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October 22nd, 2007

I am just back from Cherry Con: an intimate gathering of Jennifer Crusie fans that was held this weekend in Cincinnati, OH. And I am chock full of exciting information.

1. I learned that I can’t spell Cincinatti. Single n, double n, single t. So anyone whose book I autographed, where I said we were, ‘having a wonderful time in…’ I was totally wrong. Go in there and correct that, please.

2. If you drive to Ohio from Wisconsin, you can take a tax deduction that is about $300 more than the price of a plane ticket. It is a straight shot, down clearly marked highways, and very difficult to get lost.

I managed, of course. But made it there and back, all the same.

3. There are metal birds in Ohio. I went to a pre-con party at Jenny Crusie’s on Wednesday night, and she has an ornate porch rail, complete with wire bird’s nests in the newel posts of the stairs. I do not know what kind of bird built the nests, but I would recommend hard hats for anyone walking through the woods.

4. Dachshunds can jump onto chairs. I assumed, with the short legs and long bodies, that this would be impossible. Until I almost sat on one of Crusie’s dogs. Sorry Wolfie.

5. Cincinnati is the most clean and polite place on the planet, even edging out Canada. I am not totally sure, looking back on it, that Cincinnati is even in the United States. The part of it we were in is technically Kentucky, which went against everything I’d ever learned about it in school. I started out at a serious geographic disadvantage.

When I pulled into the parking ramp, next to our hotel, I figured I’d be there temporarily, until I figured out where I should really park. But I’d accidentally found a spot just a few feet from the door to the hotel. I’ve never had a spot this near the door.

Creepy.

The rest of the experience at the hotel, and in Cincinnati in general went just as well. The food was excellent. The pool was a full size lap pool. The hotel’s maids not only cleaned the room: they left handwritten thank you notes when we tipped them, and then folded our hand towels and wash cloths, into artistic caddies for the toiletries.

The hot place for tourists to hang out in Cincy is Newport on the Levee. And it was there that the experience slipped into surrealism. This place is a kind of indoor/outdoor mall, complete with restaurants, a movie theater and the aquarium. My roommate Cory Lavitt needed a trip to the bathroom.

It was in the parking garage.
And it was clean.
And safe.
And next to it, was the ATM cash machine.

We were both scratching our heads at this. In any other major American city, if you are relieving yourself in a parking garage, you are probably pissing in the corner of a stairwell. IMHO, all parking garages end up smelling like impromptu urinals for the homeless.

But this was an honest-to-God, clean, tiled, multi-stall ladies room. Complete with piped in music. 70’s pop. (I sang along).

And in any other place, the money coming out of an unguarded ATM in a parking garage would come complete with armed thugs, who were hiding behind parked cars, waiting to take your money, validate your parking ticket, and give you a receipt entitling you for a free T-shirt that said, “I got robbed in (insert name of city here)!”

But not in Cincinnati.

More soon.