After leaving Gas City, Laetitia and her group headed northward on the way to Goshen, near Indiana’s border with Michigan. They made stops for hiking and bird watching at Oabache and Chain o’Lakes State Parks. Goshen is an Amtrak stop and is in the middle of Amish country. Its Wal-Mart has a covered stable to accommodate its Amish customers.
When Laetitia walked into a local bar that afternoon, she found that the happy hour crowd had not yet begun to come in. She sat at the bar, ordered a gin and tonic, took a book from her bag, and began to read. The book was Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K. Jerome’s humorous story about a boat trip on the Thames with two other men and a dog. At the beginning of the book, the protagonist imagines he is dying of a myriad of diseases whose symptoms are described in advertisements for patent medicines. The disease warning signs in the ads were vague and included such conditions as “a disinclination to work.”
As it turned out, the bartender had read the book, and he and Laetitia had a conversation that began with Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound and Hadacol and drifted to a story about a local man named Jeremy, who fancied himself a Lothario. He imagined that door-to-door selling was a way to meet lonely housewives. Although Jeremy found a product that he could sell on commission, dressed for success, and diligently made his appointed rounds, his enterprise failed. The decline in one-earner households meant that he mostly found no one at home. However Laetitia found that his story provided her with a limerick.
Young Jeremy had a great notion
For meeting the ladies of Goshen
At their doors, he’d beguile
Them while dressed in high style
As he sold them restorative lotion.