Saturday, May 7, 2011

If this is Saturday, then it must be Olean

For the last two months, the Halls had been New York nomads. Weekends were no longer marked by numbers, but by district names. The endless merry-go-round that is the official visit season for the Grand Matron carries on until the middle of June, and the Halls were only slightly past the half way point.
"I don't think I can face another dinner with the only choices being 'chicken marsala' or 'yankee pot roast'. Let's find some place in town to eat." said Mrs. Hall. Mr. Hall looked down at the small dot in a vast field of nothingness that represented their destination on the GPS, and doubted the likelihood of finding a decent meal or even a nearby town. Long since used to being seen around town in a tuxedo and formal attire, they ventured into a pleasant burg and found a charming restaurant that time had apparently passed by. Big band music played in the background. The waitstaff was nimble and unobtrusive. "I fully expect that we will try to come back here next month and find that this place closed fifty years ago and all we will be left with is the haunting vision of shuttered windows, a lingering taste of this delicious entree and those creepy strains of the 'Twilight Zone' running through our heads" remarked Mr. Hall between bites of his shrimp. Though they were loathe to leave, they thanked their hosts and wandered on back to yet another meeting.

Occasionally the monotony was broken; one Sunday, a youth group held a pancake breakfast in the fire station. The Grand Patron John, and his lovely wife Gail, invited the Halls to join them at their table and regaled them with tales of their farm. John had turned out to be probably the biggest and most pleasant surprize of the whole long journey- he seemed to be, if not an actual distant relative of Will Rogers, then most certainly cut from the same cloth. His provincial tales of life in the country had left the Halls reduced to tears of laughter more times than they could count.
Saturday there was a walkathon in a recession oppressed mall in Olean. Mrs. Hall surveyed the situation; it was very likely the pledged-to-walk little group of 50 or so ladies and gentlemen that had shown up that morning were the most traffic that place had seen since the previous year's walkathon. "You cut a very handsome figure, my dear- I noticed you're the only one walking in a sport coat and oxford shirt." "Standards, my love-" he said, "You have to maintain standards." They walked the requisite 12 laps, equalling approximately four miles and on the last lap, Mr. Hall twirled Mrs. Hall around twice and they tango-ed across the finish line. The press was on hand to take pictures of the Grand Matron with her entourage and Mayor Linda Witte presented the GM and GP with keys to the city of Olean.
"Only 15 or so more visits to go!" sighed Mrs. H. as they packed up another hotel room and prepared to hit the road. "We seen iron dinosaurs selling used cars and recovered helicopters adorning rooftops. There was a rather dandy-fied squirrel in front of a leading local business last night. I'd like to say I think I've seen it all, but I have a feeling that would just put the 'whammy' on us- who knows what we'd run into then?"
"As long as you pack up the travel bar, my dear, I'm sure we'll be able to handle it" soothed Mr. Hall, and he handed her a brace of freshly washed martini glasses to pack.

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