It’s been well established that I’m an Iowegan. Born, raised, live and love in the heartland. Sure, I’m allowed off the farm (in our case all 4 ½ acres of it) from time to time. I’ve traveled hither and yon and manage to conduct myself in a manner reasonably acceptable in polite company (picking up strange men in bars and Chippendale episodes not withstanding BUT in my defense, there were accomplices and extenuating circumstances). In short, I can handle myself whether it be hiking the jagged rims in the Grand Canyon or storming the brick and steel girded canyons of New York City. One might say I’m fearless.
And I was, until the day my agent called, striking terror in this intrepid Midwesterner’s heart by reminding me that she had promised to visit me in Iowa to celebrate my recent appearances on the New York Times best-seller list.
Maria Carvainis was comin’ to town - um, make that the country. Now, let me ‘splain something here. Maria is the quintessential cosmopolitan New York City business women. By that I mean, she’s successful, well traveled, polished and coiffed within an inch of her city-slicker life.
“Oh, my God,” I said to my husband and I believe I said it repeatedly. “What am I going to do with Maria here, in Iowa? I mean, she probably doesn’t even own pair of jeans, let alone a pair of low-heeled shoes. And she’s a wine connoisseur. Something tells me that box of Ripple on the top refrigerator shelf just ain’t gonna cut it.”
Well, long story short and my reservations aside, Maria proved to be a woman of her word. On Halloween day, she winged her way from the masses of NYC to I-o-way and the 2500 people populating my hometown – with not a single pair of jeans to be found.
When I stopped hyperventilating, I did my homework. And I was ready for her. It was going to be uptown all the way for this sophisticated socialite who represents such literary giants as Sandra Brown, P.J. Parrish, Mary Balogh (to name a few) and … lil ole me.
Never let it be said that I don’t know how to rise to an occasion. When Maria arrived I was waiting for her at the airport with a vast array of cultured gifts – a mud ugly brown t-shirt with the word IOWA and a photo of a pig displayed nicely across the chest, a corn cob key chain, a coffee mug and a stuffed cow. Classy, huh? She was stunned speechless.
From the airport I whisked her away to the epitome of culinary delight – The Flying Weinie. (The Ritz has nothing on me).
Friday evening, it was out to dinner and clubbing with my friends - one of whom (Carol B) gifted her with a bottle of Boone's Farm, a stuffed pink flamingo and a book on the art of pole dancing. Yee Haw. Later, we got all decked out for Halloween – taste and tact all the way. There were nun costumes involved.
And what night on the town would be complete without a stop at Hamburger Mary’s, a local transvestite bar where new friends abounded. Literally – they were bounding all over the place.
The next day, we moved on with the highly cultural agenda by visiting our children and grandchildren. Since it was Halloween, all four of the little cuties greeted us in their costumes. Kayla, 7, was a beautiful mermaid, Blake, 4, was the ultimate Power Ranger, Lane, 3, was type cast as a monkey, and baby Haley, 8 months, was dressed as the cutest little frog you ever did see.
Lane provided musical entertainment by singing in his sweet, angelic voice: “Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?” over and over and over again. And when Maria squeezed Haley’s foot and inquired, “And how are you little froggie?” Blake – ever on hand to clarify the obvious – pointed out: “She’s not really a frog. She’s a baby.”
After one final rendition of “… hot like me,” from Lane, we said our good-byes and moved on to the grand finale. Hot dang, we got us some guns and went and shot somthin’. And what trip to Iowa would be complete without a visit to a corn field?
All too soon, this weekend that I had looked forward to with equal measures of concern and uncertainty was over. And you know what I found out about city-slickers – well ONE city slicker at any rate? She was a damn good sport, an easy keeper and she loved my dog and my family and my friends - and they all loved her. What's not to love about that? We had a blast. We laughed and we ate and we drank some mighty fine wine and when I put her on that plane back to the city and I heard myself saying, “Ya’all come back now, ya hear!”, I realized that I meant it! Maria (aka Sister Mary Marguerita) is welcome back any time. Heck. I might even take her snipe huntin’ on her next trip!
My question to you all is, have you ever found YOURSELF in a similar position of worrying about how to entertain visitors you assumed would be way out of their element? And if so, what was the outcome? Did you have a grand time like I did or was it the disaster you had foreseen? And the really big question - besides being down right negligent and failing to take her outhouse tipping, did I miss anything??