Day 655: Sue Sainte Marie

The day began for Laetitia and her group with hiking and bird watching in Matinenda Provincial Park, named for one of Ontario’s 100,000 lakes. Afterward the group went on to Sault Sainte Marie. The city is located on the Saint Mary’s River, which connects Lake Superior to the rest of the Great Lakes. The area was the site of a First Nations (Ojibwa) village for more than 500 years before the French established a Catholic Mission there and later a fur-trading settlement.

The French named the settlement Sault Sainte-Marie (pronounced Soo Saint Marie) after the rapids in the river that mostly isolated Lake Superior from the Saint Lawrence Seaway, except for canoes that could be portaged. Moving larger craft over land between the lakes often required weeks, so usually the cargoes alone were transferred between ships. The locks, built in 1855, made Lake Superior accessible to ocean shipping, but had the unintended consequence of allowing lampreys to enter the lake.

In the afternoon, Laetitia took her group to watch several ships going through the locks before she dropped them at their hotel and went off in search of a happy hour. Sipping a Canadian blended whiskey on the rocks, she sat at the bar and watched the unfolding scene. It began when a man and woman came to the bar and ordered martinis, giving detailed instructions to the bartender on exactly how to make them. The bartender greeted them by name and said the waitress would deliver their drinks to their table. After a few martinis, each ordered with meticulous instructions, the woman began to go around the tables, flirting shamelessly with all the men, while her companion berated her loudly, his face contorted in a hideous expression that evoked ostensible rage. Laetitia observed that the occupants of some tables were clearly enjoying the show while at other tables there were looks of disgust and the tongues were wagging.

The bartender whispered, “She calls herself Sue Saint Marie. He just goes by Bob. They were actors in Toronto before they decided to escape here for a quieter life. I think sometimes they find it a bit too quiet, so they come here every so often and stir things up a bit with their act. The fastidious martini orders are a sham. They’re just instructing me to make them the way I usually do. Most of the locals who know them find it amusing, but there are some who don’t have much of a sense of humor and engage in a lot of malicious gossip about how Sue is a slut and Bob is obnoxious. I don’t know if they are married, but after acting slutty to all of the men in the place, Sue always goes home with Bob.” Laetitia smiled, took a pen and notebook from her purse, and wrote a limerick.

In the bar there was gossip invidious
‘Bout a couple both odd and fastidious
But the man at the bar
Said the crowd went too far
When they said Sue was fast and Bob hideous.