By Michael Matthews
September 6, 2012 -- As a student at Northern Arizona University studying Hotel Management, John--we'll call him that for this story--was having some trouble attracting members of the opposite sex.

It wasn't that John was unattractive. In fact, he was pretty handsome: tall, thin, blond with an aquiline nose and blue eyes. His failure to get dates was probably because he was perpetually broke.

Everything changed when John had a "Eureka!" moment. Campus parties needed good DJs. So John's plan was to become a DJ, assuming that it would give him entrée to parties, money and girls in great abundance.

John went out and brought the latest DJ equipment and a huge assortment of the appropriate music. He then canvassed the campus and put up posters announcing his availability.

Nothing happened.

Nearly desperate--his Mum had loaned him the moolah for his venture--he turned to a friend for advice. His friend's suggestion: John needed a hook, not only to get gigs, but to get the opposite sex.

Enter Peter the Python. One of John's friends had a friend who had a friend who had a python and was soon graduating. The friend, not the python. John made contact and offered to take over the python, all ten feet of it.

Within 24 hours, John had new signs going up around campus. "DJ with live python, great turntable and the latest music. Available for parties."

He had his first booking almost immediately. The python was the hook and John was in great demand, working virtually every weekend until his graduation several years later.

John would appear everywhere, Peter the Python draped like a long, preppie scarf around his neck. Girls suddenly found John interesting. Some even wanted to pet Peter.

What's more, Peter was cheap to look after: just a couple of mice every now and then. Besides, Peter slept most of the time, almost as much as his master. Peter even shared his master's bed, something that was not necessarily conducive to other nocturnal college activities.

John eventually graduated with his degree in hotel management and moved to Beverly Hills and the august Beverly Wilshire Hotel, best-known as the setting of the movie Pretty Woman. Peter the Python moved to Beverly Hills with John and they took a small apartment. Peter slept all day while John worked.

John did well at his first hotel job, proved himself and moved up the ladder. But John's DJ days were not over. Even in Beverly Hills, there was a demand for a DJ with a python. John and Peter even appeared in a couple of music videos.

One year, just before Christmas, John was asked by management if he would go to Atlanta to a sister hotel of the Beverly Wilshire and help out during the Yuletide rush. He arrived in Atlanta on Christmas Eve, was shown to a bedroom and slept solidly till Christmas day.

Maria, who is new to this story, came from Guatemala. Maria took her job as a maid at the hotel very seriously. She was also very religious. On this Christmas morning, she'd already been to Mass when she started her shift.

Her room chart showed that Room 610 was a "staff use room" and the employee had already gone to work. Maria decided that Room 610 would be the first she'd clean that fine Christmas morning.

A maid, working alone, usually picks up all the dirty towels, cleans the bathroom and then moves to the bedroom proper. This she did, humming Christmas carols to herself as she worked.

The first step in bedroom cleaning is to strip the bed. As Maria pulled off the blankets, she suddenly saw something moving in the bed. She jumped back and started screaming.

It was, as you may have suspected, Peter the Python. He slowly slid out of the bed and onto the floor and then began slithering towards her.

Maria's screams echoed down the corridors and throughout the hotel. Guests peeked their heads out from their rooms and wondered about the commotion. Some saw a fast-moving person in a maid's uniform vanishing at great haste down the hallway. Maria was last seen exiting the hotel via the lobby, shouting "Piton! Piton! There's a python in the bed."

One couple was heard to comment: "I've heard of bedbugs, but not pythons. Just what sort of hotel is this?"

Years have passed and the hotel has never once heard from Maria. She didn't even file for Workers' Compensation. She may well still be under psychiatric care.

Peter the Python has also left the hotel industry. When last seen, he was resting around the neck of another budding DJ.

As for John, he wasn't fired, but he did get a good talking to. He is still employed by the same hotel company, in fact. Unfortunately, he remains unattached in the romance department.

By the way, John is my stepson.

ABOUT MICHAEL MATTHEWS Michael Matthews has managed and marketed fine hotels around the world for more than 45 years. He spent 14 years in Hong Kong building the legendary Regent International group. He has also worked with St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton and Rosewood hotels. Matthews is currently based in Arizona. He began writing Do Not Disturb in early 2004.

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