Missouri and I are the most bitter enemies.
This has been the case since all the way back to the summer of 1993, the year I attended AIT at Fort Leonard Wood, the year the Army spent what some experts estimate may have reached well into the millions, in order to train me on how to use various types of cranes (12 ton, 20 ton, 25 ton Grove) with a various type of attachments (hook block, clam shell, drag-line, picket pounder). An impressive skill set , it is true, Sergeant Legos even said that I threw a drag-line like I’d been doing it 20 years, which made me feel really, really manly, but sadly, it is also one that, as I’ve stated before, I’ve had pretty much zero call for in my personal, professional and even military life. So, even though I never really used it, I did get a $2000.00 signing bonus for successfully completing my training as a U.S. Army trained Crane Operator (62Fox), so that was nice…
Your tax dollars a work! Thank you, United States Army! Bwak! Bwak!
But I digress…
My point is: Fort Leonard Wood, and by greater extension: Missouri, sucks donkey butt. It was ridiculously hot and muggy from August through October, ridiculously, then it became ridiculously cold overnight and, as some of you might recall, I happen to live in Minnesota, so for the weather to be complaint worthy, you know it has to be bad. And this was extreme. Horrible. It was a murky, stagnant swamp of a state one day and a frigid tundra the next. Simply awful.
This same weather has tried to snow me in and ground my flights, turning road and wing alike into a diamond crusted ice-rink, each and every time I have flown through St. Louis, and that long, ugly turd of an airport, with its humped-backed, sloped-foreheaded, mouth-breathing below average troglodyte staff (even for an airport), has happily conspired with the will of this miserable cess-pool of a state, helping to ensure that either my luggage is lost, my flight is delayed or my hurried lunch, as I run between the insanely far apart set gates, is moldy and over-priced every single time. This state and its populous goes out of its way, well past above and beyond, to aggravate me, to detain or delay me, to offend me with its prevalent attitudes, opinions and politics or to just somehow generally make sure that each visit is crappy in some way. We have a long and storied history, Missouri and I, one that, while its origins may have become hazy with the passage of time, the hate is no less as bright and sharp as the day it was originally forged.
The last time I went through Missouri, though, despite a herculean ice storm effort on its part, despite the cancellation of my flight, despite being placed last on an incredibly long stand-by list, despite having a moving walkway with no exit for miles, I still managed to somehow slip out of that crap-hole state at the eleventh hour, not only making the last open seat on the last flight of the day, but somehow also ending up in first class… HA! Take that Missouri! You bunch of jerks. I looked back and Missouri shook its fist at me in impotent rage as I soared away, cackling wildly.
But while I may have emerged unscathed and easily victorious by a wide margin on that particular occasion, I always knew there would be more. I always knew Missouri was still there, never forgetting, always planning, waiting for its moment, bristling with rage over its humiliation. I always knew that someday, someday, we would meet again and on that day... Well, I welcomed that advent of that day… I welcomed it. Until the last breath, Missouri… until the last breath…
And yes, I am aware of the fact that I am anthropomorphizing an entire state based mostly on experiences had while in the St. Louis airport, so what? You want to make something of it?
Anyway, to make a long intro short (too late) my Dad moved there and, through the eventual progression of time, my little sister graduated High School, and since my little sister is the cutest of the cutest bug’s ears, I had no other choice then to return, in order to attend the festivities, to that wretched hive of scum and villainy, the seedy lair of all that I despise … Missouri
And Missouri was waiting.
Little Ms. Super-cute Fiancée and I decided to rent a car for the trip. Its a generally cheap, practical and honestly, more comfortable thing to do for long trips. What Little Miss Super-cute Fiancée doesn’t realize, though, is that I suggested this for another more specific reason. You see, I knew that if we drove her little, well-maintained, yet older model Corolla into that very mouth of Hell on Earth, her little car would somehow, someway not return and we, as per Missouri’s usual M.O., would be stranded. Which is what it wants. Why? I don’t know and judging by the looks on the faces of most of the populous, I wouldn’t enjoy the answer, so…
Not gonna happen.
So we rented a car, and since Missouri is weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell below the Mason Dixon line (and by that I mean: Holy crap, we’re in the fucking South!), as an extra “fuck you” we decided to go with the 2009 Toyota Prius. It’s a sassy little hybrid that looks like a shoebox, but let me tell you, we averaged about 43 mpg. Easy! 43 mpg! We almost made it from Minneapolis to Kansas City on one tank of gas, going about 80 mph the whole way. Amazing. And, despite the fact that Little Miss Super-cute Fiancée drove about 200 miles, at well over 80 mph, with the engine brake on, the car gave us zero trouble. Zero. It was easy. It was quiet. It was very nice. A crappy stereo, but still, I would own one. They’re a nice ride and nearly 500 miles per tank-fill? That’s amazing.
