A very tall, very handsome guy took pity on Holly as she struggled over the to-go order I sent with her to read aloud at the Starbucks counter and ended up adopting her, well I'm not sure that's what you'd call it.........adoption.....I think the police and America's Most Wanted have another name for it. Nevertheless and needless to say a very tall, very handsome guy followed Holly out of Starbucks, back across the street and into the gallery where we were working on Friday.
His name was Mark and have I mentioned that he was very tall and while I am, on occasion, given to pontification and amplified description, I would like to note such is not the case this time, the guy was absolutely H O T. But of course he was a stalker so it would be in poor taste for either of us to have entertained his attention or acknowledged the temperature of his appeal.
Even though he was very tall and very handsome-hot.
We'd been in the San Francisco area all of maybe three hours and Holly is very young and very cute and I am very not-young and definitely on the weathered and slightly worn side of cute........well, you can see where this is going....so to have a very tall and handsome-hot Mark not only follow Holly back to the gallery but invite us both to hook up with him later, after we were done for the evening and "make a memory out of this weekend" was something of a surprise as this sort of thing hardly ever happens at my Starbucks on Fleur Drive, ok there I go again with the dramatic amplification of the truth, no, the truth is this sort of thing damn well never ever happens at my Starbucks on Fleur Drive.
We graciously declined the invitation, mostly because it was the wise and proper thing to do and when you're on-the-clock and working for someone, the wise and proper thing to do is what you mostly do, but we probably should have let our hair down, pulled on our naughty shoes and followed him down the street for what undoubtedly would have been alot less trouble than we feared and alot more fun than we imagined. Sigh. Next time.
But I bring up the story for a reason. Just before Mark left the store he turned to Holly and as he said goodbye, he touched her wrist in a very deliberate way sort of as if to tag her and say "you're it!" and then he chuckled and said to her, "There. That'll give you something to talk about when you tell everyone in Des Moines, Iowa about your big adventure in California." The voice, the look on his face, the chuckle.......we knew exactly what he meant. Mark was black and he was implying that it would be a big story to go back to home and tell people she'd not only TALKED to but had been TOUCHED by a black man. (Incredibly tall and handsome-hot, have I mentioned?)
And that's the kind of thing we run into all the time.........misperceptions about the Midwest.
If my experiences in various cities around the country are any clue, I'd guesstimate that 3/4 of the people I meet think that I ride a John Deere tractor to work and would plum fall right off that big thing and rip my britches if I ever saw a real live negro in my neighborhood. Sometimes it is annoying, sometimes it is amusing and sometimes I just play along. Why do I care if complete strangers think my back yard is a hog lot and I have to push aside stalks of corn to get to the clotheslines where my dungarees and red-check shirt hang??? Does it matter that they haven't a clue that my next-door neighbor is black, his wife is white, the baby is a fabulously gorgeous combination of both............and their color is the last thing anyone notices or cares about when we're all out in our yards planting spring flowers???
This weekend I stood talking to a mother and college-age daughter about Sticks furniture and they asked where it was made. "Des Moines, Iowa," I repeated for them, like I'd shared with a dozen customers before them that morning. "Iowa," said the daughter, turning to her mom, "Where is Iowa?"
"Kind of North," her mother motioned into the air with her hand, indicating that it was a long, long way and at the same time assuring her that it didn't really matter. (Note to Schwarzenneger: Buy those kids some geography books!)
So that's how it goes. We say we're from Iowa and people always say, "WHY???!!!!"
Why??? What kind of a response is that??
Whyyyyyyyyy??????? Well, why not?
I've yet to come up with an answer that I like. "Because that's where we live." How boring is that?? It's too honest, too easy.
I'll come up with a better answer one of these days, perhaps it will come to me in the middle of the night. Or maybe as I'm coming in from slopping the hogs.
In the meantime, I'll be careful to clean off my boots before I walk on the gallery floors. And will start to look around for a bit of trouble when I'm at Starbucks and say yes to making great memories.