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September 1999

Heather Amidst The Wild Onions

Minneapolis not being terribly out of my way, I took advantage of Ms. Hendersons amiable offer of hospitality and broke my trip to visit with her and Victor of an evening. I arrived there at about 8:30 in the evening. Victor, who is a surgeon, was off doing his stint at the ER, a place which is devoted to persons wishing to have their colds treated, young persons holding sub-lethal conversations, and persons establishing once again that the consumption of alcoholic beverages has deletereious effects on one’s driving ability.

I was greeted enthusiastically by Boswell who was delighted that his playmate had returned. Heather, kind person that she is, made coffee and we chatted a bit. This was a strategic mistake. It was her theory that we were going out for a bite to eat. Her delight in my doubt estimable conversation induced her to forget one of the unfortunate features of the midwest that holds even in the metropolises of the plains, to wit, sidewalks are rolled up and establishments close quite early in the evening. This may not be the case in Minneapolis but it is definitely so in St. Paul.

We hopped into Heather’s car (abject terror is good for the circulation) and quickly visited several restaurants which (a) served delicious food according to my native informant and (b) were either closed or about to close. Finally we came across an establishment called “The Wild Onion”.

Chicago may be hog butcher to the nation but it has no monopoly on meat markets, The Wild Onion being one such. It is, apparently, one of those places where the youth of America perform mating rituals to the accompaniment of loud music and peculiar alcoholic beverages. Whatever its demerits it had the overwhelming merit of being open and we were hungry.

Heather, to her evident delight, was carded; I was not. I have reached an age where I am only carded when I claim senior discounts. By good fortune a booth was immediately available. This was no small thing; the place was packed with people, sweet young things displaying their charms and manly young men displaying their studliness. Heather, rat that she is, snared the seat facing the crowd so that she had a near monopoly on the people watching. She got to survey the sea of studly young men whilst I drank my wine and lamented to myself lost vistas of tanned breast tops. Our conversation was necessarily desultory – competing with the band required that we shout across the table. Let it never be said that Heather is unselfish or unkind; she delightedly pointed out to me the entrance of a young lady of superabundant charms, who had curves in places where most women do not have places, said young lady wearing a dress that would be skin tight if she were forty pounds lighter.

Refreshed and deafened, we returned to Chateau Henderson where Victor, having done his stint in Medical Hell, awaited us. Heather trotted out her infernal device, aka an accordian, and practiced upon a pieces that her teacher had provided her. I will say this for Boswell: he may be depressingly enthusiastic but he is a well behaved young dog; he did not howl even once.

I retired amidst the literature to rest upon the sleeping platform that they provided me. I do not the precise details of this piece of furniture. The top was a futon; I know not what was underneath. I do know that they muttered about it being ready to collapse and that this was the last time that they would use it. This was not immensely reassuring. Be that as it may the infernal sleeping platform did not collapse under me during the middle of the night. What did happen is that I developed a tooth ache. Fortunately there was a copy of Gyn-ecology by Mary Daly on the shelves. I snared it and began reading. Almost immediately the toothache went away and I fell into a deep and restful sleep.

The following poem has nothing to do with my charming hostess, having been written well before my having heard of her. It does, however, mention heather.

Heather ale and witches three
Oh, what mad poet must I be
That witches broth and heather ale
Must bind together in my tale

The hound that howls in darkling glen
Will bare his teeth in verse again
The landlord locks the oaken door
Lest witches three be witches four

The poets word calls forth the knight
Who in the darkness does delight
In deeds that all good men do fear
As nature raw comes too near

The elven lords are on the hunt
And reason sweet must bear the brunt
Of madness mixed in verse and life
When prose and poet meet in strife

The oaken door is barred tonight
The tavern glooms in failed light
And the poet hears the witches wail
As he sips his heather ale

It is apparently my fate for the nonce to commute back and forth between the midwest and the east coast. Instead of simply driving like a single minded demon it seems to me that I should take at least some efforts to see some of the country besides the interstate landscaping. On this trip I decided to stop and view Niagara Falls which I had not previously seen.

It is well worth seeing. There is enough white water to satisfy the failed real estate ambitions of a dozen Clintons; the horseshoe falls are, as advertised, simply spectacular. Perhaps some practical physicist will explain why the water is green at the top of the falls and white at the bottom.

Niagara Falls is the traditional venue for honeymooners. I was fortunate enough to see one such couple. He was, I judge, in his forties and she was in her thirties. They sat on a bench. They had with them a picnic hamper and plastic glasses of champagne which they sipped (the champagne, not the glasses.) As I passed they embraced and kissed enthusiastically. I said nothing; it was not my place to say anything but I smiled to myself.

Another poem, this one about driving the interstates:

Living in the automobile
Within the plastic and the steel
A slave to your velocity,
The drivers world is all you see:

Black ribbons in the middle of the night
With all their borders edged in white,
A world reduced to traffic lanes,
Traversed by cars with human brains.

This page was last updated September 12, 1999.

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September 1999