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Home » Donors Choose and Contests, Stories, True and Otherwise

Big Country Little Car Tour II, Day 5: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

Submitted by on July 30, 2011 – 10:49 AM8 Comments

As I write about Friday, it's actually Saturday, and Pop-Up Chapel is underway back in NYC. I'm so thrilled and impressed; congratulations all, big and small. Go to Merchants' Gate in Columbus Circle to feel the mazel-tov.

I spent the morning working, enjoying my cavernous quarters, and fending off housekeeping. Why is the "do not disturb" hanger considered an indecisive, come-hither statement in some establishments? It's not "do not disturb, tee hee [look down, bite lip, twirl hair while fiddling with locket near cleavage]." It's "I have Gorgon bedhead and three deadlines, and my crap is sprayed all over the room like the aftermath of an '80s-movie keg party — for your own safety, beat it." Here, the maids slipped a note under my door that acknowledged my wishes, but urged me to call the front desk if I changed my mind — and then they knocked again later, twice. How many towels do they think one spinster needs?

Another mystery: straight guys and their enormous t-shirts. I don't mean b-boy, CK undershirt fresh-creased out of the package, low-belted jeans, pristine kicks periodically spit-shined with an extra sock. That style looks like a serious ass-tear to maintain, but it is a style. It has élan. A dude in that kit admired my Puma high-tops on the R platform once, and I mean to tell you, I fairly ran home to put the comment on my résumé. I'm talking about the no-style promotional-Beefy-T waving-around-the-midsection-like-seaweed XL who-gives-a-shit thing. Now, as I've mentioned before, I come from a clan of notably long-torso'd folk, so I understand the genesis — for it to tuck in, you have to get it big everywhere else, blah blah. I can't think of one time I've seen my father with a shirt-tail out, even raking leaves or whatever. My clan also likes to eat cheese, so I also understand the instinct to hide certain flaws by wearing a caftan.

I get it, I empathize, but. 1) It doesn't work. It's cotton, not an x-ray blanket. We can still see the gut. 2) This one's important: we don't care. We really don't! We have guts ourselves, and a deep familiarity with the potato is an important common interest. You, me, and guac makes three. Your body's not perfect. That said, 3) your body is a man's body and we want to see it. The t-shirt that has its own post office doesn't just hide your belly; it also hides your shoulders and most of your upper arms. It hides your back. It hides the shapes and angles we like. And it makes you look like a little kid whose parents bought a size up to be thrifty, which is admirable on a seven-year-old, but on you, it's a little sad, and don't give me that "well my wife got it at the" no she didn't. The same wife who was on you like a smoochy barnacle when you dressed as James Dean for Halloween in a snug tee and jeans? Heterosexual, please. Your wife has tried to Goodwill that tent half a dozen times, and you keep fishing it out of the bag and Eeyoring, "But it's so comfy."

Comfy is great. You don't have to wear a latex belly-shirt. But it is eminently possible to find a cotton-poly shirt or jersey-ish fabric that covers everything in a dignified way, while not looking like an undraped toga. Try getting that polo in an L long instead of a regular XL; just try it. Get a black one to start, nothing crazy. Wear it to a barbecue, as an experiment. You will get comments — that you look great, did you lose some weight or something. But before you even leave, your wife will ask if that shirt is new, and where you got it. "Huh," she'll say. She'll study it; there will be nodding. She'll pick a little fleck of lint off the sleeve hem and pat the collar down and look into your eyes and say that she really likes it, it looks great on you, and as you head out to the car, she'll watch your ass going.

I know it's a little intimidating and y'all hate to shop or whatever cliché, but please trust me. Do not hide your fox under a barrel.

On to the actual events of the day, few in number but high in fun. I worked and looked at maps most of the day; Dain, the Smart whisperer, phoned mid-morning to report that the part had come in, and they'd already installed it and road-tested Campbell twice. Five by five in Tinycarville. The service center isn't open Sundays, so the itinerary is still somewhat disrupted, but on the plus side, the cost estimate went down a bit, and I can pick her up and start bombing west first thing Monday morning.

