Friday, 3 July 2009

Tall tales and true in Ohio

Regular readers of these pages will know that I have been in Ohio, which can kinda be described as the eastern central mid-west. It’s not quite in the middle and the eastern states won’t have it in their club.

 Anyhow I wander out one evening, thinking to take a little air. I go through that cemetery where the headstones indicate that good, lust and music are all interred. The path takes me over the Olentangy River and through leafy suburbs. After a while I reach the high street. I walk on.

Spotting a sign across the road that says ‘Phoenix Bookstore’. On a whim I venture in…to be greeted in whispers as there is a meditation session happening. I ask for the ‘green guide for artists’ but they don’t stock it. However the very friendly lady sitting at the front desk offers to telephone other bookstores in the district to see if they have it.

It takes a while and while the wheels are grinding we sit out on the porch so as not to intrude upon the meditating ones. Actually they all look as though they are asleep.

Eventually one of the local stores finds a copy and nice lady offers to drive me there. I find this extraordinarily helpful and say so. Off we go. I strap myself into the back seat [the front is full of stuff] where there is also a doggy food dish and bowl and quite a bit of canine fluff as well. Nice lady drives like a bat out of hell. I am grateful for the back seat and mutter a prayer or three under my breath. She can’t hear anyway having cranked the volume on her spiritual music so high that cows in the next county will be producing curdled milk for a week.

At the bookstore where they have kindly reserved the one and only copy of this book for me she talks to everyone she meets in very familiar terms. Mothers cluck “stay close by me honey” at their small children. We pay for the book and when the young man behind the counter complains of weariness she brightly points to her cap which advertises some guru’s latest brand of yoga and brightly tells him she’s running on energy and hasn’t needed more than an hour’s nap in the last 48 hours.

I think to myself this is not good. Anyone with so little sleep should not be operating machinery because their body will have better reaction time had they scoffed a bottle of tequila followed by a few schnapps chasers. But nice lady is keen to go for ice cream, which she says is not far from the helltell. Given she has been so helpful I feel she deserves a treat. Twenty minutes later I’m thanking the Powers that Be that my grandmother predicted a long future for me and hoping to heaven that the warranty on that prediction hasn’t lapsed.

I am also reminded that ideas of  "not far" relate to "how long is a piece of string"

Eventually we arrive at Graet’s Ice Creamery.  Nice lady who by now has been identified as Dena is delighted and skips about extolling the aesthetic delights of the [frankly hideous] glass-walled child captivity centre in which the infants can romp inside a giant plastic ice cream whilst their parents gorge themselves on chocolate chip everything.

We order refreshments. My single scoop of peanut butter flavoured stuff is big enough to feed a small Hungarian family. Dena’s blackberry ice-cream conceals an enormous submerged lump of solid chocolate big enough to sink the Titanic. Mildly fearful of the possible consequences of her driving with ice-cream and spoon in hand [having already seen her simultaneously juggle pen and paper as well as CDs] I suggest we sit on the lawn outside to consume our frozen fatty treats. Dena tells me that people in America don’t sit on the verge.

I insist and so we do anyway. 

As we eat more fascinating facts are revealed. Dena is not, in fact, an employee of the Phoenix bookstore but was merely amusing herself by sitting behind the desk having herself decided that the meditation class was not for her. She reveals a history of clinical depression. I wonder privately just how much of her medication she has consumed today. She goes on to tell me her brother is bi-polar and that she keeps house for him. I wonder whether the brother is real or a mere figment. I also wonder how I will get myself out of this situation having observed the rear door has a child safety lock.

At that moment I see dancing lights across the lawn of the houses across the street. Fireflies. I haven’t seen such fireflies for years. They flit and boogie and burn and glow and I am utterly delighted.

Despite the mad ride home later at speeds roughly double those advised on roadside signage it is all worth it. I have the book I wanted, I’ve heard a ripping story and I’ve seen fireflies.  

Oh, and I seem to have eaten rather a lot of ice-cream.


  1. mmmmm.

    thanks for your tale including tales of others. amazing what you can learn by chance. glad you survived (the icecream AND the drive :)

  2. encountered the local fauna.. yup..

    Isn't it funny when these things happen... you just wanted a book, perhaps only to kill an hour or so, and ended up who knows where with a mad woman on a sugar rush.. love these adventures.

  3. books is for swatting flies, not killing time...wanted to see this one because they'd included a page or two of my work and i didn't have a copy

    as it turned out, they put my youngest infant's image in with the caption "self portrait of India in one of her frocks" or something similar

    wish i really WAS 17 again
    and expecting calls from agents any minute now...

  4. Hilarious! A great story to start my day, thanks India.

  5. damn, i wanted to capture the market on mad women. stink. well, they say like attracts like dear girl. lol. what says your daughter about the 'self-portrait' thing. :)
    PS. I can't think of a nicer person on the planet for that woman to have met. You were obviously just what she needed, a big dose of gentle kindness.

  6. Honey, that ice cream jeez take me back.... We had one at Ghirandelli's in San Francisco that was bigger than the Queen Mary, smothered in chocolate sauce and nuts. That was 30 years ago and my insides will probably never get over the shock!
    Ya sure that wern't peanut butter 'n jello?

  7. I giggle sitting here. I have mental picture of you all calmness and serenity on the outside, and mind racing full scary predictions on the inside!

  8. well, they say a life lived in fear is a life half least i was along for the ride!

  9. PeanutButterIcecream, a delight I feel I can do without. It reminds me of an ice cream store in San Francisco, where you bring your own fillings which then was added to the ice cream machine and made into your favourite. I remember stoned faces filled with childlike expectations, I also remember this one guy holding a dope cookie to be made into ice cream, now there is an ice cream treat.....

  10. First, you are a very brave woman. Your story is delightful. I'm going to be smiling for a long time.

    I do want to disagree with Dena. They might not sit to eat their ice cream in Ohio, but they certainly do here! :)

  11. must ask my friend if he took his dope brownies to that ice cream palace....

  12. One of the great things in life is meeting the odd lunatic!... they have stories a-plenty, and in turn, give us our own to tell. Thankfully, Ireland still has it's fair share of characters, they are one of the true blessings!

  13. the comments are just as delightful to follow. :) ... until the next post that is.

  14. could that be a hint, Ahipara Gel? am wrestling with a huge chunk of 'other' writing...
    when it has been subdued and chained to the dungeon i'll try and dream up something appropriate for your further amusement

  15. wow~!~am totally delighted with your storytelling skills and must come back for more (frequently, i hope~!~).


  16. ow my lord what a story! You sure get into some weird situations! haha luckely nothing bad happend. so nice to read it tho.

  17. aesthetic delights of the child captivity centre....i giggle and my sides hurt!
    thanx eating ice cream has taken on a whole new dimension of ethereal entertainment.