The No-Tell Motel


“The no-tell motel”


“The no-tell motel” is an example of tabooistic vocabulary used to talk about taboo topics (in this case, sex) without actually mentioning them. The informant heard this reference to sex from her mother. Her mother lives in a nursing home, where a male resident in the same nursing home told her that he’d like to take her to the “no-tell motel”, implying that he has a crush on her.


This reference to sex is one of many that exist to talk about it in a sneaky way without actually mentioning it. It is first important to note how it incorporates a rhyme, and it exemplifies rhymes being used to make light of more serious topics to make them more easily discussed. As this particular rhyme was shared by residents in a nursing home, we can assume that it is an older saying, which would make sense, as sex was likely even more taboo of a topic in decades past, making tabooistic references like this even more necessary to those with a rebellious spirit who want to talk about forbidden topics.

The use of this rhyme in a nursing home is a perfect example of this rebellious spirit that draws us toward the taboo. The same rebellious spirit caused the residents in this nursing home to flirt and be as charismatic as possible, even in a nursing home where such things as fornication are not allowed. In fact, the taboo and forbidden nature of such things seem to be what draws users of rhymes like these in even more, exemplifying the proverb “we want what we can’t have”. If something is forbidden, our rebellious nature attracts us towards it even more, which is why sayings like “the no-tell motel” exist – to allow rebels of social etiquette to sneakily talk about a forbidden topic.