Just one short week ago, three friends, one Yaris, two guitars, an amp, and some other equipment-crap set out from Chicago to end up in the wilds of Northeast Missouri. Yup, we went to Kirksville. In the name of the founders of Truman's strangest fraternity, an eclectic group of reunion-happy alums gathered in various dirty hotels to see if Kirksville was as good as we remembered.
In the Yaris, the three of us played "in my suitcase, I packed" and waited patiently to drink our High Life 40s as it grew darker and more Missouri-like. It's strange to sink back into the familiarity that ruled your life just four years ago as you drive north on that stretch of Hwy 63 with town names like Macon and LaPlata. It's strange and it's bizarrely comforting--here is that Comfort Inn, the one across from the drive-in that never seems to be playing movies. There is that trailer restaurant outside the Amtrak station in LaPlata, the one I missed out on. Here is the billboard with the binoculars, the one that reminds us of The Great Gatsby.
But I think the best part of the drive was the burning fields. Growing up in a city, but one that most people associate with farms, is funny. I feel an affinity toward farms, toward rural life, but I know relatively little about them. One of the things I do know about, though, is burning the fields in the springtime to clear them of dead plant life and ready them for planting. For whatever reason, we hit it right last weekend, and were repaid with the sweet, smoky smell of burning fields. We could sometimes smell it even when we couldn't see the telltale billows or the black char in the highway's neighboring fields. Another familiar comfort.
The weekend was full of drinking on the cheap. We had people from Kansas City, Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, and St. Louis, and everyone enjoyed the college-town approach to beer prices. We haunted the bars that we called our own for a few years, looking scornfully at the incredibly young patrons now bellied up. But not too scornfully, because after all, that was us. We went to parties at the dirtiest frat house in Kirksville, and left too early to witness toilet-smashings (toilets unattached to plumbing, of course) and three-hour covers of "Slow Ride."
Kirksville did have a few new curves to throw. Our favorite Mexican restaurant has closed for mysterious reasons (serving to minors, perhaps?). Staying in a hotel when you used to know the renters in every house around campus was a strange experience to be sure. Staying in the Days Inn out on the south side of town was even stranger, and by "stranger," I mean "flat out disgusting." One room of girls had a vendetta with hotel personnel after remarking (accidentally) in earshot of a clerk that the place was a "shithole." Don't ever do this, as it will result in an unrequested 7am wakeup call and the refusal of all services, including clean bath towels.
The new buildings on campus and the fancy remodels were all a bit of a trip, but perhaps the best curve that the Ville had to offer was Geno's 70'S [sic] Club. I mean, we were all surprised to see that the number one dive for dancing, Toons, had been renamed Wrongdaddy's (wtf does that even mean?), but a brand new entity on the Kirksville club stage? Wow. When a friend came into Woody's hailing the light-up checkerboard dance floor, we knew we had to see it. After a generous man purchased some lunchboxes for the willing (or begrudgingly willing, a chug shot is the last thing the writer was ready for at the downhill of a crazy weekend), we walked a block and a half to the dance end of the square.
Before getting into the marvel that is Geno's, let's just take a minute to appreciate a town where every bar you want to go to is within a one-mile radius, where all your friends were living within probably a two mile radius, where parking everywhere is plentiful and always free, and downtown streets are slow, empty, and uber bike-friendly. Is it any wonder we got nostalgic for such a place? And now, there is Geno's.
We walked in past a most interesting bouncer, all showing our IDs and straining to hear the song that was playing. Music was temporarily forgotten as we entered the bar area and saw the spectacle. Tales of the light-up dance floor had not been exaggerated -- it was the focal point of the room. Reds, whites, blues, and greens were all neatly in squares under the feet of a wide array of Missouri's finest townies. The DJ (I begged my friend to get a picture) reined over all in a raised booth at the head of the dance floor. I can't remember the details of his mullet, only that it was awesome in the haze of the smoke machine. We wasted no time in joining the crowds to bust our sweet moves to AC/DC, Michael Jackson, and other staples. Wow.
Floors were slept on, bars were owned, eyes were burned by foreign solution, professors were visited, Java Co bagels were eaten, a stranger's bathroom was used, a friend's band was debuted, and all of a sudden, it was time to go home. We left fairly early on Sunday, checked out of our godforsaken hotel by 11am. (I'm not kidding, this place didn't even use fitted sheets! They just tucked flat sheets into the mattress. Often STAINED flat sheets. Gross.) We stopped at Sonic on our way out of town, as for some reason, Chicago proper hasn't caught on to the magic that is Sonic. The trip home never seems as long as the trip there, though this trip had its fair share of sleep dragging. I would like to say that we didn't follow up the Sonic breakfast with a Steak and Shake lunch, but then I'd be lying. We made it home in one piece and admitted that, despite promises of retiring in the Ville during the car ride there, we didn't actually think we would ever be back. Some things are best left remembered.
ps - catchy-title-punctuation credit goes to E, of course.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
A quick giggle from me to you. I'm working on a final project that involves, among other things, liberalism. In light of this, I figured Bill O'Reilly deserved some name-dropping in my piece. I googled his name to be sure I had it spelled right, and, after watching that hilarious video of him freaking out on Inside Edition, looked in briefly on the man's homepage. In my scan, I noticed a most ridiculous typographical error. Please note the way that Italy is spelled in his O'Round the World section above. Hilarious. A crusader of truth, a lambaster of liberals, and a man who can't be bothered to spell correctly the name of a country that is arguably one of the birthplaces of Western society. I mean, it only has FIVE letters. Italy??!!?!? Two Ls?!?!?!!? What is wrong with him?