Mitch and I had a hot night in the cab of a U-Haul on the eve of our one-year anniversary. And contrary to my purposely misleading sentence, the night was hot, sweaty due to the average kinetic energy of the air molecules and the ones making up the black faux-leather seats. Not even officially in the midwest (night spent in Somewhere, East Montana) yet on our move to Chicago, and it's already getting uncomfortably humid, the coffee's weaker, the water's starting to taste like it has leaves mixed in with it, and servers in restaurants have started to chat more.
Mitch and I were sitting at a home-style restaurant in Caramel, Indiana with Mitch's grandmother, Barb Story. We had some east-coast beers and Barb had her two fingers of Johnny Walker Red. Our server was talking to us as effusively as one of those lonely people on the STA. She was in her forties. Bleach blonde hair, high-wasted jeans, lime green blouse, cleavage. She took a seat at our table and told us about her life and the specials -- pork tenderloin: a thin slab of pork trippled in thickness by being fried and breaded. A large sesame seed bun with a side of pickles or coleslaw or baked beans or pasta salad with spaghetti noodles.
I related my theory to Mitch, John, and Chri$ta last night when we pulled in late to Denny's in Billings. The closer we get to the Midwest, I predicted, the more talkative our servers will be. If I'm right we might be in trouble.
Bill: I brought you some waters.
Bill: To make a long story short... I worked as a manager in a Denny's in Florida before I moved back up here.
Bill: You don't have Ketchup...?
Bill: I knew the guy who won the world's best server competition... for Denny's. Damn it, what was his name?
Lady in the kitchen: Bill!
Bill: He got on that TV show on the Food Network. Fuck me, what was that called?
(He hits the glass partition above the booth with an open palm.)
Bill: (Presses his clenched fists against his forehead. Closes his eyes.) Shit.
Bill: (Opens his eyes)And you know something else? He was a Russian. Now what does that tell you?
He let the question hang.
I'm thinking about taking Denny's late-night wait staff out of the test group for my theory.
Now, I don't want to give you the wrong idea. I'm very excited about this move. We saw lightning at 8 a.m., and if we're lucky we'll see lightning bugs tonight.
I've spent all of my Christmases in the Midwest and only have resented a couple of them.
I'm excited for the large Midwestern boys. German decent. 6'2" at the minimum. And brawny from their participation in manly team sports like Wrestling and Eating Pork Tenderloin.
I woke up on my one-year anniversary to the itch of mosquito bites. The cab stuffiness was so bad that we left the U-Haul windows wide open. And as the sun rose in the intricately clouded Montana sky, so did the blood-suckers. (I lived in Spokane for so long I forgot that there are places with lots-o-bugs.) I watched the silhouette of one on the steering wheel; its gut inflated and its insectile shoulders hunched and hairy. I tried to remember how the kid from Hatchet managed.
As much as this move is exactly what I want for my life right now, I regret putting states between me and the best people in the world. My friends are objectively the best combination of charm, intelligence, humor, loving disposition, and quirkiness that can possibly exist. I have no idea how they came to be so rounded up.
I don't expect to find people who laugh at my jokes, who listen to me, and who like me so well as y'all do. Of course, I hope I am wrong. If not, at least I know my waitress will talk to me.