We won’t have wireless in the house til Friday, so if I want to blog, I have to bike downtown. At least I think I’m biking downtown. The streets here are more confusing than in Manhattan. How can you not get lost in a city where Keokuk and Keokuk intersect? I biked down a hill into what looks like a town, so…
The first place I went had a sign with “No Internet” written in multicolored crayola crayon. This was discouraging, but then I remembered the dive bar across the street with the wax paper wrapped cheeseburgers (the top bun is always hot, the bottom cold) and $1.50 drafts. Who says you can’t copy edit and phone O magazine while drinking Bass. Not me.
Turns out the internet wasn’t working at George’s either, but I did get plenty of attention from the handful of retirees eating hot nuts and nursing whiskey neat. One stooped man told me I looked just like a Parisian girl, tall and thin and beautiful. “I just returned from Paris,” he said. “Only tourists are fat there.” I took the compliment, which felt strangely negated by my biting into a greasy slab of meat.
Now comes the best part of my day. The same man who mistook me for Amelie was struggling with a crossword. He asked me how to spell horrid. “I think it’s two R’s,” he said.
I’m a terrible speller — horrid, in fact — so I wrote it out on a napkin to make sure my instincts were correct. “Yes, two R’s.” I pronounced R’s in my best guttural, washer-woman French, only it came out arse.
He was quiet for a couple of minutes, apparently making progress. Then I saw him massage his forehead with the back of his palm.
“Excuse me, I hope I’m not bothering you, but how do you spell pants?”
“Huh? No. Pants. Like, I’m wearing pants. What I have down is P-A-N-C-E.”
“You’re asking me how to spell pants?”
“That you wear.”
Pants is a pretty common word, certainly more common than horrid. There’s no Horrid section in K-Mart. Well, there is, but it’s never labeled that way. And even if you did decide that pants had a C in it, wouldn’t you be tempted to pluralize with an S? To write pances?
“It’s P-A-N-T-S, I think. Yes.”
“Oh thank you! Pants fits just fine.”
Third hot spot was the charm. I found internet at Java Juice. Unfortunately, I also found this couple, who engaged in some heavy petting (tempered with butterfly kisses) on the coffee shop couch with the TV tuned to The Disney Channel:
You can’t tell, but seriously, his hand is down her pance.