Sunday, October 03, 2004


I stink at introductions.

I guess, this being my first column and all, that I should come up with something warm and witty to say -- the perfect sentence to make you immediately decide that I'm the coolest guy alive, whose column you're going to want to pick up and read each and every week that the Leader gets flopped onto your doorstep.

Trouble is, I'm not too particularly cool. I don't even know how to fake it well.

So how did I end up here on these pages? I'm a Galesburgian by birthright (though I've always preferred "Galesburger with cheese,") who ended up in the Quad Cities thanks to my four year tour of duty at Augustana College.

Most of my friends from the Augie days hate the Quad Cities. I've never really understood why.

Well, maybe I understand why. Somewhere around 99.987% of the student body at Augie comes from the Chicagoland area. Okay, that's not true, but it definitely felt like it during my four years there. All of my college friends hailed from towns with names like Crystal Elm Forest Lake Hills Heights, or, to paraphrase, Suburban Hell USA. And to most of these kids, coming to the Quad Cities was their own personal version of "The Simple Life," yanked from their big city existence and left to somehow survive four seasons in a town with (gasp) only TWO major shopping malls (the horror!)

These are the same friends who now hound me day in, day out with the same question: "Dude, why don't you move to a big city?"

Well, first off, compared to Galesburg, this IS a big city. I was petrified when I first came to the Quad Cities. My parents had instilled a deep fear in me of, well, pretty much everything. It's my mom's constant opinion that in a "big city" such as this, anyone you see on the street is a likely mugger, carjacker, or pervert. Every day my freshman year at Augie, I'd drive around and invariably get lost, usually ending up turning the wrong way down a one-way street (those barely exist in Galesburg.) The only facts I knew about this area were what I could glean from watching fuzzy Quad City television as a kid... but that only left me in the comforting knowledge that (a) Orby was the Super Van Man and (b) at Good's, I could stroll through the park-like atrium and take the glass elevator to the fabolous wine cellar. That didn't help me much as a college freshman. It took me a LONG time to adjust to roads with more than two lanes. So don't tell me this isn't a big city, friends, it's plenty big for me.

"But," my friends say, "in Chicago you could be exposed to more culture!"

Culture? What do MY friends know about culture? These are MY friends we're talking about here - last I checked, the Paris Hilton sex tape was high art to these people. I'll gladly play cultural checkers with these folks. They've got the Field Museum... we've got the Putnam, and you hardly have to wait in line. They've got the House of Blues... we've got the River Music Experience and don't have to deal with Dan Aykroyd. They've got the Sears Tower... we've got the Kone Tower (and let's see 'em try and balance a decked-out Christmas tree on top of THEIR tower every year!) They've got Soldier Field... we've got corn fields. They've got Bloomingdale's... I've got and a cable modem. Life ain't bad here.

So here I stayed. I'm now 33 years old, single (eligible bachelorettes DO take note of my e-mail address), out of shape, and deeply embedded in my usual love/hate relationship with life, much of which you'll likely be reading in these very pages over the coming weeks.

All I can promise is that it won't be boring. Unlike this column. But I don't have to apologize for this one. I told you I stink at introductions. Hi, my name's Shane.

No comments: