By Daniel Torday
My friend Jonah is tragic at fly-fishing, talking to people and making love to women. He won’t stop yearning like lightning for success in all three. Here’s what he told me about a fly-fishing trip to Tennessee last year:
He was at a bar and there was this girl and she was the best-looking girl at the bar. Not so well-dressed and she carried herself like she wanted to be gaped at, but still: best-looking. He’d been looking at her all night. Finally after five Maker’s Marks and then three Jim Beams and then two Early Times and then two tall-boys of PBR (he’s tragic at drink, too) he looked at her and she was already walking up to him.
Hey, she said, and he said Hey. They bellied up. Then she turned to him and said, You got any pine pails? That’s how she said it, he said. He said he really couldn’t tell if he was picking her up or if she was picking him up. It was like they were kinda carrying a couch down stairs together, he said.
So he said to her, Pine pails? And she said, Yeah, pine pails.
Jonah’s from outside Manchester, New Hampshire, I might not have mentioned, and he’s always said he can’t understand a word anyone who lives south of the Delaware Memorial Bridge says.
So he said to her, Pine pails? And she said, YEAH, motherfocker, you speak Ainglish? Pine pails.
It was then Jonah mentioned the bar was called the Sow’s Tit, and it was dirty. It was a dirty bar, and he’d only come there because his buddy said it was a good place to come after fly fishing. They hadn’t caught anything, and they were sick of each other.
So he said to her one more time, Pine pails? And she said, Yeah, Jaysus, you know—oxycon’in, perk-o-set, lour-taib, motherfocking Tylenol-with-co-dyne. Fucking pine pails.
That was that, Jonah said. I asked him, That was what, and he said, That was the end of the pick-up.
He said, I still don’t know if I was picking her up, or if she was picking me up. It was like we were carrying a couch down stairs. When you’re carrying a couch down stairs, it’s hard to tell if it’s worse to be in front, where carrying the weight is basically all on you— or in back, where you’re hitting your shins every step and your lumbar region aches and if you’re not careful, you’ll drop a couch on someone.
You might be wondering: Did he go home with her? Not me. Why would you ask Jonah a question like that? You learn better than to ask Jonah a question.
Daniel Torday is the author of the short novel The Sensualist, winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Awards’ Goldberg Prize for Outstanding Debut Fiction. He currently serves as the Director of Creative Writing at Bryn Mawr College.