OK, this is going to be the last update about my quickie road trip to West Virginia last week. You have my word on it. There are just a few loose ends I need to tie up here, and we’ll get back to the “normal” stuff. Do we have a deal? Good. Let’s get started.
Folks in West Virginia are nicer than in other places. I’ve heard this all my life, and don’t really subscribe to such notions. People are all the time attributing stereotypes — good and bad — to certain regions or states, and I think they’re mostly overblown. From my experience, people are basically the same wherever you go. So, I just let ’em talk, and silently dismiss what they’re saying.
However, it seems to be true: people are nicer in West Virginia. At least they’re nicer than the people who live here, in the Upper Perogie Belt. Everywhere I went, people were friendly and ready to talk. But not in an obnoxious way, just… friendly and nice. Up here you’re more likely to receive a scowl, and, if you’re lucky, an occasional grunt of acknowledgment.
It’s striking how different people behave there. And it’s contagious, too. I found myself in a better mood, which was confusing. What’s happening to me?! A little less cynicism and anger is a novelty I quite enjoyed, if you wanna know the truth.
However… there was also a dark side to the trip. For two days I was subjected to many hours of daytime TV. It was excruciating. The commercials alone can send a person into an emotional death-spiral. It’s all treatments for diseases, desperation loans, and slimy lawyers urging us to file lawsuits against our former or current employers. What happened to Madge, and Mr. Whipple? Sheesh. It’s all sleaziness and sadness at this point.
Yeah, we watched a lot of game shows. But somebody would always start talking at pivotal moments, and I never really knew what was happening. So, I’d miss the question on Family Feud, and only see the answers. “Pitchforks!” “Underwear!” “Willie Mays!!” WTF is going on?!
On Friday evening we met my aunt and uncle for dinner at Cracker Barrel, and that was good. You can’t go wrong with the Barrel. The waitress, however, was a bit over-caffeinated, or perhaps crazy. She was certainly eager to please, and was filling drink glasses and clearing plates like a son-of-a-bitch. But my face was very near her armpit for much of the meal. All that reachin’, and whatnot. I could’ve done with a little less pit, to be honest.
While we were eating, my uncle was talking about a person he works with, and the guy’s “hypochondriac” wife. He said, “Yeah, and a couple of months ago she got to the point where she couldn’t swallow anymore. So, she had to go to the hospital and have something stretched.” It was one of those situations where I couldn’t stop laughing, and everybody was looking at me like I was an escaped lunatic. But it was funny. She had to have something stretched. I’m laughing right now.
On the day I left, I had a morning sit-down in the bathroom, and there was a single rogue pooplet that wasn’t going down without a fight. I flushed three times, and it would disappear down the hole, then come rocketing back to the surface. It seemed to be taunting me. The toilet didn’t seem to have much horsepower, and I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t leave a butt marble for my parents to deal with, but also couldn’t make it go away. I felt genuine low-grade panic. Thankfully, the fourth flush did it. At least I think it did.
“Everything OK in there?” my dad said, when I came out of the bathroom. I guess he heard the toilet flush four times, and his imagination was running wild. Heh.
The interstate bridge at Dunbar was recently widened, and it’s now like some crazy Atlanta-style highway.
I turned on the GPS, because I’m always afraid I’ll be daydreaming, miss a turn-off, and end up in Wisconsin or something. I’m not very good at paying attention while I’m driving… Toney and I have had a million “conversations” about this through the years.
Anyway, our GPS maps are apparently not up to date, and the device started going crazy as I drove over that wide-ass bridge. “Recalculating! Recalculating!!” What the?? I looked at the screen, and it showed my car off the road, hovering above the river. I was driving through the air, alongside the interstate and not on it. Good stuff.
I stopped to buy gas way out in the boondocks, in a town I dubbed Rusted Hatchet. I filled up my tiny, girly gas tank at a Sheetz, and went in to buy a tankard of coffee. And it was a sea of camouflage. Everybody was apparently trying to blend in with the surroundings for some reason, and buying the shit out of donut holes. As I stood in line waiting to pay, I saw one cup full of the things after another being purchased. Weird. I’d somehow stumbled into the Town that Loves Donut Holes.
I stopped for lunch at the same yuppie Chick-fil-A in Maryland, as I did on my trip southward. I even parked in the same spot, and ordered the exact same meal. It was a perfect fast food bookend to my quickie road trip.
I’ll see you again tomorrow.
Have a great day!