I thought upon exiting junior high school that I'd be done writing the words "How I Spent My Summer Vacation." No such luck. You see, for the past few weeks, I've been wrestling with a mad case of cabin fever. My daily routine has been grinding against the core of my skull. When I caught myself in the shower the other day thinking, "Maaan. This shower is SO boring," it was time for action. Specifically, the action of packing up the car and getting the heck out of Dodge for a week.
My destination? Dallas, Texas. For a blue-state boy like me, this was akin to Superman deciding to holiday at Lex Luthor's house. Why I decided to visit the town where people wear their red necks like a badge of honor is beyond me. But you know what? Despite that blue-state part of me cringing about having to pay a total of $4.50 for the privilege of driving on something called "The George Bush Turnpike," I lived. I had fun. I (gulp) was really impressed.
Having never ventured in a Southwesterly direction before, I discovered several important truths during my trip. Among them:
- Perhaps in the future, I will not decide on a roadtrip destination whilst looking at a map of the continental United States small enough to fit on an 8.5"x11" sheet of paper. On that map, Texas was only about 2" away from here. In reality, Texas is at least 5.5" away from here.
- Armadillos are really, really weird looking. Especially when they're laying inside-out on the side of the interstate. Which they seem to do in Texas. A lot.
- True story: Somewhere in Oklahoma, I was talking on the cell phone when it went fuzzy and dead. Minutes later, I spotted a sign on a church that said, "Out here, Jesus is our wireless provider." Make of this what you will.
- Two weeks ago, I wrote a column about it being very, very hot outside in the Quad Cities. After 3 days in Texas, I am very, very sorry for those lies I was spreading. In Illinois, you go outside in the summer and you sweat. In Texas, you go outside and walk briskly for fear of your shoes melting to the sidewalk. Texans, in turn, make up for their absurd heat by keeping their air conditioning at frostbite levels inside all buildings. This makes the average temperature in Texas about 75 degrees -- 50 degrees inside, 100 degrees out.
- On Elm Street in Dealey Plaza, there's a big, blood-red X painted in the road at the exact spot where Kennedy was assassinated. The only thing creepier than this ghastly red X is the vast amount of conspiracy theory nutjobs lurking around the place, talking to tourists and handing out propaganda that would make Oliver Stone blush. I am, however, convinced of the second shooter theory after waiting for a red light, running out onto the X (hey, everybody was doing it,) aiming my camera at the sixth floor of the Book Depository... and seeing nothing but tree leaves and branches.
- If you live in Kansas, you are insane. Two hours on a Kansas interstate and I was flooring it just to get ANYWHERE else. Want to know what Kansas looks like? Take out a blank sheet of paper and a pencil. Got it? Good. Now, across that blank sheet of paper, draw a horizontal line from left to right. Now sit back and behold the majestic Kansas skyscape. I urge you now, all of you, to give what you can to a relief fund. If we raise enough money, perhaps we can buy Kansas a hill, or at the very least a tree or two.
- I used to think Tex-Mex food in the Quad Cities was pretty good. I have now been to the promised land, I have eaten of the enchilada, and I know now the error of my ways. In a town where it's too hot to do anything but sit and eat, they DO know their food.
There was one other important difference between Dallas and the Quad Cities... but that needs a column of its own, so that'll be next week. Hmm... I've never written a two-parter before, I guess I'll need to end this one with a cliffhanger, eh? DID I GET SHOT WHILE I WAS IN DALLAS? IF SO, WHO SHOT ME? WAS IT OSWALD? WAS IT J.R.? ZZ TOP, PERHAPS? All this and more, next Texas time, next Texas column.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
COLUMN: Texas Pt. 1
Grassy knoll, baby!