Leave the Light On

Yes, it’s true. Connie and I are being flown to California to film a testimonial commercial for AARP Hartford Auto Insurance.

This unusual chain of events began as a result of our collision with a pedestrian deer on the evening of January 20, 2015. Even though the deer was clearly at fault (not crossing at a designated deer crossing, leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident, and possibly drunk on fermented deer corn), we still had to bear the burden of having our car fixed.

Not long after our vehicle was repaired, I received an email from The Hartford asking if we would share a testimonial of our claims experience. I submitted the details of the incident and it was selected from a large group of entrants (possibly more than four) as a finalist in their contest.

After a series of emails, phone calls, and ogling our Christmas Card photos, they jumped at the chance to fly us to Hollywood and put us up in a twelve bedroom condo next door to the Drysdale place (rumor has it a family named Clampett used to live there).

 If you’re new to Friday Flash Fiction, the Producer/Director of epic mini-adventures is Cecilia B. DeMille Wisoff-Fields.  If you’d like to participate in this exercise of madness, head over to her blog for step-by-step instructions. To view the FFF  Hollywood Squares Authors Block click here.

copyright - Rochelle Wisoff-Fields
copyright – Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The poor little peeve appeared scrawny and malnourished when Cain first brought him home. It was so cute to watch the two of them play, Cain stretching on tippy-toes to turn on every light in the house.

Our electric meter spun like a roulette wheel on steroids. When Father saw the utility bill he blew a fuse. After a brief family meeting, it was decided “Leave the Light On” had to go.

The president of a motel chain dispatched some fellow named Tom to pick up the peeve. Apparently, it’s worked out well for both of them. Tom and “Leave the Light On” have become inseparable.


The 106 words above are a much-edited excerpt from “Peeves I Love to Pet,” which you can read in it’s entirety between the covers of The Perils of Heavy Thinking. For those of you abroad, this is a parody of a long-running series of Motel 6 ads in which their spokesman, Tom Bodett, promises, “We’ll Leave the Light On for You.”




37 Comments on “Leave the Light On

  1. Poor pet peeve – Glad it found a good home with Tom. Enjoy Hollywood and let us know when the testimonial airs on TV.


  2. Dear Tom,

    I rather miss those Motel 6 ads. I suppose their electric bill went sky high and prospective guests must find their way to their rooms with Cloris Leachman leading the way with her candelabra.
    I hope you’ll be posting your sixteen minutes of fame so we may all basque in the glow. Hm. State Farm never had me write a testimonial, but at least they fixed my poor broken car after the deer collision.

    Ready for your close-up?




    • Dear Cecilia,
      Ah, Cloris Leachman and her candelabra. One of my favorite scenes.
      It’s more like 15 seconds of fame, and Connie will be the star. I will be badgering them for a clip of the ad to post right here in living color. I believe we were selected because of my shy, humble personality and mediocre writing skills.

      We’ll leave the ad on for ya,

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good story, Russell. You’ve got to watch those peeves. I hear they can be sneekier than a dear in the headlights. I hope we’ll be able to see your Hollwood debut. I see you got a sly plug in for your book. Did you get that copy out of your neighborhood library yet? Well done. 😀 — Suzanne


    • Last I heard, the lone copy of “Perils” at the Fayetteville Public Library got a full-time job as dust collector. Being a literary giant is not all it’s cracked up to be.


  4. Haha!! Clearly a lightbulb when on over your head for this story.

    Have a great trip to California and enjoy Hollywood! It’s not quite as glamorous as it once was unless you find being approached by bums for quarters and imitation Ricky Mouse characters “glamorous”.

    Hopefully you’ll get a chance to drive along the coast!


    • Ricky Mouse? Must be one of Mickey’s kin who on hard times. Kind of like Cousin Eddie in the “vacation” movies, right?


  5. I should be so lucky getting rid of my peeve, pet or not! And Hollywood will never be the same…but I hope you will! Break a leg (not a real leg, of course, unless it gets you gig doing a commercial for AARP health insurance…). 🙂


    • Try running an ad on Craig’s List to get of that peeve. That’s part of the story I had to chop out as part of the word-count diet.
      Thanks for the kind wishes in Hollywood. We also have a Farmers Mutual Fire & Tornado home owners policy, but I’m not anxious to have an experience with either of those two disasters just to make a commercial.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Congratulations on your Hollywood debut! Love the pet peeve take, Motel Six can keep their peeves and their paper thin walls! 🙂


    • Don’t you want to know what the couple in the next room is doing? I hope the gentleman in 309, who had refried beans for supper, doesn’t blow a hole in the plaster.


  7. At least Tom and the peeve found each other. Funny. That’s outstanding that you were selected, Russell! I’m sure your superior writing skills had everything to do with it. I hope it’s not too hot out here for you. Enjoy and good luck in Hollywood!


    • Yes, I’m happy for Tom. It was a match made in a cheap motel room. 🙂
      It will be at least 10 degrees cooler in LA than here next week and a whole lot less humid. It should be fun. We’ll look for your name on the sidewalk in front of that Chinese place.


  8. I once spent a portion of spring break helping my first (and last) boyfriend clean rooms in the Motel 6 managed by his parents. You know me well enough that I probably don’t have to mention that, unlike most college kids in similar circumstances, I actually did the cleaning bit–to the boyfriend’s chagrin, or so I’d like to think.

    Best of luck in Hollywood. I’ll be looking forward to seeing you back in the FFF halls. We’ll keep the light on for you.*

    All my best,
    Marie Gail

    *This statement in no way represents endorsement by Tom Bodett, Motel 6 or any associated parties.


    • I helped a friend of mine clean Greyhound buses (his dad managed the local bus station). It was part of our effort to raise enough money to buy a half-case of beer.

      Thanks for the kind wishes, MG – and the Motel 6 disclaimer. Perhaps you could write a story (fiction of course) about a motel chain whose catch phrase has something to do with pre-stained sheets.


  9. A lovely little read with some great language but I didn’t understand until I went through your explanatory note and the comments.
    Good luck with Hollywood. Can you get my stuff in front of the big cheeses – for a percentage, naturally.


  10. I’ve only been in “that” motel once after too many hours behind the wheel. I now understand why “light” in their slogan is not plural. One bulb in the whole darn room. 40 watts doesn’t show dirt, or… I shudder to this day. Thanks, or not, for the memories. 😉


    • Sorry it didn’t go well for you. I think I’ve only stayed there once and it was a fairly new property. Of course, they could have used a 4 watt night-light, then you wouldn’t see the monster lurking UNDER the bed. (Gasp!)

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’d forgotten about that ad, Russell, but love the spin you put on it!

    In the mean time, I can’t imagine a more colorful and interesting person for the Hartford commercial, and hopefully Connie will bring some balance. 😉


    • That must be like heaven if you’re a light bulb. Of course, if you weren’t particularly bright, it would be easy to get lost in the crowd.


  12. Hurray for Hollywood! I’m coming out to sponge off you and be your sycophant, as long as you pay. Can we meet Scarlett Johannson? Mila Kunis? Chloris Leachman? I’m not picky, except as to where we’re staying, I want a balcony and marbled bathroom. Umm … when are we going?


    • The Loew’s Hollywood Hotel. I can see you as cousin Eddie to my Clark Griswold. Don’t forget your white shoes and belt. Maybe I can fix you up with Jocelyn Wildenstein.


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