    Great ghost story! And tell your kid that salad creeps me the fuck out, too.

    • The entire restaurant was an experience. Brett hates mayo-based dressings, so he asked for Italian. The server left and came back with bleu cheese. “We don’t have Italian,” she said, “so I brought this.” Brett asked if she has oil and vinegar. “Sure,” she said. Then she brought him a ramekin of ITALIAN. No explanation.

      I ordered a taste of chardonnay to sample before committing to it. She brought a glass and a bottle, pulling a large swig of DARK RED wine into it. “I thought I asked for chardonnay?” I asked. “You did,” she said. “This is our chardonnay.” :-/

      Then she asked Brett if he was Hugh Grant. No lie.

  4. Leah H. says:

    The Mizpah IS charming, if you’re into haunted. I’m with your son, though; it all does look rather creepy!

    Some friends and I went to St. Augustine a couple of weeks ago, and I have to say that history itself is kind of scary. (As were some of the people’s historic costumes…)

    Here’s to not repeating history!
    Here’s to prostitutes and protestants!
    Or…something like that…

    • I whole-heartedly believe that historic reenactments (and perhaps more so, the people who participate in them) are creepy. Probably should be Creepy — with a capital C.

      Living life by pretending to be someone from the past? Bizarre. Although, extending that same logic, actors of any kind might be considered similarly creepy.

      I’ll have to research St. Augustine … always looking for new options for Brett!

  5. Reminds me of the time I lingered in Lathrop Wells.

    Two fucks and a Uck-fay – oublee-da cooloo.

    • I believe, superjack, Lathrop Wells (now Amargosa Valley) is both haunted — and offers legalized prostitution!

      Of course, that statement describes most of Nevada…

      One day, we shall have to develop a pie chart or bar graph tracking my fucks — and uck-fays…

  6. I would like to know your list of differences between prostitutes and protestants. Since one is a religion and one is a profession, couldn’t someone be both? I think a protestant prostitute is potentially possible, don’t you?

    • Indeed! We actually covered that in our conversation as well. I informed my son that while he was incorrect in naming the predominant religion that arrived on the Mayflower, he may have been right that there were prostitutes among them. And that just because someone is a prostitute, it doesn’t mean she is not also a Protestant…they are not, in fact, mutually exclusive.

  7. John says:

    I’m still laughing about the Prostitutes arriving on the Mayflower. It’s a totally innocent, yet hilarious, mistake.

    I swear that I once read a book that postulated something about that, though- that the real first North American settlers weren’t the pious people we think they were. I wish I could think of the name of the book. Basically, normal, well-adjusted, law-abiding citizens would have no need to flee Europe. And we paint it in nice, easy tones by saying that the first settlers were pious, but that they were more than likely social miscreants looking for a chance to flee European society. Long story short, your son may have been more correct than anyone really knows.

    • I know — he was so deflated – and yet ultimately, he was able to see the humor. He’s just at that tender in-between age, and any chiding from his peers represents a significant blow to his esteem.

      But yes, I told him that if this were a test question: I’d fight it! Because who knows, perhaps there WERE prostitutes on the Mayflower. And some may even have considered it a religion! Based on your book description, it sounds like that may have been the case…

  8. Bethany says:

    I love the Mizpah! I stayed there (on the fifth floor, actually!) this summer but didn’t see a ghost. However, the Gold Hill Hotel outside Virginia City is haunted, and I swear I saw a ghost there several years ago! (sure, I had lots of wine so my ghost-sighting may have been a hallucination, but either way, it was freaky!) And you know that all good Nevada ghost stories involve prostitutes. I love this state!

    • Haha…you’re more than right about this state and the prostitutes. It’s practically our birthright!

      And Brett and I already have plans to stay in the Miner’s Cabin at the Gold Hill — you know, located at the entrance to the mine where 17 miners died in a fiery explosion? Good times, right? Was your experience in the main hotel?

      There will be wine involved in our visit as well — copious amounts, considering the cabin itself is sorta a dive!

  9. "Poetry n Motion" says:

    Teeney Weenesy???????????

