Day 523: Nitty-Gritty

Laetitia and her group toured several of Richmond’s museums in the morning. Included were the Edgar Allen Poe Museum and the Old Dominion Railway Museum. Intrigued by Susan’s conversation of yesterday, Laetitia headed off in the afternoon across the state to Bland, Virginia. It’s a small community of about 400 people located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Its proximity to the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway make it a great place to live if you like the outdoors. But, as Susan concluded yesterday without really knowing, Bland is somewhat lacking in exciting things for young people to do.

Laetitia was taking her group to a bluegrass music concert in the evening, so she gave the group some time on their own in Bland with a designated meeting time later and then found a local tavern that was having happy hour. Laetitia sat at the bar within earshot of a table of men about her own age. From their conversation, she gathered that all were unmarried and employed, but not well paid. They mostly talked about their big plans for success and how they’d scored with local women or would do so in the near future. Some of the recounted amorous episodes seemed to Laetitia like they might have been embellished with details that were more wishful thinking than fact. However, she was seeking material for a limerick, so she didn’t care. Limericists have no ethical requirement for truthfulness.

Franklin’s story especially garnered the group’s admiration. He had actually enticed a local girl to go with him for a weekend in Virginia Beach. Though Franklin’s lurid account of the weekend was enthusiastic, he let slip a few details that suggested that when his fairytale came true it was actually a bit more real than he expected. His conversation engendered the limerick of the day.

The aim of young Franklin from Bland
To make love on the beach in the sand
Turned out to be gritty
It is such a pity
Things didn’t quite go as he planned.

Day 522: Bland Plan

Laetitia began the day by going to Kitty Hawk, the barrier island where the Wright brothers made their pioneering flight. Then they visited Nags Head and Cape Hatteras National Seashore before driving along the south side of Albemarle Sound on the way to Richmond, Virginia.

They stopped for lunch at a small café in Ford, Virginia. Laetitia’s booth was close enough to the soda fountain to overhear the conversation of two teenage girls who were perched on stools there. What emerged from the conversation was that both girls found life in Ford rather boring. One of them, Susan, was dramatically bemoaning the news she had just received that her parents were moving to Bland, Virginia. If there was any place on earth more boring than Ford, Bland must be it, she concluded. Of course, she hadn’t been there yet, but its name was certainly suggestive. Laetitia didn’t need to wait until happy hour today. She already had a limerick.

Young Susan was constantly bored
With life in the village of Ford
But when her folks planned
To move on to Bland
She simply went out of her gourd.

Day 162: Armpit Gambit

As Laetitia listened to the grinder slow to a stop and smelled the aroma of the freshly ground coffee beans, it occurred to her that there were a number of unusual things about her work arrangement. Each morning when she arrived at 7:00 a.m., a small packet of freshly roasted coffee beans was next to the grinder. It was just the right amount for one pot. The kitchen and library were always spotlessly clean. She had called out once or twice to see if anyone else was around, but no one ever answered. She had decided against exploring the rest of the house, because this was the perfect job and she didn’t want to jeopardize it.

Then there was the money. At the end of each day the amount of money specified in her agreement was deposited in her account. “But how does Mind’s Eye Limerick Tours make enough money to pay my wages?” she wondered. “The tours are imaginary, and nobody who joins a tour has to pay anything.” She went into the library, pulled up the Mind’s Eye website, and scanned it. There was now a link labeled “items for sale.” She opened the link and clicked on a t-shirt image labeled “Humptulips t-shirt.” The enlargement of the image on its front showed a caricature of Laetitia standing off to the side. Fred was raising a glass to his lips and viewing a map held by another man, with his finger pointing at a red X labeled Humptulips. Several other men and women were gesturing and talking to him while holding glasses with mint sprigs. A border of tulips surrounded the image. Above it was the title “Mind’s Eye Limerick Tours,” and below it was the Humptulips limerick. It was the scene from the restaurant in downtown Seattle. “They’re selling my limericks on T-shirts,” she thought. “I wonder if I’m going to get royalties!”

Laetitia and her group boarded their bus and drove across Nevada on Interstate 80. As they approached Battle Mountain, they saw a large billboard that read “Voted armpit of America. Make us your pit stop.” The billboard is there because a contest sponsored by The Washington Post in 2001 voted Battle Mountain the “armpit” of America. Like most towns in the desert where water is too scarce to waste on lawns, its landscape is mostly rocks and sand. It has about 3,000 inhabitants. Laetitia once met a mining engineer who had worked there and thought it was a nice place to live. She and her group decided to avoid its Annual Festival in the Pit, sponsored by Old Spice deodorant.

If on a trip west you are countin’
Try the U.S. “armpit,” Battle Mountain,
You won’t find it bland
If you like rocks and sand
Instead of green lawns and a fountain.

Day 117: Olivine Scene

One of Laetitia’s pleasures in conducting these tours of the Hawaiian Islands was that the packets of freshly roasted coffee beans that she found next to the coffee maker each morning when she arrived at the Emerald Victorian were 100 percent Kona coffee. Obviously, the mysterious powers that be at Mind’s Eye Limerick Tours had a source. Although pure Kona coffee is easily obtainable in the Islands, what is commonly marketed as Kona coffee in mainland United States is a blend of only 10 percent Kona. It doesn’t resemble the real thing.

One of the attractions on the big island of Hawaii for those who like secluded sun-bathing is Papakõlea Beach, better known as “the beach with green sand.” The sand is composed of a silicate of iron and magnesium called Olivine. Laetitia took her group there. A woman from Ohio named Claire, who had joined her tour, was so enamored with all of the tanned muscular men on the beach that she didn’t want to go home.

Lying there on the beach with green sand
Claire opined that her life was quite bland
Back home in Sandusky
Where men weren’t as husky
And, certainly not as well tanned.