Just the mention of Ditto triggers my buddy Paul Cooney to think of Ditto Boland as described by Edwin O’Connor in The Last Hurrah. Thus Ditto suggests a middle-age go get me who apes his boss and whose principal attributes are unquestioning loyalty, constant availability, and willingness to perform any chore no matter how menial. Probably to Paul, the name Blotto would suggest an East Boston childhood friend of Ditto’s, who sports for a nose something that looks like a strawberry adorned with fine purple netting.
Paul would be wrong on two counts. Ditto and Blotto are not from Beantown, they are Seattlites. Also, Ditto and Blotto are not men, they are women! When I saw them during a late afternoon in 1962, they were good looking, in their late twenties or early thirties, well dressed enough to suggest that they were well heeled, and beyond a shadow of doubt, in the final stages of becoming totally pickled. Ditto is the appellation I assigned to the one who seemed to be seeing double, and Blotto refers to the one who didn’t seem to be recognizing anything.
Augie, my Brooklyn waterfront-savvy brother, who was visiting the Pacific Northwest, and I had spent the day at the Seattle World’s Fair and were returning to Bellevue. We had a fishing appointment that necessitated our getting up two-hours before dawn of the next day. I decided to go via Bell Street to Fifth Avenue so that I could show Augie the monorail. I was driving a DeSoto station wagon that was green below and white above with a chrome luggage rack on the roof. Since it was Augie’s first venture into Seattle’s downtown. He asked, “What’s Seattle like?”
While I coasted to a full stop on Bell Street before turning south onto Fifth Avenue, I replied, “It’s not at all like New York City. Nothing out of the ordinary ever happens. It’s kind of boring.”
I was going to say more but was interrupted by Ditto calling out authoritatively, “Taxi!”
One glance was all it took to determine that Ditto’s and Blotto’s alcohol content rendered walking unsafe for them. Their high heels were 15 degrees off of vertical. Their legs from their ankles to their knees, were also bent 15 degrees, but in the opposite direction.
I responded, “This is not a Taxi.”
The parking lot from which the revelers appeared was just a few steps away. Ditto grabbed the rear door handle, staggered into the back seat and said, “Oh hell, take us to the T & C!”
Blotto followed like a loosely-coupled caboose while mumbling something about not being able to start her car.
Augie and I, seasoned men of the world having sailed in both the merchant marine and the Navy, had never experienced anything like that. We sat there surprised and half turned around while staring at the nearly-dissolved pair in back who were trying to focus on us. Apparently, their auditory nerves were still transmitting impulses to a few sober brain cells because during the subsequent conversation, like spectators in a tennis match, they kept swiveling their heads commensurate with the action.
Augie led off, “So nothing ever happens in Seattle! What’s the T & C?”
I answered, “The Town & Country Club is a place where formerly married unattached people hang out. It seems like one of these two has a divorce to celebrate.”
We had no intention of getting involved with the inebriated Kewpie dolls, but we were not holding up any traffic so we continued the conversation for their benefit. Augie again, “What are you going to do?”
I hit the ball back to his side of the net, “You want to go fishing, don’t you?”
Augie then scanned Blotto as described in the book How to Become an Italian. He started by staring first at her feet, and then slowly he raised his eyes and paused at all the right places. Being of Italian descent, he instinctively knew all of the right places. Then he paused a bit longer while staring at her forehead. According to the book, that is usually done to convey interest in someone’s mind. Only this time Augie was probably wondering if Blotto had any mind. Then he repeated the whole process with Ditto. Both, with what little attention they were capable of, tried to focus on him.
When his surveys were finished, Augie said, “Let’s go fishing. Now what are you going to do?”
Ditto and Blotto then strained to focus on me as I said, “I’ll take them to the T & C. They’ll get the hell out.”
They did. But their high heels were then 20 degrees from vertical and their lower legs were bent even further in the other direction.