  10. I’m pretty sure you’re aware of how obsessed I am with ghosts and the paranormal. Let’s just say the Mizpah is a must-see destination for me!

    It helps that I have a girlfriend who passes through Tonopah on occasion. :)

    • You MUST go. So charming and quaint and amazing. Be sure to try to set up your DVR to catch the Ghost Adventures about the Mizpah before you go (unless you’ve already seen it). The bits with the boards that are “knocked over” and the elevator doors that open on their own are pretty darn ah-maz-ing. Which is especially alarming considering this is coming from me, who doesn’t even really believe in this shit…

      Make sure you stay in 502, too…

  11. Anne Schilde says:

    Haha, I was just listening to a father at a Christmas party. His daughter was trying to figure out street signs. She pointed out a lady in a crosswalk, “That lady’s a prostitute!” Apparently, she had determined that the sign said, “Prostitute Xing”. Okay, time to start driving with the windows up!

    The Mizpah is charming in a creepy kind of way, but this ghost thing is serious business. You sleep in a haunted room, and three weeks later you’re possessed to put out 12 comm-posts in 12 days? What the actual fuck is up with that? Coincidence? I think not! That blood-red stain was a hoax though. It turned out it was just a glass of wine some prostitute spilled when she tried to pass through the door with it.

    • Oh. My. GOD! That’s so funny — I’m guessing she meant, “Pedestrian”??? Or is it that her dad called a former crosswalker out for looking like a ho — and now ALL crosswalkers are hos?
      ;)

      Great point about the Mizpah. Possessed, clearly. Thanks for clarifying about the hoax — although I could have sworn no one saw me

  12. Harold says:

    I wondered about your stay there…now I know. Sounds quaintly creepily cool! The change of sleep place, probably changed a sleep pattern temporarily. That’s my take.

  13. Connie T says:

    I was looking at houses around Dayton, NV it is about an hour from Reno. I changed my mind about Dayton whenI found out there are 5 brothels in Dayton. The Mizpah creeps me out too, I agree with your son.

    • I had NO IDEA, Connie, that there were so many brothels between here and Vegas. It seemed the only things dotting the landscape were sagebrush, cacti — and whore houses!

      I’m sure my son will feel happy that so many of you agree with his assessment. He got no sympathy from Brett…nor from me!

  14. Gena Ramsey says:

    First I am scared to death of ghost anything, movies, tv shows, stories even that dumbe game bloody mary we use to play as kids, no thank you!… so I am right there with your son on that one. Second I was actually laughing out loud while reading this post, it was a bit scary and hilarious at the same time! Third, I would never ever stay there again and I am surprised that your daughter and your boyfriend weren’t more freaked out! Yikes!

    • Aw, memories of Bloody Mary — good times! Remember “light as a feather, stiff as a board”? Not quite a ghost game, but creeped me out nonetheless.

      I’m so glad you found some humor in my son’s horror. ;) We had so much fun — laughed the entire time!

  15. Flipping epic. I would Ab-so-lutely LOVE this type of a family outing. Are you adopting? Also, terrible missed opportunity not planning a scare for Brett during the overnight ;-) (unless the muttering was premeditated…)

    • Adopting? Sure. I only have my kids two weeks of every month … so there’s a hole in my mommy heart for the other two weeks. Welcome home, new baby!

      And definitely: a missed golden opportunity. Next time I’ll be better prepared. I actually was planning something fun, but oddly, actual sleep got in the way. I can’t tell you how rare that is!

  16. itspak1 says:

    Good post… Just killing some time rubbaging around and found your page. Nice looking blog. I’ll have to add the page to come back and see what’s new. Cheers

  17. groovyrick says:

    I would definitely stay there…and my kids would love it. They used to watch that stupid ghost chasers show all the time (absolute silence…”DID YOU HEAR THAT????…more silence). In fact, my daughter has been asking for a couple of years to stay at that place where poor Scatman Crothers bought it in The Shining. BTW, I’m thinking of changing my name from groovyrick to scatmanrick. The place looks very cool…I love places with character. NOW…tell the truth, Ms. Byerman…even though you don’t believe in that crap…were you just a teensy bit disappointed that nothing happened…I mean REALLY happened? I probably would be.
    Sincerely,
    The artist formerly known as groovyrick and now known as scatmanrick.

