Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Greatest Spiritual Experience of Your LIfe

I have over 1000 blog posts that I need to catch up on, and I actually seem to be losing ground instead of gaining. My new job seems to be intent on forcing me to actually work, which I have decided is completely lame. My time management strategy is going to have to be adjusted. How big of a nerd does that make me, the fact that I plan time management strategies for myself?


So, it seems as though the Gestapo (err....Homeland Security) likes very young girls. Shocking. Next thing you know, they’ll be arresting people and holding them indefinitely without any evidence or formal charges. What? They do that, too? Oops. At least our Republican (substitute Democrat here if you like, it still works) leaders are still solid pillars of leadership. Beacons of light, they are. If you doubt it, just ask Homeland Security.

(Crappiest Segue EVER) Think that’s scary? Allow me to relate part of our momentous adventure to the west.

The first leg of the journey took us south to Oklahoma City. Not the most exciting drive, to be sure, but not terrible, either. Once there, we set out on the second and longest portion, Highway 40 South, all the way to Flagstaff. We would be traveling through the entire tip of Texas, hitting Amarillo on the way through. Staring at the map, I recalled the worst 4 ½ months of my life spent in Texas, more specifically, Shepherd AFB in Wichita Falls. My friend Dominic was very succinct:

Texas is nothing but dirt and broken glass.”


The ensuing years have shown me that Texas does indeed have its redeeming qualities. Dallas and San Antonio are nice, and I’ve heard the same about Austin, although I’ve never been there. I have met some great Texans who I read on a daily basis. Nonetheless, for the most part, I still agree with Dominic. Driving through the tip of Texas made Kansas and Oklahoma seem positively exotic.

Let’s start with the weather. Steady and gusting crosswinds of 60 mph (or greater) buffeted us the entire time. Fun stuff. I also forgot what the color green looks like. Half of our trip, maybe a bit more, was spent in what I can only assume is a nice preview of hell. Dante himself would have had his resolve tested, and I have to wonder if, at some point, this portion of the country didn’t have some influence on early portions of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. God’s disappointment made manifest in the land itself. Given its similarity to actual hell, it’s no surprise that residents look toward religion for some modicum hope in the wasteland. Persuasive as the roadside bilboards were, Rachel and I politely declined the option of aligning ourselves with The Tip’s version of The Almighty. Alas, travelling along doing 80 and remaining unconvinced, religion found us.

Welcome to Grooms, Texas.

You can’t see it in the picture, but not only is this Eden home to The Worlds Largest Cross, but actually stopping to take it all in will evidently be “The greatest spiritual experience of your life!”

“How big can this thing possibly be?” I wondered, while also trying to put a height or weight on just how spiritual I was truly going to feel. If by “spiritual” you mean “completely creeped out”, then the answer is “immeasurably.”

I considered actually stopping so I could try and snap a picture with The World’s Largest Cross on my back. If you look hard, you can see in the first cross picture the reason behind my decision not to. At the base of this monstrosity, a bit to the right, you should be able to make out three smaller crosses that aren’t power poles. This is the mini-Golgotha that was erected directly adjacent as (evidently) some sort of add-on bonus to those willing to experience "greatest spiritual." I chose not to stop because I didn’t want to be killed. I’m pretty sure that the mere sight of me would have whipped the Christian-Catholic Hybrid Cult members into a righteous frenzy.

Ripping my eyes away, and to top the entire experience off, I spotted the museum portion of this tourist destination which was still under construction and looked to be half complete. Thank the Almighty Christian-Catholic Hybrid Lord they had a giant “Gift Shop is Open” sign hanging on the front. I pictured Texas Chainsaw Massacre with Morals as I pressed a bit harder on the accelerator. I spent many miles weighing my urge to outrun the creepiness against the need to not get pulled over by a Sherriff of the region. The fear lingered as I tried to make my way around slow moving trucks plastered in Viva Bush! stickers.

For now, I’ll ignore the obvious questions. Questions like, “Who has enough money or time to do such a grandiose project that’s so out-of-bounds willy-inducing? Was it a person, or one of the towns using local taxpayer funds? Just how likely is it that I would have been killed by the ‘Children of the Corn Where There is no Corn’?”

