Iowa Writes

PAM HOUSTON
"49. Denver, Colorado" from Contents May Have Shifted, #4-60


I get out of Doug Olsen's black-sheeted bed at 5:30 in the morning, get a double latte at Peet's, and meet the CEO in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart, so he can follow me to the ranch.

The CEO gives me an antique book called Five in One, or How To Make and Save Money where all the little pieces of advice are numbered and include one thousand mini-chapters, for example #86 Lice Destroyers, and #349 Lemon and Its Value, and #655 How to Make your Clothes Last Longer, and #760 Butter Making and Marketing, and #858 Blackhead Remedy, and #948 You Will Never Be Sorry If, and #962 How to Find Out a Girl's Age Without Asking Her.  As the CEO zips up Kenosha Pass behind me in his Porsche I think, this is the summer when my life turns into a reality TV show.

In Aspen last week, at the millionaire's house, with three original Chagalls on the wall, the Latina writer ate Pedigree dog food, I guess, to make a point.  Later when they made us tell "campfire stories" (there was no campfire) about "one thing we know for sure," to the people who were willing to pay two hundred dollars a plate for barbecued chicken and a chance to sit next to Tony Hillerman (who didn't show up), every single one of us misbehaved.

I went first and said the thing I knew for sure was something I had suspected all along and it was that black people were way cooler than white people, and Ron told the joke about King Kong that goes, "If they didn't want to let him out of the jungle, why'd they make the door so fucking big," and M. Scott Momaday told a series of tales where the cunning Indians outsmart the white people every single time, and then Annick started out as if she was going to toe the line, saying one thing she knew for sure was that being a grandmother was way better than being a mother, and all of the rich people who paid two hundred dollars to eat barbecued chicken with Tony Hillerman (who didn't show up) started nodding, knowingly, but then she started to talk about her cracked and sore and leaking nipples and it became quite clear that she was not.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


PAM HOUSTON

The story from which this section is excerpted originally appeared in Volume 41, Issue 1 of the Iowa Review (Spring 2011).

This page was first displayed
on February 24, 2015

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