    • Your characterization of the ghost shows, scatmanrick, is DEAD ON (pun intended). I also love when they put an arrow on the screen over absolute nothing and say, “Check out that shadow figure…” Seriously? THERE’S NOTHING THERE!!!

      So I do have to admit: Brett and I visited a cemetery at night in Virginia City a few months ago — and I freaked the fuck out. So while I talk a good game, there’s at least a little part of me that waits for something to happen. I’m seriously excited to return to the Mizpah — this time, without creeped-out children in tow — so that we can do some “serious” investigation. I’ll keep y’all posted.

      And while I’m digging the Scatman Crothers connection, if I can offer this nugget of wisdom (pun intended): If I were you, I may avoid the word “scat” with anything associated with my name, lest people start assuming I’m obsessed with poop.
      ;)

  18. Shawn Griffin says:

    Isn’t the Mizpah charming?

    Charming and creepy. Your son sounds a lot like my son, very intelligent and very inquisitive. When the subject of prostitutes came up this past year, he just nonchalantly replied, “men and women who have sex for money”. Only when I asked him what “sex was” did he start to become uncomfortable at his young age of 11.

    Wouldn’t you TOTALLY say “Uck-fay yeah-yay!” to a night’s stay in the Lady in Red room?

    I wouldn’t object but I’d much prefer the Doubletree or a J.W., we did stay at the Waldorf in New York City, which has it’s own creepy past. I was only creeped out by the 6′ x 6′ rooms, the subsequent bill, and knowing that the section that I stayed in was orginally a f#$%ing horse stall.

    Why do you think I was talking in my sleep?

    It had to be that awesome red Chardonnay!
    :)

    Perhaps I was possessed?

    Only because your room reflected your house with the Diet Coke motif.

    • Our sons do sound like they’re at the same stage, Shawn. Mine covers his eyes during any TV/movie kissing scenes when I’m around — but the second I’m not there (and I’m spying on him), he’s intently studying. So we’re at the “public discomfort/private fascination” part of his maturation. Thank God there are good porn blockers on his computer!

      Man, I can relate about New York: I’ll never forget visiting a Houlihan’s and paying $22.95 for a burger. No fries. No joke. I can only imagine how spooky your Waldorf bill must have been!

      And now, please imagine me clinking your chianti with my red chardonnay. Cheers to a great comment!

  19. msdarkmetal says:

    Sounds like a fun time. I used to be obsessed with the paranormal, but shows like Ghost Adventures ruined it for me with their douchy poses, orange skin, and trying to appear badass to the ghosts yet coming off as lame. Still wouldn’t mind going to a “haunted” hotel for a couple nights.

    • It was a lot of fun … we laughed the entire time we were there, especially at my poor son! I completely agree about the inanity of the shows, though Brett and I watch almost because of how silly they seem. Especially when it comes to Ghost Adventures, we always tease Zak and his super skinny muscle shirts. “We think there’s a ghost over THERE,” we’ll imitate, flexing muscles and pointing hands in an unnatural pose designed to show off his biceps. It’s super ridiculous — but makes us laugh!

      I wholeheartedly recommend the Mizpah, if you ever get a chance!

  20. Monica C. says:

    I really enjoyed your post!

    I just think it’s hilarious how the kids were thinking, “ok, we’re staying at a hotel” – a la Radisson or Crowne Plaza, as you mentioned – and then they walked in to something entirely different! I’m not sure I would have been able to stifle my laughter as they began to take in their surroundings and finally pronounced, “This place is creepy.” LOL!! You must have been thinking, you don’t know the half of it!

    • Hi, Monica — I’m so glad you read and enjoyed enough to comment. Thank you!

      Yeah, my children had NO WAY of being prepared for the Mizpah. I think the smell alone was enough to make them question my sanity. It was almost like an old bookstore — that musty, slightly mildewy scent. Which I LOVE. But certainly doesn’t permeate the local Barnes & Nobel, if you get my drift.