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Monday, April 03, 2006

That Guy

I’d like to take a moment to talk about bowel movements. Mine, specifically.

Fine, I’ll spare you. Suffice it to say, since our arrival I’ve become the poster boy for The Clean Getaway.

The stupid and disgusting can be worth talking about. Why, just today I caught my little dog Stella eating a turd as big as her head. This is no big secret or surprise concerning dogs, but the difference here is you could tell she was seriously enjoying it. Why the hell do I even buy dog treats? All I could do was sigh as I also thought of her penchant towards going for the French kiss whenever she decides Rachel or I need canine affection.

Delicious. (Dinner ended up being sans meat and may be for the next few days as I struggle to forget.


I realized something today. It came to me that, right now and for the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be that guy. But which guy? There are a lot of those guys, ranging from “I’ve done whatever you’ve done, except that I’ve done it before you, it was cooler and I got it cheaper, oh, did I mention it was also bigger” Guy, to “I’m a slimy, creepy, up-and-coming sex offender but I can still have any woman I want, I’m THAT awesome” Guy. (It may seem too amazing, but these two guys can actually be the same guy on occasion.)

Which guy did I realize I am (albeit temporarily)?

I am now “I haven’t had a decent relationship or a relationship at all for a very long time but I just got this really great chick who I’m enamored with and given the dry spell I’m in I’m not sure how to handle it so I’m gonna talk about her constantly to all of my friends and, while they may still like me, are becoming very annoyed with me” Guy.

But with cities instead of chicks.

I just wanted to let everyone know that I know who I’m being as I force readers to listen to me be this guy for the next couple of weeks. You have my apologies for what will become, over time, a little more annoying each day it happens. Still, knowing this, I’m unable to stop myself.

Being out of the Midwest is fucking awesome.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


On the high volume right now, this post is being brought to you by The White Stripes, Elephant. During the 17 hour trip here, I was able to spend a lot more time with their albums. Each time I give a listen, I gain a new appreciation of their depth. A tip of all my hats to you, Jack White, you are a rock god.

April Fools should come around more often; my fiction quite obviously needs the practice. I really did almost hit two separate and wandering crackheads, though. One was a seriously narrow miss. I thought the guy was timing it so I’d be past him by the time he got to my lane. This fucker speeds into my lane and then slows to a lethargic saunter. It was probably slower than that, but I find I’m unable to summon the proper words. Do they give crack at the hospitals here? Maybe that’s why the various (insert drug, malady, or condition here)-heads are collectively trying to get maimed—they can get effed up for free at a medical establishment. If that (or some form thereof) is the case, then damn, what a shitty state of affairs to be at that point. (It’s right here, in this spot, where I’m feeling the distinct urge to ramble about my theories concerning drugs and the “War” on them that has been so wholly ineffective for such a long time. However, I’m holding strong and cutting myself off. Shit, I’m rambling right now)

Before we left Wichita, Rachel and I had a quasi-estate-ish sale--way better than a garage sale, but not quite an estate sale. There was also the bonus that no one died, the ultimate prompter of the “estate” portion of the term. It was during those exhausting two days that I discovered a whole new class of crazy that I wish someone would have warned me about: The Estate Sale Traveling Early Sickfucks, or TESTES.

Good Lord, these people.

We planned on doing the sale on a Friday and Saturday, from 9 to 5, and stated as much on signs and in the paper. Thanks to an ever-burgeoning OCD, I had everything planned. We would rise at 6:30 or so and get everything set up and finish some pricing we still needed to do. Then came the TESTES, a miserable experience to be sure. Some of these fuckers began coming up and knocking at 6 AM and, well, let’s just say it was jarring and leave it at that. Rachel told them we weren’t opening until 9 and shooed the TESTES off of the porch. Since this gang of numbnuts obviously couldn’t decipher newspaper print (must’ve been too small, or I wasn’t using the King’s English, or something), we had to take drastic measures and make a warning sign with the hours posted in kindergarten-Big Chief script for any that happened to follow. Maybe TESTES can’t see paper. I don’t know, but these goddamn sunsubitches were still fucking knocking!

We just stopped answering the door.

