Sunday, October 31, 2004

Wild West Hero 

Sunday, October 3, 2004

Imagine a bar where, should the conversation dip amongst drinkers, the bartender will bully you into a few sets of Trivial Persuits to liven things up a bit. Or perhaps he’ll ask some pop quiz questions about the CD he’s currently playing, which as often as not, is a Rod Stewart compilation. Or if he wants to piss off the waitresses from the restaurant upstairs needing drinks orders to be processed, he will drag you off to the games room for a few rounds of table tennis. Hi, my name’s Tim. This is Beth. We’re from Preston in the north of England - yeah, sure we know Hugh Grant - and you are drinking in Dick’s bar, at the Franconia Inn, Franconia, New Hampshire. Make mine a beer.

We were sorry to leave The Inn At Woodchuck Hill Farm, but the pull of the road is an irresistible force, just like gravity, or the desire to work Ronald McDonald over with a baseball bat, screaming all the while “So tell me Ronald, are you still lovin’ it?”
We struck out in a northerly direction, passing through Norwich, and stopping for coffee in Hanover, New Hampshire. I’m proud to inform you that in doing so, we can now say we’ve walked part of the famous Appalachian Trail, discussed at length in this excellent book by globally loved Hanover resident Bill Bryson.

In the Dirt Cowboy Café, a lively young man with jazz hair explained to me the subtle nuances of each of the five hundred coffees on offer. I said I’d have whatever he recommended. He produced a frothy concoction which he promised would enable me to go without sleep for a whole month, help me through my exams and resolve any erection problems I might be suffering with. It tasted of, you know, coffee.
We didn’t see any cowboys, but there were a lot of well turned out students, reading newspapers and looking thoughtful. From their earnest expressions, I presume they were thinking about how everybody else was getting more sex than them. I thought about getting a T-shirt printed that says “Bookish Chicks Are Hot!”

We floated around some of the fine college buildings. Dartmouth is one of the ‘Ivy League’ colleges. I believe the expression comes from the fact the buildings are old enough to be covered in ivy, the inference being that their heritage makes them superior to more recently built colleges. Please correct me if I’m wrong here.
Either way, Dartmouth College and the city of Hanover are virtually synonymous, and all the kids we saw looked well dressed, well nourished, and in all probability, pretty well connected.

A group of boys in an open topped BMW asked us for directions, which I suppose was flattering, in a ‘you don’t look like dorky tourists’ kind of way. I devoted a minute or so to helping them, describing traffic lights, tricky road junctions, distinctive landmarks and so forth.
Of course, none of it was true, as I didn’t have any more of a clue where we were than they did. But making stuff up is harmless fun and you owe it to yourself to have as much as you can. Because you’re worth it. As they pulled away, I gave them a cheerful wave and gauged a deep scratch into the side of their silly ostentatious car with a sharpened coin that I always keep handy for such occasions.

We continued north along Route 5, higher into New Hampshire. The landscape began to widen. Green hills turned to blue-grey, a little more craggy here, a bit mountainous there. Everything looked bigger but further away.
For the first time, we saw towns and villages which looked like they might not have been painted the week before. Even the trucks in the drives looked older, a little more lived in.
A rusty dent in your vehicle here might not be such an issue as it would be in, say, Boston, where all the cars appeared shiny and well manicured. Road signs warning us of moose became more frequent.

Rusty Dent, incidentally, is the name I’ll use if I ever have to go back to working in the porn industry. Look - I was young and I needed the money. Is that OK?

We arrived at the Franconia Inn as the afternoon was settling down into early evening.
I wasted no time in attempting to book a horse riding trip, only to be told that they’d stopped now for the winter, when sleigh riding would begin instead. Bloody buggering bugger. We’d missed it by only a few days.
I was never going to be a Wild West Hero and ride the range all the day, nor be with my western gal round the fire oh so bright, nor for that matter be the Indians friend letting them love to be free, tryin’ to do what’s right. Sod it.

To console ourselves, we went outside and sat in the hot tub for a bit. Girlfriend, being a dedicated athlete and hardened fit bird, brought the swimming pool out of winter retirement.

We sat at the bar all evening, watching the ballgame on TV, winning free drinks for Girlfriend’s trivia prowess, and occasionally playing ping pong. We seem to be nurturing the beginnings of a meaningful relationship with vodka. I’ll keep you posted.

In my dream I’m a Western hero riding my palomino, Silver Star, there you are.
I also dreamed about trains rushing into tunnels, and putting tents up.

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