Iowa City junket great success, wraps with revived social skills, totaled livers

We were back in the IC this weekend and managed to see a lot of folks, most of them we found to be drinking. Our first time there with no car, we took the Airport Shuttle, which was driven by a small, elderly man who was quite capable of finding the most circuitous, lengthiest routes to familiar places, such as, -- after a few stops east of town having come into town from the west -- the Bostick Guest House, where we were to stay.

Our first appointment was at Trevor and N.'s. Lasagna never tasted so good, though we were so rusty from lack of social exposure, due to living for the last three months out east in a remote, abandoned beach town, that many times our conversation faltered. Unlike TV characters, these people evidently expected something from us, and it was a struggle to oblige them. However, as is always the case with Trevor and N., this dinner turned out to be formative in restoring to us our enfeebled conversation skills, and soon gave way to laughter and banter. After overstaying our welcome, following the stubborn and erroneous line of reason known as "if we keep it up, we might force ourselves to burn all the way through to brilliance," we walked back to town from Court and B Streets, gratefully taking in the fruits of the long Indian summer that we used to fondly call Autumn. Since George's was so close to the guest house, we decided on one nightcap for old time's sake at our old haunt, where three hours whipped by like no time at all.

Next morning we attended a lovely Simhat Bat naming ceremony (our first), for J. and bR's N. R., to whom T. is godmother (not the fairy kind, I was gently informed) in which we celebrated the creative darkness of the womb and implored the little one's future sons and daughters to continue to enjoy vigor and fragrance as they grow old. It was refreshing and inspirational to attend a ceremony where the main point was not to fasten the unwitting child to a well-established racket of tithing and groupthink, but to dedicate her to doing good works and accepting the responsibility of becoming a citizen of the world. Brando and TLB were in attendance, and plans to meet up later for drinks and Takanami were formulated.

Walking back again from the east side, this time in daylight, we encountered Dan Coffey, aka Dr. Science, trudging up our sidewalk, who hailed us and declared that we had had a baby. "No, wait, you bought a house." He mentioned that he was now teaching at a Quaker college somewhere in Iowa, the name of which presently escapes me, and confirmed upon being asked that he did in fact wear the oatmeal mascot's cumbersome attire in the classroom. "And I do a lot of thee-ing and thou-ing," he added.

Reaching the guest house, I collapsed for a nap while T. strutted and prowled the town. She ran into N., who had barely had time to clean the lasagna off her plates before being confronted with her guest again, and when I met T. a little while later, we again were proved to be stalking N., accosting her this time in Prairie Lights, where she showed us the book Monkey Portraits by Jill Greenberg, one of whose subjects, Josh, graces this post with his worried look. Buy the book -- as we did -- but don't spill beer on it -- as we did. Succumbing to our relentless tracking skills, N. accepted an invitation to have a drink at Atlas, which was closed, and then at Martinis, which was closed, and finally at Donnelly's, which was not closed and where we attacked a basket of shelled peanuts and apologized for our faltering conversation of the night before. Trevor was then summoned from his home, where he had no doubt been recovering from the boredom we had visited on their lives, and he joined us for one beer which turned into two which turned into a scramble to make it to Brando and TLB's place by the appointed time.

We met Jones, the new cat, a fluffy orange love-addict, and watched the jealousy of his veteran colleagues play out from behind our wine and beer glasses. Then we walked to Takanami, me in a ludicrous winter coat shlepping through the warm thick air, tortoise-like, with just about everything heavy that I own stuffed into my straining, 99% superfluous backpack. I was drenched in perspiration by the time we sat down, but by now, though, our banter had been sufficiently honed so as to avoid desperately peppering them with questions about the weather or insurance or whether we like people in glasses or not. It was a great delight to see them in such good spirits. We learned that often Brando hears from downstairs, when TLB is winning at online poker, "Eat it, bitches!" and, "Eat it, bitches! Oh, NO!" when she is not winning. Afterward, we walked to a corner near our B&B and parted, but when T. and I returned to our small room, and considered the TV the size of a toaster, we turned around and set out for another nightcap at George's, where we watched the new clock, the only thing that had changed in the whole place, creep toward a shameful time. Then home to "second dinners" consisting solely of Cheetos.

In the morning, which was a Monday, cursed with my usual if-I-just-get-up-and-pretend-it's-okay optimism, I staggered out for coffee and the composition of my projects' status report, due to the publisher on such mornings, leaving T. alone in bed. It was while she was in that place that the knock came on the door, accompanied by a sweet voice asking, "Could I talk to you for a minute?" My love, who imagined having to rise, dress, and deal with this person and decided she'd prefer not to, bellowed out her reply, which was the only sensible one under the circumstances: "No." A note was then pushed primly under the door. The note was to advise us that our credit card had been denied and to request that another might be tendered. A call was soon placed to me at the Java House, where I had been staring, bleary-eyed and in vain, at the work I was supposed to be doing. My darling was requesting that I deal with the situation. I called the inkeeper and managed to splutter that we had canceled that card, and, squinting, read off the numbers of the new one, ignoring my liver's exasperation at the added, unexpected toil.

