’20 A To Z Challenge – S

SUAVE
SOPHISTICATED
full of
SAVOIR FAIRE

None of these words apply to me.

I am just a small-town boy with a touch of autism, who has managed to read enough to know how the other half 95% lives, and how they expect me to act and behave.  If the wife hadn’t decided that I needed someone to civilize me, I probably wouldn’t be married.

I have managed to dine at a few somewhat upscale restaurants without embarrassing myself or my companions too badly, but I should not be let loose near anything labeled fête or gala.  I can’t even tell the difference between white ties and black ties, much less how to wear them, when, and where.

For a couple of years in high school I wore a string-, or bolo-tie to the few dances and parties that I attended – and didn’t wonder why the females wanted nothing to do with me.  In the first half of my working life, when I was a number of varieties of cube-drone, I wore clip-on ties.

One day, I stopped for a cooling beverage (or several) after work, at a place artistically nicknamed The Pit, which just happened to have entertainment which involved the removing of clothing.  I got a seat right up front – ‘cuz my eyes were weak.  One of the sluts strippers Exotic Dancers decided that she wanted to drag me up on the stage.  She grabbed my tie and pulled.  She ended up with it in one hand, and a bemused look on her face.  Of course, I had to burn the tie, by the time she was done with it.

My idea of “sophistication” is to order bottled beer that is opened at my table, rather than take my chances of being roofied by on-tap lager.  Don’t get me started about cocktails, or even ‘mixed drinks.’  If it’s any more complex than rye and cola, it’s outside my wheelhouse.

I’ve long since given up the bolo ties but, despite their connotation and connection to County-Western Music – which I abhor – I continue to wear, what other people call ‘Cowboy boots’, through almost 53 years of marriage.  What I wear is not what others might refer to as ‘Biker boots’ either, although they served to protect my lower legs for 25 years, when I rode an assortment of rice-burner motorcycles.

It’s too bad I wasn’t born rich, instead of so God-damned handsome.  Maybe one of the Hilton or Astor families might have polished me a little bit.  More likely, I’d have just wound up like Billy Carter, the embarrassment to President Jimmy Carter.  We could have had a few beers together, only…. Despite endorsing Billy Beer, in private, he drank Pabst.

Stop back in a couple of days, and I’ll have another story about old guys sitting around, drinking beer, and taking over the world.  I’ll lay in some local, micro-brew dark ale that we can share.   😀

Big Adventures In A Small Town

Red Roof  Standard Red Roof

We can always see the ‘same-old’ at home. When most of us go on a trip, we hope to see and experience something new.  The city of Batavia, NY did not disappoint! CHINESE KARAOKE!  Did that catch your attention?  It caught mine.  I’ll explain below.

First of all, there are two Batavias.  The City of Batavia is completely encircled by the Town of Batavia.   On the western edge sits Batavia Downs, a well-known, completely-enclosed, indoor harness racing venue.  Three hotels sit nearby, just past the tollbooths off I-90.

Rich Red Roof  My Red Roof

Justifying my claim that hotels are forever changing names, my Red Roof Inn has had five names. Until two years ago, it was a Travelodge.  Unlike most ‘standard’ Red Roofs, its room doors didn’t empty out into the parking lot and the weather.  Instead, it had a central hall, interior doors, and quieter rooms.  It also had a small bar, and a dining room that was used as a karaoke club.

About five years ago, a developer bought up and paved over acres and acres of property surrounding the race track. Soon, businesses like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Applebee’s, Tops and Target popped up, giving the race fans (or their wives) someplace else leave their money.  Three new hotels went up just north of the Interstate.

Many of the people who work at these new businesses came from somewhere else. Five years ago, the City of Batavia had about 9000 residents.  Nowadays the population is pushing 16,000.  The night clerk, a 22-year resident, is outraged.  There are now two McDonalds, and two Tim Horton’s in her town.

Tim Horton's  Tim Horton’s c/w drive-through

I don’t think she quite believed me when I told her that in Southern Ontario, I could pass two Tim Horton’s on the way to pick up my mail. The son uses a four-lane regional road to drive 9 Kilometers (5+ miles) across town to go to work, and passes 4 Timmies along the way. There are probably another dozen scattered around town.

Back to the Karaoke…. Through the summer and fall, groups of Chinese couples arrive in the USA, possibly landing in LA, or San Francisco.  They are flown to Las Vegas for a couple of days, then flown on up to a regional airport just north of Batavia.  A Chinese driver picks them up with a Mercedes Sprinter van, and installs them at the Red Roof.  The next day they are driven 60 miles to Niagara Falls.

There are always two groups, one a day ahead of the other, filling 10 to 15 rooms. A local DJ offers Chinese Karaoke on Saturday night, in the dining room.  First they belt out the lyrics to Chinese songs, but quickly change over to modern North American pop songs, which they attempt to sing phonetically.  It’s amusing.  Most of them can’t speak a word of English.

On Sunday morning, the drunk who couldn’t speak English, is hung-over, but loudly spewing O Solé Mio phonetically in Italian into the parking lot at 6 AM. I knew that Japanese are renowned for taking lots of pictures.  These people took photos and videos of everything, including two crab-apple trees, and the crab-apples on the ground by the entrance.

Because regional airports are favored by folks like smugglers and terrorists, there was a significant Homeland Security building right across the street, and the county sheriff’s office was just beyond the neighboring hotel. Unlike our trip two years ago, to the ‘hood’ in Detroit, this time there was no need for armed security patrols.

The telephone booking clerk told me that I was getting ‘just a plain room’, so we took along the Koolatron – only to find a refrigerator in the room. We took food for breakfasts – to be told that the hotel provided a hot breakfast – eggs, sausage, cereal, bagels, bread, juice and fruit.

One of the non-Chinese diners stopped the night-clerk and asked her if she remembered a Sorel Boot plant out where new plaza now sits. I cut parts for Sorel Boots for the hometown Kaufman Footwear, until they went bankrupt, and I had to find a new job in ’85.  I didn’t know they had a plant in Batavia.  I guess it got torn down and paved over.

The City of Batavia has some old and interesting buildings, which I took photos of. (So there, you Chinese tourists!)  If you’d like to come back in about a week, I’m going to post a mostly photo-blog.

This trip was enjoyable, entertaining and educational for me. I hope you got a little from it also.