In addition to getting fistsful of guilt water, I extracted a late checkout from the check-in counter lady. I went to find the casino, but they didn’t have a poker room.
I stormed back over to the check-in lady. “You can take a shuttle to our sister casino, the Horseshoe. They have a huge poker room…but the shuttles leave at 12:15 and 12:45.”
It was 12:19.
“So, I just missed it?”
“Um.” She looked away and gave me another bottle of water.
I was well on my way to smashing things.
Instead, I sat outside, stewing.

I got on the shuttle and made my way to the poker room. Grange assured me that I would be the first ever diamond card holding black person seen at the Horseshoe.

He was wrong.

I got to the desk to ask for a seat in the game and the person in front of me was a black woman with a diamond card! She also got the last seat in the poker game. I would be first on the list. It was a few minutes past 1.


By the time I caught the shuttle back, my room would be sufficiently ionized. I went out to the lot to wait.
There was a disheveled man talking to himself in the parking lot. After about fifteen minutes, I watched him climb into a van. I was listening to music, but I looked up when I heard a horn honk. It was the van. That was my shuttle.
Damn. Crazy McCrazerton was staying at my hotel.
He was sitting in the front row complaining to the driver about how unlucky the machines at the Horseshoe are.
“Six hours I’m there, hitting em and hitting em, bubkis. At least at the other place you get some drinks or something. They don’t give you nothing here and the machines just take your money. This is it for me.”
He was slurring his words and the driver was giving me “this guy” glances in the rearview mirror.

A few minutes later, we pulled into a dark parking lot filled with semis. He hopped out.
“He’ll probably sleep it off in the truck,” the driver explained to my wide eyes and agape mouth.
I did the sign of the cross and hoped for no deaths.
I got back to my room at 1:40. The ionizer was still going strong. I didn’t know what to do. The front desk wasn’t answering, but I was 100% sure she said I couldn’t be in the room while the machine was going.

It may have been exhaustion, but suddenly, I remembered it was accidentally entering a room with an ionization machine going that created Dr. Manhattan in The Watchmen. (No, it wasn’t.)

I briefly considered the upside of being all departicularized (Funny, my Droid does not recognize that word.) But in the end, I decided that with my luck I would come back wrong and end up with two feet or something. (That’s not a typo. I WAS TIRED! And evidently, when you’re tired, two feet is the last thing you want! Are the last? Shut it.)

I took a deep breath and ran to the machine in the middle of the room. I couldn’t find a switch, so I yanked the cord out of the wall till it sputtered into silence.

I exhaled.

No departicularization for me and my one foot. This made me laugh and laugh and I hopped around getting ready for bed. Hmmm. Again, I fear I may be oversharing.

I was having breakfast in the morning with MissusB, a longtime Clareified reader and the first person to promise me a tractor ride. Mary was supposed to come too, but I was 60% sure she would be on a plane back to Brooklyn in the morning. I took out my clothes for Wednesday and packed my justice bag with the few things I’d need for the next two days. Now, I could stop lugging my suitcase around.

I slept very well that night. Breakfast would be in Omaha, ten minutes away, but too far to walk. I found Mary waiting in the lobby with all her stuff.

I knew it!

“Where’s your bag?”
“We got late checkouts, I plan to go back to bed after breakfast…”
“Oh. I didn’t, so I just checked out.”
I contemplated going back up for my things, but then we’d be late for breakfast.
“Eh, I’ll do it later.”

Breakfast was awesome. First off, the place had lattes, so I managed my first non “coffee black” of the trip.
I was so busy slurping down my vanilla skim latte, I didn’t even notice that the waitress had forgotten the strawberries on my waffle.
Oh, and the waitress’ name was Dawn!
(Like my name used to be!)

She and Mary sat on the same side of the booth and had their own little “No Stephanes allowed on our side” club. Then they mocked me for pronouncing South Dakota’s capitol with a French accent. How am I supposed to know how it’s pronounced? #Racists

We regaled MissusB with tales of our brushes with the law.
“Yeah, I had a feeling you didn’t know how big the state was when you asked if I wanted to come to dinner with you guys in Des Moines!”
Yeah, apparently she didn’t want to drive three and a half hours to have dinner with strangers. Crazy!

