Treat Your Valentine to a Tryst on the East Side
Irish author and notorious wit Oscar Wilde once observed “Who, being loved, is poor?” In this long cold winter of recession, even with your sweetheart to keep you warm, the quick answer to that question is, well, just about everybody. Still, it’s Valentine’s Day and you want to do something special to show your true love exactly how much they put your gizzy in a twirl without going too far in the red.
You sent away for a Gold Kit envelope, and returned it filled with the tacky jewelry you inherited from your great Aunt Fanny. The local Coin Star machine repairman knows you on a first name basis. You cut off your long, gorgeous hair and sold it on the black market to a drag queen in desperate need of a weave. Now you’ve finally got some cash together, but how can you take your sweetie on a whirlwind trip to the moon for $187? Why not stay right here in Coeur d’Alene and have a Romantic East Sherman Valentine’s Day getaway?
To put it in the nicest way possible, the neighborhood around Sherman Avenue from 15th to Fernan Lake is full of well-seasoned, funky architectural charm and lively folks with a large amount of local color. To put in a way that’s possibly not very nice, the neighborhood is frequently perceived as run down, raggedy, full of seedy motels and dive bars and rowdy folks in various states of chemical alteration. The truth, as it usually does, falls somewhere in between. Maybe the local tourist boards don’t spend enough time touting the amenities of our fabled East Side, but if you’re open-minded, creative, and a little brave, you and your significant other can pull off a quirky and memorable mini-vacation.
The La Quinta is the Ritz-Carlton of East Sherman, the only motel in the neighborhood with an indoor pool and possibly functioning luggage carts. It’s certainly the area’s most modern facility and features a great view of the crumbling St. Thomas cemetery, but it does lack some of the old-school charm of other nearby inns. You need a place with outdated curtains, at least. A favorite is the El Rancho Motel, affectionately known by locals as the “El Rauncho” Motel. At some point in time it must have been a glorious destination, its giant, stylized green sign luring in travelers with the promise of “tubs, showers, TV”, as if these were rare luxury extras, not virtual necessities. Many of the area’s motels thrived when Highway 10 ran through here, but now show rapid signs of age and are likely to be renting rooms either by the week or by the hour. Not every Valentine’s romance was meant to last forever.
Amorous couples into mother-obsessed, cross-dressing psycho killers should certainly get a kick out of the Bates Motel. A word of warning; several East Sherman motels have been recently been converted into transitional, low-income living facilities by local charities with few visible changes. If the front desk clerk asks you and your sweetie to donate your shoes, you’ll know you may have accidentally stumbled into one of these.
Once you settle into your chosen accommodations, venture out on a walk and absorb some of the neighborhood’s unique thrills. Take your steady to the Fernan Ranger Station, pick up some Smokey the Bear propaganda and see if they’ll let you change the “Fire Danger Today” sign to “Extreme” long enough to snap a photo of yourselves kissing in front of it. Treat her to a relaxing session at the Siloam Acupuncture Clinic, and while she’s facilitating her vital flow of qi via the insertion of filiform needles, he can go shopping across the street at the Fins and Feathers Tackle Shop. Wouldn’t she just adore a nice, dangly pair of fishing lure earrings? Tell her it’s the latest trend, that Paris Hilton was seen wearing a pair on the red carpet and when Joan Rivers raved and asked her about the designer, she just winked her wonky eye and said “Arbogast.”
Or maybe chocolate, candy and spirits will help you to stay in your lover’s heart. Visit Piggie’s Deli & Market, where you can pick him up a king size NutRageous, some Atomic Fireballs and a forty of Old English 800. There’s at least one tattoo shop in the neighborhood and your paramour will writhe with delight when you suggest sitting together for some ink, especially when you tell him your idea about matching Katie Couric neck tattoos.
You’ll probably want to take your Valentine out for a classy, candle-lit dinner in a place that offers more than Nachos and Corndogs. Too bad, because the Tesoro gas station is pretty much the area’s only hot food option after 2 p.m. Of course, The Moon Time always comes with high recommendations, but it’s too upscale to fit into the ghetto spirit of our getaway. Anyway, it’s best to save your appetite for the morning after when Michael D’s will serve you up a breakfast so tremendous, you’ll want to break-up with your darling and marry the cook.
On the night before the morning after, you can cuddle in your sleazy motel room and watch “Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown” or you can go bar hopping. If you choose the latter option, a good place to start is O’Shays Irish Pub for mushy love-talk in a quiet corner and a couple of chocolaty pints of Guinness. Next, slink into Chillers, a notoriously rowdy night spot that’s hosting Valentine’s Day Karaoke. What a perfect opportunity to woo your sweetie with a heartfelt rendition of the Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You.”
Finally, an East Sherman experience wouldn’t be complete without a pitcher of beer and some foosball at the Powder River Saloon, an ancient, dimly lit biker-bar. If your sweetheart is inflicted with Coprolalia and can’t control her spontaneous foul utterances, better just steer clear or come armed with rolls of quarters. Despite it’s tough rep, the prudish Powder River charges a penalty of 25 cents per four-letter word they catch you utter. It’s just one of many soft spots you and your Valentine will discover in East Sherman’s hard outer crust.