Clean Living in the Great Midwest


by JRM

December 29, 2008

In the immortal words of Jim Anchower – I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya, but shit’s been crazy. I got a new job, I moved back to the state that I used to live in, and my kids have grown to the point that they need me to go places and watch them do shit…so anyway, don’t call it a comeback, I been here for years.

I recently had the pleasure of going to an “apple festival” in “Sioux Falls, South Dakota” and I think it can safely be said that one can decline all invitations to both fruit-based festivals and South Dakota and still die happy.

Those of you that have followed my brilliantly humdrum writing career might remember the time that I got roped into spending over $70 to see Thomas the Tank Engine in Baldwin, KS. The apple festival was much worse. $10 to park, $17 for access to the “inflatables”, $3 to ride in a circle while seated in an old oil drum pulled behind a lawnmower, $15 to go pick apples and $20 for lunch. I said no to $5 temporary tattoos and ridiculous apple-based mementos.

Honestly, they didn’t really have anything else going on that had anything to do with apples. There was no apple pie bake-off, no apple eating contest, no pageant to crown the apple queen, no songs about apples or anything else of that apple nature…It was just, “Come and give us your money, because we’ve got apples!” And there were literally hundreds of people there, just appling it up.

There was, however, one bright moment. I realized that, at least in the world of inflatables, there is such a thing as “vagina-based technology."  Here’s my son, reacting to being born again. That is one fabulous organ, the vagina. So anyway, there you go…apples.

The only thing I have done recently that was less pleasurable than attending an apple festival in Sioux Falls was working with a friend at her booth at a flea market in Iowa. I think it can safely be said that one can decline all invitations to both flea markets and Iowa and still die happy.

In general, working at a flea market combines and intensifies two of my least favorite things in life: moving and garage sales. You have to get up at the crack of dawn and load a bunch of boxes of crap, unpack the boxes at the flea market, haggle for two days with people who weren’t classy enough to get into Wal-Mart, pack the remaining stuff back up and wait until next month so you can do it all over again.

Seriously, if you played the “Wal-Mart Game” at a flea market, you would have a winner in less than an hour. I can say with complete confidence that I would rather take part in a hatchet fight with the 2008 champ from the Skokie, IL “Hatchet Days” celebration (June 24-26) than attend another flea market. Here are some highlights from the day... So anyway, there you go…flea markets.

Also recently, I started walking towards the hipster-downtown part of Springfield, Missouri in search of food.  For some reason I walked into an Irish bar instead.  And for some reason the Irish bartender was Korean, which was weird…but she was hot. 

I drank frosty cold beers for dinner and made idle chit-chat with the 24 year old girl.  She was impressed that I knew she was Korean (she brought it up btw and by impressed I mean that she wanted me to tip her) and she knew nothing about anything that I did for a living.

I finally ran out of money and had to go to the ATM.
  Then I found myself at a little Italian deli, wondering why everything had to be so damned ethnic. 

For some reason the Italian deli was playing the best of Journey - this did not make the nasty burger go down any easier.  I finished up and started walking back to my hotel, except somehow I had gotten considerably farther north than I had been before…still confident that I could figure it out, I walked.  And walked.  And turned.  And then walked some more. 

I finally admit to myself that I was lost so I pull out the navigation device on my phone and tell it to take me back to the hotel.  It got really pissed at me that I couldn’t go much faster than 3 mph and gave me wrong directions out of spite.

So I finally just walked into a Subway sandwich place ordered something I didn’t want and called a cab.
  While I was telling the cab place where I wanted to go the “samwich artist” snickered.  Then she asked me if I knew where I was.  Then she asked where I was from, apparently to tell her friends from where really moronic people who call a cab to go 8 blocks originate.  I told her I was from Cleveland. 

I finally got back to the hotel, watched the Bunny Ranch thing on HBO (what a bunch of weirdos) and fell asleep.  I woke up slightly hung over, but otherwise ready to go sit in a uncomfortable chair and listen to some guy talk about actuarially required contributions all day.

So anyway…there you go…a column…kinda…see you next week…maybe…


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