Of course, since we were planning to have dinner with Grange in Des Moines that night, I realized my whole nap after breakfast idea would be a bust. Meaning that I got to spend all of seven hours and fifteen minutes in the Council Bluffs hotel room! Good thing it was free.

Oh, here’s my Nebraska picture:

Exciting, right? I told MissusB it looks just like the meatpacking district in Manhattan.

I checked out about noon and we hit the open road.

What word would I use to describe the Iowan landscape? Windmilly.
Miles and miles of windmills. (Not pictured.)

We hit the Des Moines city limits at around four. Grange was working, so we decided to check-in to our hotel.

Here’s a conversation about our Des Moines hotel which would take place later that night.

“So, after this, I’ll take you guys back to the murder motel.”
“Oh, which one? Where those girls were found in the rooms?”
“No, the one where all the cleaning ladies kept disappearing and they found their bodies in the dumpster.”

Whew! Thank GOD!

I would NEVER be able to sleep if I knew dead girls had been in my *room*!! Ugh!

I was now spryly just traveling with my justice bag. Even Mary was impressed.
“That’s a great idea!”
“I know, right?? I thought of it when I saw how heavy my suitcase was, but how light my justice bag could be.”
“You are so smart, Stephane. Brilliant really. Heck, one could say you are my hero.”

Then she started singing that “Wind Beneath My Wings” song from Beaches! It was so weird. I never realized how much I mean to her. But it was starting to get awkward, so I was glad when Grange texted. He was checking to make sure we had not been murdered.

“I promised Berk he would be able to eat your face, and he’ll be so disappointed if you are stabbed and thrown in a dumpster before then.”

“Nope. Still alive.” He then suggested that we visit a working farm while we wait for him to get out of work.

Mary liked this idea because she was trying to get me on a horse, so that she could hear me scream and see me cry.

Instead, I rode a tractor:


Okay, so let me tell you about this farm. Basically, it’s an interactive museum type dealie where they give you a taste of what Iowa was like starting in the 1700s, up through modern-day. Our first stop was a hippie looking chick sitting, Indian style inside of a circle of rocks. She was making friendship bracelets out of buffalo hide or some such. We chatted with her, she explained that they had combs in the 1700s, I oohed, we looked around and then we waved goodbye. Our next stop was the 1800s. There were these Amish looking guys plowing the fields. No, seriously:

I watch them making these cows go back and forth across the land and hey, I’m curious, so I ask a question about irrigation. THIS DUDE TOTALLY LAUGHS IN MY FACE! And he’s all “irrigation? It’s called rain, ya city slicker!” #RUDE I vow to not say another word for the rest of the trip! That’ll show ’em.

Okay, now we make our way to the Little House on the Prairie time and we come to this woman in a house.

Do you see what she is doing? She is peeling and washing potatoes. Not, fake potatoes or faux washing, she is really washing potatoes. Flies are buzzing all around, there are dishes drying on the table and the windows are open. She starts telling us about her life in the house and how hard it is to keep dust out and how the flies drive her crazy, but lately she has seen less flies and mice because she has been doing a good job with the house cleaning. THEN she starts talking about the price of glass for the window panes and how sometimes it’s more per pane than it is for the land. At NO point did she indicate that these were problems of THE PAST. NO! It was totally like she LIVED in THAT house! At first, I thought she was acting, but then she was talking about her poor neighbors with the little girl with the whooping cough and there were chickens running around and she was talking to them.

(I did not scream. Or flinch. Or hide behind Mary. NOT. No, not NOT NOT, just one NOT. I did NOT do any of those things. I am NOT scared of chickens. I mean, what kind of chicken would that make me?)
“Oh, don’t worry about them chickens,” she said completely unprompted by any screaming, flinching or hiding by me, “they’re house chickens. They’ll eat flies and mice and keep the place clean.”

My mind was BLOWN by this woman who chose to live in the woods by a shack in the year 2010! Oh, and she had this racist geese who stayed all segregated. It was hard to get a picture, but you can see the white geese on the left side and the black geese on the right side:

Then, we walked to the 1900s. Unfortunately, we took a wrong turn and ended up in a cow paddy patch…is that what it’s called? A path filled with piles and piles of cow dung? R.I.P Original Liberace Sneakers. I blame Mary for their death. When we found our way back to the path, there was an old man and his pigs and horses. He LLOOOVVEEEDDDD MARY!

