Working furiously on muddy knees and wielding hand spades, the Soupster and his newish friend Stephanie had already dug up quite a pile of potatoes. They felt the satisfaction gardeners feel when they are getting closer to the eating part of the equation.
“Alfredo sauce,” said the Soupster, “and deer burger and peas and these potatoes all mashed together, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Stephanie, who had initiated the potato planting in the first place, looked like a person who just gave their car keys to an idiot. Since arriving this past spring from Tulsa — inspired by a rerun of “Men in Trees” — she had often consulted the Soupster on the character of various prospective boyfriends. The Soupster had done the best he could, but Steph was still hitless.
“There was good news for you in Mental Floss magazine,” said the Soupster. “The staff writers there were examining the legitimacy of the State of Virginia’s claim that `Virginia is for Lovers.’”
“Is it?” asked Steph.
“Virginia for lovers?”
“Virginia came in 17th,” said the Soupster. “Alaska came in first.”
“Alaska is for lovers?” asked Stephanie.
“Alaska is,” answered the Soupster.
“Wow,” said Stephanie, silent for a few beats. “How do they know?”
“They rated all the states on five things – the number of bed-and-breakfasts per capita, the birth rate and the listens per capita to Marvin Gaye songs – and two other things I can’t remember,” said the Soupster. “Then they added all the numbers together to come up how much each state was for lovers.”
“Alaska was number one in B&Bs, number two in birth rate, number seven in Marvin Gaye songs and number one overall,” he concluded. “Then again, the Mental Floss folks could have made the whole thing up.”
“Harrumph,” said Stephanie, who stood up and stretched. The Soupster did, too.
“Well, Alaska hasn’t been so good for this lover,” she said. “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.”
“Alaska used to have the smallest population of any state and the highest salaries,” said the Soupster. “No more.”
Our Town is a lot more civilized than I imagined from Tulsa,” said Stephanie.
“It was weird having Back East getting so much rain – more than here,” said the Soupster, bending to the task. “Well, we better get the last of these potatoes…” he started, but Stephanie cut him off.
“Hey,” she said. “If Mental Floss is right and the odds are better, does that mean the goods are odder?”