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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Wisconsin: Milk, Cheese, and Indecent Proposals

I’ve lived in a number of small towns in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and I’m here to tell ya: The rumors are true.

Particularly in Wisconsin, where jauntily clad tourists are turned into jerky and their clothes sold at thrift stores.

I moved to Wisconsin Rapids in the early ‘90s. Fresh out of school and clutching my newly earned Fabulous Court Reporting Skillz Degree or whatever it was called, I found myself doing per diem work in central Wisconsin.

One thing I had noticed in my move from Minneapolis to Wisconsin Rapids was the change in societal attitude. Minneapolis is a rather liberal town, an open town. I missed that. Wisconsin Rapids – and forgive me, perhaps it has changed since I lived there? – was full, according to what I was seeing in the courts and in the bars, of domestic violence, child abuse, drunk driving, and rape.

I did not fit in. It may have been the fact that I wore skirts and heels. It may have been that I did not have a mullet. It may have been the lipstick and mascara; but I heard, more than once, “You’re not from around here, are you?”

It showed.

Other than the police officer who stalked me for the last half of the year I was there, I had made only one friend. Angel, her name was; and I was invited to her house for a night of drinking and games. I was very much into games at the time: Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Yahtzee, that sort of thing. I hadn’t been out since moving there and was really looking forward to meeting some people.

I was lonely.

I dressed up, in the fashion of the day, put on my big gold hoops and my lipstick and walked the six blocks to her house.

I knocked on the door; and from the looks of things, they had started without me.

The party consisted of me, Angel, and her husband. Angel was a quiet, heavy young woman with an unfortunate perm. Her husband was quite attractive and should’ve been more fun to talk to but there was something in the way he looked at me that I didn’t like.

“Wow,” he said. “You look great.”

“Thanks,” I said.

He nudged Angel and she nodded. They may have felt that this was subtle, in the state they were in, but the elbow in the ribs followed by the self-conscious and blushing wink proved otherwise.

She took my arm. “Let me show you around the place,” she hiccupped.

It was a two-bedroom duplex, and you could see it all from the doorway. We looked in on the baby, already asleep; gave a passing nod to the dining room/living room; and ended up sitting on the foot of the bed in the master bedroom. We sat next to each other and she reached out and touched my hair. I didn’t think too much of this, as my hair was to my waist at the time, and it was common for me to find women or men who would suddenly reach out to touch it.

“We got a friend in porn movies,” she said, apropos of nothing.

“Yeah?” I had tried watching porn once but came away from it thinking “well, hell, I can do that!” and never gave it another thought. Not my thing. “That’s weird.”

“We knew her in high school. She went to Chicago and next thing you know we see her in a porn movie!”

“Well don’t that beat all,” I said flatly. The direction of this conversation was getting on my nerves.

Angel redirected. “How long you been in Rapids?”

“Four months,” I said. “It’s a tough town to break into. Very insular. This is the first time I’ve been out in a long time.”

“Yeah?” she said. “So. Hey, can I ask you something?”


“You know anything about threesomes?”

My heart stopped momentarily as the distant wail of sirens was heard in my head. “What?”

“You know: threesomes. Sex?”

I felt oddly angry. Four months in the house, four months with no friends, no boyfriend, no phone calls, three TV stations, no VCR, and when I finally get invited to a party, it’s me, a court employee I had lunch with twice, and her husband.

And they think I will join in on a threesome?

I don’t look like a hooker!

“My husband,” she prattled on, “thinks you’re cute. I mean, we figured, you being from the big city and all…”

Did she --? Did she really just say you being from the big city and all? Hey! Who’s the gal with a friend in the porn industry?

There was a pause as my brain slid, like a large coddled egg, from one edge of my skull to the other.

I got my bearings.

“I think if you’re really interested in such a thing that you place an ad in an independent newspaper in Milwaukee or Madison or something and see who answers,” I said quietly.

I stood up. “I totally forgot that I have company coming tonight, but I have to go.” I didn’t turn around as I went through her bedroom door and into the hallway. “I’ll see you next time I’m in the courthouse.”

I never did get the hang of Central Wisconsin.


sage said...

that's surreal... I'm driving through Wisconsin twice in the next ten days and maybe I won't have engine problems or even need gasoline.

ellen abbott said...

whoa! That was kind of icky.

Anonymous said...

OMG! Not quite the same kind of games that you were expecting! I was approached a couple of times when I still lived in Indiana. I wonder if it's a rural thing?

Anonymous said...

Eewwww! What a creepy night! You could have said something like, "Why, no, I don't happen to know anything about threesomes. Do you know anything about pepper spray or taekwondo?"

mapstew said...

Pearl, ya can't make this stuff up! What did you expect the poor girl to think, what with your hoops and your lipstick and your Big City ways?!
Did she ever say anything again about that night? :¬)


LucyCooper said...

was your lipstick that brownish-red matte crap that made us all look like professionals?

Pearl, your writing style and your material are both a pleasure to read.

Douglas said...

Wisconsin? Well, I'd have never figured... Maybe in North Dakota or parts of Idaho but Wisconsin?

The Jules said...

Oh that is just so disgusting and wrong. I've a good mind to go round there right now and remonstrate appropriately.

You just give me their address and I'll be there as soon as I can book a flight.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Pearl, I am so amused by your stories...and also impressed by your writing. The style never intrudes on the story, but when I go back and look for it, I find some really excellent uses of form, pacing, etc. I've been meaning to tell you that I think the Erma Bombeck workshop added some new arrows to your quiver!

Lynn said...


Sarah said...

Must be all the cheese they've been eating. I never get this kind of invite. Hmm, maybe I should be offended!

IndigoWrath said...

I was gonna say "ick" but Lynn beat me to it. Plus, I never get asked into threesomes (with unfortunate perms or otherwise), so I'm additionally outraged.

Gigi said...

Ewww, ewww, ewww! And in Wisconsin?? You've now ruined the wholesome image I had of that state.....

Ruthibelle said...

lmao at sage's comment.. i'd understand that.

Wow. Quite the experience. You lived to tell the tale.

Laoch of Chicago said...

I would if they would have served a cheese spread afterwards?

Tempo said...

I was cringing reading this one..remembering my own discomfort at just such an occurance... LOL

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

didn't you play in a swing band? no wait that was polka...nevermind...

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I have lived in northeast/central wisconsin for almost half my life and NEVER had that kind of proposal. Wow. Yeah, I'd have left skid marks leaving town, too.