Cover Photo: Holy Toledo by Chris Okum

Holy Toledo

She was only fifteen years old when she moved to Paris. Let her tell the story?  I don't think so. She's not in right now. She's out. She's gone. Back to Toledo? I don't think so. She's not going back to Toledo. She's not going anywhere. She moved to Paris when she was fifteen and this is where she's staying. Come hell or high water. Is that what that means? I don't think so. But it sounds good. So did moving to Paris when she was fifteen. With forty dollars in her pocket. That's how much she had when she got here and that's how much she has in her pocket right now.  And a letter from Maria Schneider. Her pen pal. If writing one letter to someone and having that someone write you back is what you would call a pen pal. Is that what I would call a pen pal? No one asked me.  She said Maria Schneider was her pen pal. She was the only fifteen year old girl in Toledo to see Last Tango. Stole her parents car and drove straight to the Ziegfeld in Manhattan and back to Toledo and wrote a letter to Maria Schneider saying that was me up there on the screen and the she gets a letter back from Maria Schneider saying thank you for the kind words even though she didn't remember using any of those and Maria Schneider saying hey if you're ever in Paris please get in touch with me and here's my address and so that's what she did as soon as she got to Paris, she went to the address and knocked on the door and Maria Schneider opened the door and looked at her and said how can I help you and she said my name is so and so and I'm your pen pal from Toledo and that was me up on the screen and can I come in and Maria Schneider looked at her and took a drag of her cigarette and said no and shut the door.  What did she do? What would you do? You know what you would do? You would do what any fifteen year old marooned in Paris with forty dollars in their pocket would do. And what is that? Find a man. An old man. A nice old man. A nice old man who will take care of you. That doesn't sound too appealing. And guess what? It's not. It's rotten. It's as bad as you think it is. Probably worse.  Especially when you have a natural pout and big eyes. She has both. The pout is as natural as pouts gets and the eyes are huge. Is this starting to sound promising? Is this starting to sound like the kind of story you want to hear?  Young girl moves to the big city and has to learn how to hustle and eventually catches a break and becomes a huge star or if not a huge start then at the very least a local legend. That's not what happened to this girl. That's what happened to another girl, but I don't know that girl. I know this girl. And what happened to this girl, the girl I'm talking about, is that she got a job waiting tables. She left Toledo so that she didn't have to wait tables for the rest of her life only to move to Paris and wind up doing exactly that. What she was running from is what she was running towards, as the saying goes, even though I don't think I've ever heard anyone ever say that. She lived with this old man until she saved up enough money to get her own place in a no wave neighborhood and that's where she's been this entire time. That's where she is right now. Is that her? Walking in the rain with the cigarette in her mouth? I don't think so. That's not her. That's someone else. With their own story. So that's not our girl. Our girl will be back soon. She who thought about going back to Toledo. One time. She did. She thought about it and then looked around and saw where she was and what she was doing and what had become of her and she figured she was already there. She figured you don't go back to Toledo because Toledo is everywhere.