A lunch at Oasis Falafel, with two of T.'s former coworkers, had been planned, and it seemed like a good idea to pile-drive our bellies with Middle Eastern comfort food, but in fact the lunch merely enhanced and publicly displayed my well-deserved misery. At one point I was asked whether I were feeling okay as I fiercely concentrated on chewing up my gyros sandwich as quickly and carefully as possible. I remember pausing mid-chew and blinking at the interruption, like a bear in the middle of finishing a deer might, having heard a gunshot in the distance. When I saw that I had no more food in front of me, I mumbled my intention of "getting some fries" and unsteadily made my swerving way to the swerving counter. And when I was done with those fries, the dim recollection that I was in fact at lunch with three other people finally pierced the dull armor of my pain, forcing me to explain where I was going as I once again found myself rising, and knocking my chair out of the way, and donning my huge down-filled coat, and that was: back to bed. T., not being a napper, scampered back to town. She called me an hour later, and I told her what I was doing: writhing in the bed, moaning, and sweating. She then came home and we laughed at the Monkey Portraits book until, feeling refreshed enough at last, and just in time, we headed out again for our final public appearance.

Which destination was the Sancturary. There, we were joined by SER and B., Trevor and N., TLB and Brando, Cheeni and Kat, bR and J., and Gillymonster and T-Bone. We took up a series of connected tables so long that it seemed a fire hazard for those trapped on the wall side. We started out all mixed up, but gradually there was a drift into separation according to gender, where the males gathered on one side to discuss wrestling, especially singlets, boxing, other sports, music, and eventually politics. Glasses were raised to the Democrats. As for the women, from downtable, as the result of a conversation about That's Rentertainment having moved to relatively tiny digs, in which the question was put about which films might have been jettisoned, and the speculation ran free along the lines of perhaps it was the adult movies that were gone, and that maybe one would prefer to rent those online anyway rather than shuffle around pretending that those are not eye-popping DVD tags clutched so close to one's person, the two sides were brought together again when TLB hurled to Brando a request to know where one obtains porn on the Internet. There was then a sentence begun in pursuit of whether it is better to rent video erotica bricks-and-mortar style or via mouse and keyboard, about how some people, such as a man who had been seen rolling around the old That's Rentertainment a few times, might prefer to not have to venture out for such a necessity, which ran something like, "Now I'm not saying wheelchair-bound people shouldn't masturbate like the rest of us..." A little later T-Bone floated a trial balloon about her secret new idea for a business, the _____ _____, which was celebrated by everyone as ingenious and for which I hope she finds venture capital soon. Amid promises to visit us in Holland, if we ever get there, and if you have a friend in a position of authority in a Dutch bank give me a holler, we said our goodbyes to everyone except Brando, who had suggested the Dublin Underground as a nice place to meet up with MSF, whom TLB had hustled off to pick up at the airport.

At the "Dub," Brando and I loaded up the jukebox and enjoyed along with T. the surprising and welcome addition of Smithwick's to the tap collection. By now, oiled by enough ale, the stories were coming fast and furious. Brando told us of a time when TLB asked him to go upstairs because his brother wanted to show him something. Appearing in the guest room, Brando's brother, having pulled down his trousers and underwear and lain prone across the bed, his head pointed away from the door, asked, "Does this look okay?" And we were apprised about how slipping roadkill and live mice into someone's car can be enjoyable to most everyone involved (though not all). MSF was looking HOT, if I may be permitted the honor of saying so, as she unburdened herself of certain events surrounding the acquisition of bridesmaid's dresses, and pertaining to calling Dr. Mulder to come to her place and kill a giant spider but getting instead TLB, who had been babysitting and who went on to apply one of MSF's shoes to the creature several times before it finally expired.

It was Monday night, after all, so things had to come to an end. They and everyone else involved in the tour are to be congratulated on their troopertude and for putting up with our relentless company and chatter. And bR, J., and N. are to be thanked for providing a ride to the airport. N. especially is to be commended for only crying once, and for an extended period, when her glance happened to fall on T., who sat next to her car seat. In short, we wrung about three month's worth of socializing out of three nights. Thanks to everyone who made our return visit so much fun. We hope to make it out one more time before heading out in the other direction to our longer-term destination, where we hope for and expect many visitors, and plan to return your hospitality Dutch-style.


MSF said...

It was great seeing you guys! And I hereby grant blanket worldwide permission for anyone who wants to call me hot.

SER said...

It was great to see you guys! I didn't find your conversational skills any more lacking than they normally are (oh, ha ha!). Seriously, come visit again soon!

TLB said...

We MISS you guys, as is evidenced by how many times we forced ourselves upon you. Come back anytime, and for longer, even, if you livers can stand it.

TLB said...

I meant YOUR livers.

Also, MSF is hot.

T-bone said...

I'll fly you in for the unveiling of the ______ ______. Maybe we could work together on a market for the _______ _______ in Holland?

Brando said...

Great write-up, Grendel, and it was indeed a blast to see you and T. You both have open invitations to stay with us any time. And if potential parenting does not interfere, TLB and I are serious about trying to make it to Holland next year.