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1/28/98 - Grand Slam
This morning was a morning not unlike just what you'd expect for this time of year. The high clouds cast a pale gray down upon the waking countryside. The winter night had left its thin layer of frost on all the car windows and had gone off into hiding. Garbage trucks rattled down the street, hungrily munching their breakfasts. Just a normal Monday morning.

But there I was, standing outside the apartment building where I'd lived for four months, having left my keys inside and closed the door for the last time. Suitcase in one hand, maps in the other, I walked over to my car. As I opened the hatchback to put the suitcase in, a resident out for his morning walk asked if I was going on vacation. "No," I said, "just going for a little drive." I have a problem with making statements like that which would sound very ironic and pithy if I was in a movie and there was an audience out there to appreciate it. Instead, I just get a lot of quizzical looks and "Mmm!"s.

He passed by and left me to just look around a while, to appreciate this moment, the last time my feet would touch the ground of the place where I grew up. It was then that I realized that no matp8p90nggnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnNNFUUVOUFJK FUCJK) FCUCK FUCK!!!! FUCK!!!

GODDAMMIT. I don't believe this. I just spilled orange juice all over the keyboard.

I've had this laptop how long, four weeks? Now it's all sticky and fruity. The glass of juice was sitting just to the right of the keyboard when I went to crack my knuckles against the side of the table and my hand slipped. Stupid, stupid, dumb, idiot, jackass. This really pisses me off. Well, at least now it's the best-smelling computer this side of a Victoria's Secret cash register.

The keyboard got covered pretty good when you consider the tiny little glasses they serve OJ in. Is there some Sunkist shortage going on that I've not heard of? It's like I'm sitting here doing shots of Tropicana HomeStyle. Put it in a bigger glass, you cheap-ass bastards!

Alright, well, let me bring you up to date, to put this fruit-juice- based catastrophe into context.

I didn't bother getting a regular road atlas, instead opting for the new book, _Meandering Your Way From Coast to Coast Because You Have Nothing Left To Do ...For Dummies!_ The introduction begins, "So, you've ruined your life!" The first section is all about getting your trip off to a good start. It shows a little drawing of a boarded-up house with an eviction notice on it, and next to it is a little purple frowny face, depicting you (or in this case, me) in your state of instability and misery. I don't know why you're purple. Maybe in addition to having lost all sense of esteem, belonging, and purpose, you're also choking on a beef burrito.

Anyway, from this house leads numerous arrows, depicting the various routes that might be taken to reach the destination, which is a drawing of a brick house with a "Welcome!" sign on it, and next to it is a green happy face, signifying your rejuvenated strength, vigor, and love of life. Again, I'm not sure why you are now green. Perhaps you have eaten too many beef burritos.

I picked an arrow, and headed off, after making a brief stop to gas up and grab a 2-liter bottle of diet soda and a turkey sub, in case I was caught in a snow storm, and had to survive for months on end, alone, out in the middle of nowhere. (After I checked the weather report on the radio, I went ahead and ate the sub.)

The "n" key on this keyboard is sticking now. It's taking me ten times longer than normal to write this stupid thing now because I keep having to pry the "n" back off the keyboard and fix the sentences. Here, watch this: "The quick brownnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnLNKNLJKJKLnb- see? Good thing they only serve that cheap crap from concentrate, or I'd have pulp clogging my SHIFTs, and I think we all know how painful that can be.

So where was I. Okay, I set out into the wild unknown with my turkey sub. Shortly after departing I remembered that driving is the most boring thing ever invented by humans, except for maybe watching Star Trek: Voyager. Almost immediately I started doing "long trip math", breaking the trip into shorter and shorter segments. First, the goal is to go halfway, then I break that up so I look forward to getting a quarter of the way, then an eighth...after getting on the interstate I was down to, "Alright, I've succesfully gone one ZILLIONTH of the way there. Boy, I could sure go for a beef burrito."

I drove all day, only stopping once for gas, where I made what will go down in history as my very first discovery made during this trip: As you get further and further from the big city, the people start taking on a very noticable and intriguing trait, which would be "ugly". I drive exactly 55 miles per hour now, so I can get the best gas mileage possible and not have to stop for gas as often, because it's scary out here.

Many many hours passed, the sun pushed its way past the horizon, and I was left, hungry and alone amidst the darkness of the highway. I stopped at a rest stop and pulled out my handy guide mentioned above, and moved onto chapter 2, which gives dining suggestions for the road- weary traveller, entitled "Tic-Tacs Are Not Dinner".

After thumbing through the pages for a while, I realized that the true adventurer doesn't rely on books or guides for important decisions like this, he goes with his instinct! And there, in the distance, calling me with its luminous yellow warmth, was the sign of the restaurant that has stood for ages as a ubiquitous, reliable source of mediocre food in the middle of the night...


So here I sit, at two in the morning, in a booth at my new favorite Denny's, with orange juice all over the place. It's nearly empty in here except for the four Chinese folks in business suits sitting on the other side of the room. I just finished up a delightfully adequate serving of Moons Over My Hammy, a dish which I now order with pride and verve, unconstrained by the self-consciousness and embarassment that prevents many others from ordering something with a name as stupid as "Moons Over My Hammy".

I like being at Denny'ses in the middle of the night. The only lights from outside are the street lights, and it's real quiet. If you sit really still, you can pretend that you're on a space station in the farthest reaches of the galaxy. A space station that serves full bacon, sausage, and two-egg breakfasts 24 hours a day for only $1.99. To eat where no man has eaten before.

There's a "Motel 8" across the street, where I'll probably sleep for the night. It's not a "Super 8", and it's not a "Motel 6". It's a "Motel 8". I don't think it's a chain. I think they just bought a Motel 6 and added the number 2.

HAHAHA! Get it? Added the number 2? Hahah- ah, forget it. Look, I've been on the road all day, and I'm tired, and I have nothing else to talk about, and I'm still hungry.

I wonder if they could make me a beef burrito.
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