Day 275: eBay Payday

As the coffee maker was making the noises of exploding steam, signaling the end of the brewing process, Laetitia was deep in thought about where to take her group next. She looked around the library of the Emerald Victorian and found a picture book of New Orleans. The pictures had been taken over a number of years, but all were from before the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. She wanted to show her group some New Orleans nightlife, so she selected several night spots in the book and decided to go to each place during the year when the picture was taken.

On the way to New Orleans, the bus stopped in DeRidder, Louisiana, for lunch and a potty stop. DeRidder is a town of roughly 10,000 inhabitants, named for Ella de Ridder, who, at a young age, had run away from her family in Holland and come to the United States. Her brother-in-law, who was a prominent businessman, owned the railroad that passed through the town, and named the town for her. The town’s most famous landmark is its Gothic-style jail, where two hangings were held in 1928, and which thereafter became known as the “hanging jail.” During lunch, Laetitia kept listening for gossip that could be the source material for a limerick and, once again, she was lucky. This gossip was about a young computer-savvy woman in town who did not want to pass up an opportunity to make a buck.

After arriving in New Orleans, Laetitia and her group had dinner at Galatoire’s in the French Quarter and then went out for an evening of jazz, stopping for a while at Preservation Hall, then listening to Al Hirt at Dan’s Pier 600. They capped the evening by having hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s. Back at the hotel before retiring, she read them the limerick of the day.

A canny young lass named Miss Kidder
Scandalized the whole town of DeRidder
When she did, it was said
Offer her maidenhead
On eBay, to the highest bidder.

Day 274: Thong Throng

Today Laetitia would finish Arkansas. Tomorrow she would tour Louisiana, the last state included in her western United States tours. Technically, only part to Louisiana is west of the Mississippi. Although the river is the border between states for most of its run from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico, it divides Minnesota and Louisiana, the states at either end. However most of Louisiana and all the places visited during the next few days are west of it.

Once again, those who signed up for the day’s tour were all fishermen. Just above the border between Arkansas and Louisiana is Redeye Lake. A person with imagination could think of a number of origins for its name. It has a reputation as a great fishing lake. Thus it could have referred to the morning after fishing all night in a boat with a bottle. Alternatively it could have been named for a species of freshwater fish called the Redeye Bass. The species occurs in rivers and streams elsewhere in the south, although not necessarily in this lake in Arkansas.

Laetitia and her group spent the morning on a chartered boat and caught enough fish for a shore lunch. As they headed toward the spot where they were going to tie up the boat and build a wood fire to cook the fish, they went by a swimming beach. One member of Laetitia’s fishing party was a local man from the nearby town called Strong. He whispered something to the rest of the fishing party and they all trained their binoculars on the beach. Laetitia scanned the beach with her binoculars. Oddly, while the sunbathing women were scattered throughout the beach, the men were all clustered in one spot. In the center of the cluster was a young woman clad only in a thong. “She’s from my home town,” announced the local man proudly. Laetitia smiled, put down her binoculars and wrote down the limerick of the day.

‘Twas the joy of a lady from Strong
To recline on the beach in a thong
Hoping she could entice
All the men she thought nice
To the ranks of her admiring throng.

Day 273: Hoxie Doxy

Laetitia and her group visited Old Davidson State Park. Settled in 1815 while Arkansas was still a territory, it was the home of the Arkansas Territory’s first post office, land office, and courthouse. After it was bypassed by the Southwest Trail, an overland route from St. Louis to the border with Mexico, the town withered. In addition to viewing the site of the old town, the group hiked several of the trails in the park along the Black River and around Trappers’ Lake. Late that afternoon, they headed for their destination for the evening. Hoxie is a town of about 3,000 in northwest Arkansas. It was a leader in integrating its schools in the 1950s.

At happy hour, Laetitia sipped her drink at the bar, listening to snippets of gossip from several women at a nearby table. The gist of the gossip was this: Clarissa was a local fifty-something housewife whose husband was an over-the-road-trucker and usually gone. She found evenings lonely and boring. She had exhausted all of the romance novels in the local library and found her life dreary, indeed, until she took some adult education courses and learned how to set up a blog on the Internet. She made up an imaginative new persona for herself, and with the aid of some twenty-five-year-old pictures of her face, some downloaded pictures of a model whose body she wished she had, and PhotoShop, created a new image.

Response to her website was slow initially, until she assumed the name of “The Lady of Shallot” and implied that she was a wealthy heiress. Soon she had relationships with men from all over the world, many of them intimate, though only in the verbal sense. She viewed it as something like courtly love, where young knights, who were often landless and, thus, not marriageable, engaged in impassioned idolizing courtships of older noble women who were already married. Though many a chivalrous admirer no doubt committed adultery with his lady “in his heart,” such relationships were allegedly rarely consummated, with the notable exception of Lancelot and Guinevere.

Clarissa’s newfound hobby came to a crashing halt when several local teenagers who delighted in surfing forbidden websites were giggling over the florid prose on her blog and were caught by one of their mothers. The mother was old enough to recognize Clarissa’s twenty-five-25 year-old pictures and couldn’t wait to “spill the beans” at bridge club. Laetitia finished her drink and wrote the limerick of the day.

A canny web mistress from Hoxie
Was viewed by the town as a doxy
With johns from all over
From Melbourne to Dover
Though she only slept with them by proxy.

Day 272: Miss Josie’s Ass

Laetitia and her group spent the day on a trail ride on pack animals in the hills above the Arkansas River Valley near Ozark, Arkansas. They enjoyed lovely scenery and a picnic lunch. The tour leader was a middle-aged woman who went by “Miss Josie.” A middle-aged bachelor in the group named Jed made a concerted effort always to ride next to Miss Josie. He continuously paid her compliments regarding her personal appearance and that of her pack animal. She ignored him at first, but gradually his flattery had its effect and she allowed as how her animal had won a blue ribbon at the North Franklin County Fair in Ozark. In order to ensure that the judges didn’t show favoritism, the fair officials had imported judges from over in Cass instead of using local fellows from Ozark. Laetitia didn’t go to happy hour when they arrived in Ozark in late afternoon. She already had a limerick.

When Jed saw Miss Josie’s fine ass
He deemed it one hard to surpass
It was just the right size
And was given first prize
By the livestock show judges from Cass.