So… Jon: 1. Missouri: 0
This is where Missouri got clever. See, the weather was beautiful. I wasn’t expecting this. We had somehow landed in that magical time between winter and summer, that storied 5 to 6 days that people down there refer to as Spring. It was lovely sitting-on-the-porch-and-drinking-beer weather and it lulled me, it caught me off guard. Well played, Missouri, well played. So, my Dad put together 8 of us to go golfing, which was great fun, but I quickly discovered that my natural video game playing ability does not, in fact, transfer very well to the actual sport. I mean, I tried pressing X at the top of my swing and then again at the bottom… but… nada. Luckily, I was in similarly talented company, so I didn’t stand out to the casual observer, and we spent the afternoon hacking our way up the hills like it was Guadalcanal, inch by bloody inch, and then battering our balls back down again as if every last piece of grass needed to be beaten within an inch of its life and we were the only ones willing to take up the task. I don’t think I made par, but I tried, which, according to the Special Olympics, is all that really matters, so…
But here’s where Missouri sucker punched me.
I know! I’m like: What the fuck, I’m brown, right? Sunscreen? That’s for you lily white bastards, or so I thought. The sun was murder, somewhere around the back nine I began to notice a tightening of the skin on my arms. With about five holes left, I started to notice that beer just wasn’t cutting my thirst.
(Side note: Me: “What kind of beer do you have?” Golf course Beer-girl that drives around in a cart while you’re golfing (awesome): “Ah… Miller, Bud, Coors and… uh… Bud Light.” Fail.)
By the end, I was a raisin the color of a lobster. And to add insult to injury, I was wearing a golf glove the whole time, which of course, you only wear on one hand, so… You son of a bitch, Missouri…
Jon: 1. Missouri: 1
It was on, oh yeah, it was on like Donkey Kong.
My little sister’s graduation was in downtown Kansas City, in a municipal auditorium that had definitely been designed by someone heavily influenced by the architecture of Stalinist Russia. IM-POS-ING! Hi-Yah! Take that Red-neck Missouri. They didn’t even seem to notice the over-whelming loom of the place. I’m counting that as a point for me.
Jon: 2. Missouri: 1
The ceremony was also really, really short and not annoying at all for something that involved about five hundred swaggering high school kids, even though pretty much every single one of them flashed a West-side hand gesture when they got up in front of the camera set-up on stage, despite the fact that they all live in the eastern most suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, which is, of course, to the east of Kansas, but I digress again… Also, traffic moved at an easy pace and parking was surprisingly convenient, so I’m going to go ahead and count that as a point for me, as well.
Jon: 3. Missouri: 1
Then, after the party had wound down, and my sister and her friends had snuck off to other, less supervised graduation get-togethers, (by the way, little sister, those shorts were WAY too short. I mean, believe me, the last thing I want to see is your Camel Toe.) Little Miss Super-cute Fiancée and I decided to go to a movie. We ended up at a Theatre that smelled too much like pee to be anything but and had those kind of seats that are way too small and you can’t scoot down enough to have a head rest because the back is way too short, not to mention the fact that the crappy thing automatically leans way, way back, like its actually a hide-a-bed, so far and fast that at first you assume that its broken, but its not and you end up watching the movie as if you were doing crunches the entire time. And Little Miss Super-cute chose Angels and Demons…
Jon: 3. Missouri: 2
Monday morning, Memorial Day, time to get the fuck outta dodge. After a nice breakfast, we were blasting our way back up I-35 in our Prius, hauling ass at 85 mph, blowing past no less than 5 Missouri State Troopers as they all gathered ‘round a traffic stop, watching with arms crossed and chuckling with glee as a Police-dog sniffed around the interior of a beat up IROC while the two dejected looking gold chain Guidos that owned it were huddled near the lead squad car’s bumper. We shot by like a rocket, VROOOOM! Never slowing, never pausing, right across the border and straight on into Iowa, home of marriage equality and scenic valley railroads, where we immediately and frivolously spent money on gas and snacks, well within sight of that dreadful king shit of poop mountain, that tarnished and gaudy bible belt buckle, Missouri, the crappiest crap of all crapdom. We had escaped.
Jon: 4. Missouri: 2.
And after spending my money and needlessly topping off my green-mobile, I stood there for a moment and gazed off south, out over the grassy fields and into that four lane blacktop expanse of strip-malled nothing, that sleeveless T-shirt and stretch pants Mecca, that repository for the dregs of flea markets everywhere, the clogged drain in the basement floor of America, my ancient and forever enemy, Missouri, and I smiled, for once again, we had met on the field of battle and I had emerged victorious. I stood there and I bathed in its seething, cringing hatred for me, I basked in it, I savored it.
Then I left it behind.
Veni, Vidi, Vici
Jon Uber Alles.