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Kenosha, Wisconsin

Not my photo, but germaine to the conversation. Did you know that Wikimedia has all manner of great free photos for your use?

No, I'm not there now, this is retrospective by quite a few years.

This morning I was having an old school phone chat with a friend who like me is moving away from default drinking in all social situations. It's interesting the reactions I get when I pass on the alcohol, from assumption that I'm joking, I'm a recovering alcoholic (usually a solemn nod with no words), and sometimes, something close to personally affrontery, as though I were letting down the team.

My friend was telling me about a family wedding she was dreading that was going to be enough of a social minefield that she wasn't going to drink, which she knew would be perceived as laying down the gauntlet with particular family members. As a joke, I suggested she also sharpen the spear by ordering a glass of milk, which launched into a funny story.

Back when I had even less sense than I do now, I was dating a musician whom I met and also worked with at Tanglewood. And recollecting, a shout out goes to him for giving me the best surprise ever. He had seen me drooling over old Mercedes 190SL convertibles, so on my birthday, showed up in one he had rented for the weekend and kindest of all, let me drive, despite his Nervous Nelly disposition. That was a great day.

We had been dating a while when it got to be that time when we either needed to meet each other's families or move along. He invited me to drive with him out to Kenosha, Wisconsin to meet his 8 brothers and sisters, their spouses and kids and his parents, he being the only one who had left town. A family tradition, they always put together and rode on a Fourth of July float, representing Kenosha Beef, his father's meat packing plant.

When we got there, I got a tour of the hotspots; the drive-in, Snap-on-Tools headquarters and most memorably, a tour of the Kenosha Beef plant. It was a Saturday, so very clean with no sign of blood, but there was that smell and the big fat bullets they put in the heads of the cows to "humanely" kill them. I did my best to be polite but honestly, couldn't wait to get out of there.

Some random 4th of July parade

I remember he was apologetic about Kenosha, which I thought was pretty country in an American plains kind of way, and also of his family, who were all very little and polite but slightly wary of me. Fourth of July came and I thew myself into float design and creation, affixing red, white and blue crepe paper, everywhere, but was a surprised when I wasn't handed the white pants and red shirt that all the other women received, complementing the men's white pants and blue shirts. Instead it was deemed to be more appropriate for me to be a spectator at what turned out to be a most incredible middle-American Fourth of July parade. While I didn't understand picture taking back then, I do wish with my heart and soul that I hadn't thrown my photographs out last year in a purge of pique.

Reuniting after what was deemed a tremendous success, we headed to the local Hilton, where a private dining room had been reserved for their rather large family. When the waiter came around to me, I asked if there was a vegetarian option and like that old EF Hutton commercial, the room went quiet and everyone turned around to look at me.

There I was, sipping my glass of white wine and doing my best to enjoy a hamburger bun with plastic cheese and ketchup while the rest of the room avoided looking at me while they enjoyed their steaks with a glass of milk.

Time to move on.


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