If you can avert your eyes from the inevitable scene of the father playing with his young son and trying to teach him how to swim by throwing him into the water and shouting at him to kick and the child is blue and shivering and crying and soon sobbing and begging to get out and the father is disappointed and becoming persuaded that his son is a helpless crybaby and the child is crushed and becoming persuaded that nothing he will do in his entire life will ever please his father, there is nothing nicer than a motel swimming pool.

Who cares what your thighs look like when you're 400 miles from home?

And if you should find yourself in a motel with a wonderful pool but with no swimming suit, you can do what you would never do at home. Buy a paper bikini at the front desk.

At a motel you can wear a bathrobe for a beach coat. At a motel you can stay at the pool as long as you want, even after your husband wakes from his nap, your kids run out of quarters for the video games, after you finish your magazine and the sun goes down . . . because you don't have to cook! When everyone else gets hungry, you can sit on and join them later at the restaurant.

And where but in motels can you find such down-home, yet somehow decadent buffets? Carrot and raisin salad, coleslaw, macaroni salad, potato salad, all with lots of sugar? Ambrosia with more marshmallows than fruit? Spiced apple slices? Fatty spareribs? Huge baskets of garlic-butter-saturated rusks?

If you are not a TV viewer or have pretentions about what you can--and cannot--stomach on TV, you can forget all that at a motel. Deprived of all entertainment but the singles bar and walks along a semi-truck-rushing, fume-filled highway, you don't have to make excuses for watching reruns of "Loveboat" and "Fantasy Island."

Or of watching old movies, and fixating on every detail. I once saw a remake of "The Big Sleep" with Robert Mitchum as Philip Marlow. He comes into this room, see, and there in his bed is this naked woman, see, and he doesn't like her at all. So with one hand--with one hand--he grabs up all the covers and rips them all off the bed, leaving the naked woman on the bare mattress. Yes, he rips off all the covers--blankets, top sheet and fitted bottom sheet--with one pull! Can you tell me why housewives haven't been taught that trick?

At a motel you can buy Photoplay, Muscles, People and True Confessions with no one you know intercepting with a raised eyebrow. You can take your time to choose your Jennifer Wilde, Rosemary Rogers or Barbara Cartland without snatching one off the shelf and hiding it under your raincoat till you get to the checkout counter.

And where but in a motel would you find yourself enthralled by organ music for your dining pleasure? We once stopped at a Pennsylvania motel, where the organist played things like "Peg o' My Heart" and "The Girl That I Marry." As I sang along to these old favorites--that my children had never heard--I realized that a whole generation is growing up unable to sing "Peg o' My Heart," "Cuddle Up a Little Closer" and "Let Me Call You Sweetheart." I sang them, then, with reverence for the disappearing past . . . in spite of my children's embarrassment. I sang them along with the gray-haired ladies of that little town, one of whom came over as she was leaving and patted my arm and said, "I like your singing" and smiled at us all.

Motels--say what you will--are splendid places indeed.