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. 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?”
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. 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?
“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, Lady! 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.