Clueless in America. Chapter 17

17. Fredricksberg

After our visit to the monster school, my friend took me for a wee drive through Fredricksberg. First we drove past his church and once again if I was told to go find the church, I would not have found this building. I am dumb-struck on just how narrow minded my definition of a church building is but I will write about church when Sunday comes.

Then we drove down the main street. Now understand that this is by no means my first visit to Fredricksberg. No indeed, for we drove past the very same park in which some twelve years ago I purchased my first adult cowboy hat. But once again I was struck with just how much this looked like a scene from American cowboy television This time I felt like we were in ‘Virginia City’ from Bonanza(61) and had my eyes peeled for gun-slinging Ben and Hoss. But Nevada is a long way from here and did I really watch this much American television as a kid? I must have ’cause I am still looking for Hazzard County(62). Anyhow, Fredricksberg looked like a really cute town. And that is saying something, because America is the world capital of cutsie-pie. After the main street we drove along a parallel road mostly filled with houses, but here I spotted a rather interesting looking cafe. It had been at least forty eight-hours since I had been in a cafe and that is far too long for a man of my stature, what would my friends be thinking? I took a mental note, just in case we needed to return.

Well, a few minutes later my pastor pal was down at the church doing all of those millions of things that congregations never realise happen between Sundays, whilst Sharon and I were at the wheel of the Honda. Fredricksberg is basically an oversized village with one long street. The somewhat cute  anomaly of it is that they do not allow any chain stores or fast-food restaurants within the city boundaries. This is way cool, but they need to advertise this on the outside of town because your average tourist will probably drive up the 87 excited about seeing this much-read-about, quaint and cute cowboy town. But then the closer they get they will start seeing all of these ugly, carbon copy fast-food joints flanked by chain stores and think, ‘Well dang, if this just ain’t like the other ninety nine percent of America’. Then they will fling an illegal U’ie(63) and drive back to their hotel on the River Walk in San Antone. It would be even worse if you had been somehow teleported in and were driving out for your first time. Then you would be behind the wheel driving out, just a thinkin’ ‘Well ain’t this cute, ain’t this just untouched America, oh look at that cute museum, look at that cute cafe’. Then suddenly with no prior warning the city boundary will change from cutesville to middle America, the driver’s burger-ridden arteries will start to harden, he will feel a sudden pain in his chest whilst his stress level dramatically rises and in the meantime Pizza Huts, McDonald’s, and chain stores whiz violently by his window. Suddenly the angst-ridden driver screams over his shoulder to his startled passengers ‘I am sorry y’alls, nobody told me it was gonna end this way, beam us up Scottie’. Finally his heart gives up on him and he veers off the road into a post with a florescent ‘Drive Thru’ sign on top. The fatality was penned in the morning newspaper under the apt head line of  ‘Fastfood Kills’, with the sub-text of ‘Out-of-Towner, dying to eat fast-food, was forced to slow down’.

Sharon and I parked well within the city limits and chose to exercise those things between our butt and ankles. We had a common goal and that was to find the most ‘us’ cafe in this very cute and rather ‘un-us’ town. I also had a secret goal – I wanted to find a plain pair of Justin Ropers. I am lamenting the addition of all this fancy stitching and bird leathers to good ole fashioned cowboy boots. I have a nice pair of plain brown Ropers that I damaged many years ago in the back seat of this same friend’s previous Honda. I had them re-soled in Australia but the shoe repair man managed to put stitching holes in the side of the boot. Despite all of this they are still a good boot. My problem is that we lived a month in Indonesia and nine months in The Philippines. During this time we pretty much only wore sandals and jandals. Our feet either spread or grew and I did not realise this until I finally got back into the cold climate of New Zealand to discover that neither my expensive tramping boots(64) nor my much loved  Justins fitted any more. I mean, what is a man without his cowboy boots?

So we walked, well to tell the truth Sharon explored and waited somewhat patiently whilst her husband rambled and potted his way in and out of any shop that resembled a fresh manifestation of the wild west. I mean you have got to understand, I wiled away hours, days, even weeks of my childhood with my friend Alan in a old house converted into a hay barn playing cowboys and Indians. If immigration knew just how many Indians I had slaughtered in the innocence and imagination of my youth, they would have had me on their terrorist watch list and right now I would probably be writing to you from Guantanamo Bay. All of my childhood fantasies were playing out in front of my eyes, though be it in a somewhat twenty first century manifestation. But alas! A simple pair of Justins was not to be found. I did try on some rather cool cowboy hats though. I have long learned that I look just as good in a cowboy hat as I do in a kilt, but down-town Lithuania is not really the place to wear either.

Fredricksberg had many wonderful furniture stores; if I was a rich man with a big house I could have spent the equivalent amount of money. We both lost ourselves in a poky little kitchen shop. Man, in America they have a kitchen implement for everything. I am sure that if I had been serious enough I could have found a tool for removing mushrooms and the mushroom residue from casseroles. I am a closet spatula freak and this shop just had the cutest, most gorgeous wooden-handled spatulas. Of course I did not need them, so didn’t buy them.

Well, all of this purchaseless shopping wore us down. Sharon had not spotted the just-us-cafe, so it was time for me to pull out my secret weapon. I said that I had seen this cool looking cafe around the corner, let’s go have a look. We walked past another cafe on the way that seemed  to be a converted gas station with a gaggle of Harleys out the front, each Harley matching a fat-bellied, bearded and scrubbed clean, just-wanna-look-mean-but-my-wife-won’t-let-me-pull-it-off over-fifty-year-old man exerting his masculinity through sucking down a rather dainty-looking-frothy-cappuccino. Each of them looking teddy bear cute, supporting their white frothy moes. And yes they got their desired effect. I got out of there, because I was terrified of them. Maybe this was their Halloween gag.

Anyhow we rounded the corner and there it was, a house converted into a cafe. It was green. Now I would tell you the name of the cafe, but I cannot remember it. I am looking at my photos but cannot see the name in any of them. I would look on the internet, but cannot at the moment because I am writing to you from a very charming and old world, aka pre-wireless-internet Latvian cafe. I have RSSed their facebook page, but cannot remember their name. Needless to say, I loved this cafe, it immediately jumps into the top ten of Kel ranked cafes in the world.

Tune in next week to see if I remembered the name of the cafe.

For past chapters click here. Or look on the side panel.

You may have noticed some bracketed numbers in this chapter. These numbers correspond with explanations and definitions that are in an accompanying glossary. To read the glossary you will need to by the yet to be released book. Sorry!

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Ta (Kiwi for thank you)

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