After lunch, I went to the liquor store to stock up for the beverage delivery. North Loop even had limes in the cold case, and the proprietrix is from Jersey, AND and they stock Brooklyn Lager. We had a nice chat about the variability of the Pennant Ale (not so good in 2011) and artisanal bitters before I dragged my Big Box o' Booze out to the car.

Then Trash and M. Edium arrived for coffee and waterfront strolling. I'd never met M. Edium in person before, but I got the strong feeling that I had met him before, that I knew him from somewhere. He's definitely his parents' child (that's an unqualified compliment), but he also really reminds me of Billy Kopecki from Big (ditto). Partly it's the hairstyle, but mostly it's…whatever it is. Adaptable intellect, maybe? I can't explain it. Cool guy, is the bottom line.

We did a quick bit of filming. Then I put my face on, tucked the suit in the back seat, and headed for St. Paul. Miss Lucy has an adorable house and lovely friends, and after I fixed a round of G-and-Ts for the assembled (with some difficulty; sorry for body-checking you in to the fridge there, C), we had dinner in the yard, under the apple tree. Dusk came, and then a pitch-perfect rhubarb dessert, and we talked about everything and nothing, as you do in summertime.

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  • Erin says:

    My mom was staying at some kind of timeshare hotel in Vegas, had the do not disturb sign up, and housekeeping CALLED HER ROOM at like 8:30 a.m. to see if they could come clean it. She was deeply asleep and then deeply pissed.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Even with Cam Drama, I envy you this trip. You're describing the pain in the ass that is a car breakdown in a strange city, and I'm mentally sighing "Gee, I wish I was there!"

    And I am with you on the "buy a shirt in your ZIP code, already" for guys. My husband's a doll, and one of his nicest phyisical attributes is that he has never gone for the Cut A Hole In A Sheet drape-over giant tee. He's got the perfect build for men's medium–every off the rack shirt, pant, suit fits him like it was tailored. I'd be seethingly jealous, but I'm too busy bragging.

  • Stephanie says:

    I was once on a work trip in Greece – sounds cool, but a) work trip, b) even Greece gets chilly in November, and c) every day we would put out the "do not disturb" when we left, and every day we would come back to a disturbed room, and fewer towels. Eventually we had to find their carts in the hallways and steal towels, or hide them in our suitcases, because there was just no stopping them, and there's only so much you can do with a handtowel.

  • Quinn says:

    I took my first sip of a Pennant Ale (bottle) as I was reading this, and I have to agree. Although the Pennant Ale I had on tap last week was pretty top-notch.

  • JB says:

    It took me some time as a member of the long-torsoed and beer-gutted clan to realize that athletic fit men's shirts was NOT a code for "slim cut shirts for men without an ounce of fat on their midsections, which means NOT YOU Fatty McDoughboy" but rather it meant that the shoulders and sleeves were cut a bit narrower, which means accentuating broad shoulders and creating trompe l'oeil biceps. Now, athletic cut v-necks are my friend.

  • Soylent says:

    @Erin My theory is that with Vegas hotels the maids are given a commission to get your ass out of your room and onto the casino floor. I seem to recall when I was staying there that despite the Do Not Disturb sign they knocked on my door and then a bit later phoned me to see whether I wanted my room made up that day. And when that didn't work they just had a yelled conversation in the hallway to stop me sleeping. I caved at that point, but wondered if I kept ignoring them they'd drag me out of the room and tie me to a slot machine.

  • mctwin says:

    @JB: They're our friends as well! Now if we could just get more men to wear pink and feel good about it!

  • Kat from Jersey says:

    Sars, your last sentence made me nostalgic for my carefree childhood summers of yore. Loved that you got to meet M. Edium (who I also feel like I know, since the days he was M. Tiny!)

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