He was showing her the horses, then he took us on a personal tour of the farmer’s quarters. Ooh la la. And I got to take a spin in the fancy going out buggy:

And then, when the day was done, we emerged in the 21st century:

Grange picked us up at the murder hotel for dinner and poker. He wrote about the fun times here. At the poker room, a young woman came up to me and said “Are you Dawn?” There is a hilarious Jordan story that starts just this way…

“Yeah…I am…”

“Hi, I’m Michelle. I was following you on twitter, so I thought you might show up here!”

Oh. My. Gosh! People read me on twitter! Not, Pearatty, but, you know, PEOPLE! So, I’m chatting with Michelle and she says she started out reading my poker blog after googling “Omaha Hi/Lo.”

“Oh no. I apologize in advance? I apologize after the fact?” The only thing I have ever written about Omaha Hi/Lo on my poker blog was “So I was playing Omaha Hi/Lo and then Kearns took all my money and I had to go to the ATM. Again. No. bueno.”

She laughed and did not at all punch me in the face, making this the highlight of my entire existence. We started chatting about the other poker bloggers she reads/follows and she goes “that Carol is kinda crazy.”

I immediately agree. Then she adds “And now she has like a baby blog or something?”

Wait. What? Carol has a baby? And a baby blog? WHAT THE WHAT? I JUST saw her in June! How long WAS I driving through freaking South Dakota?!

I am about to send some serious texts.

“Oh, no not CK, the girl you used to do the poker blog with.”

Ohhhhhh…wait…a Baby Blog.

*Cue laugh track.*

*Suppress inappropriate comments*

How was I not informed? Someone needs to send me a URL. No, wait, I take that back, no one needs to send me a URL. Well, unless it’s hilarious in an unintentional train-wrecky way. No, you’re evil and vindictive!

Anyway, I decide then and there that CK needs a new name. I suggest something Jewier, like “Sarah” or something Koreanier like “Sandra” or “Ming.” Saring? Just spitballing, but she has 48 hours to decide.

The conversation at the Iowa poker table had to rank among the crudest table banter I have EVER heard. Here’s the most printable of it:

Guy: You know what they call pocket nines?
Me: No.
Guy: German virgins. Nein! Nein!

And then there were two guys having a “I learned it from your mom” off. Oy.

I told the table all about my Iowa farm day and they were all “what’d you wanna go to a farm for”? And I was all “to ride a tractor like I saw on Home Improvement!”

The table was silent for a moment and then Michelle said “um…I think that was a lawn mower.”

What now?

But…they would ride it around…the…um…lawn… You can RIDE lawn mowers?? The HELL?

Then I told them about the mouse eating chicken and the whole table LAUGHED AT ME! And Grange was all “Oh man, you really will believe ANYTHING won’t you?”

But…but… the lady lives in the house! She would totally know!

“Oh, Stephane. That lady doesn’t live in that house. She’s probably a college student volunteering for credits.”

Suddenly it was Christmas 1984 all over again and they were killing Santa Claus.

I had emailed Jessica’s friend in Kansas City asking about stuff to do in Des Moines. He said we should go to the world famous Hi-Life lounge. But no one at the table had heard of it and Grange began to question my understanding of the phrase “world famous.”

We eventually found the bar, with the one legged Mitch Hedberg reincarnation, but now that the Hi-Life lounge was featured on National TV, who’s the one who doesn’t know the meaning of the phrase world famous now?!

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28 Responses to I…oh…waaaaaaa

  1. F-Train says:

    Look at least it wasn’t Stud Hi/Lo. “How many more cards do I get? I call.”

  2. Stephane says:

    Shaddup. I had Stud 8 powers! POWERS!

  3. Petitedov says:

    I laughed and cried. But mostly laughed. You are one awesome writer.

  4. Stephane says:

    Aww shucks. 🙂

  5. Grange95 says:

    Umm, the High Life Lounge wasn’t “world famous” when you visited and drank Schlitz and Tangermeisters with a one-legged hippie. It’s only world famous now after a fat white guy dropped by with a camera crew and chatted them up about broasted chicken, Spam sandwiches, and other greasy goodies.