      Brett and I laughed the entire time about how creeped out my son was — particularly because of your very point. “You don’t know the half of it” was the exact knowing glance he and I kept exchanging! My poor, poor children…
      ;)

  21. Mikalee, you are becoming a better writer with every post! I love haunted stuff, but have ZERO fear of ghosts. Yeah, I know energy forms get trapped in places, I also know that quartz under the ground can record events and they can be “replayed” periodically due to the right conditions. The Universe is so interesting and layered.
    I have pics from Hanna House here in Indianapolis that is haunted. I have three orbs and two vapors. Aside from being able to smell the fire in the basement that killed several people who were moving through the Underground Railroad at the time.
    People have styed overnight there, but you have to get special permission. The used to have a “haunted house” at Halloween, but it was nothting compared to getting to walk around the place on a dreary gray day.
    IIsn’t it just The Best how kids can ALWAYS feel that “creepy” energy immediately?

    • Well thank you so much — that’s very sweet of you to say. And in terms of the hauntings, I’m not sure what my take is exactly. Hanna House sounds intriguing: Have you ever posted your pix on your blog?

      And I definitely agree: seeing the “real” place versus the dressed-up-to-look-haunted version of it is WAY cooler. Although my son would definitely disagree!

      Thank you so much for the great comment!

  22. kitchenmudge says:

    Why is everyone ignoring the obvious here? You, Mikalee are being stalked/possessed by the Lady in Red! No, I’m not calling you a protestant or anything else so vile, but she clearly possessed you that night and made you mumble incoherently. She’s what you’ve been thinking was the universe. She strangles squirrels and leaves them around you. The red of the Coke logo, when adapted for Diet Coke, includes silver from Tonopah’s history. Coincidence? She talks to you through your car stereo. You have a great future at the Mizpah hotel handing out pearls.

  23. The Hook says:

    Great tale! You’re one fun gal, you realize that, right?

  24. No doubt, the fact that there’s a picture of your son’s meltdown is what might ultimately reepcay him out the most later on… as you know from my U.N. posts, I use fictitious name and they do not allow any pictures. (I will now blatantly provide a link to my blog, here, as promised in our recent comment box friendship: http://talesfromthemotherland.me/2011/12/10/all-kinds-of-mayhem-at-the-u-n/ Of note, since I’m already being blatant- I think the last few posts are more interesting, but I had to find a legitimate way to get my link in, and via our children was the most obvious route, since my car isn’t as talkative as yours, I don’t drink Pepsi, and I don’t have a hot boyfriend like you.

    You make me laugh every time; I want to go to this place just because your creepy is so intriguing, and I’m so glad you’re out there taking us along on your wild rides… or at least taking me away from my (currently) bumpy ride. Gratzi bella.

    • You are welcome to post links any ol’ time — I do not mind at all!

      As for the pic of my son, I’ve actually never gone this route before, but I figure because his face was so obscured, you’d never even recognize him if you ran into him on a street. Unless he was standing next to me or Boyfriend Brett. And rubbing his eyes.

      The funny thing is, my kids always BEG me to write about them and/or post pix of them. Of course, they don’t read the blog, or otherwise they’d know that the true goal in life is to stay off of these pages — inclusion only means you’re part of the bat-shit crazy, after all!

      I’m so happy to provide a distraction, but as I said in the other comment: you need a vacation. And a cabana boy. ‘Nuff said.

      XOXO

  25. Becky says:

    Oh my GOD this was hysterical! I went to high school in Tonopah way back when it was cool to live there. (Ha, was it ever cool to live there?!) We went to the Mizpah for one of our dances at school and thought it was awesome! The bar, the beer.. er, I mean, we didn’t visit the bar of course. Not us! This was great to see your pictures as I haven’t been back there in oh.. 20 something years. Surprised it’s still around! Thanks for the laughs!
    Oh, and that salad IS freaky!!

    • That’s too funny! I’m sure Tonopah once was cool — and I definitely think it is again now! We had such a great time.

      So besides the beer/bar experiences, I have to wonder if you ever witnessed any ghosts? I have a good friend who also went to high school in Tonopah and worked at the Mizpah, and she definitely believes it’s haunted.

      I’m still a skeptic, though…

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