44. It was Bloody Rare, Part 1.
One of the days we decided to take a drive further up north, we wanted to see a couple of towns, one called Eagle River and the other called Minocqua. I do not remember Eagle River at all. The problem was that Wisconsin is rather like Poland; it seems that most of its lakes have private residences right down to the water. This is great when you are like us and staying in a lakeside crib. However when visiting other lakes it is a pain in the butt, ’cause you just cannot get to see the water. But to tell you the truth, I do not remember seeing either a lake or a river, or even a town at that, so let me tell you about Minocqua.
Minocqua was wet, overcast, grey and damp. When we arrived it was somewhere between sleeting and raining. We stumbled upon a really good outdoor store. Like the best outdoor store that I have seen since leaving Aotearoa. Everything was so stinkin’ good and so stinkin’ expensive. It was called BJ’s Sportshop. The great thing was that the shop assistant actually knew what she was selling. She knew what was breathable and what wasn’t. Not only did they have one-hundred-strength fleeces, but they actually knew what they were. Unfortunately when you want the good stuff you have to pay for it and in this case I was not prepared to fork out the money. Sharon was, she needed an ‘icebreaker’ thermal and had been persistently hunting for one. This shop not only had them, but also supported large photos of New Zealand merinos standing in the wild. When I went into my usual predictable rant about how it is a shame that ‘icebreaker’ are making their products in China, the shop assistant agreed, like actually said something like ‘Yeah, I know it is sad, but it doesn’t compromise the quality.’ When I mentioned ‘human rights’, she lamented and agreed again. Like wow, this woman should start a business training shop assistants, because she is the only one who really got the Kel Fowler definition of right. After all, I do set the standard.
Anyhow after looking at much stuff we decided to see the rest of the town and mull things over.
So we went for a walk across a bridge through some trees but never really away from houses. This kind of sucked. But it was a nice walk, wet snow was on the ground and the bush was quiet and full of squirrels. Afterwards we went for a wander through the town. I met a lovely man in the Packers merchandise store where I finally replaced my seventeen-year- old authentic NFL Packers Cap with a new one. I was so, so happy.
We went back to BJ’s to get that ‘icebreaker’, but they did not have the right size.
So now it was time to find some supper. This was to be our special meal out, so we wanted something special. We stopped at the information centre at Eagle River and they directed us to a place on a lake around twenty kilometres south west.
So off we went, like two adventure-starved dumb Kiwis. By now it was dark, starless and snowing. It felt like we had about thirty millimetres of visibility and an army of deer and letterboxes waiting for us. Our map lacked detail, but who cared; our tummies were empty and the lady at the information centre said that this place sold meat.
We probably only managed about forty or fifty kilometres per hour for the drive and in the nothingness we missed our turn off by about ten kilometres. Saw some beautiful deer before eventually pulling into the almost empty car park of Pitliks.
Before entering we decided to go see the lake, after all this was one of the reasons why we chose this place. So we walked around this nice rustic building. Put our backs to the restaurant and looked forward. The sleety snow gently fell into our eyes. But we couldn’t really see anything, so we took a few steps forward until we were almost in the lake. I raised my hand above my eyes to shield out the sleet, leaned forward, strained my eyes and there it was, a beautiful lake shrouded in sleet, mist and darkness. And for all I knew, it was no wider than thirty centimetres. But at least now I could honestly write home to my Mum and say that we had a beautiful lakeside dinner.
I was after meat and the inside did not let me down. The first thing that I noticed was a stuffed deer head hanging above the fireplace. If they stuff ’em they probably eat ’em. The bar was divided into two redneck halves. One for smokers and one for non-smokers, both halves supported mounted road-kill, and open fires and set picnic style-tables with check tablecloths. Once again we instantly felt as if we were in the movies. We chose the smokers’ side, nothing like a nice long hard drag with your meal. Well, if the truth be known the non-smoking section was empty, whilst the smokers’ section supported a long wild-west bar complete with a barman and two loud-speaking men and one louder speaking woman, draped over it as if it had been their life support for the entire afternoon. None of them were smoking.
Being suckers for punishment, we chose what was possibly a lakeside table as close to the action as possible and waited with much mouthwatering anticipation for the meat to arrive. I was expecting a tobacco-chewing cowboy-hat-wearing trigger-happy outlaw to suddenly appear with his six-shooters and our menu. I mean the atmosphere reeked of dead animals and masculinity, this was a realistic expectation. Whilst enjoying the view, aka our reflections in the steamed up window, I heard a squeak. I turned round rather hesitantly to be greeted by our waiter. He was a boy lost somewhere between nappy-training and pimple popping adolescence and I could be wrong here but I think he was struggling under the weight of the menus.
Child labour is illegal in many countries, but here in the USA it seems to be a right of passage. No sooner have Americans learned to use the toilet, than they are cast out onto the highways, byways and roadside restaurants to grow their pimples, pay for college and study polarisation though the conversations of the general public.
This boy, and I know I exaggerate but calling him a child just seems a little too harsh, stood there and squeaked at us. Someone needed to smack this kid around the ears, a boy should at least have a broken voice before he is allowed to sell meat and beer. Anyhow sounding rather like a zit-faced Mickey Mouse, he welcomed us and asked if we wanted a drink before we ordered. In my deepest voice I said ‘No thanks’. I was in meat eating country, I was not going to drink anything unless it had a picture of a four-legged future meal on the label. Zit-Mickey unburdened the menus and scurried away to who knows where. I was left to scan the bar of its vast array of Americanly bright beer taps, I found one with a picture of antlered road-kill on it and was instantly content.
Bear and meat go together, single syllable words easy for men with guns to grunt out. ‘Beer, meat, me, want’. Whereas wine on the other hand is not a description of the drink, it is a description of what people do when they drink it.
Squeaky-zit-Mickey scurried back, I grunted, pointed to the road-kill on the tap and said ‘Beer’ then pointed to the menu and said ‘Meat meat’. That was meat for the entrée and the main. Then we waited and waited and then waited some more. We passed the time away this romantic evening by watching the condensation run down the inside of the window, whilst imagining the lake. During the brief periods that we could actually hear each other above the din of the three at the bar spouting off about each other’s partners and ex’s, we actually talked. Occasionally we could actually hear the fire crackling but mostly we had to be content with just like the lake, knowing that it was actually there.
Then finally squeaky-Mickey-zit scurried over with our entrées. I do not know what is was about America and me, but once again my order was totally screwed up. Here in Lithuania I have watched pouty-faced blond-bombshells take an order for a dozen people and not make a single mistake. But here in America, I have struggled with pimply, smiley, gangly teenagers meticulously scribbling every detail of a two person order and totally screwing it up. I think a little less smiling practice and a little more memory exercise is called for. It didn’t matter, I came for meat and the menu was mostly meat. I ended up with some kind of hot chilli meat swirling in a bowl. I suffered gladly. Because of having to have only the one driver’s beer, I requested that it arrive with the meat. Dutifully a few minutes later, squeaky-Mickey arrived under the burden of my meaty beer. And thus another popsicle-paradise was upon me.
I think we should take a chapter break here.
Tune in later to hear about just how bloody rare is was.
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!
Thank you so much for reading out for lunch. If you would like to contribute toward the running of out for lunch or donate money towards my writing projects, please click on the donate button. Thanks Kel.