Saturday, January 14, 2012

A short jaunt up the North Shore by way of the digestive system...

By Jim Heffernan
Split Rock Lighthouse
As I lay on the operating table last week waiting for the anesthetic to take effect before the start of an extremely invasive procedure, the woman nurse asked me a few innocent questions about my past life.

Where did I grow up? Duluth. “I’m a native.” What high school did I go to? Denfeld, way back when.

The doctor performing this extremely invasive procedure hadn’t arrived yet in the operating room, so I decided to ask the nurse a few return questions about her past life. She said she was originally from Silver Bay.

Ah, Silver Bay. I know it well. Well, not THAT well, but I know it pretty well, mainly by reputation.

As the anesthetic continued to course its merry way through my vast vascular system, and still no doc on the scene, I told the nurse how when I was in high school the word was that girls up the shore in Two Harbors were really hot to trot, an expression of the day that means everything that it implies.

She told me to be careful because a second nurse in the room, this one a male, was married to a Two Harbors “girl.”

I told them both not to worry. Continuing, I told them that years ago I had a colleague who hailed from Two Harbors and that, discussing things in general, I had shared with him that when I was in high school the word about Two Harbors girls was that they were really hot to trot.

This Two Harbors colleague said he found that strange, because when he was in high school in Two Harbors the word was that Silver Bay girls were really hot to trot.

At that point the doctor came in to conduct this extremely invasive procedure involving the insertion of a long camera doohickey through your entire digestive system by way of an entry point usually employed as the exit for usually solid wastes, but not always.

The doctor’s presence halted my conversation with the nurse (by now nurses) as he started getting down to business. As he did so, the anesthetic, failing to knock me out but – it was fervently hoped – succeeding in deadening my entire digestive tract, I told him about the West Duluth-Two Harbors-Silver Bay hot to trot connections.

He cheerfully said that when he was in high school – he didn’t say where – it was generally believed by the boys that the girls in the next town to the north were similarly hotter to trot than their own girls.

As he got on with this extremely invasive procedure we conjectured that it appeared the farther north you got, the hotter to trot the girls used to be. The doctor wondered aloud what might happen if you got all the way up to Canada. We all laughed.

By then I was wondering how far north he had progressed in my digestive system, which, it turned out later, he had taken a few snapshots of as he moseyed along, just like we might take snapshots of Split Rock lighthouse on our way to Silver Bay and maybe beyond. Tofte? Lutsen? How grand might the girls of Grand Marais be? You wonder.

At the end of this extremely invasive procedure, I was presented with a few of these color snapshots of my innermost innards, which I now have at home, awaiting reproduction in our 2012 Christmas letter along with the grandchildren and the rest of us, especially me. 

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