Volume 16 • Issue 21 | October 21 - 27, 2003

The Penny Post


By Andrei Codrescu

After they kicked us out of the restaurant at 9:20 p.m. for writing a poem on the tablecloth, I tried to get my new friends to go to a bar, but they bailed out because this was Minneapolis. If you go to a bar, you have to wrestle your conscience for a week, and then try to make up for it with painful manual labor and a cash contribution to a cause. So I went by myself to the hotel bar where some of the worst people in the whole state were smoking cigarettes with some debauched tourists. Two surgically reconstructed dames at the end of the bar made me pull up a stool and bought me a drink, acting strangely as if they knew me. I wasn’t surprised that they might know me, because I’m pretty famous in my own mind, but I wasn’t expecting the drink because I was older and shorter. Both of them were from South Dakota and had flown a piece to the big city to shop. The one with the braces and the martini said that she’d seen all my movies. The other one, with the peroxide beehive and the transvestite makeup, confessed that she hadn’t seen but a “couple” of my movies and that she had so many cars on her ranch she was running out of days of the week to drive them all. Well, I was feeling pretty famous being Robert Redford, when Miz Peroxy turned the tables on me, “You know who I am, don’t you? You’re just sittin’ there pretending like you don’t who I am!” There was a more-than-slight hostile note in her voice as she nailed me with a cold blue gaze, and yes, she did look familiar, in a sort of cable-TV, pop-music way, the kind of face that flashes by when you’re channel-surfing or reading a magazine at the dentist’s. I had no idea who she was, but she looked kind of country, so I said, “You’re that country singer.” The gaze turned furious. “You’re just [B.S.ing] me, right?” I saw her clutch her purse with bright red two-inch fingernails. Looking for her derringer, no doubt. “No, ma’am,” I said. I looked to the other one for help, but she’d just engaged a gone-too-fat football player and was explaining her braces. Help came from a sober-looking office gal out looking for a date with a mini-skirted cover girl, who looked like she worked in a beauty-salon. She turned to my country tormentor and said, “Don’t tell me you don’t know who he is,” pointing to me. Hope rose again. Surely, this smart-looking Minnesotan would set things straight. And then she continued, “Haven’t you see the Wall Street Journal today?” The hostile country singer looked at me with new eyes. “No,” she said, “who is he?” The sober-looking woman laughed: “If you don’t know, you must not be watching much Louis Rukeyser.” Well that did it. I got respect, enough respect to get the hell out of there. Just in time. Two real-looking football-players set beside the South Dakotans. They were probably from an escort service. I hoped for their tip that they knew who the blonde one was. I still didn’t know, and I wasn’t all too sure who I was. Mighty strange place Minnesota and it was still only
10 p.m.



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