Not to be deterred from junk, trinket, and tchotchke satiation, these vampires began circling the house and peeking in windows. Dawn of the Dead, but with TESTES (think zombies with small bills and a penchant for unreasonable and infinitely idiotic haggling. Will you take a dime for that?). After 45 minutes of this idiocy I had my gun in one hand and a broom in the other, ready to implement Survival Plan Alpha (not really sure what I hoped to accomplish with a broom, but there ya go. What can I say; I had reverted to a more primitive frame of mind). Once we finished all of the pricing and arranging, I peeked out of the window, making sure that I was far enough away to avoid whatever Mad Consumer disease these freaks may have had. I noted to myself that I needed to find all of the antiseptic stuff in the house and keep it nearby in case I was bitten. Hydrogen peroxide, iodine, whatever kills germs and kills them quickly. Tired of waiting, we finally acquiesced to the TESTES camped on our porch, yard, and curb. We unlocked the door.

I thought the parade of TESTES might never end. God help me, it was horrible.

We did, however, sell a bit over 2/3 of our stuff in about three hours, further lightening the load we would be traveling with. By the time the rush ended, my pockets were fat with wads of small bills, far outnumbering the more preferable large denominations. I stood there feeling like a crack dealer who is bad at math and just had a seriously unexpected run on product. For three solid hours it was like working drive-thru, but without the option of spitting in people’s food if they got out of line.

Meet Amateur Antique Dealer, a tall and pencil-thin mustachioed sort wearing stiff, super-blue denim with gleaming tennis shoes and an ancient IZOD polo that’s three sizes too small and tucked in with the braided leather belt that somehow managed to slip past cool police patrols so many years back. Rachel and I had a gorgeous (can I be completely gay and say “divine” or “stunning”? I won’t, but I’m thinking it.), antique dining room table with six chairs from the late 30’s-early 40’s, old modern style. We were selling it for 400 dollars (too cheap) because we needed to ensure the sale. There was just no way to bring it with us. This brain dead stick figure laps the table for 15 minutes solid, circling and circling, running his hands all over it and checking crevices. To be sure, if it continued any longer I would have begun to fear that something perverse might go down in my dining area, driving the other TESTES away. He finally wandered over all casual-like and offered me $250. I just laughed and he looked shocked. I asked him if he was kidding and then informed him that I would be selling it for $400 or would burn it. After an extended blank stare, he walked back to the table for some more laps. Amateur Antique Dealers must not get a decent morning constitutional very often, because he was lapping for another 15 minutes, this time on the phone, trying his best to speak in official and low conspiratorial tones. Figuring I had sufficiently gotten my point across, I smiled as he walked over for a second time. Show me the money. “Will you take $350?” Now I was mad. I stood there silently and the guy looked at me eagerly because he thought I was considering the offer. I wasn’t. I was simply trying my damndest to figure out where the ambiguousness resided in my first response to his amateur, wholly retarded, and useless haggling. He started to pull out his wallet. “$350?”

I replied, “Same price as 15 minutes ago. Same price for the foreseeable future.”

He walked away looking dismayed, but was gone only 5 minutes this time before coming back and ponying up the dough. Show me the money. Fucking TESTES.

Meet Bulbous Elbow Lady, named for the unfortunate and scary looking, bulbous (did I mention bulbous?), multiple growths protruding from the pointy parts of her arms. She has crazy, fraying hair in several decorator shades and a witch looking nose that looks as though it came right off of the pages of Hansel and Gretel. She shuffles to no particular destination in mind and enjoys scratching various inappropriate places on her body (TESTE with an infection, perhaps?). Making her way through the house one slow shuffle at a time, like a crusty beetle, Bulbous Elbow Lady likes to pick up every single item available for sale. Every. Single. One. If it requires electricity, it must be turned on and demonstrated, be it fan, lamp, or electronic device. Fifteen minutes or so made it crystal clear that she wouldn’t be purchasing anything. I don’t even think she knew what a lamp was. She did ask if I’d take a nickel for one of my 25 cent paperbacks, though. I told her no. Seriously, if you don’t think a book is worth a quarter, then I don’t want you in my house. Stop touching my stuff.

I love lamp.

All is well that ends well, though. We sold nearly everything we set out to sell, even if we had to put up with an inordinate amount of ridiculous and annoying TESTES along the way. If I see any in the future, it will be too soon.