THE LEFSE LINGERIE was a bad idea. Everybody acknowledges that now. But this was the ’80s—the very dawn of the Romantic Theme Weekend Era in Minnesota bed-and-breakfast history, and the late winter afternoon of America’s edible underwear craze. Besides, lefse notwithstanding, the Scandinavian Immigrant Immersion Getaway was a pretty impressive performer, as short-stay leisure packages go. (Many B&Bs still offer some version of it, usually with a moniker such as Pioneer Passion or Little Love Shack on the Prairie or Hälsa Dem Där Hubby.) Couples paid handsomely to spend a Valentine’s weekend in a sod hut heated only by a balky wood stove. The men scavenged for kindling while the women fixed porridge and fried dough. The experience was meant to deepen one’s appreciation for one’s sod-busting forebears while also applying a blowtorch to one’s icebound February libido. Hence the lefse undies. Unfortunately, these were delivered as a kit. In keeping with the pioneer theme, you had to forge your own unmentionables. As if the technical challenges weren’t demoralizing enough—you try fashioning a brassiere cup from a piece of Norwegian potato-based flatbread, Martha Stewart—there were also notable aesthetic drawbacks. Lefse is beige, with lots of little brown grill marks. Even if you love the taste of it, you have to admit it’s no vine-ripened tomato in the looks department. It also tends to be on the floppy, dampish side. Therefore, even those women who managed to create an entire peekaboo outfit from lefse ended up feeling as if they had appareled their loveliness in a limp tissue of age spots. Many of them can laugh about it today. Privately.
Another thing they can do today, privately, is exchange sexy cell-phone snapshots with their husbands. We all know, thanks to a recent media shock-wallow, that this coy practice is rampant among today’s randy teens. We’re told these teens are “playing with fire,” are “risking their reputations,” are “slack-jawed idiots,” all because they don’t stop to consider what might happen to their photos once they thumb them into cyberspace. We also know without being told that if teens are doing it, their parents would like to do it, too, but don’t have the nerve. Take me, for instance. Would I want a “provocative” picture of myself—shirtless, pouting, tousled—floating around the Internet? Actually, that’s not the proper question. The proper question is: Who would want to look at such a thing? And if the answer is Not even my wife; not even on a bet, well, there’s now a software product that can help.
It’s called PixelCoot Pro. What it does, essentially, is combine database-driven artificial-intelligence functionality with an on-demand Photoshop-style digital imaging driver. In other words, it retouches your risqué cell-phone photos en route to the recipient. PixelCoot does not put your head on the torso of a youthful hunk of eye candy. Any slack-jawed idiot can do that. What it does, via a proprietary process I’m not at liberty to describe, is offer your beloved an image of you as you appeared in your own mind’s eye at the moment in life when you reached your personal apogee of desirability. Once that image registers in the mind and heart of the viewer, the file self-erases. There’s nothing to save, nothing capable of being forwarded to leering dweebs the world over. You’ve simply—at a cost of $995 and after spending 12 to 15 hours filling out online questionnaires about every aspect of your romantic history—revealed yourself in all your ravishing glory to the one person you believe is most inclined to appreciate such a gift. Let’s hope you’ve chosen wisely.
If you have, or even if you haven’t, and you happen to be a person of a certain age, there’s liable to be some medicinal involvement in your Valentine’s Day festivities. I’m not talking about what you think I’m talking about. (However, if I may be permitted a brief aside: What is the deal with this daily-dose Cialis I’ve been seeing ads for recently? Apparently it’s for guys who just can’t wait the 30 or 60 minutes it takes for the regular stuff to work—guys who have to be ready for action at the drop of a hat or the touch of a breeze or the siren song of an evening shower. I don’t get it. It’s not as if you can’t put that time to good use. Trim your ear hair, cue up the Eagles Greatest Hits CD, get out the Bengay and Advil for afterwards. Why would you want to go back to the way things were at 13, when everything in the universe was capable of electrifying your southern latitudes? Even Pastor Numbleman’s sermons, for crying out loud. Sometimes it was as if Farrah Fawcett was up there in the pulpit—and isn’t pulpit kind of a sexy word, when you think about it? Wait, no, don’t think about it. Think about other words instead. Nave. Steeple. Narthex. Help! And then all that surreptitious (ha!) limping and off-kilter carrying of objects around the house. “Where are you going with that 50-pound bag of dog food, son?” “Oh, just thought I’d move it into my room for a while. Or maybe the basement. Or…somewhere. Bye!” No. No, thank you.) Anyway, the type of drug I’m referring to is quite new—just coming to market, in fact. It will be sold under several brand names, including Spoonitra, Nestrex, Nuzzil, and Huggium. In clinical trials, these concoctions have proven highly effective at making men desperate to cuddle.
Of course, for most cuddlesome couples in the Valentine season, the peak experience is still a romantic B&B getaway: clawfoot bathtub, tchotchkes galore, creaky antique bed, breakfasting with strangers who you just know have keener ears than bats. If you’re on the adventurous side—if you have a lefse lingerie sort of spirit—you may wish to try one of the Love Intensification Through Hypnosis Weekends currently available at several lodges around the state. You check in, pay a brief visit to the gold-watch dangler, and go about your business. Everything seems normal, and yet not exactly. Some people treat you coolly, even disdainfully. Others seem over-friendly; not blatantly phony, but patronizing. As the weekend passes, you and your spouse become edgy, less and less comfortable in the B&B environment you’ve always loved. In the end you lose the ability to take for granted your place in this cozy world of oh-so-comfortable romance, and you begin to fear that no amount of honey and lemon can take the bitterness from your herbal tea. Then you realize: You and your better half are the only heterosexual couple in the place. Is that right? Is it just happenstance, or is it part of the package? It is reality or a hypnotically conditioned impression? Does it matter? A feeling comes over you. You find yourself on the verge of getting an inkling of a soupçon of a germ of an idea of—something. But there’s a snapping of fingers, the sweep of a credit card, and you’re out on the highway, silent, a bit woozy, driving home.
Early customer satisfaction surveys indicate that the hypnosis weekends are a qualified success. Enthusiasm levels are middling, but many guests report that their love has, in fact, been intensified. Indeed, they say, they cling to each other as if for dear life, and their use of special underwear and pharmaceuticals has tapered off considerably.
Contributing editor Jeff Johnson is merely tousled, and tousled isn’t enough.