    The tractor in the picture is pretty small for a farm tractor, but at least it’s a John Deere, the Rolls Royce of tractors. Hmm, wonder why they let you ride it?

    BTW, you forgot to mention the raccoon encounter on the farm. Or the annoying guy in the Minnesota Favre shirt you almost murdered with your gaze of doom.

  6. Stephane says:

    Raccoon? What raccoon? OH NO. Was I bitten by a raccoon and now I don’t remember? Am I part raccoon now?

  7. Grange95 says:

    Dear gawd woman, if you can’t remember stuff like the raccoon comment, you might need to employ a TV camera crew to follow you around on your next trip. You know, the one where Mary murders you.

  8. Meredith says:

    DUDE. You went to Living History Farms! That place rules. Or it did when I was a kid, anyway, and went there all the time when we visited my grandparents in Des Moines. I actually went to (nerd alert!) day camp there once. We got to, like, LIVE HISTORY and stuff.

    All the talk of driving makes me very tired. The middle of the country is HUGE.

  9. Stephane says:

    @Grange Do you mean the HUGE CHIPMUNK that tried to kill me? I am seriously blanking on a raccoon….teellll meeeee.

    @Meredith The middle of the country is HUGE It really is.

    Do you remember that woman from when you were a kid? Does she really live there? Do chickens eat mice? I have questions!

  10. Drizztdj says:

    I think VH1 would pick up a reality show based on you roaming the Midwest. Next stop, Minnesota and Stephane goes bass fishing without chips!

  11. Stephane says:

    Look you, I might be part raccoon now.

  12. Mary says:

    OMG, Grange you’re right. How could Stephane forget the raccoon bit? Remember the chicken coop? The old farmer? Pesky creatures that steal eggs?


  13. Amanda says:

    Sounds like your having a great time. I’m enjoying reading about your travels.

    –Amanda (aka Head bridesmaid to Pi/Your peanut-wielding assailant)

  14. Stephane says:

    OHHHH. THE RACCOOON! HAHAHAHAHA Now I remember…yes, wow. I can’t believe I forgot that!

    Hi Amanda!!

  15. Grange95 says:

    For those trying to follow along with Stephane/Wilma’s obtuseness, let’s just say a farmer used the common abbreviated version of the word “raccoon” in an innopportune and highly amusing situation.

  16. Stephane says:

    Heeeey, no spoilers! I’ll write the story for tomorrow. Kansas City is way short anyway.

  17. Stephane says:


  18. Stephane says:

    “I’m too pretty to walk!”

  19. pearatty says:

    Was I bitten by a raccoon and now I don’t remember? Am I part raccoon now?

    I’m pretty sure that means you’re a werraccoon now. When the moon is full, you transform into an adorable creature who charms everyone with her little hands and almost human facial expressions, while trying to get them to give her cupcakes.

    Hmm. Yeah. Definitely a werraccon.

  20. pearatty says:

    Also, I follow you on Twitter. To the extent that I went to the Twitter homepage, signed up, and checked off that I was following you. I haven’t gotten any letters or phone calls or anything with your twitters, though.

    What, isn’t that how it works?

  21. Alceste says:

    Did you try to clean the shoes before you threw them out? Does this mean there are no more Liberace sneakers? Was your mom ecstatic?

  22. BWoP says:

    I vote for CK.

    FYI, Sandra is *not* Koreany. It’s English. Don’t let that crazy woman on Grey’s Anatomy confuse you.

    Ming is also *not* Koreany. It’s Chinese. Don’t let that crazy woman on ER confuse you.

    I think you watch too many TV hospital drama shows. Wait, delete the words “hospital” and “drama”.


  23. Stephane says:

    Racist face!

  24. Consi says:

    No stop at Orsi’s? #tripfail

  25. Stephane says:

    What’s orsi’s? Is it world famous?

  26. Consi says:

    90 year old italian bakery. cuddiruni. bestest.

  27. MissusB says:

    I thought it was great that you made time in your world travels to have breakfast in Omaha. I think that your photo of Nebraska pretty well sums it up! Nothing to see here, keep it moving…..

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